I want you to turn with me to Mark's gospel chapter 9 please, Mark's gospel chapter 9. I want to speak to you today on 'True Greatness', and we are beginning to read in Mark 9 from verse 33:
"And he", that is the Lord Jesus Christ, "came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?". He asks them: 'What was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way?'. "But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part", or 'on our side'. "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea", and we'll end our reading there at verse 42.
Let's pray together for just a moment: Father, we thank You for the promise of the Lord Jesus - that where two are gathered together unto Him, to His name, He will be in the midst. We pray that it will be found in all of our hearts, the desire to meet with Christ now. We thank You for these sacred, inspired, infallible words that tell us of His life, His teaching, His great acts. We pray, Lord, that this event that we have just borne record to from Mark's gospel will be used in a mighty way to teach us now what true greatness is. Lord, give me the help I need, and all of us together, as we seek to understand Your word and be receptive to the change that You wish to make in all of our lives by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.
I'm sure most of you are aware of the fact that all the gospel writers have different emphases, and Mark's emphasis is on the servanthood of the Lord Jesus Christ - particularly the Suffering Servant. The key verse, perhaps, in the whole book is found in the next chapter to ours this morning, chapter 10 and verse 45 - and you will be familiar with it: 'For even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many'. You may not be aware that the background to that statement in Mark 10:45 is very similar to the context that we find ourselves in in Mark chapter 9, because James and John had come to the Lord Jesus and asked that they would sit either side of the Lord Jesus when His earthly kingdom came upon the earth. You can read all about that from verse 42 of chapter 10 to verse 45.
The Lord was trying to emphasise to them that God's glory comes to us through service, indeed sacrifice - put the two things together: sacrificial service. But they keep failing to get the lesson. That's what this whole gospel really is about: the suffering Servant who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that's why Mark concentrates more on the works of the Lord Jesus than the words of the Lord Jesus. There are more miracles in Mark in comparison to the other gospels. What the writer wants us to see is the service of the Lord Jesus that was marked with such suffering that was taking Him to the cross. Now, if you know anything about Mark's gospel, you will surely know that not only does it depict suffering service, but it's all leading us to the cross. He is the one gospel writer that spends more time on the last week of the Lord Jesus than the others - it's the gospel of the cross. The message is: we must suffer if we would reign with Christ, and share the glory of Christ.
Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer to save our souls from sin and hell. He must suffer to save. He repeats it over again and again, if you look at chapter 9 verse 31, He tells them again: 'The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day', verse 32, 'But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him'. In verse 12 of chapter 9 He tells them again that He is going to the cross. In chapter 8 and verse 31 He talks about the exact same thing. In chapter 10 verses 33 to 34 He repeats it - but what we need to remember is that this gospel was written after the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose again, and ascended to heaven. So there is a message in this gospel for Christians who it was written to. We believe that, specifically, it was written to Christians in Rome - incidentally, who were suffering, or just about to suffer for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a message this would be: 'You're going to have to suffer, your Saviour suffered to serve you, and if you are to be the servants of the Servant of the Lord, you are going to have to suffer as well'. His servants must go the same Calvary Road as their Master. The way to glory is suffering.
Now one great illustration of this that the Lord gives us in His teaching is found in chapter 8, if you would turn back to it with me. Again we see the confusion of the disciples - the Lord Jesus is talking about His cross again, and in verse 31: 'He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him'. Peter was confused about this business about a cross, it didn't fit in with his idea of what a Messiah should be. Surely the Messiah should deliver them from the Roman Imperial power, and bring the millennial kingdom to Earth there and then? It just didn't fit in with his conception.
But can I say to you this morning that this was more than a theological problem that Peter had, it's a practical problem. You've got to remember that Peter, his brother Andrew, and all the disciples had left everything to follow Christ. Now that meant that whatever happened to their Master would happen to them - that's where the cross becomes personal. It was Campbell Morgan, the great preacher, who said: 'The man who loves Jesus, but shuns God's method, is a stumbling block to Him', that is profound. The man or woman who loves Jesus, but doesn't accept God's method, is a stumbling block to God. We see it in Peter here. The Lord had to rebuke him, and say: 'Get behind me Satan, for you are not desiring the things that are of God, but of men'. God's method for Christ was the cross - but do you know that God's method for you is a cross?
They were confused, and I imagine a lot of people, disciples of the Lord Jesus today, are confused. They don't realise that there is a cost to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus. So the Lord had to talk to the disciples about their cross, our cross. In verse 34 chapter 8 to verse 38 we see that - I'll not take time to read it all, just to say in chapter 8 verse 34 that the Lord Jesus tells us what discipleship is, the second half: 'Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me'. Three conditions for true discipleship - not for becoming a Christian, now, that's by faith alone - but to become a disciple, a true follower and apprentice of Jesus Christ, you've got to surrender, deny yourself; you've got to sacrifice, take up the cross; and you've got to follow Him, that's submission, submit to His will and obey. That is discipleship, and it's a matter of profit or losses. What do I mean by that? Well, if you look down at verse 35: 'Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, shall save it'. It's a question of whether you're going to waste your life down here on earth on yourself - as a Christian you can do that you know - or whether you'll invest your life for Christ. Maybe people around you will think you're wasting your life down here, not living it up and enjoying it all, but you'll find life in the reward that you will get in the glory of heaven.
So the Lord, in chapter 9, takes the disciples to show them the glory of the cross. Now we haven't got time to read chapter 9 verses 1 to 10, but it's all about the Transfiguration. The Lord Jesus took Peter, James and John up the Mount, and He revealed His glory to them. He was transfigured in their presence. Now, what was all that about? Well, connect them all together: He's telling them 'I've got to go to the cross', they don't get it; then He says 'You've got a cross, and you've got to embrace it if you're going to follow Me'; and then He displays the glory of the cross. The message is clear, Christ is teaching: first the suffering, then the glory. First the cross, then the crown - that's God's order.
Now, Satan offers you, and offered the Lord Jesus Christ, glory without suffering. You remember the temptation in Matthew chapter 4. He took Him to a high place, and he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and he offered those kingdoms to the Lord if He'd just bow down and worship. The devil offers glory without suffering, but it ends up to be suffering without any glory. The only true glory, the only true greatness comes by the way of the cross. If we, you and I, want true greatness in our lives, they must be marked by service and suffering - sacrifice. We must be the suffering, sacrificial servants of the suffering, sacrificial Servant.
Now, the disciples were dull to hear this message, and they are still hankering after their own glory after hearing all that - we still haven't reached where we are now. But as they are coming down the Mount of Transfiguration, after seeing that the glory comes after the cross, there is a demon-possessed boy - and the disciples, the rest of them that weren't taken up to the Mount, were powerless to deliver this boy from the demon. Their prayer lives were deficient, and the Lord tells them: 'This kind', chapter 9 verse 29, 'only is cast out by prayer and fasting'. But there is the lesson again: if you want to serve the Lord, there has to be sacrifice - prayer and fasting, you've got to sacrifice time and food. It's the way of the cross. Then in verse 31 the Lord, again, as we have read it already, teaches them about the cross - and again they don't get it. They don't get it, they don't understand it.
Now let's take up where we read, verse 33. They arrive, journeying from the bottom of that Mount of Transfiguration, to a place called Capernaum. In verse 34, the Lord - who is all-knowing of course - He asks them what they were talking about, what they were arguing about among themselves as they travelled along the road. In verse 34 we see that they are embarrassed, there is silence - dumbfounded, because they were disputing and arguing about who would be the greatest. Now I don't know what happened, we could surmise that the Transfiguration experience - which of course was pointing to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth when He would set up His kingdom in glory - perhaps they thought: 'It's all going to happen now, and we've got to get in our pecking order and decide who is going to be the top dogs among the disciples!'. Maybe it was Peter, James and John - who had been taken by the Lord, and chosen to go up the Mount - who thought that they were in the first, second and third place in the running stakes. Perhaps it was the others who were left behind, in jealousy that they weren't taken up to see it, who started to smart about it - I don't know. But I know this much: in all of us, preacher included, there is a drive, a sinful, Adamic, old nature drive for greatness that is not of God.
I hope you know what I'm talking about. It's a dominating force not only in individuals, but in all of humanity. I think it hasn't helped that our children are taught Darwinism from as early as possible, which is practically 'survival of the fittest' in nature - and therefore they go out into this big wide world believing it's 'dog eat dog', and that the strongest people who walk over the weakest will be the ones who will prevail. Now God did, of course - as we know from the book of Genesis, the creation account - He intended greatness for mankind. Everything that He made was good, but human greatness as God ordained it was not to be found in self-achievement, self-aggrandisement; but our greatness as human beings, made in the image of God, was to be in reflecting the greatness and the glory of Maker.
Now of course Satan was created for that same purpose, as all creation was. He was, we believe, an angelic being whose chief end it was to glorify God, and reflect God's glory in the very throne room of heaven - but what happened? He desired glory for himself. He said: 'I will ascend, I will be like God'. It was C. S. Lewis who said that pride is the sin that made the devil the devil - it's worth thinking about, isn't it? Of course, Satan infected the first man Adam with this disease. 'You will be as gods', he told them, 'You will be the determinants of your own destiny'.
Now the lesson that we have here from our Lord Jesus Christ is: you can't find true satisfaction or greatness apart from God. Jeremiah was told: 'Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not' - but the tragedy is, and let's be honest, if somebody is good at something there is a great temptation to feel that we're great, that being excellent equates to greatness. You can become intoxicated with a sense of your own importance - and of course not everybody is great at things, and the alternative of that is people who feel that they are not great, and get dejected and even despair and are depressed of life itself, because they don't feel great at all, or great at anything. All of that business is because people, whether they think they're great or think they're not great, don't understand what true greatness is in the sight of God.
Now of course the disciples had the former problem, they thought they all were great, and all were worthy to be top dog in the pecking order - but the heartbreaking thing about this whole story is: it is at the very moment the Lord Jesus is telling them of His impending death, of His service for them and the world, His sacrifice at the cross; it's at that moment that they're arguing among themselves about who is esteemed greatest. They should have been focusing on the crucified Christ, but they're focusing on themselves. What is the point? They never - get it now - they never understood the message of the cross. Three and a half years, almost now, they are with Him, He's telling them about it - and I have to say to you: disciples of Jesus Christ today still do not understand the true message of the cross! There was a cross for Christ, but there's one for you!
It was Carl Henry who said: 'How can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross'. You can't! That's why the old hymn writer said: 'Thus would I hide my blushing face, While His dear cross appears'. As we look at this this morning in the time we have, let us all say: 'Lord, help me to bend that stiffnecked 'I', teach me to bow my head and die, beholding Him on Calvary who bowed His head for me'.
Now let's look at this: in verse 35 we have a principle that the Lord Jesus taught them. Look at it: He sat down - which incidentally was assuming the posture of Rabbi - He's going to teach them something very important. He said: 'If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all' - what a radical statement! It was counter-cultural, because in the Jewish society in which our Lord Jesus was operating, rank and procedure were a cultural preoccupation: who had the chiefest seat at the feasts, who sat in the best seats in the synagogue. Today it's the same - did you ever notice, maybe you're introduced to someone, and after they find out what your name is usually the next question that comes along is: 'What do you do?'. What do you do? Now, it has become second nature for us to start to reason in our mind: 'Well, if that person does that... well then...' - we establish their worth according to what they do. If you're a businessman, or you own a company, your worth in other people's eyes is often seen by how many people you have working for you, isn't it? How many of a staff, or how many outlets.
The Lord Jesus is turning that all on its head, He turned it on its head for their values in their day, and for ours in our day. He's saying: 'It's not how many servants you have, it's how many people you serve!'. Greatness in the kingdom of God is found in how you serve your superiors and your inferiors. It's easy to serve the boss, if you're going to get sacked! What about people that society would esteem as inferior to you? You see it's totally different in God's kingdom.
Many years ago when a religious group began, a Christian group - and I believe they began largely on biblical principles that were revolutionary, and would have brought great blessing if they continued along the lines that they had begun, some have - but there was a little story told of how they would go to Sunday worship, and there was a member of the aristocracy who was a member of that particular congregation. He would be taken in a coach, a horse-drawn coach, to the meeting of worship. Then he would get out of the coach, and the coach driver would get down, and he would open the door for him and let him into the worship gathering. Then when they went into that place, believe it or not, the coach driver was one of the elders, and the member of the aristocracy was just a member. Now that doesn't mean that the member of the aristocracy was less important - elders are no more important in God's eyes, they have a greater responsibility but they're no more important - but what it did mean was that the value system of the world was not the same as God's. That's why we shouldn't put people in responsible positions in the church of Jesus Christ because they're a bank manager, or they're a lawyer, or they're some clever-clogs, or they've got money - that's got nothing to do with it.
God's values, as we can see through the Lord Jesus' teaching here, are different: greatness is not in prominence, but actually in obscurity! Not in pushing yourself forward into the limelight, but stepping back into the shadow and hiding! Not lording over other people, but being a servant - voluntarily taking the lowest place of service and living for other people instead of yourself! Now that is radical! It's the way of the cross:
'Wouldst thou be great, then lowly serve;
Wouldst thou go up, go down;
But go as low as e'er you will,
The Highest, has gone lower still'.
Think about it: what am I talking about? A brilliant illustration of this is the night before our Lord Jesus went to the cross and died. He came to the Upper Room with His disciples, and again we find them doing what? They're busy arguing who is the greatest among them! So much so that no one would condescend to be the servant and wash everybody's feet, so the Lord removes His outer garment, and then His tunic, next He takes a towel and He wraps it around Himself - now this is the incarnate Son of God! - and slowly, one by one, He goes round each of those disciples and washes their feet. Then hear what He says in John 13: 'If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him'. It's the message of the cross: the way to glory, the way to the crown is through the cross and through the shame, the suffering, the agony.
Now turn with me to Philippians chapter 2 please, because we see this again. Philippians chapter 2 verse 3, Paul is reflecting now the same teaching: 'Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him'. He went so far down, and God raised Him up - but He had to go down.
You know Peter - and you don't need to turn to it - remember he was in the Upper Room? He was the one who objected to the Lord, and said: 'You're not going to wash my feet'. He later, exhorting Christians to humble themselves before each other, says: 'Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the older. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility' - and we believe he's thinking of the Lord clothing Himself with the towel, and this is what he says: 'for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'.
I wonder did you ever graduate in understanding the cross of Christ? Did they? Do you know when they graduated? I could ask you to guess - it wasn't until the Saviour died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and because He was glorified the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost; it wasn't until they were filled with the Holy Spirit that they truly understood the message of the cross, what it meant for them at least. That's why they were fearless on the day of Pentecost. That's why they turned the world, the known world, upside down for Christ. You see, it's not natural to behave like this - don't think it is - to put others first. It's something supernatural, and you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ and the Living God if you're going to do it to.
These disciples would eventually be the apostles that became the foundation of the church, and it would be built on them, under Christ of course - but if it was to survive, they had to learn that they were not going to be served, they were not going to lord it, but they would need to be servants of the lowest kind. Paul talked about how they were despised, the basest of things, they were seen as the scum of the earth. I'll tell you something: that's still what we need in the church of Jesus Christ today. We need people, particularly in leadership positions, who don't want to be served, but serve. Not worried about what car they're driving, how many bedrooms their house has, but they're worried about serving the lowliest of people and the lost. We've got to get back to this, we've got to all - all of us - look for opportunities to serve the other, for:
'He humbled Himself to the manger,
And even to Calvary's tree;
But I am so proud and unwilling,
His humble disciple to be'.
Is that the case? Let me give you two illustrations, that the Lord gives us in His word, of this - and I'm almost finished. There is a positive and a negative. There is one given to us by the Lord Himself, and the other is given to us by the apostle John and the rest of the disciples. The first is found in verse - back to Mark 9 - verses 36 and 37: 'He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms', embraced him, 'he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me'. Now this might have been Peter's house in Capernaum, it might even have been Peter's own child - but to really understand the impact of what the Lord was doing (it was an illustration) we've got to realise that in the Aramaic language - the New Testament is written in Greek, the Old Testament is written in Hebrew, but the Lord Jesus did not speak in either of those languages, He spoke an Aramaic. It was connected to Hebrew in a way, but it was a different language. Now in the Aramaic language the word 'child' and the word 'servant' are the same word. So what the Lord is doing here, He's connecting these two ideas, and He's saying: 'Just as I've received this lowliest of children, embraced him into my arms, we are to embrace the lowliest servants of God and Christ'.
Now many people even today, especially today, think greatness would be holding reception for a monarch or a celebrity - you know, like these wee women in housing estates in England, all of a sudden get a letter that the Queen is going to come and have a cup of tea with them. You've seen it happen on the news, it's wonderful, isn't it? That's greatness - but in Christ's eyes it is to receive the lowliest of servants, not the greatest of dignitaries. Both of these illustrations that we have in our passage show that true greatness - and I want you to think about this, we're not going to go into it - has got to do it not with giving, but receiving. That's very interesting: so great was this greatness that Christ is talking about that if we entertain the lowliest of human beings, and the lowliest servants of Christ, we actually end up entertaining Christ Himself - and more, the One who sent Him, God the Father!
That's what He says, look at it at the end of verse 37: 'Whosoever shall receive the lowliest, receives me: and not just not me, but him who sent me'. Now, what on earth does that mean? Well, what it means is simply this: every child of God and God's family possesses the Holy Spirit residing within them. That means that Christ's presence is in us and with us, the presence of God the Father is in us and with us in a certain way, and the presence of the Holy Spirit is with us. So, when we embrace another child of God, the lowliest servants of Christ, what are we doing? We're embracing God and Christ in them, whatever accomplishments they may have, influence or fame! Of course the apostle James, in his epistle, warned the Christians there of neglecting humble and ordinary people and bringing the fancy, wealthy businessman up to the front seat and leaving the poor beggars at the back - they are all children of Christ, and they're all equal. 'Don't do that', he said, because they have the presence of God in them as much as the rich man!
What he is really saying is: acceptance of all God's people opens us up to the presence of Christ. Now please think about that: the more you embrace other children of God, genuine God's people, the more you do that and have a heart of love and grace and serve the lowliest of them, the more of Christ you will experience. We all want that, don't we? More of Christ? We should! That's one way of getting it, and what greater honour could there be than to hold a reception for God - but how many of us see that in the opportunity of serving the lowest and meanest of people?
Let me give you a quick illustration. I remember visiting sick folk a lot, and sometimes it wears you down. There was one day I was walking down a corridor in a hospital going to a ward - and I could have seen it far enough, to be quite honest with you, as I was walking down that ward. I felt the Lord saying, not in an audible voice but in my heart: 'You're not visiting so-and-so, you're visiting me'. Isn't that what He said? 'Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of my brethren, you've done it unto me' - that revolutionises service, doesn't it?
Let me show you the other illustration for a moment please, verses 38 and 41 - John, after seeing this illustration and getting the point, by the way, he says: 'Lord', look at verse 38, 'Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he doesn't follow us: and we forbid him, because he doesn't follow us'. Now if Peter had said that, I would have taken a different connotation out of it, but I was asking myself during the week: why was it John? John doesn't usually pipe up like this, sure he doesn't? But John is the deep thinker, and John is realising the illustration of the child that he has just seen - they had done something contrary to that in their actions toward this man who was casting out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What he was really inferring was: they would not receive this man, they would not accept this man because he wasn't one of the twelve. The Lord Jesus Christ said: 'If he's not against me, he is for me. If he's doing this in my name, he is one of mine, and you must receive him, you must not forbid him'.
Now surely you can see how this applies to the evangelical church today? I hope I'm not being overdramatic in saying that I believe that among us, and I speak of the church of Jesus Christ worldwide, jealousy is a great problem. Resentment, pride in evangelicalism in general is at epidemic proportions - because we have it all in our hearts as individuals, I have enough to sink a fleet! When you put that all together - personal pride, professional pride - and you project it into the church - denominational pride, doctrinal pride - you have people who say:
'Believe as I believe, no more, no less;
That I am right (and no one else) confess.
Feel as I feel, think as I think;
Eat as I eat, drink what I drink
Look as I look, do as I do;
Then and only then I'll have fellowship with you'.
Now please don't misunderstand what I'm saying this morning: I of all people believe that doctrine is of supreme importance, it is - but note that this man wasn't teaching false doctrine, and this man wasn't living an immoral life. This wasn't a question of separating from the world or doctrinal error, this was blatant sectarianism - they just wouldn't accept this man because he wasn't one of their number! The Lord nails it: 'It's wrong!'. Never compromise on the light God has given you, never throw doctrine out the window to all be one in some kind of pseudo-Christian unity - that's false ecumenism, and it's not of God. But let me say this: never allow your doctrinal position to cause you to look down your nose at another child of God, never! Christ won't allow it.
It's challenging to me, I can tell you, and I'm sure it is to you. Even the least esteemed, we are to embrace them. It doesn't mean we have to agree with everything that they say or do, and we have to say and do it - no, no! But if they are truly born again, look at the criteria in verse 41: 'If you do this to one who belongs to me' - belongs to me! We need to get back to that! There's a church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation, who said: 'We have need of nothing' - remember? 'We have need of nothing', pride! Where was Jesus Christ? Outside the door! Couldn't get in!
It's better to embrace even those who reject us. Warren Weirsbe said: 'It never ceases to amaze me how God blesses those I don't agree with!'. You see, it's not a question in God's eyes of whether you belong to this group, that group, or the other group; whether you follow one person's tradition or another - it's whether you belong to Christ! Now all those other things aren't unimportant, but they are not the most important. The ironic thing is: these disciples of Christ forbid this man to do something that they couldn't do themselves! Isn't that right? They couldn't cast the demon out of the young boy, this man was doing it! Was it jealousy? Do you know what can happen? I think it's happening sometimes in our province, across our world. Those that have the truth and haven't used it with the responsibility that they should have, God is moving away from them and blessing some people that don't have as much truth. God can do that you know. Hopefully He'll lead them on to the truth - I'm not talking about salvation here, I'm talking about other issues that are important. So often we can be proud, and become critical of other Christians, become sectarian, denominational to the point that God can bypass.
I haven't got time to go into all this, my time is well up, but this happened in the Old Testament. Joshua came to Moses: 'There are two men prophesying in the camp, shut them up!'. Moses said: 'I would to God that every man was prophesying for God'. Paul said: 'I rejoice if Christ is preached even by people, at times, who aren't preaching Him for the right motive'. John the Baptist's disciples came to him and said: 'There are people leaving you and going to listen to Jesus Christ', and he said, 'I'm only the best man, He's the Bridegroom. I must decrease, He must increase'. It's all about Him, it has to be!
'I don't care what church you belong to,
Just as long as for Calvary you stand.
If your sins have been washed in the fountain,
You're my brother, so give me your hand'.
That's the way it should be! It should be, but it's not, sure it's not? Well, I've finished - there are other things I could say to you, but just to say this: individually and collectively pride is our greatest enemy, and humility is our greatest friend. A Keswick speaker once said: 'There is nothing God cannot do if we keep our hands off the glory'. 'How can I have humility?', you say. That's not the right question to be asking, it's: where can I have humility? There is a place, and it is the foot of the cross. As the great hymn writer said:
'Forbid it, Lord, that I should glory,
Save in the cross of Christ my God'.
That's where true greatness is found: at the foot of the cross, serving and sacrificing. A modern hymn writer put it like this:
'So let us learn how to serve,
Each other's need to prefer,
For it is Christ we're serving'.
Who are you going to give a cold cup of water to today in Jesus' name? You don't need to cast out demons, just a cold cup of water - and that will be your first step on the journey to greatness and to glory. God bless His word to every heart.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Armagh Baptist Church in Armagh, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the forty-second recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "True Greatness" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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