Summary: To seek after God, to follow His ways, means we must believe that His is – ever present, all knowing, all powerful.
Take Up Your Cross
ACT up part 3
Text: Luke 9:34-35
We began this month considering “our year in review”, the need to examine ourselves to ensure we are in the faith of Jesus (2 Corinthians 13:5.) We have learned there is great value in examining ourselves and our conduct by the word of God so that we may …keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Philippians 3:16b ( NASB ) in that same passage (Philippians 3:13-16) we saw that having found ourselves in the faith of Jesus we must keep looking forward in our Christian walk, our need to …press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14).
This lesson concludes a three-part series intended to help us reach forward to what lies ahead, not just in the coming year but into eternity as we reach for the prize given us by our God through His son Jesus. The series is called “ACT up” and addresses three key elements to successfully answer the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The first element we explored was the need to acknowledge God. We who seek after God must believe that He is – ever present, all knowing, all powerful. We acknowledge His sovereignty and accept His word as the standard by which we measure our lives. And we accept His judgment of our sinful state and His requirement for salvation which led us to the second element, our need to confess Lord Jesus.
Romans 10:9-10 (NASB) that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Having confessed Him from the faith within our heart we must now meet the third element of living for Him in faith.
I. The Decision required
A. “If anyone wishes...
1. One must first choose to be a disciple.
a. This requires acknowledging God and Confessing Christ
2. One must confess, or profess, to the gospel of Jesus
a. This then denotes a public declaration of our agreement with what God has declared, and extends to his doctrines about his own nature, holiness, and law;
Including all His declarations about our lost estate, our sin, and need of a Savior; about the necessity of a change of heart and change of life; and about death and the judgment; about heaven and hell.
3. Confessing Lord Jesus is acknowledging all God has done and professing our agreement to, and belief in, all that as been written concerning His Son.
a. It is not a decision entered into lightly
The closest contemporary word to “disciple” is probably “apprentice.” A disciple is more than a student who learns lessons by means of lectures and books. He is one who learns by living and working with his teacher in a daily “hands on” experience.
Too many Christians are content to be listeners who gain a lot of knowledge but to come after Jesus requires we put that knowledge into practice.
II. The Denial Required
A. One must deny self
1. To renounce self-dependence, and selfish pursuits.
a. This is an end to living your life for yourself and the beginning of living for Jesus. (Read 1 Corinthians 6:17-20)
b. When we confess that Jesus as Lord, we are acknowledging his rank or supreme place. We are pledging our obedience and worship; we are placing our life under his rule.
2. Galatians 6:14 (NASB) But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
a. Luke 14:26 (NASB) "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
3. We acknowledge Him as our master
a. We are pledging ourselves and our resources to his control for direction and service. Lord is intended to represent the highest authority to which we submit.
III. The Dedication Required
1. Every disciple is required to take up their cross
a. The cross was an instrument of violent and painful execution. To “take the cross” was to carry the horizontal beam (the patibulum) of the cross out to the site of execution, usually past a jeering mob. (John 19:17)
In the Roman world, the cross was a symbol of shame, guilt, suffering, and rejection. There could be no more despicable way to die. Crucifixion was not mentioned in polite conversation, and the people would no more think of wearing crosses on their person than we would think of wearing gold or silver electric chairs