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The Challenge of the Cross
We’re moving on now to the next section of this teaching, the outline for it begins on the bottom of Page 5 and continues on Page 6. I’ve titled this section of teaching “The Challenge of the Cross.”
I’ve been speaking a great deal about what God has done for us through the cross and I’ve been speaking about what the cross can do in our lives. But none of this takes full effect until we face up to the challenge of the cross. There is a specific response that is required from us. And in this session we’re going to deal with that response under this title “The Challenge of the Cross.”
Somebody said, a well known preacher who is in some ways a friend of mine, he said it’s not enough to challenge God’s people, you’ve got to change them. So I can present the challenge to you but whether you’ll be changed is going to depend on how you respond to the challenge. That’s something I can’t do for you.
I want to read a number of short passages from the words of Jesus in the New Testament. We’ll begin in Matthew 10:34–39. Jesus is speaking:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
I think that’s very important to grasp. Jesus is not just offering the world peace the way the world wants peace. In fact, it’s very much the opposite. He’s brought a sword, something that divides and separates. And he goes on:
“I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”
The impact of the gospel will bring division within families. This has certainly been proved true in subsequent history. Then he goes on:
“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it. And he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
And then we go on in Matthew 16:24–25, just two verses.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it: and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
And then in John 12:24–26.
“Most assuredly I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much grain [or much fruit]. He who loves his life will lose it: and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be: if anyone serves me, him my Father will honor.”
In those passages which are similar but are different in the wording, I think Jesus lays down very simply and clearly the response that God requires us to make to the message of the cross. I believe also he states categorically the conditions for being disciples. We didn’t read Luke 14, we might as well read that as well. I think the Holy Spirit wanted me to read it in this order. Luke 14:26–33. Jesus is speaking:
“If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus doesn’t say he’ll find it difficult. It says “he cannot be my disciple.”
“And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
And then we’ll miss out the intervening verses which are a parable and we come to verse 33.
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.”
Somehow that verse dropped out of a lot of people’s Bibles. I was associated with a group that had a lot to say about discipleship but the remarkable thing is I hardly ever heard that verse quoted. Why don’t people quote it? It’s a pretty hard verse. “Whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Let’s consider now in a simple and practical way the reaction or the response that Jesus indicates in those verses. I’ve separated it into three or four successive, simple phases. The first one is we are required to deny ourselves. I am required to deny myself. What is to deny mean? Very simply it means to say no. To whom am I to say no? To me. You see, we’ve dealt with this already under the deliverances that are accomplished by the cross. I am crucified with Christ. So I say no to I because I have no more rights. I’ve passed out of the scene.
Jesus says “Whosoever will save his life will lose it”. Now the word for “life” there interestingly enough is the word we’ve been dealing with already. At least it’s closely related. Psuche, which means soul. It’s very commonly translated life but it means soul. The root meaning is soul. Now whoever will lose his soul will find it. What does it mean to lost your soul? Obviously it doesn’t mean to go to a lost eternity. In fact, it means just the opposite. In order to be saved you have to lose something. I’m not speaking necessarily about salvation.
I really don’t know where to draw the line between being saved and being a disciple. I honestly don’t. If I read the New Testament with an open mind it doesn’t seem to me to make any distinction. It doesn’t speak about people who are saved but not disciples. That’s an addition of later church thinking. I don’t know where. Thank God I don’t have to determine exactly who is saved.
When I was a young preacher I thought it was my job to know exactly who was going to heaven. It was a tremendous burden on me. And the more I thought about it the smaller the number became! At the end I wasn’t quite sure about myself. I’ve resigned that position, it’s no longer my function. I just try to present the word of God to people and let them face up. I try to face up to it myself.
But I don’t think you’ll find anything in the New Testament that speaks about people that were saved but not disciples. I don’t think you’ll find a picture there.
Years ago I heard a well known lady from the entertainment world whose name would be known to all of you but I’m not going to give her name. The first Billy Graham crusade in London in l954, I was one of the counselors. This lady came on the platform, a beautiful lady, and she was giving her testimony and she said, “When I was young I came to know Jesus as savior. But it was only later in life that I came to know him as Lord.” To my British way of thinking, first of all, the entertainment world was suspect anyhow. I didn’t really think there were many Christians there. And you see, my mind said, “Well, Romans 10:9, ‘If you shall confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart, you shall be saved.’” I thought how can you know Jesus as savior without confessing him as Lord? I really don’t think the New Testament offers that option. I’m sure that dear, precious soul is headed for heaven. It’s not a criticism of her but what I’m trying to show you is that in the course of centuries we’ve introduced into our church terminology a lot of things that have no basis in the New Testament.
I’ll say something else that shocks people. The New Testament doesn’t know anything about salvation that didn’t include water baptism. You cannot find one, single instance anywhere. See, I think the phrase “born again” is being grossly overused. I’m born again, don’t ask me to change, I’m born again. Well, I don’t know that there’s such a provision in the New Testament. It doesn’t seem to me that that’s the kind of picture the New Testament gives.
Now I’m not the one to make the decision, thank God. We’re going to talk about what Jesus said in these verses. If you want to say this is kind of super saint that goes beyond the one who’s born again and saved, that’s your option. But I doubt if you can support it from scripture. You try. If you can, you tell me. Not now but later.
Jesus says you’ve got to lose your psuche. Now, in general—What do I have a wife for? I’ll tell you, she’s a wonderful wife. Some of you may have noticed that in my first session my trouser seam was splitting. Well would you believe she had with her all the things that were needed to repair my trousers right here! How many of you could say that?
This has got nothing to do with my sermon but we were in South Africa some years ago and I had the door open to every Jewish community in South Africa. I was going to tell them why I believe the Bible and why I believed in the destiny of Israel. And we made a lot of friends and then we were in Johannesburg Airport on our way back to Israel and it was a flight that a lot of Jewish people were on. And several of the ladies that had been in our meetings were there and they recognized me. I was going down the escalator in the airport and the cuff of my trouser got caught in the side of the escalator. I thought, “What am I going to do. When I get to the bottom I’m going to jump out of my trousers?” Well, between Ruth and I, we wrenched it loose and I had a big, black, oily mark all across the outside of my trousers. Out comes Ruth with something called spot remover and she removed it. I tell you, those Jewish ladies, that was the greatest testimony we could ever give. They were just overcome with admiration for that kind of a wife—which I agree with!
But anyhow, that’s by the way. Where were we? We were talking about—how did I get there? Can you tell me? She’s a practical one. I’ve had two practical wives. My first one was what you would call a home ec teacher so God has really blessed me.
Now generally speaking, and this is not doctrine, this is just interpretation, this is interpreted as being three things. The psuche: the will, the intellect and the emotion. If you accept that—that’s not doctrine, it’s just a helpful sketch—will means I want. Notice it’s “I.” Intellect is I think. Emotions is I feel.
Now, what does it mean to lose your soul? It means you are no longer motivated and controlled by those three things which control and motivate all unregenerate persons. The only people who escape from that control are people who have been born again. So you don’t do things because you want to do them. You don’t go along merely because you think something. And you’re not yielding to something merely because you feel it’s good or you like its feeling. Do you understand? You have to be delivered from those three basic motivations. I want, I think, I feel. I believe that’s what it means to lay down or lose your soul. You are not motivated by these what I would call soulish urges.
You remember we saw in an earlier study, we got involved in something I didn’t intend to get involved in but I think the Lord was in it. But the soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit. Do you remember that? The psuchekosman. The soulish man is the man who is dominated by I want, I think, I feel. He cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. There has to be a death. That has to be laid down.
And what takes its place? I want is God’s will. I think is God’s word. I feel is God’s standard. There’s a kind of philosophy that’s not new but it’s popular today, if it feels good, do it. That’s not for the Christian. So I think I probably had better put those up. This is one, two, three. In place of one there is God’s will. In place of two there is God’s word. It’s not what you think, it’s what God says. And number three, God’s standard.
Really, our contemporary civilization is just motivated by feelings. If it feels good, do it. But that’s not our way of thinking.
Laying down feelings involves our closest personal relationship. This is where it gets really serious. Look again in Matthew 10:34–37 for a moment.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes will be those of his own house.”
“He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And then he goes on about taking up the cross. That’s the implication of taking up the cross.
We need to look also in Luke 14:26.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also [his own psuche], he cannot be my disciple.”
We need to understand the use of the word hate there. Jesus is not teaching hate for our close personal relatives. Not even mother-in-laws! What he’s saying is “anything that competes with your total loyalty to me is something you have to hate. If it’s your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, if its claims get in the way of your commitment to me, in that respect you have to hate it. I will accept no rival.” And anything that we give preference to over Jesus and his claim becomes an idol.
I have seen many Christians make idols of their children. Some men make idols of their wives. Some wives make idols of their husband. I’ll tell you what happens if you make an idol. God has to destroy it. That’s the surest way to bring disaster on the people you love, it’s to make an idol of them.
So Jesus says, “I will accept no idols, I want your complete, total loyalty. My claims take precedence over any, including your own psuche.” Do you understand?
If you hated your father or mother without hating your own psucheyou wouldn’t be in line with the word of God. But if you can turn against your own self, then on that basis anything else that conflicts with your commitment to Jesus you have to say no to. I think in a little while I’ll relate my own personal experience.
Let us go on to make sure. The other thing that you have to say no to is in Luke 14:33.
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has, cannot be my disciple.”
We have to be prepared to let go our material possessions, our house, our car, our career, our profession, anything. That’s the condition of discipleship. It’s very simple. Jesus didn’t introduce a lot of complication. He said total, unreserved commitment to me. He said if you don’t do that, you’ll start to build and never finish the house. You’ll go to war but you won’t have sufficient forces to win. He says sit down and count the cost. But that’s what it cost to be my disciple. He’s so fair to us, he doesn’t give us any sentimental talk, he doesn’t give us a false picture.
If you’re sitting here, almost every one of you is thinking something. I can see it in your faces. Well, does that mean I have to...? The answer is yes. The very thing you think about was brought to you by the Holy Spirit.
Now let’s go on because we don’t have that long. The next thing you have to do—and we’re now on the top of Page 6 if you want to follow the outline—is take up your cross. God does not impose your cross upon you. Your cross is voluntary. You can take it up or not take it up. I’ve had more than one man tell me that his wife was his cross! I say if you’re free to take her up or put her down, maybe she is. But if you’re saddled with her anyhow then she’s not your cross! Jesus took up his cross, he carried his own cross. We have to do the same. God won’t put it on us, it’s voluntary.
What is the cross? I’ve heard two definitions, I don’t think either of them is actually mine to start with. Number one is the cross is where your will and God’s will cross. Okay? The second is the cross is the place where you die. It’s the instrument of your death. So you take up via your own choice and decision the thing that is going to put you to death. And if you don’t take it up God is not going to put it on you. Don’t get nervous. God’s not going to run after you and say, “Here, take this cross.” Actually, in God’s eyes it’s an offer, not an imposition. It’s the way out of something.
Third, and we now turn again for a moment to the words of Jesus in John 12:24–25.
“Most assuredly I say to you...”
And incidentally, when you get “most assuredly,” it used to be “verily, verily,” in the Old King James, there’s two degrees. One is “verily,” which is translated assuredly here. The other is “verily, verily,” or most assuredly. So serious statements have “verily” but super serious statements have “verily, verily.” This is a super-serious statement.
“Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and die, it remains alone: but if it dies it produces much grain.”
And then he applies it very clearly, he doesn’t leave us any doubt as to what he’s talking about.
“He who loves his life will lose it; and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Psucheagain. This has always been so vivid to me. I want you to picture yourself. Here you have in your hand a grain of wheat or some grain. It’s yours, in your hand, you can do what you want with it. You can just keep looking at it or you can say, “It’s mine, I’m going to hold onto it, nobody is going to take it from me.” God says it’s your decision. “But,” he says, “as long as you keep it in your hand it’s going to stay alone. It’ll never produce anything.”
You know, that’s so real to me because the world is full of lonely people. You can be lonely in the midst of a crowd, you can be lonely in a large church. One reason why people are lonely is they’re holding on to the grain. And it abides alone. Nothing ever happens to it. Jesus tells you.
The other alternative is let it go. Let it fall out of your hand and drop into the earth and go down below the surface. Lose sight of it, lose contact with it, lost control of it. That’s one thing we’re terribly frightened of is losing control. I tell you, I don’t feel that way. I think generally speaking, religious leaders are afraid of anything they can’t control. I’ll tell you my attitude. I’m afraid of anything I can control. I know if I can control it it doesn’t have the horsepower to do what’s needed.
I’m concerned about two things. The situation is under God’s control and I’m under God’s control. I don’t want to control it. We’re back again with witchcraft. As long as you have to control everything, you’re not going to do it by the Holy Spirit. You’re going to do it by willpower, by appealing to people’s emotions, by playing upon them, by soulish means.
This is really the difference between the soulish and the spiritual. The soulish is the grain of wheat in your hand. The spiritual comes when you release it. Now you don’t have any control. Down it goes into the dark earth. Underground, out of sight. It could even be that people will walk over it. Could you bear to be walked over? But, somewhere down inside the ground by a process I don’t really understand, I’m no agriculturist, the damp rots the outer husk—do you call it a husk? Ruth is a farmer’s daughter, I always appeal to her for information like that. And when it has rotted and decayed, then the life inside the real seed begins to come up and a little green shoot one day pops up through the soil. What’s that? It’s a new life. That’s the life God has for you. But you cannot find it, it will elude you, you can go to 50 counselors and have advice from everybody, they can assess your capabilities and give you all the tests. But you’ll never find the life that God has for you as long as you hold onto that little seed in your hand. You’ve got to let it go and take a risk.
I so much agree with the brother here who said earlier in the meeting, “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” It is. The one who never takes a risk will never find God’s plan. It’s risky to be a Christian. I’m prepared to take the risk. It’s much riskier not to be a Christian, let me say that. That’s certain disaster in the long run.
The fourth phase we’ve already looked at, it’s find a new life. So, let’s look at it again. Stage number one, deny yourself. Say no to your will, your intellect and your emotions. Different people find it hard to say no to various areas. Some people are ruled by their intellect. Some are ruled by their emotions. Some are ruled by their stubborn will. It depends. But you’ve got to say no to the whole package. That’s deny yourself.
Number two, take up your cross, the place where your will and God’s will cross and the instrument of your execution.
Number three is really burial. Fall into the ground, go below the surface and lose control.
Thank God that’s not the end. The end is number four, find a new life. Now this is a total unvarying principle of the kingdom of God. You cannot find the new life as long as you hold onto the old. I want to tell everyone of you that’s a child of God here, God has a wonderful plan for you. It’s much better than you could devise for yourself. But you won’t find it until you meet the conditions.
See, a lot of people say, “I’ll give up my job if I know what God’s going to do.” But God doesn’t work on that basis. He says, “You give up your job and trust in me. I don’t tell you in advance what’s going to happen.” You’re losing control. Agony!
I want to point out to you we’ve talked a good deal about what the cross has done to Satan and Satan’s defeat. I believe it’s the privilege of the church to administer Christ’s victory over Satan. But, the only kind of people who have the right to administer Christ’s victory over Satan are people who have met these conditions. We’ll turn to one of my favorite verses, Revelation 12:11. I think it’s a verse the devil really dislikes. We’re probably going to look at this more fully later so I won’t dwell on it, I’ll just point this out to you.
“They overcame him...”
“They” are the people on earth, believers like you and me. “Him” is who? The devil.
“...by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony...”
And I’m going to spend time before this series ends explaining exactly what that means. To my way of thinking it’s the most powerful revelation that God has ever given me. But we’re not going to go into it now. So I’m going to keep you still looking forward to something.
But I want you to notice what kind of people “they” are. It tells us at the end of the verse. Look back to the verse.
“...they did not love their lives to the death.”
What do you think the word for “life” is? Psuche, that’s right. They didn’t love their souls to the death.
What does that mean? I think it means this: For them to do the will of God was more important than to stay alive. See, when I talked to the leaders here at the beginning, we were talking about a new phase in God’s dealings with this group which is the sense of the leadership. And one of the things we said was it’s going to demand a level of sacrifice that probably hasn’t been generally demanded hitherto. It’s going to mean that some people really will lay down their lives, literally die—if you can do any other way of die but literally.
Now a number of people associated with this movement have already laid down their lives. Let’s not imagine that it’s all in the future. You see, when I joined the British Army as a solider, I discovered something about being a soldier. They never gave me a written guarantee “if you join this army you’ll never get killed.” No soldier has ever joined any army on that basis. We talk about being soldiers of Jesus Christ. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think that it necessarily means we’re going to stay alive. It doesn’t. It means we’re going to have a real risk of losing our lives.
Now let me point out to you there are hundreds of thousands of God’s choices, saints that are doing that right now in many countries. A brothers who is a statistician, a Christian, said this. I don’t know that I can give you any supporting evidence. He said that their researchers indicate that 1,000 people lay down their lives for Jesus every day in our contemporary world. Here in a country such as this where we have such unusual privileges and opportunities, we don’t realize the issue. I’m not threatening you, I don’t have your destiny in my hand. I don’t have my destiny in my hand. I am quite realistic about it. The will of God for my life may easily demand that at some point I lay down my life. I’ve faced the reality of it, I’m not exactly seeking it but if it’s a choice between failing to do God’s will or laying down my life I have made up my mind. May God give me the grace when the time comes. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a very clear, simple, practical issue.
Now, I would just like to take a few moments to give some personal testimony because I think that will help you in a way to appreciate it. I came into this thing very ignorant. Highly educated academically and very ignorant spiritually. I didn’t know a lot about—I didn’t know what it was to be born again. In all my years of going to church, nobody had ever presented to me the challenge that I had to do something to become a Christian. I met the Lord Jesus in an Army barrack room about midnight in July, l941 which was a total life changing experience. The next day I was a totally different person. My attitudes were changed, my motives were changed, my desires were changed, my goals in life were changed. Not by any doctrine but by meeting Jesus.
About ten days later in the same Army barrack room when no one else was present I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. I was so ignorant I didn’t know you had to go to church to get saved and baptized in the Spirit. By the time I started going to church I was already saved and baptized in the Spirit.
In the same Army barrack room within 48 hours, God gave me the gift of tongues and interpretation. The first time I interpreted I had really no idea what I was doing but God gave me in a very vivid way his blueprint for my whole life. And for more than 40 years now I’ve watched that blueprint become an actuality.
Then the British Army, in the purposes of God sent me overseas and I spent four and a half years in the Middle East. Three years in North Africa, the last eighteen months in the land of Israel although in those days it was called Palestine.
In the latter eighteen months, while I was in Israel, God spoke to me about two extremely important things. To tell the truth, I don’t know which order they came in. But he spoke to me through tongues and interpretation. There’s no mystery. He showed me whom I was to marry. I was praying for a Danish lady who had a children’s home in Ramallah near Jerusalem and the Lord interrupted my prayer. He said, “I have joined you together under the same yoke and in the same harness.” I thought that’s strange. As I went on walking with God I discovered that the yoke was marriage, the harness was working together in his service. That was my first marriage.
I am not a good judge of people. God has never permitted me to make my own judgment as to whom I ought to marry. Thank God. Each time he has shown me specifically and exactly whom I am to marry. I’d rather have God do it than make my own judgment. I’m not complaining with the results, I’m highly satisfied.
Just about the same time God spoke to me about my ministry. He said, “I’ve called thee to be teacher of the scriptures in truth, and faith, and love which are in Christ Jesus for many.” That is the basis of my life’s calling. God has added other dimensions but everything is based on being a teacher of the scriptures.
And then just about the time I came out of the British Army I married this Danish lady and as I think I mentioned earlier, I became adoptive father to eight girls in one day.
Now at the end of four and a half years service overseas, I was entitled to a free passage back to Britain from the British Army. Also I received a letter from Kings College, Cambridge, my college in Cambridge, offering me a very rosy future in the academic world. They said if you take this, we’ll give you this and then we’ll give you that. I was not very tactful when I think about it. I wrote back and said, “I’ve become a Christian, I’m not going to do it.” It really wasn’t very wise but I lacked a lot of wisdom.
Then a little later because of the trouble that broke out between the Arabs and the Jews, having six Jewish girls in an Arab town was extremely dangerous. We had to move into Jerusalem. To find a house to move to was extraordinarily difficult and in the end we had to take an offer of what people call in the Middle East “key money”. You pay two years rent in advance and you get in. We had to come up with 1,000 pounds which was a tremendous sum of money for us in those days. I had to withdraw all the money that I had received from my family, insurance money that I had and put it in to make the key money on that house. We only lived in the house about six months and then we had to flee from it and never saw it again.
What I am saying is without anybody preaching a sermon to me, the Lord put me through every one of these steps. So I want you to relax because God doesn’t call for volunteers. A lot of people think that he does but he doesn’t. He will sovereignly say, “This is what I want you to do.” And you will find as he leads you, every one of these conditions will have to be met. He’s never varied his conditions.
Just to let you know, just to let you see how clear it was, I gave up my country, Britain. I gave up my career, a professorship at Cambridge. I gave up my family. Perhaps the closest member of my family was my grandfather, the army general. While my parents were living in India I lived with my grandparents. When I first went to the Middle East I received a letter that he was dying of cancer. I wrote back and said, “He won’t die, I’m praying for him.” He lived another three and a half years contrary to all the predictions of the doctor. But, at the time that God called me he really was dying. I was the only grandson and his favorite. The Army would have paid my way to go home.
But God gave me a very vivid picture, he gave me a picture of a sailing ship in a harbor with all the sails and everything set. He said, “The ship is in the harbor, you can get on now and it will sail. If you don’t get on now it will sail without you.” I knew for sure that I didn’t have any options. So, I wrote and said to my family, “I’m not coming home.” My grandfather died without me. He went to heaven, he was a committed Christian.
To get into the house I had to give all the money that I owned in cash, which wasn’t very much, but it was all I had. I had to commit myself to a totally new lifestyle. Father of eight girls. I mean, you have no idea of what that involved. I mean, I have to tell you, six Jews, one Arab and one English, that’s not easy. I wouldn’t want to tell you which was the more difficult, I’d better be careful. I really don’t know. I loved them all, they all loved me. I am recognized as the grandfather of about 30 children and the great grandfather of nearly 40. They’re scattered around the earth but we all stay together. I mean, we are still a closely knit family. That’s a miracle.
But I had to lay down everything. My career, my country, my family, my finance, everything. I had no idea what lay ahead. When I married my first wife I pictured that we’d live for the rest of our lives in that little Arab town of Ramallah. It never occurred to us we’d go anywhere else.
But I have to say I found the life that God had for me. And it is rich. It is exciting. It is challenging. I have to say also to God be all the glory, he’s kept me strong, active, clear-headed past the age of 70. I am more active now, I preach more, I travel more than I’ve ever done at any time in my life. To God be all the glory but I want to give him the glory. I want to tell you it pays to obey God. Not in the world’s sense but in the eternal values it pays to make an unreserved commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll be faithful to you. He’ll put you through everything he said he’ll put you through. You’ll have to deny yourself, you’ll have to take up your cross, you’ll have to fall into the ground and die. But there’s a new life on the other side of it. And there’s no other way into that life but God’s way. He’s not given us an alternative. There’s just one way. What is it? Deny yourself, take up your cross, fall into the ground and get buried. And in God’s time and in God’s way, something will come out of your life that you could never produce by natural efforts. You can hold onto that little grain in your hand as long as you like. Look at it, pray about it, talk to it, advertise it. But it’ll never produce anything because God has just got one basic condition. My prayer for each one of you is that none of you will turn down God’s offer. Some of you I know, many of you probably are already committed. You know what I’m talking about, you’ve been through it. God has his own wonderful way of dealing with every individual. He treats no two of us exactly alike. His plan is tailored to each one of us. But the basic requirements never change.
Should we just close with a moment of prayer? I would like all of us just to open our hearts to God for a moment and say, “God, whatever plan you have for my life, I trust you. I know you love me. You laid down you life for me. You proved that you love me. I can trust you God, and I do.” Why don’t you take just a moment or two to talk to the Lord and with this we close this session.
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