Summary: This sermon is intended to offer clarity on the subject of Salvation and the basics of making a decision to follow Christ. PLEASE RATE
Mark 8:27-34 – What does it mean to be a “Christian?”
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do YOU say that I am?”
Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. And he began to teach them that the Son of Man MUST SUFFER many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes AND be KILLED, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
What does it mean to be a Christian?
Of all the questions we might contemplate in this life, NONE is more important, none more relevant than: WHAT does it MEAN to be a “Christian?”
It is becoming increasingly apparent that most Americans don’t know the answer to that question. Why?
In a recent Barna survey, 78% of Americans identified themselves as “Christians.” But those numbers don't jive with our own experience, nor are they consistent with the words of Jesus.
Our experience says, “If 78% of the population is saved, then WHY do we see so much corruption, sin, and strife? If even HALF of the citizens of this country were saved, what a tremendous difference we would see in our society!"
Additionally, we know the percentage can't be so high because Jesus Himself said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are FEW.”
I think it is fairly safe to assume - most people have no idea what it means to be a Christian.
Too many are relying upon an emotional experience they had years ago, perhaps when they were young, to take them to heaven. But is THAT all there is to being a Christian? Walking the aisle... praying a prayer??
Jim Peterson, in his book Living Proof, said: “Three elements of the personality are involved in making a decision to become a Christian: the emotions, the intellect, and the will.
For example, a young man meets a young woman. They are immediately attracted to one another. They both say to themselves, “Now THIS is someone I’d like to marry.” At THAT point, if the emotions had their way, there would be a wedding right away.
But the intellect intervenes, questioning this impulsive response. “Are we really compatible? Do I really KNOW this person?” Both conclude it would be best to take some time getting to know each other before they proceed. So, they begin to spend more and more time together.
Eventually, he concludes that she is as beautiful on the INSIDE as she is on the outside. Now his intellect has sided with his emotions on the idea of marriage.
But the FINAL and heaviest vote remains to be cast – that of the WILL. It stops the march to the altar with THESE questions: “Am I willing to give up my freedom for this person? Am I ready to assume the responsibilities that come with marriage?”
The marriage will ONLY occur when the WILL finally agrees with the emotions and the intellect.
And so it is --- in coming to Christ.”
I realize I am NOT the one who will be sitting on the throne of heaven deciding WHO can and WHO can’t enter. My intent is NOT to insult or judge anyone – but I do want people to think about this question. I want you to be sure. There is too much at stake to go about life uncertain about your salvation. Our text this morning will answer two basic questions – and your response TO those questions will determine if you are truly saved.
So... Let’s answer 2 important questions:
1. What must I KNOW to become a Christian? In vv. 27-33. While people offer many different answers to that question,
2 important truths stand out in this passage:
First, you must understand WHO JESUS IS. The people of THAT day were a lot like people today. All kinds of speculation circulated about WHO He was. Some thought that He was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Others thought He was one of the prophets.