Sermon: What Made Jesus A Christian

Written by Timothy

What Made Jesus A Christian?

This lesson will answer the question, “What made Jesus a Christian while he was here on earth?” Or put another way, “Who is my brother in Jesus Christ and what makes one a Christian?” Well, believing in God, the Trinity, or that Jesus Christ came to earth does not make one a Christian.

James 2:19- You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe thatand shudder.

The demons know there is a trinity, hell, and heaven. So believing in God doesn’t make one a Christian. The question we need to ask ourselves is what makes a demon become a demon? What about a man makes him a demon of a man? What really makes one a Christian?

Confessing Jesus Christ as Lord doesn’t make one a Christian. Saying the “believer’s prayer” isn’t what makes one a Christian. Everyone will someday confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Philippians 2:9-10- Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This is to the glory of God the Father.

Some day every being whether on the earth, or under the earth, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Confessing that fact doesn’t make one a Christian. Going through the steps of salvation or praying the sinner’s prayer doesn’t make one a Christian. There’s one thing that signifies whether someone is a brother who really belongs to Jesus Christ, and is experiencing salvation. Let’s going to Luke 17:13, because we will see that receiving answered prayer doesn’t make one a Christian. A lot of people receive answered prayers today. They honestly pray to God and ask him to help them and be with them, and he answers their prayers. He will honor his word. And he will honor people who seek him, but that doesn’t make them true believers or someone that can be called a Christian. Ten individuals came to Jesus Christ with a prayer. They came to him with a request. Scripture says “… and they called out in a loud voice.”

Luke 17:13- and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

This is a loud meeting. They’re making their voices known. They come Jesus Christ forcefully. They come to him with faith, expecting to get an answer. They come to him specifically with their prayers. They call Jesus, “Master!” They talk in terms of “Lord, Lord.” They say that he is Lord and King of their heart. They come with the lingo that we often hear around us today. But only one of these individuals has a heart that shows he really does belong to Jesus Christ. They ask for pity and mercy. Ten people come in before Jesus saying, “We want mercy. We want to call Jesus Christ, Lord. We want to say that he is our master. We want to make him Lord of our lives. We’ll do whatever it takes.” They’re asking for all those qualities and they’re praying to the Lord.

Luke 17:14- When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

They’re doing the religious thing, the correct thing. They’re all setting out to obey Jesus Christ.

Luke 17:15-16- One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. One out of ten came back to Jesus Christ to actually give thanks to God. The rest went on their way. They went and showed themselves to the priests and then they began to go on and live their lives the way they wanted to live them, in their own religious way. But only one comes back to Jesus Christ. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked himand he was a Samaritan.

He was not somebody you expect would come to Jesus Christ. You would have looked at the other nine and said “Well, they did what Jesus Christ said to do. He told them to go show themselves to the priest. They obey Jesus, didn’t they? They can’t be faulted for disobedience.” If you would have gone to the nine and said, “You really don’t love Jesus Christ.” They would have said, “No. We pray to Jesus Christ and we ask for mercy. We even obey everything that he asks of us. Can’t you see that we were healed?” So answered prayer doesn’t make one a Christian.

Luke 17:17-19- Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Well the other nine must have had faith. Were they not made well also? Something deeper exists that Jesus Christ is talking about. This man comes back and falls before Jesus Christ and Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.” But there’s something missing in the other nine. James says, even the demons believe in God. Doing miracles doesn’t make one a Christian. We might be able to prophesy over people. We might be able to pray for them to be healed and they are healed, but that doesn’t make us Christians or in a right relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 7:22, the first word is really the most sobering word of that whole passage. The word is “many.”

Did we not prophesy in your name? And in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Not just a few miracles, but many.

Matthew 7:22- Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”

And then the most sobering word here in verse 23, is the word “plainly.” When Jesus Christ says, “Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.” He will speak clearly to them. So we need to find out what makes someone a Christian. What made Jesus Christ a Christian while he walked on the earth, and who is my brother in Jesus Christ? People ask me that all the time. Shortly we will see the one thing that makes someone a brother in Jesus Christ.

Preaching the gospel doesn’t make me a Christian. Evangelism and sharing with other people doesn’t make me a Christian, either. Paul says this about his ministry:

1 Corinthians 9:27- No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

If it were evangelism that makes us Christians, and demonstrates we’re right with the Lord, then he who has the most numbers would win. God looks for something else to see whether we really love him and belong to him.

1 Corinthians 9:27- No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Often individuals will come to Jesus Christ and years later they begin to discover some new things. They continue to show favoritism to the person who brought them to the Lord, because they think there is something significant about that person. They don’t realize that there may be one quality which is missing. Even Paul could preach to whole crowds and be disqualified for the prize himself. So preaching the gospel and evangelism doesn’t make a person a Christian.

Matthew 23:15- Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

Doing ministry work does not signify that I really belong to Jesus Christ. In fact there’s a great danger that we’ll look at our ministry work and all the things that we have done and think those things qualify us or prove that we have fruit in Jesus Christ. No doubt the Pharisees did not look at their lives and say, “Gee, what a bunch of sinners we are. We run over land and sea to win converts, but make them worse off.” They looked at their lives and thought they were holy, put together, religious and fully prepared to meet God. Let us discover that one quality now so that we never hear Jesus plainly say to us, “You never belonged to me.”

Speaking in tongues doesn’t make one a Christian.

1 Corinthians 13:1- If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

A lot of people speak in tongues that don’t have love. That doesn’t make them a Christian. Going to church doesn’t even make a person a Christian.

Ecclesiastes 8:10- Then too, I saw the wicked buriedthose who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

Look at what he says about the wicked and their activities. He doesn’t say that he saw them in bars or out partying around. These people used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. They were looked up to as holy and proper people in town. They would come and go to the holy place and worship and serve the Lord, yet they were wicked. They used to receive the praise of all the other people because they were well-accepted people who were known to be Christians. They were known as spiritual and people with insight, yet they were wicked individuals. Going to church does not make one a Christian.


The Hindus deny themselves. If Christianity is based on the matter of denying self then let’s become Hindus because they certainly deny themselves a lot of things in order to be holy. Some Hindu men who will stand on one leg for twenty years in order to beat their body and subdue the flesh.

Denying self doesn’t make one a Christian.

Colossians 2:22-23- These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

What a waste for a man to beat his body and make it his slave and yet in the end not achieve any death to self. He did not gain any righteousness that comes from God. Christianity is not just a matter of denying many things. I know people who have surrendered all kinds of things and beat their bodies in many different ways, yet they miss the one quality that should be there to make it real.

Giving to the poor doesn’t make me holy.

1 Corinthians 13:3- If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Giving away everything that we have does not mean we are Christians. Bible study doesn’t even make one a Christian. I know a man right now that gets one hour of quiet time every day, consistently and he never fails in that activity. He is no more righteous today than he was thirty years ago.

John 5:39-40- You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

You’re diligent about it. You never fail to study the Scriptures and you know it backwards and forwards. You can quote it and can even apply it in certain situations in your life. You can certainly apply it to other people’s lives. But Bible study doesn’t make you a Christian.

Philippians 3:7-10- But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christthe righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…

Being water baptized doesn’t make one a Christian. Doing the correct and moral thing doesn’t make a person a Christian. As we saw earlier, following the Bible doesn’t make one a Christian, either.

Philippians 3:3-6- For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the fleshthough I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

“As for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” Most of us cannot even say that. If we do all of the things that we are supposed to do, those actions will not make us holy or prove that we are Christians. What was the one thing that demonstrated that Jesus Christ was a Christian while he walked on earth? What is the one thing in everybody’s life who claims to be a Christian which demonstrates whether or not they belong to him? There is only one thing through which all obedience and all other things come from. Only one thing demonstrates that someone is a Christian. It is the cross of Christ. If a man does not have the cross of Christ in his life that Jesus gives him to carry, and he is not following Jesus Christ with that cross, he is not a Christian or a brother. He can do many works and fathom many things, but he is not a Christian. The only individual that is a Christian or brother with me is someone who’s picking up their cross and following Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:5- Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Our attitude and frame of reference in terms of greater depths of understanding should be the same as Jesus Christ. We should hunger and thirst for the same things as Jesus Christ. What are we looking toward?

Luke 12:49- I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Jesus is talking about the cross and going to the cross.

Luke 12:50- But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!

Our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ. We should be distressed until the cross is doing its work in our life. But we are distressed because we have to go the cross or somebody presents the cross to us. Jesus Christ is distressed until he can get to the cross. Every hour of every day that he lived on earth was leading up to the cross. Though the cross caused him trouble and turmoil, it made him a believer in God.

John 12:27- Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”?

Listen to his attitude and ask yourself if this is your attitude every single day?

John 12:27- No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

It is why we get up in the morning. We are supposed to tell God, “I am here today to pick up my cross and follow you. I got out of bed this morning for this reason.

I came to this particular hour in my life so I could come before you and to pick up my cross.” This is what makes someone a brother.

John 12:28- Father, glorify your name!

There is much talk and singing about glorifying God’s name, but where’s the cross? Do you see these two things going hand in hand? People talk about glorifying God and magnifying his name and we sing the songs, but who picks up the cross that God has given them for their lives and follows Jesus Christ? Is there resolve within people’s hearts that says, “This is why I have come? I am distressed until God begins this work of the cross in me. I wish he would lay hold of me and do it now. I want to go through this baptism and be transformed and made holy.”

John 12:28- “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

We would also hear God’s voice if we would tell God that we are here for this very reason. We are here to lose our lives and for this reason we come to God in the prayer closet and say, “God do the work and bring forth the cross that will bring the resurrected life.” We would hear him say to us, “I will glorify my name.” Then when God magnifies his name, we have answered prayers, and we are healed, it is because of the cross, and God’s name is glorified.

Philippians 2:6- Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

Everybody tries to grasp Christianity. We want to lay hold of it, qualify it, quantify it, put it in a box and say, “This is it. I’ve got it down.” Jesus Christ did not consider Christianity (and I’m putting this in worldly terms) something that you can grab a hold of, maintain, and say, “It’s mine.” You often hear people say, “I was saved on such and such a date.” They have grasped hold of Christianity and they claim it is a done deal, it’s complete. Jesus Christ came to earth and picked up his cross from day one. He carried that cross all the way until he died on it. It wasn’t something that he grabbed hold of and said, “I completed it here when I was nineteen or twenty.” It wasn’t complete until he said at the cross, “It is finished.” Everybody wants a concluding kind of Christianity complete for their life so they can sit back and relax. But Jesus Christ said we are to pick up our cross daily and follow him.

Philippians 2:7- but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.


He made himself nothing. He set out with that goal and purpose. Each of us should do the same with the same attitude that says, “I want to be like Jesus Christ. I’m not going to try to grab on to God, a miracle, or a particular understanding. I’m going to worship God and make myself to be nothing. I am not going to lift myself up in the name of Jesus Christ or grab something in Jesus Christ to use for my own benefit. I’m going to make myself to be nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” He took the lowest form that he could. Do we set out each day with the attitude of Jesus Christ to be nothing? Very seldom do we have that attitude, and then we are surprised when he rebukes or corrects us, or we are required to serve in an area that we don’t want to. We didn’t get up with that frame of mind. We got up demanding God to bless, protect, guide, and give us what we want. We also asked that he keep us from harm and make sure no trouble comes our way. When we sin, slip up or feel a little bit guilty, we expect him to cleanse us and make us feel better right away. Let us set out to be nothing.

Philippians 2:8- And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deatheven death on a cross!

Jesus was doing what God called him to do. He was walking in obedience. Paul will say that his life agrees with what he teaches. Philippians says that Jesus did that, he didn’t just agree to it. God didn’t just come to him and say, “I want you to go and become a man on earth.” And Jesus Christ said, “Okay,” and then not obey. Most people like to agree with the message without ever doing anything. He was found in appearance as a man. He was in obedience to God. There’s no question about what he was doing. When a man truly carries the cross that comes by the Holy Spirit and following Jesus Christ, you can tell. He doesn’t have to tell you. Jesus Christ was found in human appearance and you can tell a brother or sister who is carrying their cross and trying to lose everything for Jesus Christ. You don’t have to ask them. Indeed, if they have to say it, then I already know that something is suspect. It says he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Our attitude should be the samewe come before God and say we will be obedient unto the cross, unto death on the cross. Is that the attitude we really come in with? It’s amazing how little obedience occurs in the house of God, because nobody gets up with the attitude that says, “Okay God, show me whatever you want me to do.” Instead, we have all kinds of flags we throw up calling it legalism, a harsh gospel or something terrible. So we get out of obeying anything that God wants to work in our lives. But Jesus Christ was obedient unto death and not just any death, but death on a cross. We want to bargain with God and say, “I’ll go die as long as I die by firing squad or quietly in my bed.” Jesus Christ was obedient by the death that God chose for him. God has a cross waiting for you but you have to go die according to his plans, and timing. God wait for us to say, “Okay Lord, I will accept however you want to do it. I will quit trying to control how righteousness is worked out in my life.” That needs to be our attitude.

Revelation 12:10- Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

Let’s look at the salvation of God. Let us too have a loud voice about this. Let us not be ashamed about it or hide in the corner or whisper about it. If heaven declares it with a loud voice and says this is the salvation of God, then let us too have a loud voice about it. Let our lives be our loud voice.

Revelation 12:10- Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

Everyone likes to claim this passage up to this point. We can’t wait until Satan is thrown down and he can no longer accuse us. There are all kinds of sermons devoted to this…but let us read on.

Revelation 12:11- They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Certainly it means those who are willing to lay down their lives as martyrs. But again we’ve already seen that a man can lay down his whole physical body and lose it and not gain anything from it. It has to be done by the cross of Christ. The only way that Jesus Christ could die on the cross from Gethsemane was because he carried the cross daily and hourly years before that time. And let us not fool ourselves into thinking, “Well, if called upon to lay down my body in the name of Jesus Christ, I’ll be willing to do it.” If we haven’t been carrying a cross daily every day of our lives, we won’t stand firm. We will not have the courage necessary to do so. Like the disciples at best, we’ll run and leave him! So how do we overcome? Read it again…

Revelation 12:11- They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Are we really willing to lose our lives and pick up his cross? That’s how we overcome our sin and become victorious. We should shout and proclaim this message of the cross and we should desperately not compromise one ounce on it. Who are my brother and sister? Only those who pick up their cross and follow Jesus Christ. No one else. And there is no compromise on it.

Philippians 3:17- Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Not only should we not compromise, this should be something that lives within us that has life. And look at what we’re commanded or instructed to do:

Philippians 3:17- Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Paul says to look at his life and follow his example. And then he goes on to say this, “And take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Take note of them. Find out who carries their cross and follows Jesus Christ. Take note of those that follow the Holy Spirit and lose their lives. Begin to follow and imitate those individuals. People do this in the church, the problem is, we don’t normally look at the person who’s carrying their cross by the leading of the Holy Spirit and say, “I’m going to follow that individual.” Look at what he says in verse 18. I want you to see the emotion here and you ask yourself, do you have the same emotion? In your Christian walk with God, does this burn in your soul? Is this what naturally flows out?

Philippians 3:18- For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

How often do we tell people this? How much does it really live within us? “As I have often told you before and now say again…” I will not apologize for it, he’s saying. And he will repeat it over and over again, even with tears. “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” A lot of people agree with the cross of Jesus Christ, denying self, and the narrow road. But they don’t LIVE as if they’re carrying the cross and following the Holy Spirit. But let us ask ourselves, do we burn with the same passion that Paul burned with? Have we ever shed tears as we’re talking to people and pleading with them about what it means to follow Jesus Christ? How cold and calculating we are in terms of the presentation of Jesus Christ! We’re more interested in winning people over to an argument or to Christianity or to a viewpoint than we are in showing them that the cross is missing in their life! So there’s an earnestness, an attitude, a life, a zeal, and there’s a pleading. I can’t find enough adjectives to express that this is what should burn and dwell within us, because it is the very power of God to deliver men from sin.

Philippians 3:19- Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

Their god is their stomach. That’s what they worship. They do what feels good, and it just gives them that nice warm fuzzy feeling. Their glory is their shame. They boast about the miracles and the works, and yet the very things they glorify themselves in are their shame. Scripture says their mind is on earthly things. Now how do we know our mind is on earthly things? Well to the degree that we say with tears, “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ,” shows whether our mind is on earthly things or not. If we have never said it, then our mind is on something else in the world.

Philippians 3:20-21- But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

What transforms our bodies? What gives us the power and the victory over sin? What message does he plead with tears? The cross of Jesus Christ! That’s what made Jesus Christ a Christian. He could have done all the religious things that we’ve been looking at and met all the demands of the old covenant, but without the cross, it would have been nothing. No salvation, no obedience, it would have just been him doing religious things. In Romans 1:16, Paul says this about the gospel, and people quote this passage quite often:

Romans 1:16- I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

And so we think this concept of belief means anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and died for our sins. Again, the demons know that to be a fact, do they not? The only thing that makes someone a brother or sister in Jesus Christ is whether or not they pick up the cross that Jesus Christ has given them and they begin to follow him. Now remember Romans 1:16 where Paul says, “…it is the power of God.” And let’s go to 1 Corinthians 1:18 because he says the same thing here. People have divided scripture in order to use it for their own benefit. They’ll quote Romans 1:16 and they’ll define belief to be something else, like believing in Jesus Christ, or trusting that he died for our sins. And they’ll define it the way their church or opinion wants it defined. But when Paul says that he believes in the gospel and is not ashamed of the good news, he also means 1 Corinthians 1:18.

1 Corinthians 1:18- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So when I say to somebody, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” do you know what I mean by that? I mean are you picking up the cross that Jesus Christ has given you and are you following him every single day of your life? That’s not what most people mean. When I say to somebody, “Are you denying yourself, and picking up the cross God has for you,” what I mean is, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” They are one and the same message. They are not to be separated or excluded from each other!

1 Corinthians 1:18- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Don’t you know that Satan wants everybody to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? As long as there’s no cross, and he can redefine the word “belief,” he wins. If he can take the definition of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ and water it down and whitewash it and make it an easy, wide road, he wins. But when the cross and the crucified life become your glory, and you become distressed until it’s worked in your life, and that’s what burns within you, he loses. When we begin to live this, and people start to take notice, many will run.

1 John 2:6- Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

So let’s find out how Jesus walked. Because we must follow in his footsteps, have his attitude, and be prepared to go where he goes.

Luke 9:51- As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Isn’t it about time for us to be taken up to heaven? Are we not with each hour growing closer and closer to that time? Look at the determination, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Are we talking about taking a pilgrimage? No, the people there understand that where Jesus Christ is heading means death. It means death on a cross. We’re going to see that they don’t want anything to do with this kind of Jesus.

Luke 9:52- And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him;

By the way, that’s you and I. It’s our job to present Jesus Christ clearly portrayed as crucified, as scripture says. We’re messengers running ahead of Jesus Christ saying, “Look, he is heading towards Jerusalem toward the cross. It’s what the life is about. This is the good news. You get to lose everything.”

Luke 9:52 – 53- And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.


And why did they not welcome him? Why did they not want anything to do with this kind of Jesus Christ? Why did they not want this message? Because of where he was going. He was heading for Jerusalem! They knew he was going to be crucified. They didn’t want anything to do with that kind of Christianity. Many people exist like that. You try to go ahead and send messengers out. You try to say, “This is the good news.” They won’t even welcome you to start with, because they don’t want a Jesus Christ who is heading toward Jerusalem, to Golgotha to die and serve God. They knew Jesus Christ had said you have to eat my flesh, drink my blood, and live as I lived. They knew this was a hard teaching. They knew that a man had to give up everything in order to qualify to be a disciple. Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. Jesus Christ spoke plainly about what was soon to happen.

Luke 9:21-22- Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

That’s fine and dandy. Everybody will be happy for Jesus Christ to die for them.

Luke 9:23- Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

He says anyone. No exceptions. Anyone who says he wants to be Christian is not exempt from this. To say that you believe in Jesus Christ and not have this makes you a demon of a man.

Luke 9:23- Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Of course the ultimate key here is to follow Jesus Christ. Religious people deny themselves don’t they? People in churches are required to deny themselves but it doesn’t make them a Christian. There are even people who pick up their cross, carry some pain and suffering in their life, but when we add all of this together it comes alive. It must be the full gospel. “And follow me.” We have to take the cross he gives us. Each cross is different for every individual, but it is still his cross. It still requires that each individual deny himself in whatever way God calls him to do so. It is a daily thing not a thing we grasp hold of and say, “Oh, I have this down,” or “Yes, I know this issue.”

Luke 9:23-24- Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

This is what makes somebody my brother in Jesus Christ. Nothing more or nothing less. There may be a brother in Christ that believes all kinds of strange things, but if he’s willing to pick up a cross and hate his own life, we will come into complete unity. It will happen because the cross contains the power to do it. I have allowed certain individuals to join the church with doctrines we didn’t really agree upon, but they were willing to pick up their cross and come before the Lord to die. They would eventually come into a unity that God worked, not by me pounding on them about that issue, but by teaching them how to die. It can’t be just any cross. It has to be the cross that Jesus Christ is working in you. You will meet a lot of people who say, “Oh yeah, I agree with this. I understand it. I even have a cross to carry and deny myself in all these things.” But you need to look for the fragrance of Jesus Christ in their lives. You will need to discern, in the Lord, whether their cross is of Christ or not.

1 Corinthians- 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospelnot with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Notice how Paul ties in the preaching of the gospel with the cross. They are one and the same. Most churches today preach the cross with human wisdom, understanding, and manipulation. This empties the cross of its power. When you take away the offense, you take away the power that can transform people. We can present the message of the cross and denying self in such a way that the emptied power of the cross. Without the offense people are merely religious. We cannot take the offense from the cross. We must allow the Holy Spirit to give us the words to describe what this cross is about and it will be offensive to every person we talk to. Some things that Jesus tells me to do are not offensive to me. However the same thing may offend somebody else because the cross is different for different people. I must hear from him what cross to present to each person I meet. Jesus Christ gives us an offensive cross, and this is not the kind of cross that everybody embraces. Even whole towns refuse to accept Jesus Christ. So the church naturally decides to clean up the cross and promote it in a nice fashion so that people will accept it.

Galatians 6:12- Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

They want to make the cross look good. They want to dress it up a little. They want to preach the message of the cross without any offense. They try to compel you to be circumcised. They try to compel you to do these outward things that will smooth it out a little. “Oh brother, don’t say those things. Don’t go so far out on a limb with that issue. Don’t talk about hating your own life, or hating your father and mother, your wife and children. Don’t discuss those things. We want to make a good impression with people.” The church’s goal is to bring visitors in to impress them to believe the gospel. They don’t come to people with an offensive kind of cross that says they have to die, and change. This is the power of God. This is the good news. What is the major goal of most churches? Not to offend anyone, of course.

Galatians 6:12- Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

That’s the only reason they do it, because if they preached the cross of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit they would be persecuted. Plain and simple. To present this kind of cross is going to cost. Notice how they are trying to compel. These people do not sit idly by. If we sit by and don’t say anything about the offense of the cross, they will try and compel people to avoid the offensive cross. If our attitude is just to lay back and say, “Well, it’s not really my obligation or responsibility to present that to them,” the other people who do not want the offensive cross are busy. They are busy in the background winning people over. They will seek to compel people to come down off the cross. If heaven shouts it with a loud voice, we too are going to be directed and commanded to preach it with a loud voice.

Galatians 5:7- You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?

They will seek to persuade you. There is this great contest taking place. Read sometime as Jesus Christ is being crucified, what they are saying to him. What is everybody in the crowd declaring? “Come down from the cross and we will believe you.” What is the wicked thief on the other side saying to Jesus Christ? “Save me from this cross!” They are busy persuading people to avoid this message. People choose sides very quickly when it comes to the cross.

Galatians 5:9- “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.”

There is no favoritism with the cross.

Galatians 5:11- Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.

If I’m still preaching circumcision, that is, an outward kind of religion, and something that makes people feel particularly good, then why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. When people find me to be offensive, guess what? It’s the cross. When Jesus Christ is transforming you, and making a difference, people will lover certain things about you. They will see the kindness and gentleness, just as they did with Jesus Christ. Yet part of you they will find offensive. Some of your qualities they won’t care for, because that’s the cross doing its work. If we hide this offensive part and avoid it, then what? We’re trying to avoid being persecuted! Because we know if we preach it and live it as we should, what happened? We will be persecuted, made fun of, misunderstood, and all kinds of other things. Who are my brothers and sisters? Those who pick up the cross that God has for them. And I don’t have a clue what your cross is supposed to be, so don’t even come and ask me! The best that I can do is help you carry it, love you along the way, and point you toward Jerusalem, but I cannot give you your cross. I barely have enough time to discern my own cross!

This really is all good news. Think about it. Jesus Christ says the man who finds a treasure hidden in a field goes and sells everything he has, and in his joy buys that field. The man would never complain, “Oh gee, I’ve got to sell this and I’ve got to give this up to go buy this treasure.” He finds it to be his joy. What we’re talking about here is good news, if you want to give up your life. Are you tired of your sin and do you want to love God with a pure heart? If you don’t, this is the worst news in the world! It’s what demons fight and are willing to go to hell for.

Romans 12:1- Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship.

No, it is not complete in you. No, death to self is not finished. Yes, he has much that he must do and work, but in view of that mercy, in view of the fact that he loves you and bids you to come, he will teach you and make you a disciple. He will give you the most loving cross that he can create for you. Because let me tell you it is out of love that he forms that cross for you. Out of love he considers each person individually and he says, “Here’s a cross that is fashioned for you.” Every thorny part of that cross, and every rough exterior part, every bump and every nail was designed out of love for you. He knows you have to be crucified to fellowship with him.

That’s why it’s not the same cross for everybody. Love forms your cross. In view of God’s mercy, we fall down, like the Samaritan did, at the feet of Jesus. We throw ourselves at his feet to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. All he’s asking you to do, all he’s saying is come with faith that says, “Here is my body and here’s the day, do with them whatever you see fit. Whatever opinions you want to put into my brain, put them in there. Whatever work you want me to do today, work it out for me. Whatever love you want to put in my heart, put it there. I can’t do this! I offer myself to you in mercy. I can’t do any of this work. I can’t do this Christian thing. But I offer myself to you. Now work it.” How distressed we are until he begins the work. How we want this one thing. We don’t care about all the other exciting things that are taking place out there in all the other churches. We just want the cross formed in us. In view of his mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. Say and do whatever God wants you to do out of the greatest act of love. This is holy and pleasing to God. This is church. This is your spiritual act of worship. What should the church be but a group of people who carry their crosses during the week and offer their bodies to Jesus Christ, and then come together for a few hours on Sunday. That’s what church is supposed to be. This is your spiritual act of worship. This is what it means to worship and praise God. This is what it means to be baptized.

Romans 12:2- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will.

When I pick up the cross, I am no longer conforming to the world. I am now doing the glorious work of the cross. It’s a grand freedom in Jesus Christ. “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He must do the work of renewing our mind so that we think totally different. Who of us wakes up in the morning with the attitude of Jesus Christ, eager for the cross? That is not natural. He must transform us. The kind of joy we’re speaking of comes when he transforms your mind. You will have to be honest before God and say, “God, I don’t find this exciting and joyful. In fact, I hate this thing! But don’t give me what my flesh wants. Transform my mind and show me the joy in the cross. How is this exciting? How is this the part of heaven that I’m missing?” And he will transform your mind. “Then you will be able to test.” A Christian who’s not willing to carry his cross, but who prays and does all kinds of things, is not of Jesus Christ. Until this happens you can’t say the word “then” for their life! Until the cross is formed and doing its work, they cannot know the will of God. I don’t care how much they say they do. They can stumble into God’s will or find it by mistake-but they don’t know it! It says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” I like both aspects of this. I know a lot of people who can test what God’s will is, but they don’t approve it. It is one thing to say, “Yes I know that is the will of God for my life.” But it’s quite another thing, “to approve of it.” I can’t think of any better way it could be done. I know whatever he has chosen for my life, is the most perfect thing that could be done, in the most perfect way.

You see, the flesh has to die. There are a lot of things that I’ve known are God’s will, but I have had to wrestle before I approved of them! Before I could say, “Yes, Lord this is it, I understand, my flesh had to die.” There are a lot of doctrines and things that we are going to look at and examine that your flesh will not immediately approve of or be excited about. Your flesh must die more in order to say “Yes, Lord.” Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Surely we’ve tasted how sweet it is, going in before God, going through the wrestling process, and surrendering. That is the hard part. Once we finally let go and say, okay God you’re right, then the joy comes and it’s pleasing and perfect. Then it’s holy and you agree that it can’t be done any other way. And indeed we would tell God that even if it could be done another way that’s not what we want. I want whatever’s pleasing and perfect. When Joshua is getting ready to enter the Promised Land, he turns and says to God, “Do not send us up from here if your presence does not go with us. Don’t give us any of the promises unless you personally go with us.” I know a lot of people who are content to just get the promises. So what we need to do is go back before God and ask God for a cross that is honest and real and by his Spirit. And we need to surrender before him with a quiet kind of sacrifice. This doesn’t take jumping up and down, it doesn’t take resolving to fast and to prayit really is just a quiet thing. Go in before the Lord and say, “God, here is my body. Do with it whatever you find fitting to do.” And then he will give you the cross and he will lead you to deny yourself. He will lead and show you the way to go to Jerusalem.

Beyond Jerusalem is the resurrected life. That is the gospel that saves us, and those who cling to it are my brothers and sisters.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.


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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.