Extreme for Jesus:
“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38).
Someone said once, “If something’s not worth dying for, then it’s not worth living for.” I believe that’s true. When I first became a Christian, I was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “If you want to come after me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Wow! That’s a radical commitment – that’s extreme discipleship. On that day, when Jesus Christ became the Lord and Saviour of my life, I took Him as my Master, my Everything. I said, “If this God is who the Bible says He is – the Almighty Creator of this Universe who created me, loves me, and sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins – then how can I not give Him my whole life?” Today, I want to challenge you to be extreme for Jesus.
An old preacher of the Gospel said once, “Sin exists in our world, and it is time we start talking about it, and its dreadful consequences. My heart longs to hear from our pulpits some old-fashioned, Holy Ghost messages on the not-so-popular subject of hell. I long to hear life-changing sermons about the prospects of spending an eternity in a place where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, where men gnaw their tongues for pain, and where the smoke of their torment ascends forever (Mark 9:43-44).”
Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, put it this way: “The heavenly occupation of the church is to rescue souls from hell and lead to God, to hope, to heaven. Our job is to teach sinners what sin is, and what the blood of Christ is, and what the hell that must follow if sin be not washed out, and what the heaven is which will be ensured to all those who are cleansed from sin.”
Listen to the words of Jesus today – He is calling you to come after Him, to deny yourself, and follow Him. As long as you are living your own life, trying to do things your own way, it is bound to end in futility and meaninglessness. Jesus said that it is only when you are willing to lose your life – to give up your way of doings things – that you will find real fulfilment in life – you will discover the true life, the high life, the God life. You could spend your whole life trying to get ahead, trying to be successful, trying to be happy, but until Jesus Christ is your Master and your Everything, life will not be complete.
Jesus doesn’t just want to be your “best friend.” Yes, Jesus will be a friend to you who will stick closer than a brother, but more importantly than that, He wants to be your Saviour, to save you from the guilt, power and penalty of sin. Can you say today, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me?” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25).
To those of you who call yourselves Christians, I want to issue you a challenge today. There is a lost and dying world that is hurting and broken without Jesus, and God wants us to go to that world with the Good News about the forgiveness of sins that’s available through the shed blood of Jesus. Your life is not your own, you have been bought with a price, and Jesus wants to be the Lord of your life. To those of you who have not yet given your lives to Jesus, let me leave you with a reminder of Jesus’ sobering words from our text, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Pastor Chris Jordan