Our services will be online for the time being. We are live streaming our sermons through YouTube (Christ Baptist Mokopane) and we’ll also continue to upload a pre-recorded audio version of the same message for those who can’t stream.

The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting.

Click here: Mark 9:42-50, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 9:42-50, for the video feed, and follow the notes below. May the Lord speak into your hearts as you worship.

Mark 9:42-50, A Lesson on Discipleship:

  • I have been stressing this over the last two weeks, Jesus is now busy with private ministry – training the disciples as He makes His way to the cross where He will be crucified, the lamb will be slain for the sins of the world.
  • Now, we’ve spend some spent looking at the lesson of faith, and then we looked at the lesson on humility! Both occasions revealed some hard truths to comprehend, and today won’t be any different as we look at the lesson on discipleship.

 

  • Perhaps the theme will seem more familiar if I had titled it, ‘The Cost of Discipleship.’ And so today we’ll look at four characteristics of discipleship: love, righteousness, sacrifice, and obedience.
  • Now just a note as we move on. You might notice the verse 44 & 46 aren’t in your Bibles, that’s because they weren’t part of the original manuscript. They have been added to double up on emphasis. Therefore, I won’t really be touching on them as we do see the same thought added in verse 48.

 

  1. Discipleship is Characterized by Love:
  • Text – 9:42
  • Explanation – What does this harsh saying have to do with love? Well, even though Jesus truly had a young child with them, believers are also referred to as children throughout the New Testament. The apostle John did this extensively.
  • And so the idea here in this severe warning is, you would be better off dying a horrible death before you lead another believer to sin. This is something the disciples have to grasp early on. These guys will set the tone for the church, and being a stumbling block will not be the greatest start.

 

  • Illustration – Matthew 18:6-7 records the same account but notice the addition; “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks.
  • You expect the world to cause people to sin. “It is inevitable… but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes.” Woe is a condemnation that is a curse. So one can expect the world to bring stumbling blocks, but judgment is pronounced on the world and extended to anyone, even believers, who causes another believer into sin.

 

  • Application – What is the opposite? To love! Love does not cause stumbling blocks! It does not hinder a fellow believer! Philippians 2 would define it as the kind of love that thinks more highly of others than yourself.

 

  • Conclusion – So instead of tempting another – by inviting them to lie, gossip, or cheat; instead of provoking others – by causing jealousy, or provoking them to anger; instead of causing others to stumble by setting a sinful example; or by not encouraging godliness’ – discipleship stimulates one another to love and good works!

 

  • Bridge – If you don’t do this, it is better to drown yourself. It seems so intense, so harsh! But this is one of the strongest instructions that Jesus gave to His people. He calls them to love!
  1. Discipleship is Characterized by Righteousness:
  • Text – 9:43-48
  • Explanation – Here’s a convicting thought having read these verses… You’re never going to be able to lead someone else into righteousness if you’re not righteous yourself. If your own heart is impure, you will lead others into sin. So the danger of leading others to sin is eliminated when you deal with sin in your own heart.
  • The language here is so strong. This is extreme behaviour. The language calls for radical, severe action against any and all sin. And we can assume that the body parts mentioned here, tell us that everything you see, do, or everywhere you go – need point toward righteousness.

 

  • Illustration – How do I do that? Radical amputation – severe action against anything that stands in the way of the pursuit of righteousness. Jesus is not saying you need to actually cut off your hand of take out an eye… you do not overcome sin in this way.
  • By taking your eye out, you still cannot remove the sinful images imprinted in your mind. Besides, the idea of changing on the outside is not biblical transformation.

 

  • Jesus said that which proceeds out of the man, is what defiles him! James 1:14-15 says, “Sin is the product of lust conceiving in the heart and bringing forth sin.” John says that it is the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life that lead to sin.
  • So you can’t deal with the sin on the outside, a disciple of the Lord deals with sin on the inside. And the metaphor is to seriously deal with sin!

 

  • Application – Now having said that, Jesus refers to hell twice here. And the reference is that if you don’t practice righteousness, you’ll end up in hell. Not as a believer, but because you aren’t a believer! Righteousness is a characteristic of being a disciple of Jesus.
  • Ignoring righteousness could be an indication that this person is not a disciple. Therefore, the references to hell point to a terrible outcome – hell. But only true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ will result in salvation, and ultimately righteousness.

 

  • Conclusion – This is the strongest call to discipleship, to either repent and deal with your sin or end up in the lake of fire where there will be darkness, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth!
  • But once we’ve become the Lord’s disciples, we need to pursue righteousness, as Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, we meditate on “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there’s any excellence, if anything is worthy of praise, think on these things, dwell on these things.

 

  • Bridge – So thus far in our lesson on discipleship, we’ve seen two characteristics of the Lord’s disciples – firstly, to love and being loving, to be lovable. Second, to pursue righteousness with a lot of passion and eagerness, constantly turning away from sin and sinful lifestyles. But our passage reveals a third characteristic…

 

  1. Discipleship is Characterized by Sacrifice:
  • Text – 9:49
  • Explanation – This is quite mysterious, as we’ve just seen references to hell, but now there’s a reference to salt? If we stay in our passage, we won’t get the answer! Thankfully, Scripture interprets Scripture. So I ask, where in Scripture does fire and salt come together?
  • There are two passages that answer this question. Ezekiel 43:23-24, where we have salt used with sacrifices, and Ezra 6:9, which says that salt has to be stored up to be used in sacrifices.

 

  • Illustration – What you might need to understand is that salt was added to sacrifices as a symbol of God’s enduring covenant. In fact, Leviticus 2:13 says “Every grain offering of yours, you shall season with salt so that the salt of the covenant of your God should not be lacking from your grain offering.”
  • They had to offer salt with all their offerings, as salt symbolizes God’s enduring faithfulness as they would make the offering. Now a grain offering was an offering of devotion and dedication. It symbolizes total commitment to the Lord.

 

  • Application – So the disciples would understand this reference because of their Jewish heritage. But if we truly want to understand the characteristic here, let’s jump ahead to Paul’s letter to the Romans. He writes (12:1) “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

 

  • Conclusion – It means denying to self, laying yourself on the alter continually. This is giving yourself to Christ no matter the cost! It means making sacrifices especially when you don’t feel like it. Maybe you don’t want to join the online ministry or pray in the morning’s…

 

  • Bridge – But a disciple of the Lord Jesus is characterized by sacrifice just as much as we are by love and righteousness. Therefore, discipleship is characterized by love for one another, righteousness, and continual sacrifice to God. Let’s turn to the final characteristic…

 

  1. Discipleship is Characterized by Obedience:
  • Text – 9:50
  • Explanation – So here’s some more information concerning the reference to salt. Salt was good because of the extreme value in the ancient world. It was used for healing and cleansing, for preserving food, and for flavouring food. Often times salt was a prized possession.
  • But salt is good unless it becomes unsalty. Now this is weird isn’t it? Sodium chloride is stable, right? Meaning it cannot lose its saltiness, so what does this refer to?

 

  • Illustration – Well, ancient historians have recorded that there were several kinds of salts in Israel, many having components that made the salt basically worthless because over time, the salt could remove itself from the other minerals. And what do you do with saltless salt? Well, it didn’t even go on the compost heap.

 

  • Application – Pure salt kept all its components, but when it was mixed – it became worthless. And Jesus says: Have salt in yourselves. Now we can relate this to our modern lives. Discipleship is characterized by obedience, and perhaps purity, therefore Jesus adds: “And be at peace with one another.
  • Why does He say that? Well back in verse 33, the disciples had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. They were basically proud, and competitive. They were guilty of leading each other into sin.

 

  • Conclusion – Therefore, the Lord calls them with a humble reminder, to not be mixed salt. To stop causing division, to stop feeding their pride and trying to outdo one another through competition or enticing others. As Christians, we are called to be the “salt of the earth” because of the life we are called to.
  • If a disciple does not count the cost, they will become worthless just like the salt without its saltiness. Believers are salt and it’s not an option, you are salt. And so the reference to being salty is that we obey the Lord, that we serve with purity, and as salt was used to preserve – we preserve the peace among us as believers!

 

  • Bridge – therefore, the four characteristics from today’s lesson on discipleship is love, righteousness, sacrifice, and obedience!

 

Application:

  • And what is the outcome of this? What is the result of this? Being the salt of the earth means that we, in a sense, are the only hope this world has for spiritual influence, for hearing the Gospel, for being exposed to the only name that saves!
  • Therefore, the call is severe! To be radical in our love for one another. To pursue righteousness by taking extreme measures. To make sacrifices for the sake of honouring the Lord, sometimes costly sacrifices. And to be obedient by preserving peace and honour among our fellow brothers and sisters!

 

  • As a result, we need to be purposeful, because if you become tasteless, you’re not good for anything. Now the grace is, if we try to be the Lord’s disciples on our own strength or with our own wisdom – we’ll make the same mistakes we’ve seen the disciples make.
  • True discipleship is firstly characterized by having a relationship with Christ, being saved by grace and by being enabled by grace! This means that we can only love because He first loved us. We can be righteous, but only in His righteousness. That we can make sacrifices, which is possible through His grace. And we are able to obey because He enables our perseverance.

 

  • Therefore, we glorify Christ in our bodies, in the church, and in the world – so that all men will know that we are His disciples! The end of all is that God would be glorified! And will attract people to glorifying God is that His disciples are seasoned with salt for the sake of the Gospel.