The Gospel Call
Is there anything as useful or as aggravating as a telephone?
In the old days, phones were luxuries not everyone could afford. I remember friends or family members calling me from a pay phone or a neighbor’s house. I had to be home for you to talk to me, and if I wasn’t please leave a message at the beep. Sorry, I couldn’t reach him.
Today of course, everything has changed. No matter how rich or poor or in-between, almost everybody has at least one cellphone. I don’t have to wait for you to get home; I can ring you up right now. If you don’t have your phone muted (which I hope you do during service) you push a button and say hello Bro. Mike! or you press the ignore button and say why doesn’t that preacher stop calling me?
It’s never been easier to reach out and touch somebody or to let your fingers do the walking on your textpad. But let me ask you this: how many of the calls you make/take are truly important? Not many, right? But there are calls you don’t want to miss.
The cellphone rings several times before a man finally answers.
MAN: "Hello" WOMAN: "Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?"
MAN: "Yes" WOMAN: "I am at the mall now and found this beautiful leather coat. It's only $1,000. Is it OK if I buy it?"
MAN: "Sure, go ahead if you like it that much."
WOMAN: "I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new 2012 models. I saw one I really liked."
MAN: "How much?" WOMAN: "$80,000" MAN: "OK, go for it."
WOMAN: "Thank you. I'll see you later! I love you!" MAN: "Bye!"
He hangs up and yells: "Anyone know who this cell phone belongs to?"
That’s a call I’m pretty sure somebody didn’t want to miss.
We’re going to talk tonight about a call you don’t want to miss. You don’t want to miss it because it is from the most important Person in the universe. You don’t want to miss it because it is the greatest news you will ever hear. Tonight I’m going to talk about the Gospel Call. Our text is Mark 1:1-13.
One of the real dangers to beware is reading the Bible only in the past tense. We read words written long ago, about events that occurred long ago, and wonder what does that have to do with me? We read the Bible only as then and there instead of the here and now.
Countless Sabbaths the Jews in synagogue hear the rabbis read
Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts.
Isaiah 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.
Insert a long, wide yawn. Beautiful promises of the past, words which duty repeats without passion. Someday, but not today, sometime, but not now.
Then God steps into the picture, sends an untamed prophet by the name of John and these words come to life. Suddenly they realize not only God has spoken, but God is speaking, that He’s calling them to do something about what they hear. In the same way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to do something about what we hear, starting with this fact:
1.The Gospel calls you to repentance. (v. 1-5)
The modern Gospel begins with a call to believe, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with a call to repent. The words of vs. 2-3: prepare the way of the Lord paint a picture of an ancient custom. A messenger rides into a village, announcing the king will arrive soon. The people are responsible for repairing the roadway, filling in the potholes, leveling out the speed bumps so their ruler can enjoy a smooth ride into town.
John the Baptist is the King’s messenger, shouting the call to prepare the way for the arrival of God’s King, the Christ. (cf. vs. 4) How does he say to prepare the way of the Lord? Repentance (v. 5).
At its heart, repentance is change—a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of direction. Repentance expresses itself in confession. (cf. vs. 5) = to agree with, not just to mouth words, but to wholeheartedly agree with God He is right and you are wrong. Repentance is a realization that you need to change, and this is where the real problem is.
A man comes home one day and sees a plaque on his kitchen wall. "Prayer changes things!" He snatches it down. Later, his wife confronts her husband. “Don’t you like prayer?" He answers, "Of course I like prayer, but I don't like change!"
There is a stubborn part of each of us that resists change, even a change for the better. Repentance convicts me of my sin, repentance calls for a drastic change in my heart and my mind. As C. S. Lewis observed, repentance is no fun at all.
At the same time, repentance has a positive side. All these people who gladly hear John ringing the bells of repentance also hear a ring of hope. They hear the Good News that they can change, that they don’t have to be stuck in the same rut, that they don’t have to be prisoners of their past. Repentance is the doorway into a brand new life.
The Gospel calls you to repentance so that you don’t stand condemned before God—you can be saved, forgiven and accepted by your Heavenly Father. You don’t have to be a slave to sin—you can be free from sin’s power. You can don’t have to live the same old life—you can have a new start and a new life have a new life if you are willing to turn from your sin and yourself and turn to God.
Repentance is the Gospel reminding the saints of God you are a work in progress. The change you experienced when you first got saved is only the beginning. Repentance is to continue to embrace the changes God calls for to make you more like Jesus. Look back on every revival in history, and you’ll see that it always begin with repentance not just among the lost, but among God’s people.
Romans 12:2 …do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
There’s not a day goes by I don’t confess my sins and ask not only for God’s forgiveness, but God to keep changing me. Repentance is a habit of a healthy soul.
Do you hear the Gospel calling you to repentance tonight? It’s a choice you make, but it’s also a choice you’ll never regret. The Gospel calls us to repent, but also
2.The Gospel calls you to humility. (v. 6-8)
Somebody once said 2 of the most difficult and most liberating
lessons you learn: 1)There is a God, and 2)you’re not Him.
That frustrates some because they want to be the master of their fate, the boss of
their lives. They want to live like the sun—to be the center of their universe, with everybody and everything else revolving around them.
But be honest: isn’t there also something in us that longs to acknowledge something or Someone bigger than us, a need to know there is a God and we’re not him? There is a desire deep inside of us, to humble ourselves before God.
John the Baptist is a living example of this kind of humility.
Most preachers of John’s day wear nice robes which garner the respect of the people. He dresses like a poor nomad in rough camel’s hair clothing. Most preachers are invited to banquets in their honor where they enjoy deliciously rich food. John eats his meals alone, a simple diet of locusts and wild honey.
I’m sure some see John as a fanatic or a freak, but there is reason in his madness. He doesn’t dress or act this way just to get attention or to flaunt his freedom. His dress and diet are meant to rebuke the proud and prosperous, to call them to humility.
Vs. 7-8 tell us John knows 2 things for sure: 1) there is a Messiah, and 2) he’s not Him. I’m not the main attraction. The One you’re looking for is much greater and much more powerful than I. I’m not worthy to take off His shoes and wash His feet. I can dunk you in water, but He will immerse you in the presence of God Spirit. John isn’t exaggerating. He really does think he is that small and Jesus is that great.
Somebody once said humility is not thinking less of yourself; humility is thinking of yourself less. The Gospel expands that statement: Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking less of yourself and more of Jesus. The Gospel calls us to recognize some humbling facts.
Only Jesus can save you. A common temptation is to pride ourselves on being good people who impress God with our righteous acts. The Bible says in
Isaiah 64:6 …all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…
That doesn’t mean nothing you do is good. It means that nothing you do is good compared to the righteousness of God. Nothing you do is good enough. Instead we read in
Ephesians 2:8–9 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Even at your very best, you cannot earn God’s forgiveness. Salvation is a gift you must humbly receive by God’s grace.
Only Jesus is Lord. One of our favorite American pastimes is demanding our right to do as we please. Even though God allows you to make your own choices, there is only One King Who deserves to sit on the throne of the universe and the throne of your life.
Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.
There is one God, and you’re not Him. Admitting that may frustrate you, may anger you, but it won’t change the facts. The greatest freedom you will ever know is when you humbly bow before Jesus as your Savior from sin, surrender to Him as King of your life.
The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.--P. T. Forsyth
Tonight if you’re tired of trying to play God, tired of depending on yourself, tired of worshipping money or pleasure or all those other things that leave you so empty, then you are ready to humbly bow and admit there is a Savior, and you’re not Him, there is a King, and you’re not Him, there is a God, and you’re not Him. Then you are blessed by the promise of
James 4:6 …God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
The Gospel calls us to repentance and humility, and finally,
3.The Gospel calls you to follow Jesus. (v. 9-13)
22 times in the Gospels our Lord calls us to do something very simple: follow Him.
Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him. He calls the rich young ruler to follow Him. He says
Luke 9:23 If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
John 12:26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me…
You almost get the idea He means for us to follow Him, don’t you? But what does it mean to follow Jesus? It means for us to make Him your Model for how you live.
In vs. 9 when Jesus is baptized, He doesn’t need to confess and repent, because He never sinned. He is baptized as an example for us who do need to confess and repent.
When God the Father speaks from heaven, identifying Christ as His beloved Son, Jesus models the relationship He wants each of us to have with our Father in heaven. He came to make it possible for you to be a well-pleasing child of your Heavenly Father.
When Christ marches out to the wild wilderness to confront the devil, He not only defeats the enemy, but paves a path for us to stand against the devil as well.
At the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord calls us to trust Him as Savior, to surrender to Him as Lord, but also to follow in His footsteps as apprentices to our Master.
1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Following Jesus does not mean wearing robes and sandals. Following Jesus does not mean being perfect or sinless. Following Jesus means making His life the pattern for how you live your life. It means making it your goal to love God and others like Jesus does, to see the world like Jesus does does, to deny yourself and take up your Cross daily like Jesus does.
…What He was by nature, we should be by grace.—Rev. William Secker
Tonight is the night you need to get your eyes off yourself, off others, and on Jesus. The one thing God is determined to do in your life is revealed in
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
How many of you have ever answered the phone and discovered it was a wrong number?
A pastor answers the telephone at church and hears the voice of one of his members on the say, “Could you please deliver six cases of vodka to my house?" The pastor replies, “Mrs. Smith this this is your pastor speaking.” A brief moment of shock, then Mrs. Smith cries, “Pastor, I am shocked! What are you doing at the liquor store?”
When you hear the Gospel call, it is never a wrong number.
Revival is not just getting together and trying to work up good feelings. I like feeling good as much as anybody, but we all know feelings don’t last. Revival comes in your soul when you hear the Gospel call and you do something about it.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls you to repent, to humbly bow before Him as Savior and Lord, to follow Him not just as your Hero, but as your Model for how to live your life.
Do you hear Him calling you tonight? It’s time to do something about it.