Unashamed of The Christ (Mark 8:31-38)
I.) Ashamed of The Gospel
I want to begin this morning with the truth we left off with last week, which is that the church is built entirely by Jesus Christ. Jesus declares this of Himself after Peter confesses He is in fact the Christ, the Son of the living God:
He builds His church upon a clear comprehension of Himself, which can only happen through the pure proclamation of the gospel of the Christ. It is through the command of the gospel the Spirit works upon the hearts of the lost, while the Father draws them to trust in the Son.
If this is how Jesus builds His church we have but one responsibility; teach Him in His totality. To do anything other than teach the Christ alone, is to consider Christ incapable and His gospel insufficient. By the way, this indicts anyone who seeks to use worldly appeal as a means to get people “through the door” to hear of Christ. That’s deception!
Do not delude yourself; nearly every modern church growth model is ashamed of the gospel. In fact, any church that applies their teachings is guilty of peddling the Word of God. The grace of God in Christ will not be the drawing factor, man and his ability will be.
Music, programs, energetic personalities, and human experience will all take precedent over the sound doctrine of Christ. It will hold the appearance of preaching Christ, but it will be nothing but a solicitation of self.
Listen to this quote:
“For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was – a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”
We must raise our voices against such treason committed against the One true Christ! Such men act as if the Purchaser and Husband of the church is not watching what they do with His bride. They take her, and dress her up as a prostitute, so worldly men and women would be more inclined to “love” her. In so doing they not only dilute the call of the gospel, but distort the characteristics of saving faith.
Q.) Why would people do such a thing?
A.) Deep down they themselves do not find anything appealing about the church in her sanctified state. They are ashamed of the truth of Christ.
II.) Focused on Man
I open with this, because before us in this text we see the demands of the gospel call, as well as the characteristics of saving faith in the Christ. Saving faith is placed in the work Jesus has just revealed to His disciples.
Peter, who has just confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, immediately rebukes Jesus for teaching His revealed work. He expresses complete shame in the notion that Israel’s Messiah would experience such a fate. This is because his mind was set on the interest of man, and not on the interest of God.
Q.) What was man’s interest?
A.) That the Messiah would save His people from Roman oppression, and establish His reign so they could live at peace in the land.
Q.) What was God’s interest?
A.) That the Messiah would save His people from their sin, so they may live eternally with Him by grace, through faith, in the Christ alone.
Q.) How did God accomplish His interest?
1.) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2.) He delivered Him by His predetermined plan and foreknowledge, and nailed Him to the cross by the hands of godless men.
3.) He appeased His wrath, and satisfied His justice on His only Son upon that cross; Who willingly laid is life down to save His sheep.
4.) He raised His Son on the third day proving His shed blood atoned for our sins, and purchased our redemption to Himself.
5.) He welcomed His Son, Who ascended to heaven, to sit at His right hand as Lord.
He accomplished His eternal plan of redemption by the eternal Son of God!
Q.) Since He accomplished this purpose in Christ, what is His interest now?
A.) It is to command all people everywhere to repent of their sins and believe the gospel. The good news that forgiveness of sins and eternal life is freely given to those who trust in the work of Christ.
III.) The Demand of The Gospel
Make no mistake, the gospel is not a suggestion; it is a command to humanity forcing them to face the reality of a holy, eternal, infinite and righteous God. To present the gospel as a suggestion is a failure on the part of the Christian to actually preach the gospel. Preaching means to proclaim a message that demands obedience from the hearer. To not do this is to not preach.
This also means to teach the gospel in a way that does not demand obedience from the hearer to Christ is a failure to obey the great commission.
Listen to the commission:
To teach people to “observe” everything that Christ has command is to teach them to be obedient to Him. In other words, a disciple is one who looks to Christ as Savior, and obeys Him as their Lord. That is what we are to be making.
Q.) Do you understand what this means?
A.) It means there is no such thing as a believer who looks to Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. Such a Christian does not exist on this earth.
Q.) How can I dare say such a thing?
A.) This is exactly what Jesus teaches us here!
Q.) What does the command of the gospel require?
1.) The hearer to deny themselves
2.) The hearer to take up their cross
3.) The hearer to follow the Christ
This is the demand of the gospel upon all men and women of the earth!
First, a person confronted with the call of the gospel is commanded by Christ to deny themselves.
To deny hear literally means to forget and to lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. The call of the gospel requires the hearer to abandon every fiber of their being so that their only confidence and hope lies in Christ. They are no longer focused on their own self-interest, but Christ’s alone. Such self-denial also calls people to die to both self-righteous works and sinful practices: Give up every form of work you think is making you acceptable to God, thus combating legalism. Give up every sin which makes you unacceptable to God, thus combating antinomian thinking.
The hearer is called to forget themselves to such a point it is as if they are physically dead. There is a complete abandonment of self!
Second, the demand of the gospel calls men and women everywhere to take up their cross. This accentuates the self-exterminating call of Christ, and is a surety to the one coming after Him that suffering will be unavoidable.
To emphasize this death to self, Christ employs the imagery of the cross.
His listeners understood the cross was a certainty of suffering and a guarantee of death. It has been estimated around thirty thousand Jews were crucified during Christ’s life time, and not one stepped down. Thirty thousand hung on those trees, and thirty thousand died on those trees. His hearers were just faced with the reality that the cost of following Him will be taxed with great suffering, which would allow for no return.
Charles Spurgeon said:
“There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross-bearers here below.”
Those coming to Christ are called to embrace this!
Third, the call of the gospel requires the individual to follow Christ in complete obedience to His Word. Meaning they must die under Christ’s reign, which requires them to give up their autonomy. This means you no longer to look to yourself as lord of your life, but to the Christ, for it is His life which covers you. This is a call of complete submission to Jesus.
Jesus declares, “If you love Me you will keep my commandments.” This means those who follow Christ are commanded to obey the words of Christ.
These are the demands of the gospel, and those who do not meet the demands are not His.
IV.) Christian Characteristics
Understand: self-denial, cross bearing and Christ following are not just the demands of the gospel, but also the characteristics of saving faith. This means a genuine believer in Christ is branded with these very marks; they continue in:
a.) Denial of themselves.
b.) Spite of great suffering.
c.) Loyal obedience to the Sovereign.
Q.) Will a Christian falter in this?
Q.) Will God always work in them to draw them back into conformity to Himself!
If your life is characterized by a refusal to:
1.) Deny yourself on account of Christ.
2.) Suffer for the name of Christ.
3.) To obey the Christ.
There is very great evidence you are not His. Examine yourselves to see if these characteristics be found in you.
V.) The Christ and His Cross
I mentioned near the start of this sermon that pragmatic and seeker-sensitive methodology both:
1.) Dilutes the demand of the gospel.
2.) Distorts the characteristics of saving faith.
Q.) Why is this?
A.) The methodology requires churches to employ worldly appeal to capture the attention of the lost.
I have a question:
Q.) If the persons mind is captivated by the worldly appeal, Who are they not coming for?
A.) The Christ and His cross.
Q.) What then are they coming for?
A.) To satisfy themselves.
Q.) How can they deny themselves when a church is appealing to them with the thing they are to deny?
A.) They cannot!
Something far worse than openly rejecting the demands of Christ will happen when a church sneaks “the truth” in through worldly means. The lost will be given a diluted view of the demands of the gospel thinking Jesus loves them just as much as they love themselves. The professing Christian ensnared by this will not be able rightly to examine the characteristics of saving faith in their life. Neither salvation of the lost nor sanctification of the believer will occur.
Tragically a person will be given just enough of “Christ” to inoculate them from the truth. When those ensnared by worldly appeal are presented with the true demands of the gospel of Christ, a visceral reaction occurs.
Q.) Why is this?
A.) They will not deny that which they love; themselves!
Since they will not deny themselves they will not:
a.) Bear their cross on account of the Christ.
b.) Submit to the Word of Christ, which commands them to forget themselves and lose sight of one’s own interest.
Worldly appeal cannot cohabitate with Christ!
To try and appeal to the conscience of the lost by any other means other than the Christ and His cross displays utter shame of the gospel.
May Amy Carmichael’s words ring true of us:
“Do not come unless you can say to your Lord and to us, ‘The Cross is the attraction.’”
The cross beckons us to die to self and live in Christ!
Rest assured that those who do not die to self on account of the Christ, and His gospel will die.
The Greek word for “lose” means utter destruction, and metaphorically conveys a giving over to “eternal misery in hell”. If you want to live, you; therefore, must die.
Q.) What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
A.) Absolutely nothing!
Q.) What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
A.) Absolutely everything!
Q.) What will ultimately be the outcome for those ashamed of the Christ and His gospel?
VI.) Unashamed of The Christ
I will end this morning with a quote from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Hayden Surgeon.
“Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek that gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul.”
Do not be ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe!
 Matthew 16:18
 John 6:37,44
 2 Corinthians 2:17
 2 Corinthians 4:1-5
 A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous; Page 32-33
 2 Corinthians 5:21
 Acts 2:23
 John 10:14-18
 Acts 2:24; 4:10
 Acts 1:9-11
 Acts 17:30
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:533
 The Macarthur New Testament Commentary: Mark 1-8, John Macarthur; Pg. 427
 John 14:15
 Luke 14:25-27
 2 Corinthians 13:5
 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:622
 Romans 1:16