Posted by Greg Bartlett

Do you know for sure you have eternal life? Do you want to know for sure what will happen to you after you die? Read the tract below and listen to this sermon. Also, below, is a text of a sermon preached. There is no audio available. If you have any questions, please contact us!

Eternal Life is Free

But It Will Cost You Your Life!”

Selections from Mark 8-10

INTRODUCTION

This message is not going to be nice. It’s not the type of message you’d hear on pop Christian radio. It’s probably the most gruesome sermon will hear. And because of the impossible demands of Jesus that I want to present this morning, I expect that some will turn away and others may say things like, “Don’t you know that some people were offended at your message?”

But everyone who names the name of Christ should know that we have a serious crisis of discipleship in the church today. In a day in which all one has to do is “pray the sinner’s prayer” or “invite Jesus into their heart,” it’s no wonder that many members of even good churches are confused about what salvation really is. Someone might say, “I prayed the sinner’s prayer five times when I went to vacation Bible school in five different summers. I was baptized that last summer at such-and-such whatever-denomination Church.” Somebody else’s testimony might say, “… And then that fall, I ‘invited Jesus into my heart’ or ‘I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior.’”

Are these people Christians? In other words, through that, is it for certain that God has regenerated them? Has God given them eternal life? So I want to ask a question this morning and that is, “What does Jesus really demand from people that he might give them eternal life?” How does Jesus describe the person who has eternal life? What are Jesus words? What are His thoughts and His teachings?

His words, His thoughts, and His teachings help us to understand this important thought for the morning that Eternal Life is Free, but It Will Cost You Your Life!

There is no “just-pray-this-sinner’s-prayer-after-me,” or “just-invite-Jesus-into-your-heart” kind of language in the Bible concerning going to heaven. Don’t misunderstand, eternal life is free, in the sense that you cannot perform any good works to receive it, but to receive eternal life requires crucifying yourself for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. And don’t be confused, eternal life is simple, but oh! is it difficult to receive. Jesus says… “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:24

This is not nice. But I don’t stand here this morning to be nice. I don’t stand here and preach because I want you to like me or my messages, or because I want to have an outlet to be funny. We’re not holding this service this morning to get you come to Pastor Greg’s church. Although, of course, you are always welcome here; I can’t emphasize that enough. I stand here before God and before His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, to tell you that unless you crucify yourself and cut off your hand, it is impossible for you to enter the Kingdom of God and receive eternal life. Eternal Life is Free, but it will cost you your life!

So, believe it or not, we’re going to focus on those 3 points this morning:

Self-Crucifixion is Required for Eternal Life (Mark 8:31-38)

Self-Amputation is Required for Eternal Life (Mark 9:43-48)

Salvation is Impossible for You Mark (10:23-27)

This is strictly Bible, as we will see. Does this sound like “just pray a prayer” to you? Does Jesus use “just invite Jesus into your heart” kind of language to you?

  1. Self-Crucifixion is Required for Eternal Life (Mark 8:31-38)

Turn to Mark 8:29.

In the verses previous to this verse, Jesus questioned his disciples concerning his own identity. He asked what others were saying about him. The disciples responded that the people were thinking that He was John the Baptist or Elijah, or one of the prophets. And of course, they were saying this about him because of his many miracles and the authority with which he spoke. And then he turns to his disciples in Mark 8:29 and says, “but who do you say that I am?”

And for a Jew to answer that question is to focus in on whether or not Jesus is the prophesied Messiah to come. And so Peter responds in faith in verse 29 and says to Jesus, “you are the Christ.” In other words, Peter believes that Jesus was the promised one, prophesied in many passages of the Old Testament. For those of us who are not and never have been practicing Jews, the question I want to ask us this morning, “is Jesus God come in the flesh?” Of course, this is exactly how the New Testament portrays him. Jesus himself claims to have existed before Abraham was born and Jesus is called “the Son of God” which has reference to him being of the same essence as God. He is God… Romans 9:5 … Christ … is over all, …Christ is God blessed forever.

So let me ask you, “who do you say that Jesus is?” You know, some say that He was a liar. That He made the whole thing up about being God. But would a liar claim to be God and then be willing to be crucified for it? What liar is willing to die for his own lies? And indeed, the Jews wanted to crucify Jesus because of his claim to be God. Is a liar willing to die for his own lies? No, a liar would retract his lies if faced with death. Unless of course, he is crazy.

Well, that’s another option. Maybe he is crazy, maybe he’s a lunatic for thinking he’s God.

But if you understand lunacy, a lunatic who thinks that they are God are often egotistic, narcissistic, inflexible, dull, very predictable, and unable to understand and love other people.

Does this sound like Jesus? Does Jesus fit that profile of being egotistical…what about narcissistic…is that Jesus? Inflexible, dull, very predictable, and unable to understand and love other people?

The historical record as we have it in the New Testament is the most attested to document of the ancient world and it is clear that Jesus was unimaginably wise as well as unthinkably loving and creative. Jesus perceived people’s thoughts and the motivations behind their words. He solved unsolvable problems and gave his entire life for other people. He was not boring by any stretch of the imagination… people “wondered” at his words and abilities. This is no lunatic.

You have only 1 other option, that He is indeed the Lord. Liar? Lunatic? No, He’s the Lord. There is no doubt that Jesus lived and existed. The New Testament is more historically reliable on every hand then every other ancient document. There are no historical questions concerning the accuracy that we have it in the NT as to Jesus’ life and ministry. To throw out Jesus’ life and ministry is to throw out how we know what we know from history altogether. We would have to begin questioning everything from the reality of the Holocaust to the former existence of the Roman Empire. Jesus is not a liar, he is no lunatic, the only credible answer is that Jesus is the Lord. And given the nature of his life and miracles and ministry, this only makes sense.

Especially, given what Jesus predicts to the disciples in verse 31. Mark 8:31 (NASB) And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus predicts here that he would be killed by the Jews and then three days later, but he would literally physically rise again from the dead. And when he had said that so clearly, this rubbed Peter the wrong way. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him.

And then Jesus rebukes Peter in front of the disciples in verse 33 and he is not very nice. Mark 8:33 (NASB) But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Jesus was well aware of the spiritual warfare going on as it concerned his own ministry of dying for the sins of the world and being raised literally physically bodily from the dead three days later. When Peter was voicing his opposition to Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter was an instrument in the hands of Satan. Peter had in his mind not the interests of God, but Peter had in his mind and in his heart only the interests of man, Jesus says there in verse 33.

And this leads us to verses 34-38 where we get our first point of the morning and that is self-crucifixion is required for eternal life. Self-crucifixion is required for eternal life.

Often times for people, it’s not the fact that Jesus is the Lord, and it’s not the fact that Jesus died for our sins and that he was raised again the third day for our sins… Most people in a church service don’t have a problem with that. The point at issue that really rubs people the wrong way is our response to these facts, just like it did Peter.

Let’s read Mark 8:34-38. As we do, notice the references to self-crucifixion and how it is required for eternal life.

Mark 8:34-38 (NASB) 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Notice first of all, that Jesus is talking about those who receive eternal life. Notice who Jesus is talking about in verse 34, that “if anyone wishes to come after Me.” That’s the kind of person you’re talking about. We’re also talking about someone in verse 35 now…who “wishes to save his life” and someone who, at the very end of verse 35…who “will save it,” that is, we’re talking about someone who wants to save his life, someone who wants to receive salvation, is the idea.

Under discussion is verse 36 the topic of “forfeiting your soul” and verse 37 “giving something in exchange for your life.”

So clearly, we’re talking about salvation, going to heaven, and we’re talking about saving your life, and how Jesus plays the role in all of that. And what Jesus requires, and I want to focus on this now, is found in verse 34 where he says Mark 8:34 (NASB) …”If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

This is a very misunderstood verse. Folks don’t understand this verse, partly because Christians have so spiritualized this symbol of the cross. Do you really understand what Jesus is saying here? This is crucial. He is saying that if you are one who desires to come after or follow Jesus, then you must deny yourself. If you want a picture of what it means to deny yourself, the only appropriate picture of this is taking up the cross. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, [here’s the picture of self-denial, it’s self-crucifixion]…deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.

Now this does not have reference to some spiritual mystical meaning nor does it have reference to taking up your burden and trying to slog your way through life with your unique God-ordained difficulty. What it means is that you are supposed to willingly carry your execution device. Take your pick.

Do you want lethal injection? Perhaps that’s too easy. How about a noose? How ‘bout taking up a stake and fire. Whatever your modern equivalent, it does not even come close to a cross, which is what Jesus demands.

ILL: So what does Jesus demand? Is He talking about what the Catholic Filipinos of Pampanga do who, every Good Friday, literally crucify themselves?

For example, Rolando Ocampo has been crucified every year since 1990. He crucifies himself as a sign of his gratitude to God for saving his wife from a difficult childbirth. He is crucified for just a few minutes and then lowered from the cross and given medical treatment. When Jesus says “take up your cross and follow me” is what Rolando doing what Jesus requires? No, what Rolando is doing is too easy compared with what Jesus is requiring.

For a day, Rolando goes through pain and then lives his life as he sees fit, but what Jesus requires is self-crucifixion resulting in the death of self. In what sense? In the sense of what Jesus says there, “if anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself. Self must be crucified to death for those wanting to come after Jesus or wanting to follow him. A one-time choice of giving it all up…all of it, your life, your plans, your ambitions, and your wishes for the sake of living Jesus’ life, His plans, His ambitions, and His wishes.

So self-crucifixion is a live picture of denying yourself. Okay so …..here’s a question…. do you wish to save your life? That’s bad question. Do not think in terms of saving your own life. “I want to go to heaven; I don’t want to go to hell; I want to live forever, I want to save my life.” Don’t think that way! You can’t think that way. If you do think that way and wish to save your life, you will lose it forever, Jesus says. But, instead, if you purposefully lose your life for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of his death, burial, and resurrection and what all that means for lost humanity, it is at that point, that you will save it. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it,” Jesus says, in Mark 8:35.

And let me remind you, that this eternal life is free. It is free in the sense that no good work of yours can save you. If you think you will save your life by denying yourself, you have it all wrong. To receive eternal life, you must believe that Jesus is truly the Lord, God in flesh, and that He died on the cross to pay the penalty of your sins and that He was raised again the third day, just like He predicted would happen. That’s the easy part.

The hard part is your response to those facts, it really comes down to repentance. And if you want a picture of repentance, it looks like crucifying yourself. This is a graphic illustration to make this serious point: You need to make a break with everything that you know about yourself and your desires for yourself. It’s the difference between life and death, heaven and hell. Are you willing to cut the lifeline off from everything that defines you for the sake of Jesus and his gospel of his death burial and resurrection?

TRANS: A similar graphic illustration portrays the same idea in the next chapter in Mark 9:43-48, where we learn the second point this morning and that is Self-Amputation is Required for Eternal Life. Let’s turn there now, to Mark 9:43-48.

  1. Self-Amputation is Required for Eternal Life (Mark 9:43-48)

Just like the previous illustration of self-crucifixion, self-amputation is also a picture of repentance. We’re talking about repentance, about turning from sin and self. It is a graphic illustration to make the point of how serious this is for people. And the way Jesus says these words makes us think that he has the right and the authority to say this.

What he is about to say is that if there is anything at all, even if you think it is beneficial, if there is anything at all that is keeping you from entering eternal life and the kingdom of God, or receiving Christ and salvation, if there’s anything that’s preventing you in this way, Jesus urges you to cut it off… You must separate it from your very being.

Mark 9:43-48 (NASB) 43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] 45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] 47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

This horrific imagery of cutting off your hand, and cutting off your own foot, and gouging out your eye, this terminology is talking about someone coming to Christ for salvation. There is no one in here who has received eternal life and who has genuinely come to saving faith in Jesus Christ who has not cut off his hand. That’s the same thing as saying that there is no believer in here who is genuinely saved and has eternal life who has not taken up his execution device and has lost his life for the sake of Jesus.

Both of these pictures, taking up an execution device and cutting off your own hand are graphic illustrations for you to wake up and to come to grips with whether or not you have truly repented. Really these verses are all graphic illustrations of repentance. Have you lost your life for Christ? Be done with yourself; turn on yourself, be your own enemy, suspect yourself of murdering God. Hate your own life; hate yourself, violently turn away from everything that is “you.”

What Jesus is demanding in verses 43, 45, 47 is one and the same. He says it three different ways to emphasize the point so that you get it. He is intentionally graphic 3 different times so that you make sure that it sticks in your memory.

A hand, foot, or an eye are all something that you would consider to be of incalculable value. What value can you place on your eye, your hand, or your foot? You would almost give anything to keep them wouldn’t you? Now, Jesus is saying, if there is something in your life that you consider to have incalculable value and that thing in your life is preventing you from depending on Jesus that is, it is causing you to stumble, it is preventing you from receiving the life of Jesus, eternal life… there’s something in your life that is preventing you from going on for Christ, Christ is calling on you to perform self-amputation. Make a break from that thing in your life that is preventing you from receiving Christ in a saving way. Cut off…cut out that thing in your life that has got such a hold on you … it prevents you from receiving Christ for salvation … be willing to be rid of it!

And you know, people love their sin. They will seek out their sin. If your sin is keeping you from trusting Christ in a saving way, Christ is calling on you to want to be done with it to such an extent that you’d be willing to do something drastic…cut it off. It will hurt. It will hurt like cutting off your hand, but you must do it. If it actually worked this way, it would be better to have eternal life limping on one foot or blind in one eye, than having both eyes or both feet or both hands and rush headlong into the fires of hell. And to hell you will go if you haven’t turned from yourself and your sin.

APP: The drunk must be hate his drunkenness, the adulterer must hate his adultery, the pornographer, his pornography…and the glutton his gluttony and the gossiper her gossiping! Hate it, cut it off, tell him you really, really want to be done with it because you know He hates it and call upon Him to save you from your sin! This is self-amputation!

And to motivate you further to make a decision for Christ, Christ describes hell in verse 48. It is a place “where the worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched.” And the point here is to say that it keeps going. The destroying eating worm doesn’t die; destruction continues. And the fire is never quenched; it keeps on going… it never stops this is eternal hellfire.

TRANS: By now some of you are probably wondering if you really do want to listen to Jesus’ words or perhaps you are considering the lifestyle of saving your own life. All these words of Jesus seem so difficult to hear. Do you really want to crucify yourself? Do you really want to cut off your hand for his sake? In other words, do you really want to turn away and make a decisive break from your own life’s plans and ambitions and wishes for the sake of Jesus’ plans and his ambitions and wishes and the plan of his cross and his gospel? That’s the decision.

And to put this in an even more serious light, let’s turn now to Mark 10:23-27. Here we are going to learn that Salvation is Impossible for You. Believe it or not, Jesus says that salvation is impossible for you. Did you know that?

  1. Salvation is Impossible for You (Mark 10:23-27)

Well, you say, what was all this talk about crucify myself and repenting and cutting off my hand turning from my sin, and these kinds of things? Why are we even talking about this if salvation is impossible for me?

What? Do you think that you have the ability within yourself to crucify your own life? Do you wish to save your life? Do you really think that you have it within your capacity to make that decisive break from anything that is preventing you from receiving eternal life from Jesus? Can you do this? No, this salvation is impossible for you. And that’s the point. You cannot attain to Jesus’ salvation; it is impossible…for you. But let’s see how Jesus puts this in Mark 10:23-27.

Previous to this passage, Jesus was entertaining the question of a rich young ruler. This man asked Jesus, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” After Jesus tells the man that he knows the Commandments and then lists some of them, the man actually claims that he has kept all of them.

But then Jesus presses in on a tender spot in the man’s heart when Jesus tests him out on whether or not he is covetous, that 10th commandment, you shall not covet, or longingly desire. You shall not longingly desire even your own possessions. Jesus commands him in verse 21 Mark 10:21 (NASB) Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” V.23…But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

And it is Jesus’ response to this in verses 23 and following that really gives us a shock.

Mark 10:23-27 (NASB) 23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

With you, if it were left up to you, salvation would be impossible. See, the disciples were thinking that being rich was actually a blessing from God. But Jesus is saying “How hard it will be for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God.”

And then Jesus says in verse 24, point blank, “children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” And if you wanted an illustration as to how hard it actually is to enter the kingdom of God, Jesus says Mark 10:25 (NASB) “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

You say, well, I’m not rich. If you are listening to the sound of my voice this morning, you are among the top 5% of the wealthiest people on Earth. You are or you are in a family that is among the wealthiest people alive today. If you are in a household that earns $50,000 per year, you are in the top 1% of the wealthiest people alive.

Rich people tend to depend on their wealth and possessions and not on Jesus. If anything would come in between them and their riches, they would make a decisive break with whatever it was. When the rich young ruler went away grieving, he did so decisively. He made the choice of depending on and trusting in his riches and property rather than trusting in the only One who can give eternal life.

See, with the rich young ruler, as with any of us, salvation is impossible us. We cannot, in ourselves, make the decisive break from the things of this world in order to depend on Jesus for eternal life. Just like it is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of the needle, so it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. It is impossible… for him.

Then who can be saved?” ask the disciples in verse 26. And you probably have the same question. It works the same way for everybody. Mark 10:27 (NASB) Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

It is not impossible with God. Salvation is not impossible with God. With you, though, it is impossible. But if we’re talking about God’s abilities and God’s capacity and God’s kindness that leads people to repentance that we’re talking about, all of these things are possible when we are talking about God. Salvation is possible with God; it only possible with God.

And that’s why the work of giving eternal life to someone is all the work of God. You cannot do anything to earn it. It is all of him. It’s impossible with you, so it must be all of Him. He must give you everything that you need in order to be saved. You cannot crucify yourself long enough, you can’t give enough money, you cannot feed enough hungry mouths, nor can you muster up your own twisted sense of repentance to save your own soul. “If you wish to save your own life, you will lose it,” Jesus says.

APP: You must crucify the self that is in you and you must violently cut off what it is that’s preventing you from receiving eternal life. And the self-crucifixion and the self-amputation happens in prayer …

God, I hate my life … I’m turning from my life and plans and even good things, in order to have Jesus’ life for me. I repent, I’m turning my back on my sins and even my whole life and want only what the Lord Jesus wants me to want…please save me from the power of my sin and the penalty of my sin.”

So, you must repent from, turn away from your sin and everything that you are. But to what do you then turn? You turn to Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh! Are you trusting in him …are you depending on him… are you committed to this life of Jesus and the personal demands and ramifications of his death and resurrection on your behalf?

2 Corinthians 1:9 teaches that you have the sentence of death within yourself. And you have this death sentence…you will die… because you have sinned against God and because of your sin now you are to die. All of that is in place within you so that you would not trust in yourself but in God who raises the dead.

And Jesus proved that he has the power to conquer your enemy, death. Jesus has this resurrection power in store for you and he has proved that he can do this when he was raised from the dead. But you must depend on him to receive this power from Him.

CONCLUSION

Have you ever really asked him about these things? It’s “whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord that is saved,” you must ask him.

Or will you turn away? People tuned away from Jesus in John 6 … I’d like to turn there now, to wrap up. In John 6, Jesus feeds 5000 people with just a small bit of bread. And Jesus says John 6:35 “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

He says John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in [i.e., trusts in, depends on. Everyone who depends on] Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus gives resurrection power.

And the Jews were grumbling at him that day because he was saying that he was the bread that has come down out of heaven. And he says John 6:51-53 51 “I am the living bread that has come down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

He says similar difficult words and many in the crowd that day who considered themselves to be his disciples said John 6:60-66 60 “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? … v.64,

64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

They turned away because of His difficult words. Who can come to Jesus? Jesus says only those to whom it has been granted from the Father. You better talk to God about this. He’s the one who’s in control of all this, not you! With you it is impossible, but not with God!

Will you ask Him or will you turn away from Him after hearing Him? If you turn away from Him, your lot will be a life of eternal death. But if you trust Christ, the glories of His life in you will be your joy forever. Your spirit will awaken anew with life as God has meant you to have and the power you’ll have in your heart will make you as bold as a lion. You’ll finally be giving God the glory He deserves from your life and you’ll rest forever in eternal bliss with Him. This is the happy life of all who receive Christ and whoever comes to Him, He will in no wise, cast them out.

Let me ask a question.

Are you living the crucified life? If not, I’d love to talk to you about that.

My church businesses cards are at the back and they have my phone number, if you’d like help with these things, or anything, please take one and give me a call.

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