Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do you love me more than these?

A week or so ago I posted a short article about the question Jesus asked, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?"  You can find that original article here: http://rogert.me/YQ67oy

Today I want to add some additional thoughts that came up as I taught through this passage.

Jesus taught that if we were to follow him we should deny ourselves, take up his cross, and follow him. We are to do this daily. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that because Jesus died for us, we are to live for him rather than for ourselves.  The basic principle then is that whoever would save or love his life will lose it. But whoever loses or hates his life for Christ's sake and the gospel's will save it.

It seems that there are two extremes we should avoid. The first is that I must not be a true believer because I can't say that this level of commitment is completely true of me all of the time. The other extreme is to say that Jesus didn't really mean this and we don't have to give it another thought. Obviously he means it in the strongest terms because he says that the potential for loss of our own soul is involved.

So what I want us to do is to review some important principles.

1. The Bible clearly teaches that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, (Romans 10:13) and whoever comes to Christ will not be cast out. (John 6:37)

2. We are justified freely by his grace and given the righteousness of God. (Romans 3;24; Phil 3:9)  This righteousness includes all of the righteousness which is needed to meet all of the demands of God. This serves as sort of a shield or umbrella protecting us from God's wrath and gaining God's favor while our spiritual growth takes place. As we grow we will be able to deny ourselves in more and more areas of life and in deeper ways as the Holy Spirit brings these things to our attention.

3. When w are saved, we receive many benefits and resources:
   God's commitment to finish what he started. (Phil 1:6) In other words, God brought the word to us, he gave us faith, he granted us repentance and he opened our hearts to the gospel.

Sanctification (1 Cor 1:30) which is applied by the Holy Spirit. (2 Thess 2:13)

God gives us a new heat with new motivations. (Ezekiel 36:27)

Being his sheep, we will follow him, but not follow others (John 10:4, 5)

God is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:13; Heb 13:21)

The grace he gives us teaches us to deny ungodliness and to live righteous lives. (Titus 2:12)

God has promised to discipline us so we partake in his holiness without which we won't see the Lord (Heb 12:10, 14)

God has promised to prune the vine in order that we might bear fruit. (John 15)

4. God doesn't do it all for us while we sit around and do nothing, but his salvation provides not only the strength to follow and obey, but the desire, motivation, and faith that is required. God holds us responsible, but as Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing."

 Concluding Thoughts:

This is Christ's challenge for all Christians on a daily basis.

He is asking for ultimate loyalty --Jesus Christ above all things and all relationships. Daily the challenge is to put Christ first and reject self. "Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your heart." (Heb 3:15)

Every day and throughout the day we face choices, to be obedient or not, to die to our own desires or not, to put Christ's teaching into practice or not, to serve others or not. Our choice is similar to the one Jesus gave Peter, "Lovest thou me more than these?"

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