Summary: Just what does the Lord expect of us?
Take Up Your Cross
Rev. Phillip A. Wright
Introduction: This morning we are going to look at one of the better known verses in Scripture. “Take Up your Cross.” Today we will look at the entire passage and dig out just what Jesus is saying and not saying.
Attention: Jesus used this comment to show the underlying truth behind growing in one’s faith. This phrase does not speak to the issue of being saved, that is a given. Here we are looking at the very root of all Christian growth and development. A lost person is not capable of doing anything on this list. A believe can; but I am afraid to say – most do not.
Luke 9:23-26 23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (NKJV)
Need: Every believer needs to recognize that this passage is a take or leave. You can ignore it, but it will tell on you. You will be a believer for 30 years and still be a babe in Christ and everyone around you will know it.
Textual Idea: In our passage, Luke points out the necessary steps one must go through to grow in one’s faith.
Sermon Idea: I want you to see that spiritual growth is a self willed act. I have said that many times but this passage is the clear underpinnings of that concept. You want to grow; you need to do certain things?
A Canadian writer, Donald Creighton, in his book “Towards the Discovery of Canada” said, “History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstance.”
If someone were to write the story of your life, will your faith be a footnote or the main topic in the book.
Interrogative: So let me ask: Why can’t God just allow us to be saved and then leave us alone to live our lives the best we can?
Transition: Our text this morning suggests four things that will clearly show that Christian growth and maturity is important for us but it is essential for us to be of any good use to the kingdom.
1. Being Useful to the Kingdom
Explanation: Many people go through, training, education, internships and others tasks to be useful in a job. Is preparation any less important for being useful as a soldier in God’s army?
Illustration: Spiritual Sight just like Vision is the capacity to create a compelling picture of the desired state of affairs that inspires people to respond; When Irving S. Olds was chairman of the U.S. Steel Corporation, he arrived for a stockholders’ meeting and was confronted by a woman who asked, "Exactly who are you and what do you do?" Without batting an eye, Olds replied, "I am your chairman. Of course, you know the duties of a chairman--that’s someone who is roughly the equivalent of parsley on a platter of fish." Bits and Pieces, June 27, 1991, p.7.
It’s kind of a cute illustration from the back end view, but it’s terribly accurate. Most Christians due to unwillingness to pray, read scripture, step up to the plate and take on responsibility are about that useful. Why is that?
Argumentation: This first part of the passage has a string of three imperative verbs, (deny, take up, and follow). They are a story all by themselves. They are all imperatives – commands; the first two are aorist –they are to begin and never go away; the last two are in the present tense. In the Greek, tense shows the “kind of action.” The present tense shows a durative or continual taking up and following after. Where as the first, deny is meant to be a permanent decision.
Application: What does all that mean and how does it apply today? Glad you asked! The decision to deny ones self is to be a once for all time decision; whereas the decision to take up one’s cross and to follow Jesus is a day to day activity.
Transition: So you want to be useful to the kingdom? Well…
2. Giving One’s Life for the Kingdom
Explanation: Remember the definition behind the word witness. The word in the Greek is the root of our word martyr. You want to be useful to the kingdom, then be prepared on a daily basis to pour yourself into the mold of usefulness that God has for you that day.