The Normal Christian Life

Read: Mark 8:22-9:1

Last Sunday Pastor Ken preached on “Christ’s Compassion on Unlikely People in Unlikely Places” from Mark 7:24-37. This Sunday he will preach from Mark 8:22-9:1, as we consider the radical call of Christ to his disciples, namely to deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and follow him. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Dr. Akin encourage you and move you to further consider the state of your heart before God.

Heart Preparation

God’s ways are often hard but usually clear. They are a challenge but always perfect. The passion of the Christ reinforces these biblical truths. Confident that God’s will is perfect, even if it might not be safe, we embrace the call of Jesus to follow Him and to die in order that we and others might truly live!

The Self-Centered Life Must Be Put to Death (Mark 8:34)

Jesus lays out the essence of “the normal Christian life,” the basics of discipleship, which sadly in our day looks like “the radical Christian life.” Being Jesus’ disciple requires three essentials. First, deny yourself. Give up the right to self-determination. Live as Christ directs. Treasure and value Jesus more than yourself, your comforts, your aspirations. Put to death the idol of I! Say no to you and yes to Jesus! Second, take up your cross. Die! Luke 9: 23 adds the word “daily” because that is what we must do. This is not normal or natural, but it is necessary to be Christ’s disciple. And it is a slow, painful death. Finally, follow Me! Are we willing to believe and obey Jesus? It will be radical, not comfortable, because it involves a death to the self-centered life.

The Safe Life Must Be Put to Death (Mark 8:35)

Verses 35-38 all have the word “for” in Greek (gar). Jesus is providing the basis for the challenge of verse 34. If you save or treasure your life above all else, you will lose it. The one who plays it safe and considers his existence more important than Jesus will lose both Jesus and eternal life. In contrast, the one who gives his life for Jesus and the gospel will actually save it! Following Jesus involves risking it all— safety, security, satisfaction in this world. But He promises us that it leads to a reward this world can never, ever offer. There is a life worth giving for the glory of God and the gospel! It is a dying to self that others might live! It is not safe! But it is the normal Christian life! J. I Packer says, “There are, in fact, two motives that should spur us constantly to evangelize. The first is love to God and concern for His glory; the second is love to man and concern for his welfare” (Evangelism, 73). C. T. Studd (1860– 1931), missionary to China, India, and Sudan, said, “We will dare to trust our God . . . and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts. We will a thousand times sooner die trusting only in our God than live trusting in man” (Platt, Radical, 178).

The Self-Serving Life Must Be Put to Death (Mark 8: 36-38)

Your life is set free to live the normal/ radical Christian life when you see death as reward, when you can say with Paul, “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Phil 1: 21).

Excerpt from Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Mark, by Daniel L. Akin, pp. 175-176.

Song List for Sunday

  1. Shine Your Light, by Crosspoint Music
  2. This I Believe, arrangement by Shane and Shane
  3. The Wonderful Cross, arrangement by Joel Engle
  4. Behold the Lamb, by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  5. Lead Me to the Cross, by Hillsong United

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