Net Questions

1. What have been some of the hindrances to your being engaged in following Jesus?

2. Believing in Jesus and following Jesus are related, but are not the same. Explain?
1 John 3:23  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1 John 3:24  Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

3. Once we decide to take the step of following Jesus, we will have to deny our self and take up our cross. Why do we have to deny our self and what does it mean to take up our cross?
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

4. Discuss what the following two verses mean to you.
Matthew 16:25 (NIV) For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:26 (NIV) What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?


Sermon Notes

Matthew 16:24-27
The series of messages we begin today, and our response to them, will in large way define what we will be in 2012 as individual Christians and as a Church family.

Let's pray and ask God to teach us and convict us of the importance of becoming a people who are fully engaged in the work of the Lord!

The big question is will we engage in the activities God would have us engage in or will we remain static, stale, stagnant, still, and stuck?

Let's face it, some of us would rather not engage in anything. We rather like sitting still.

What does the word engage mean?
It's a rather complex word...New Oxford American Dictionary...

engage |enˈgāj|
verb
1 [ trans. ] occupy, attract, or involve (someone's interest or attention)  
• arrange to employ or hire (someone)
• [with infinitive ] pledge or enter into a contract to do something
• dated reserve (accommodations, a place, etc.) in advance

2 [ intrans. ] ( engage in) participate or become involved in : organizations engage in a variety of activities
• ( engage with) establish a meaningful contact or connection with
• (of a part of a machine or engine) move into position so as to come into operation
• [ trans. ] cause (a part of a machine or engine) to do this.
• [ trans. ] (of fencers or swordsmen) bring (weapons) together preparatory to fighting.
• [ trans. ] enter into conflict or combat with (an adversary).

Half of the definitions we just looked at are when engage is used as a transitive verb.
What in the world is that?
It means the verb must have an object.

There's a reason I'm telling you this!
If I tell you, "I'm going to run," you know what I'm going to do.
If I tell you, "I'm going to engage," you would say, "Engage in what?"

In this series we will discover the Biblical objects to the word Engage!

Oh and yes engage is a Biblical word!

Let me show you...

Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,
Exodus 35:30 (NIV)

and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts —
Exodus 35:31 (NIV)

to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,
Exodus 35:32 (NIV)

to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.
Exodus 35:33 (NIV)

And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.
Exodus 35:34 (NIV)

He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.
Exodus 35:35 (NIV)

So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.”
Exodus 36:1 (NIV)

So there you have it! In the Old Testament, God had given individuals the abilities and skills to engage in building a sanctuary!

Today, at Northshore Church, God has given individuals the abilities and skills to engage in building God's Kingdom!


Over the coming weeks we're going to explore some of the things we must engage in if we are to find ourselves engaged in the work of the Lord in 2012!

The first thing we must engage in is following!

The reality is this, if we are not following Jesus, we will not find ourselves engaged in the work of the Lord!


In fact, if we are not engaged in truly following Jesus, and if we don't understand what it means to be a Christ-follower, we will inevitably find ourselves engaged in the destructive things of the world!

I must tell you today's message is not about believing, it is about following.
Believing is one thing, following is quite another!

Jesus confronted His disciples and other would be followers with the truth of what it means to be more than a believer.
Warning!!! This could be a game changer!!
Let's see what Jesus said about engaging in following...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:25 (NIV)

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 (NIV)

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27 (NIV)

Okay, wow! Did Jesus have to be so blunt? Did He have to be so hard?
Couldn't He have been little less sharp and a little more seeker friendly?


Let me just put it this way...
Jesus wasn't trying to win a popularity contest. Jesus was trying to save souls and lives.

Why do I say souls and lives?



Because Jesus not only wants you to believe He died for your sins to save your soul, He wants you to follow Him so He can save your life.

We've all known people who accepted Christ as their Savior, but at some point, stopped following Him and the world reeked havoc in their personal lives.

We all know that following Jesus is not easy street, and sometimes there will be trials and tribulations, but I want you to know I'd much rather suffer because I'm engaged in following Jesus than suffer the heartache that comes from being engaged in the wickedness of the world!   

What does it take to become a true follower of Christ, not just a believer?
Jesus gave us the answer...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

The first step to engage in following is to decide if that's what you really want to do!

“If anyone would come after me"

Why would Jesus put it that way?
"If anyone would come after me."

He had just told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to be killed.
Let's look at the verses leading up to our text for today...

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
Matthew 16:13 (NIV)

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Matthew 16:14 (NIV)

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Matthew 16:15 (NIV)

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:16 (NIV)

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:17 (NIV)

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:19 (NIV)

Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Matthew 16:20 (NIV)

Why did He tell them not to reveal who He was? He knew this would bring the fury of the religious establishment and this was not the time or the place. In fact He goes on to reveal to them the time and the place...

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Matthew 16:21 (NIV)

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Matthew 16:22 (NIV)

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Matthew 16:23 (NIV)

The Broadman Commentary states that  "never Lord" or "God forbid" "translates what literally is, "[God] be merciful to you." "Possibly Peter meant, 'May God be merciful to you for saying such a thing' (cf. Filson, p. 188). Why did Peter say this?


Remember, Peter had just made the proclamation that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God!
How could it be that this Christ, the Messiah, the One born King, would be so mistreated and killed.


Jesus remembers the temptations of Satan in the wilderness. The temptations to take another route other than the Cross. The temptation to take an easier way. But there was not easier way and Jesus knew that.

That's why He said, "You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men!"

Following Jesus is the best decision you could ever make, but it's no easy decision and many chose not to follow Jesus because of what He said next...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

The second step to engaging in following Jesus is to deny yourself!

"he must deny himself"

Why do I have to deny myself? Does this mean I have to deny myself any of the fun things in life? Does this mean I have to go around with a sad look on my face or an angry look on my face? Why deny myself?

Here's why. Self thinks it knows best! Self thinks it knows what would make it happy! Self thinks it's not all that bad!
Self is self-sufficient!

But the truth is, when self is left to self, it will self-destruct. Self has no control over the flesh. Self can't be trusted.

I must quote this powerful statement by Frank Stagg in the Broadman Commentary...

"All man's sin and self-destruction centers in self-love, self-trust, and self-assertion. The cross means the opposite. It means trust in God, the love of God, commitment to God, and no to self. Paradoxically this no to self is yes to the true self. One for the first time becomes what he was made to be when he denies himself."

You see, at first glance, denying yourself seems like such a negative thing. But the truth is, when you deny yourself, and commit yourself to Christ, you are no longer a slave to self. You are set free to be all God created you to be!

Gal 5:1  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


When we aren't engaged in following Jesus, self will find other things to follow! These other things look good to self, but lead to self-destruction.


People talk about self-control, but if we aren't engaged in following Jesus and filled with His precious Holy Spirit, self will be out of control!
This is why we must deny our self!

But self is so selfish, and self is so strong! I want to follow Jesus, but self seems to win the battle many times.
This is precisely why Jesus said what He said next...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

The third step to engage in following Jesus is to take up your Cross!

"and take up his cross"

The saying, "We've all got our cross to bear" is true, just not in the sense most people use it.
Why take up a cross? Didn't Jesus die for me? Why do I need a Cross?

We need the Cross to remind us of the terrible price Jesus paid for our sins. We need the Cross to remind us what it cost Jesus to make a way for us to follow Him!
We need the Cross to remind us how horrible sin is and why we should deny self access to the sins that will destroy our lives.


Listen to these powerful words found in the book of Romans...

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin —
Romans 6:6 (NIV)

because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:7 (NIV)

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Romans 6:8 (NIV)

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
Romans 6:9 (NIV)

The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Romans 6:10 (NIV)

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11 (NIV)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Romans 6:12 (NIV)

The only way to keep sin from reigning in our mortal bodies is to take up the Cross on a daily basis and engage in following Christ!

There's more...

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13 (NIV)

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Romans 6:14 (NIV)

And it's the Cross that reminds of God's Grace! We couldn't save ourselves so Jesus died to save us from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin!

But wait, there's more...

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey —whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Romans 6:16 (NIV)

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Romans 6:17 (NIV)

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Romans 6:18 (NIV)

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
Romans 6:19 (NIV)

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
Romans 6:20 (NIV)

What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
Romans 6:21 (NIV)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Romans 6:22 (NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (NIV)

If that doesn't set your heart on fire, your wood is wet or your heart has become as hard as a rock!

Do you want to continue living in ways that bring shame and lead to death, or do you want to begin living a life where "the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life"?

In fact, Jesus summed it all up in today's text...

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:25 (NIV)

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 (NIV)

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:27 (NIV)

Notice, He said reward each person according to what he has done, not save them according to what they've done.
We are saved by God's grace and not by our works, but once we've received God's grace we should follow Jesus and let Him lead us out of the life of sin!

And let me tell you this...
I know God will reward us someday for engaging in following Jesus, but if I were a "shouting kind of preacher" this is were I would shout.

"The rewards start as soon as you start following Jesus!"

First of all when you lose your life to Jesus, you find your life in Jesus!

When you lose your life to Jesus,
you lose the things that were poison and destructive anyway!

Jesus put it this way...

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 (NIV)

Did you know this verse has a double meaning? And this just means it's doubly good!!

The word translated soul, can also be translated life!

So we all know it would be sad for a person to gain the whole world and then lose their very soul in eternity!

It is also sad if a person gains the whole world, but loses his or her life here on earth!

What do I mean by this?

So many people have gone after the things of this world and spent all their time, energy and resources on things that don't really matter.
In the process they missed out on the amazing life God had planned for them.



What can you give in exchange for this? nothing! Can you get those wasted years back? No! The only thing you can do is take the remaining years you have and let God show you real life!

I want to leave you with this thought...

If we come to worship, get fired up, get excited, and even feel really good about the message, but walk out of this building and fail to engage in applying the principles and doing the work of God, it's tantamount to getting in your car, cranking it up, but never engaging the transmission. You get our of the car and go back in the house. You've gone no where! You've accomplished nothing!

If we come to church and sit here for a little over an hour and then go back home unchanged, unmotivated and disengaged, it's the same thing!

Please consider what it means to engage in following Jesus in 2012. Only if each of us engage in following Jesus with all of our hearts and will all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of our strength, will we be able to accomplish the God-given purposes for which we've been put here!!