The Lord’s call to denial of ourselves and cross bearing has been used to teach salvation by works. It has also been used to insist on embracing His Lordship as a condition of salvation. Should it be added to repentance and faith? We answer from the Word.
We’re turning this morning to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8 and verse 34: ‘And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also. He said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.’ And our subject is ‘Lordship salvation or not’, and the meaning of the title I hope will become clear as we proceed. But we have come to this point in the ministry of Christ and we have been looking at great events and miracles, their application to the salvation of souls, in every age, and now we come to these remarkable words. ‘When he had called the people unto him.’ He is at Caesarea Philippi. The people have gathered from all over the place and followed him, all the way from Bethsaida and the cities around the north of the lake. He’s got his disciples with him and the ordinary people. And he says these words, so it is spoken generally, not exclusively to the disciples: ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ Now they are powerful words.
‘Whosoever will come after me…let him deny himself’ – what exactly does that mean? Are these terms, or conditions, of salvation? We know you must repent of your sin and you must believe in Christ, and particularly in Calvary’s cross and the atonement, in order to be saved. We know that you must yield yourself to him. Are there other conditions of salvation? Are there other things which must be in place before you could be said to be saved? These are very strong words: ‘Let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.’ They look like additional conditions. Should we resist them as conditions?
Because if they are conditions of salvation, they look terribly like works, and salvation would surely no longer be by faith alone.
So we require faith, and we require repentance (which is the obedience of faith), and yieldedness. But can we spell out stronger conditions? And yet the Lord appears to do so.
So we have to explain that. ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.’ So it’s our task to look at these words this morning.