The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ (1:5-11) by Mark Copeland

 The Knowledge Of Jesus Christ (1:5-11)


1. In our previous lesson ("Precious Gifts From God"), we noticed that
   a certain "knowledge" is the source of wonderful blessings...
   a. Grace and peace is multiplied "in the knowledge of God and of 
      Jesus our Lord" - 2Pe 1:2
   b. All things that pertain to life and godliness are given "through
      the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" - 2 Pe 1:3

2. Also noted was how Peter closes his epistle with this admonition:

   "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior
       Jesus Christ." - 2Pe 3:18

3. This raises several questions...
   a. What does it mean to "grow in the knowledge of our Lord and
      Savior Jesus Christ"?
   b. How can we be sure that we are growing in this "knowledge"?
   c. Why is Peter so concerned that we grow in this "knowledge"?

4. In 2Pe 1:5-11, we find the answers to these questions, and in
   this lesson we shall examine this passage closely (READ)

[First, consider...]


      1. These "graces" are listed in 2Pe 1:5-7
      2. Briefly defined...
         a. FAITH is "conviction, strong assurance"
         b. VIRTUE is "moral excellence, goodness"
         c. KNOWLEDGE is "correct insight"
         d. SELF-CONTROL is "self-discipline"
         e. PERSEVERANCE is "bearing up under trials"
         f. GODLINESS is "godly character out of devotion to God"
         g. BROTHERLY KINDNESS is "love toward brethren"
         h. LOVE is "active goodwill toward those in need"
      3. Notice carefully 2Pe 1:8
         a. We must "abound" in these eight "graces"
         b. Only then can it be said that we are "growing in the 
            knowledge of Jesus Christ"
      4. Therefore it something more than simply increasing our 
         "intellectual" knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. Though such knowledge has a place, it is just one of the
            graces necessary
         b. Peter is talking about growing in a FULL AND PERSONAL 
            knowledge of Jesus Christ!
            1) Which comes by developing the "Christ-like" attributes
               defined above
            2) The more we grow in these "graces", the more we really 
               "know" Jesus (for He is the perfect personification of 
               these "graces")
      5. That it involves more than intellectual knowledge is also 
         evident from the Greek word used for knowledge in 2Pe 1:2-3,8
         a. The word is epignosis {ep-ig'-no-sis}, meaning "to become
            thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to know
            accurately, know well" (THAYER)
         b. Such knowledge comes only as we DEMONSTRATE these "Christ-
            like graces" in our lives

      1. Notice the word "add" (or "supply") in 2Pe 1:5
         a. Before each grace mentioned, the word is implied
         b. The word in Greek is epichoregeo {ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o}
            1) "Originally, to found and support a chorus, to lead a
               choir, to keep in tune"
            2) "Then, to supply or provide"
         c. This word therefore suggests the idea of "each grace 
            working in harmony with the others to produce an overall effect"
      2. Notice also the preposition "to" (or "in") in 2Pe 1:5-7
         a. This suggests that "each grace is to temper and make 
            perfect the grace that goes before it"
         b. To illustrate:
            1) "to knowledge (add) self-control" - the grace of 
               self-control enables one to apply properly the knowledge
               one has
            2) "to self-control (add) perseverance" - self-control in
               turn needs the quality of perseverance to be consistent
               day after day
      3. Thus each grace is necessary!
         a. They must all be developed in conjunction with each other
         b. We cannot be selective and just pick the ones we like and 
            leave others behind

      1. Notice the word "diligence" in 2Pe 1:5,10
      2. It means "earnestness, zeal, sometimes with haste"
      3. To grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ requires much effort
      4. We do not "accidentally" or "naturally" develop these graces!
      5. If we are not careful, we may be like the teacher in the
         following illustration:

         In his book Folk Psalms of Faith, Ray Stedman tells a story of
         a woman who had been a school teacher for 25 years.  When she
         heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she applied for
         the position. However, someone who had been teaching for only
         one year was hired instead.  She went to the principal and 
         asked why.  The principal responded, "I'm sorry, but you 
         haven't had 25 years of experience as you claim; you've had 
         only one year's experience 25 times." During that whole time 
         the teacher had not improved.

[We may have been Christians for a number of years.  But unless we 
continue to grow, we are simply repeating the first year over and over 

Is the effort worth it?  In the context of this passage Peter gives 
THREE reasons why we should "give all diligence" to grow in this 
knowledge of Jesus Christ...]


      AND "AMNESIA" - 2Pe 1:9
      1. Our religion is "short-sighted" if we are not growing in the 
         knowledge of Jesus Christ!
         a. For what is the ultimate objective of being a Christian?
         b. To become like Christ! - cf. Ro 8:29; Col 3:9-11
         c. As we have seen, this is what it really means to grow in
            the knowledge of Christ
      2. Failure to so grow is an indication that we forgot why we were
         redeemed by the blood of Christ in the first place!
         a. To have our sins forgiven, yes...
         b. But then, that we might present ourselves to God and become
            what He wants us to be - LIKE HIS SON!

      1. This does not mean we will never sin - cf. 1Jn 1:8,10
      2. The word "stumble" in Greek means "to fall into misery, become
         wretched; cf. the loss of salvation" (Thayer)
      3. We will never stumble so as to fall short of our ultimate salvation!
      4. But this is true ONLY if we are "giving all diligence" to grow
         in the knowledge of Christ and thereby "making our calling and
         election sure"

      SUPPLIED - 2Pe 1:11
      1. This "everlasting kingdom" is likely the "heavenly kingdom" 
         referred to by Paul in 2 Tit 4:18
      2. In other words, the ultimate destiny of the redeemed!
      3. What is meant by the idea of an "abundant entrance"?
         a. "You may be able to enter, not as having escaped from a 
            shipwreck, or from fire,but as it were in triumph." (Bengel)
         b. By possessing the eight graces, we will be able to live 
            victoriously in this life and to joyously anticipate what 
            lies ahead - cf. 2Ti 4:6-8


1. These three reasons should sufficiently motivate us to be diligent 
   in growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ

2. Give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, by making 
   every effort to add these "graces" to our lives!

3. Or have we forgotten that we were purged from our old sins?
   a. We have, if we are apathetic in our desire to grow in these "graces"!
   b. If so, we need to repent and pray for forgiveness!

Are you growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker 

The Human Skin—Engineered by God by Taylor Richardson


The Human Skin—Engineered by God

by Taylor Richardson

In what single place can you find the following things: 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hairs, 19 feet of blood vessels, and 19,000 sensory cells? The answer: in one square inch of human skin! The human skin is considered the largest organ in the body (about 16% of your body weight), and covers an area of 20 square feet. Your skin, or integument, has many different protective and metabolic functions that help keep your body stabilized.


You have two skin layers. The outer layer, the epidermis, consists of rows of cells about 12 to 15 deep, and is between 0.07 and 0.12 millimeters thick (about as thick as a piece of paper). This top layer is composed mainly of dead cells that are being replaced constantly by newer cells. Isaac Asimov explained the process in his book, The Human Body:
The cells at the base of the epidermis are alive, and are constantly growing and multiplying so that cell after cell is pushed upward and away from the dermis. Without a blood supply, the cell dies and much of it, aside from the inert keratin, atrophies. The vicissitudes of existence are constantly rubbing away some of this dead material from the surface of our body, but this is constantly being replaced from below, and we retain our epidermis ever fresh (1963, pp. 258-259).
Sometimes, when areas of the skin are subjected to constant friction, the epidermis responds by thickening itself in that area, creating a callus. These patches of hard skin usually are found on the soles of feet of people who walk barefoot, and on the hands of farmers. It is as though the dermis had traded in its thin plastic gloves for a pair made of leather.
The inner layer, or dermis, is a spongy, leathery area that is about one to two millimeters thick, consisting mainly of collagen (a fibrous protein found in the skin) connective tissue. The dermis is joined to the epidermis by a grooved surface that contains nerves, blood vessels, hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands, all of which have important functions. Each hair follicle, for example, contains one hair that transmits the reception of touch to sensory nerves around the follicle. Sebaceous glands produce a waxy secretion called sebum, which helps to waterproof the skin. Sweat glands help to cool the skin and keep the body temperature constant.


One of the most important functions of the skin is to provide us with a sense of touch. Werner Gitt explained it best:
The most important property of the skin is that it contains our sense of touch… The sense of touch is difficult to investigate. All other senses have a definite key organ which can be studied, but the skin is spread over the entire body and cannot easily be delimited or “switched off.” In the case of vision, scientists can observe blind persons to learn more about seeing, and they can study deaf people to learn more about hearing. But this is impossible for the sense of touch (1999, p. 41).
Receptors (from the Latin word receptor, meaning “recorder”) located at the ends of nerve fibers are used to detect stimuli and convert them into neural impulses to be sent to the brain through the peripheral and central nervous systems. Receptors also are located in the internal organs, muscles, and skeletal joints, and can detect information such as the temperature of a cup of coffee or the roughness of sand paper. Although we “touch” with our epidermis, the sense of touch actually is recorded in the dermis and passed on to the central nervous system.
Layers of Skin
Another important function of the skin is that it helps the body keep a constant temperature. Gillen, et al., wrote: “The word homeostasis comes from two Greek terms, homeo (alike or the same) and stasis (standing or remaining). Thus the word means remaining the same” (1999, italics, parenthetical items, and emp. in orig.). A person’s average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but if it increases by 7 or 8 degrees, and remains there for any of length of time, a person will almost certainly die. So how does the body keep a generally constant temperature? It does so via a method of cooling known as perspiration. The main sources of body heat are the internal organs that work all the time, such as the heart and kidneys. The heat created by these organs is carried off by the blood and distributed evenly throughout the body. This is an efficient way to diffuse the heat at a slow pace, but what happens when the body must get rid of heat quickly? Asimov explained:
We are equipped with tiny glands distributed all over our skin, about two million of them all together, the purpose of which is to bring water to the surface of the skin. On the surface this water is vaporized and heat is in this manner withdrawn from the body. The glands are sweat glands and the liquid produced is sweat or perspiration. A sweat gland consists of a tiny coiled tube, the main body of which situated deep in the dermis. The tube straightens out finally and extends up through the epidermis. The tiny opening on the surface is a pore and is just barley visible to the naked eye. When you are working or playing hard, and heat production is increased, the sweat glands accelerate their production of perspiration. This is also true when the temperature is unusually high. The rate of production may then outstrip the rate of evaporation, particularly if humidity is high, since the rate of evaporation declines with the rise in humidity. Perspiration will then collect on the body in visible drops and we are conscious of sweating (p. 265, italics in orig.).
The temperature determines how many sweat glands a person has, in the same way that the amount of sunlight determines how much melanin is in the skin. People who live in hot, humid climates tend to have more sweat glands, and produce perspiration with a smaller concentration of salt, than people living in colder, drier climates.
The skin also acts like a chemical-processing plant for the entire body. When you are outside, the skin absorbs ultraviolet rays from the Sun, and then uses them to convert chemicals into vitamin D. This vitamin is very important to our body because it helps stimulate the absorption of calcium. Without calcium, our bones grow thin and brittle, eventually leading to diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia (skeletal diseases that weaken bones). In addition, the epidermis contains a special pigment called melanin, which is responsible for the variety of color in our skin. It also acts as a protection against ultraviolet light. The melanin absorbs ultraviolet light without harming itself, and acts as a protective covering over the area beneath it. Like vitamin D, melanin is formed by the exposure to sunlight, so people in tropical regions have more melanin to protect them from the harmful ultraviolet rays, while people in northern regions have little traces of melanin because the Sun is rarely out for long periods of time. But not all people are able to produce melanin in their bodies. Occasionally, individuals are born who are incapable of forming any melanin at all. Their skin and hair are pinkish-white and their eyes are pinkish-red, because the tiny blood vessels are visible in the iris of their eyes (where there are typically colors such as blue, green, hazel, and brown). A person with this condition is referred to as an albino, indicating that they lack pigmentation in their skin. Albinism is not limited just to humans, but also is found in other species of animals as well (e.g., the white rat, the white elephant, the white tiger, etc.).
Furthermore, the skin also helps protect the inside of the body. If you have ever been to an amusement park, you probably have seen the bumper cars that you can drive to bump into other cars. Collisions in those cars are perfectly safe because of the rubber rings that surround the cars. The skin is like those rubber rings in that it acts like a shock absorber when you fall, protecting all of your internal organs. If we didn’t have this “shock absorber,” it would be practically impossible to do physical activities without damaging internal organs or bruising easily.
It is impossible that evolution could have produced such an important and complex organ as the human skin. The many intricacies of its functions are evidence of a Creator. One writer remarked: “The skin is a miracle of evolutionary engineering: it waterproofs the body, blocks out and destroys harmful bacteria, regulates temperature, and continuously communicates with the brain” (McCutcheon, 1989, p. 113). Yes, the skin is a “miracle” all right—but not a miracle of evolution. And yes, the skin was “engineered”—but the engineer was God!


Asimov, Isaac (1963), The Human Body (New York: New American Library).
Gillen, Alan L., Frank J. Sherwin III, and Alan C. Knowles (1999), The Human Body: An Intelligent Design (St. Joseph, MO: Creation Research Society).
Gitt, Werner (1999), The Wonder of Man (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung E.V.).
McCutcheon, Marc (1989), The Compass in Your Nose (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher).

The Goldilocks Principle: The Earth is Designed for Us by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


The Goldilocks Principle: The Earth is Designed for Us

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Do you recall the story of Goldilocks from your youth? She struggled as she sought the right porridge, chair, and bed, but in the end, her discoveries were “just right.” The Goldilocks Principle in secular cosmology is a recognition by scientists that the Earth appears to be “just right” for life to exist on it. Leading science magazines routinely run articles updating their audiences on the hunt for other Goldilocks planets with just the right conditions for life to exist upon them as it does on Earth. The Earth appears to be designed for us.
Atheistic philosopher Paul Ricci summed up the Teleological Argument for the Existence of God well when he said, “[I]t’s true that everything designed has a designer…. ‘Everything designed has a designer’ is an analytically true statement.”1 There are an infinite number of examples of design that present themselves to us when we study the natural realm—a problem for Ricci and his atheistic colleagues, to be sure. Manuel Canales, Matthew Chwastyk, and Eve Conant wrote an article in National Geographic titled “One Strange Rock: 13 Things that Make Life on Earth Possible.”2 “Earth is well equipped as a planet and ideally placed in our solar system and galaxy to support life as we know it,” they explain.3 What kinds of features make Earth so special?
  • If the Earth’s rotation axis was tilted differently…: “A change in the rotation axis of the Earth…would be catastrophic. The number of the seasons would change and their duration. If the rotation axis became parallel to the orbital plane, as for Uranus, we could have winter in the Northern hemisphere for 6 months followed by summer. The Sun would set on the entire Northern hemisphere and not rise again for 6 months.”4
  • If the Earth was spinning faster…: “Hurricanes will spin faster…and there will be more energy in them.”5 A faster rotation speed by only 10% would translate to so much water bulging around the equator, that all equatorial land would be flooded while the sea level at the poles would lower.6Human and animal life would be forced to live closer to the poles, which would result in catastrophic extinctions.
  • If the Earth’s orbit was closer to the Sun…: If the average distance from the Sun was “reduced by only about three-tenths of a percent,” disastrous atmospheric changes would occur, including “sea-level rise, increases in extreme weather, species extinctions and agricultural disruptions.”7 As it makes its elliptical path around the Sun, the Earth bends from its straight course “only one ninth of an inch” every 18½ miles.8 “If the orbit changed by one-tenth of an inch every 18 miles, our orbit would be vastly larger and we would all freeze to death. One-eighth of an inch? We would all be incinerated.”9 In fact, the Earth’s perfect distance from the Sun is called the “Goldilocks zone,” “where it’s not too close and not too far from the sun for water to be liquid on its surface.”10 Earth’s temperature is “not too hot or too cold.”11
  • If the Earth had less water…: About 75% of the entire area of the Earth is covered by water. If there was less water on the Earth, it would suffer from the drastic temperature changes seen in deserts—extremely hot during the day and extremely cold during the night. Most of the Earth does not have this problem, due in large part to the fact that the Earth has so much water on it. Water has a high specific heat capacity, which means that water can hold a lot of heat—way more than almost any other natural substance on Earth. Water can store a lot of heat or lose a lot of heat without its temperature being drastically changed, causing it to act like an air conditioning unit for the Earth, keeping its temperature relatively constant. A different liquid other than water or less water would make Earth inhospitable for life.
  • If the Earth was like other planets…: Citing the work of University of Washington’s Peter Ward, Stanford University’s Kate Maher, NASA’s Karina Yager, and the University of Idaho’s Jason Barnes, Canales and his colleagues highlighted that Earth “recycles life-friendly carbon over time,” has an “ozone layer to block harmful rays,” “a big moon to stabilize our axial wobble,” “varied surfaces [to] support many life-forms,” and a “magnetic field” that “deflects solar tempests.” Earth is “situated safely away from gas giants”—if it were closer, their “powerful gravity could cause disastrous fluctuations in Earth’s distance from the sun.” The star of our solar system—the Sun—“is a stable, long-lasting star,” as opposed to less massive, allegedly younger stars that are “often unstable and are prone to blasting their planets with bursts of radiation.” Earth has “the right stuff to host a dynamic core” (i.e., sufficient radioactive elements to generate a “churning core” and protective magnetic field that could, theoretically, last for billions of years). Earth has “giant planets that protect us from afar,” like Jupiter, whose size and gravity protect “Earth from overly frequent collisions that might trigger extinctions.” Zooming out further to the scale of the galaxy, we observe that “our sun offers protection from galactic debris,” “our galactic path steers us clear of hazards,” and “our location is far from stellar crowds,” reducing the “risks to Earth from gravitational tugs, gamma-ray bursts, or collapsing stars called supernovae.”12 Truly Earth is just right for us—as though it was made for humans.
Dozens of such examples could be illustrated.13 In the words of famous skeptic and science writer Michael Shermer, who has a monthly column in Scientific American, “The design inference comes naturally. The reason people think that a Designer created the world is because it looks designed.”14Agreed.


1 Paul Ricci (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press), p. 190.
2 Manuel Canales, Matthew Chwastyk, and Eve Conant (2018), “One Strange Rock: 13 Things That Make Life on Earth Possible,” National Geographic, 233[3]:78-87.
3 Ibid., p. 78.
4 Sten Odenwald (no date), “What Would Happen if the Rotation Axis of the Earth Changed?” NASA Image Education Centerhttps://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/q278.html.
5 Sarah Fecht (2017), “What Would Happen if Earth Started to Spin Faster?” Popular Sciencehttps://www.popsci.com/earth-spin-faster.
6 Ibid.
7 Victoria Roberts (2017), “Even Tiny Changes in Earth’s Orbit Would Yield Global Catastrophe,” The New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/science/earth-orbit-sun-catastrophe.html.
8 David Peck Todd (1906), A New Astronomy (New York: American Book Company), p. 383.
9 “Everyday Science” (1981), Science Digest, 89[1]:124.
10 Canales, et al., p. 81; cf. J.R. Minkel (2007), “All Wet? Astronomers Claim Discovery of Earth-like Planet,” Scientific American, April 24, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/all-wet-astronomers-claim/.
11 Canales, et al., p. 81.
12 Canales, et al.
13 See the various “Design” topics in the “Existence of God” category on the Apologetics Press Web site—www.apologeticspress.org.
14 Michael Shermer (2007), Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Henry Holt), Kindle edition, p. 65, ital. in orig.
Suggested Resources

The Foolishness of Atheism by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Foolishness of Atheism

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Atheists are fond of claiming that their way of thinking is logical, reasonable, and intellectual. They maintain that they are open-minded and refer to themselves as free thinkers. Unlike Christians, who are allegedly delusional, irrational, blind, and absurd, atheists consider themselves utterly rational, sensible people who follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Yet atheism says that everything came from nothing. Atheism says that an explosion caused exquisite order. It says that random chances produced precision and that life popped into existence in nature from non-life. Atheism says that the design of the human eye is a delusion, while the design of a camera is apparent. Atheism says that fish and frogs are man’s distant forefathers and that intelligence is the result of non-intelligence. Atheism alleges that either man is on the same moral plane as a moose, or he actually evolved a sense of morality from amoral monkeys. Atheism spends multiplied millions of dollars and countless thousands of hours in search of extra-terrestrial life, which has never been found.
When atheism is stripped of pompous proclamations and arrogant allegations, its naked soul is seen for what it really is: weak, illogical, unscientific, and worthless. Atheists blindly believe that, for example, life came from non-life. Rather than accept what scientific experimentation has repeatedly concluded over the past 200 years (that in nature life comes only from life and that of its own kind), atheists remain committed to a disproven theory. Man has never witnessed mindlessness bring forth intelligence. He’s never seen something come from nothing.
While trying to convince others he is galloping confidently atop a stallion called Common Sense, in truth, atheism stumbles on the back of a donkey called Foolishness. Is there any wonder why David said, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1)?
For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22).

Teachings of Jesus (Part 12) Cross Bearing by Ben Fronczek


Teachings of Jesus (Part 12) Cross Bearing

In this lesson we will see who Jesus is, what He predicts will happen to Him, and what His genuine disciples are to do.
Luke 9:18-26 says Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
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, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Here we see that Jesus had taken His closest disciples aside for a private time of pray. During that time with them He asked the question: “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
There must have been a lot of rumors going around as to who Jesus was.        I can’t imagine Him asking such a question if there wasn’t. He was doing all these wonderful things: miraculously healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, teaching incredible lessons and with authority like people never saw before. They said that some were saying that He must be John the Baptist, others were saying that He must be Elijah or one of the other great prophets of old who came back to life.
But then Jesus wanted to hear from their own lips who they thought He was. And Peter hit the nail on the head by telling Him that they believe that He is the Christ, or God’s Messiah.
Now, in Matthew 16:16-17 we’re told a little more about Peter’s response: “Peter answered ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.’”
As I read this text, I got to wondering: ‘Why would Jesus ask His disciples this question? I mean Jesus must have given serious thought to their answer as well as why their answer would be so important to for these men.
You can’t tell me that Jesus didn’t knows what the people around were saying about Him. AND at this point He probably knew what Peter and the other disciples believe about Him.   So why ask the question? Then it occurred to me that He needed for them to come right out and say it. He needed for them to COMMIT to what they believed because everything Jesus came to do hinged on that statement that: “Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God!”
This is the foundation of our faith… and of the church. In fact, that’s what Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16:18 “…on this rock (the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God) I will build my church…”
So Jesus sets the stage by getting these men to verbalize this truth…
But then Jesus adds another layer or dimension to His teaching.
Right after Peter makes his “good confession” Jesus tells His disciples: “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.”
If these men had ever heard Isaiah 53 which talks about the suffering servant (or the prophecy of the coming Messiah) that would die for our sins (and they probably did hear that reading more than once in a Synagogue readings) they should have connected the dots very quickly, but I’m not sure they did, at least not fully, especially the fact that after He died He would rise again.
And why didn’t He want them to tell anyone else that He was the Messiah? Because I don’t believe He wanted these men to go out just tell anyone this fact just yet. He was in enough hot water with the Jews religious leaders already and He probably knew that if they caught wind of this claim they would have stoned Him to death prematurely and before He was finished with His work for blasphemy.
Because He loves each of us so much and wanted to help us with our sin problem He would take up that wooden cross and die on it to pay the ultimate price for us and our salvation.
And then Jesus moves on to something even more heavy. He lets us know what it will cost them and us, or what it takes to become one of His disciples He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
I would imagine the disciple got real quiet after hearing this. If you were among them that day, and He told you to deny yourself and take up a cross, it probably would have meant something different than how we understand it.
These guys were familiar with how the Romans forced criminals of the state to take up and drag those terrible wooden crosses to their place of execution. When Jesus told them this I can almost imagine their eye opening wide as they stared at Him. They may have even cringed a bit at what He said. We look at this a bit differently. But in essence He was saying, ‘I am willing to give up my life for your total dedication.’
The first thing He says is that we must deny our self.
‘Oh no,’ some don’t like hearing that we have to start denying our self something else in life. Some think that they already give up so much else in life. They may think or say, ‘I have no time left for myself. Everyone seem to pulling at me and demanding what little time I have to do this, that or the other thing: at work, at home, my kids, my parents. It’s like everyone want a piece of me. I deny myself chocolate cake and ice cream, and BBQ ribs because I’m too fat, nor is it good for my cholesterol, sugar levels or my heart. I don’t go on vacations or buy nice things because I can’t afford them. What else do I have to deny myself.’
But Jesus is not asking you to deny yourself of any particular thing. Rather if you really want to be His disciple you quite literally have to deny or give up YOUR SELF, that is give up YOUR SELF CENTERED WILL and or die to yourself. In other words now that HE IS YOUR LORD you now put HIM and HIS WILL before your own. It’s not about what you want anymore, rather because of your love for HIM and what He has done for you, and because you trust HIM, you can and should say, “Not my will, rather use me and let THY will be done.”
But sad to say some just can’t do that. People want what Jesus is willing to give, but many make excuses as to why they are unable to follow Him and do what He would have us do in our everyday life… but HE is the LORD and we need to obey Him..
Later on in chapter 14 Luke records what Jesus says about counting the cost before we call our self one of His disciple. Starting in verse 25 it says, 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Here Jesus wants us to understand that nobody, not anything should be more important than your allegiance to HIM. If you allow anything to become more important than HIM or HIS WILL, then He simply says that you cannot be a genuine disciple. Your interest will be divided. Jesus also said that you cannot serve both God and mammon (or things of this world).
Later in Luke 18 He tells the story of someone who really wanted to know how to get to heaven, but when he heard Jesus’ answer it was more than He could handle and became very sad and walked away. Starting in verse 18 it says, “   18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’                   
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.                                                      
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
This teaches me that what Jesus has to offer is not for everyone. That is it is for everyone but not everyone will accept it. For some the price is too high. I don’t believe that Jesus wants us all to go and sell our possessions and give what we get to the poor and then become some kind of monk. Obviously this man had a particular problem. But I do believe that we should not hold anything as more important than Jesus and His will, and that we should even use our life and our possessions to glorify Him when and where we can.
Back in our text in Luke 9 Jesus continues on by saying 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
His life and the hope of salvation for our life and total dedication.
So how do we do this?
He says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”                    
You deny self, and take up your cross, and follow Him. What cross?
Oh we all have our own crosses that we bear. Some have health issues, some have financial problems, some have family problems, some have emotional problems or untold pressures, some have a terrible job, some don’t have any job at all. Some are surrounded by people who have problems. Some are even burdened with a sin or bad habits.
Fortunately we don’t have to take up a wooden cross like Jesus did. But the crosses some of us bear may seem like such a burden.
Jesus is telling us that it doesn’t matter what kind of burden you are bearing, you need to take it up and follow Him anyway. Whatever your stance in life you have to deny yourself, and accept Him as your Lord and master, as your God and give your full allegiance to Him.
Follow Him where? Wherever His Spirit wants you to go and do what you know is right and what He would want you to do and live a life according to what He says in His written word. Only then will you be HIS genuine disciple.
Let me ask you this. Do you trust God? Do you trust HIM and HIS ability to guide and lead your life in a good way? OR do you think that you can do a better job on your own?
In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus said, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Those words are precious to me. They tell me that Jesus’ way is a better way than mine. I therefore choose Jesus. What about you?
We frequently sing that song PIERCE MY EAR. It is a song that reflects what is said in Exodus 21:1ff where it talks about a slave making a choice not to go free because he loves his master. After that slave declared that that wish before a judge, his master would,  take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.”          I say, ‘Lord pierce my ear!’
I choose Jesus, I hope that you have counted the cost and choose Him as well.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566