Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Calling of Christ

(This message was preached 11/18/15 at Heritage Baptist Church http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1119151234296 )
THESIS: to illustrate the call of the Lord upon believers and the appropriate response to said call.

This evening we’ll be considering the next 7 verses in Mark Chapter 1.  Please turn there, vs. 14-20, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Now as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.” (Mark 1:14-20)

Introduction

This is the 4th time I am speaking to you from Mark, and I’d like to remind you of the essential themes of each message.  The First message, on verses 1 – 8, were on John the Baptist and his preparing a people for the Christ. Next we considered verse 9 – 11, the baptism of Christ. Last month we looked at verses 12 – 13, the temptation of Christ. 

Are you seeing a pattern develop?  Today’s message is on The Call of Christ.  You see, while the various gospel accounts each have their own individual theme, together the overarching theme is Christ, the Messiah has come!

And as we are looking at Mark once again, I’d like to ask if there are any of our young people who can tell me what is the theme of Mark, or the key verse.

The revealing of the servant of the Lord.

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Verses 14-15 we read of the arrival of Christ, immediately after his baptism and temptation.  Recall that Galilee was some 90 miles north Judea and of the city of Jerusalem.  Here it is that Christ officially begins his ministry.   Towns such as Cana, Capernaum, Nain, Bethsaida, and Nazareth are found there, as well as the Sea of Galilee.  This sea has had a number of names over the years.  The Sea of Gennesaret, the Sea of Galilee, and the Sea of Tiberius.  Mark simply calls it the Sea of Galilee. 

To give you an idea of the size of the sea, compared to a nearby lake, Geneva Lake in Wisconsin.  This lake is 8 square miles in surface area.  The Sea of Galilee is by contrast 64 Square miles. 

It is in this area Christ begins to preach much the same message as John.  And after John is essentially off the scene.  Christ calls out Repent and believe the gospel!  The time is come!

Body of Message

Mark simply tells us that He saw Simon and Andrew casting their net into the sea.  What we don’t read here is that it was Christ who asked them to do so! 

In Luke 5:1-11 we read of the same account from Luke’s point of view.  It is a familiar account.  Please follow along as I read.

And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)

So here we have Christ using Peter’s boat as a platform to teach the people (v. 3). I want you to notice the response of Peter – He explains to Christ that the fish aren’t cooperating!  We have toiled all night and taken nothing. Nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.   

And after the amazing catch we see Peter’s confession in verse 8, Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.  Our Lord’s response is a compassionate one, as seen in the phrase Fear not!

So as we go along I have to ask, why are the two accounts different?  Again we are forced to address this question!  One reason, I suspect, is that Mark is, as he gathered his material from Peter, only reflecting Peter’s recollections.  In addition, Mark himself may be helping Peter save face in not recording the confession, “I am a sinful man”

Does it matter that Marks account is less complete than that of Luke’s?  I bring this up because we live in a day when the foundations are being destroyed, and our foundation is the Word of God!

While I was a student at Bible school, I was taught the synoptic ‘problem’ and it’s ‘solution’ – a figmentary document called ‘Q’.  Never mind that no such document has ever been found or even referenced historically.  Yet here at a supposedly conservative school was this liberal theory being taught!

Yet apart from this false theory, we do have to address the question of Mark’s apparent incompleteness.  As believers in the inerrancy of Scripture, that it is without error, and its infallibility, that it is unfailing, we therefore look to this Book as the complete Word of God.

Does the book of Mark stand apart from the Scripture as God’s Word?  There may be a sense in which it does. Yet such times are long past.  Marks account stands as part of a completed Canon. We look at the whole of the Bible as Scripture and though any given unit is a complete unit, the Bible itself is only completed if all the individual books are a part.  Mark does NOT stand alone.  We must allow Scripture to inform us on Scripture.  One of my very favorite study tools is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. It is an extensive list of cross-references on each and every verse in the Bible.  Get a copy if you don’t have it!

So we are right to consider Luke’s account as we exposit Mark.  Indeed we would be wrong not to do so! Let us now go on to the theological matters of the call of the Lord upon our lives.  In verse 20 of our text we see what the Lord did was to call the men.  Therefore let’s do a short word study.

A.  Review of the textual examples the word call

a.    The call to life (effectual call) John 11:43, Lazarus, come forth!

This is that first or primary call which one hears and which results in our salvation.  Our brother has been preaching on this very passage for a number of weeks so I won’t dig too deeply here.  We were dead in sins and trespasses and hearing the call, are made alive in Christ.  When Christ calls a man – he is bound to come.  It has been said down through the ages, that if Jesus in calling Lazarus to come forth had only said, “Come forth!” all the dead would have arisen. 

b.   Calls in Genesis

                                                            i.      Gen. 17:5, This is the renaming of Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). The application of the term reflects here a recognition of a change in relationship.  Abram is not the high father any longer, but God having exalted him even higher – by making him a father of many nations, changes his name to show him that which was, but was not yet.

                                                        ii.      21:12, “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” This is using the word call as a reference to a position. Rebecca was being tormented over her son Isaac, by Hagar.  This long awaited son, born to an elderly couple would be to great Joy and not trouble. Hagar’s son would NOT have the position.

                                                     iii.      32:27-28 (also 35:10) Jacob (supplanter) is renamed Israel (Contended with God) after the wrestling with God.

 

c.    NT Examples of a change in relationship or identity

                                                            i.      Rom. 1:1, 6, 7; 8:28 “called to be an apostle”, “the called of Jesus Christ”, “called to be saints

                                                        ii.      I Cor. 1:1, 2, 24 “called to be an apostle”, “called to be saints”, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

                                                     iii.      Jude 1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.

                                                      iv.      Rev. 17:14b “they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

 

d.   Examples of a change in purpose

                                                            i.      I Thes. 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

                                                        ii.      II Thes. 1:11a “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling

                                                     iii.      II Tim. 1:9a “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling

I went through that long list to establish something.  There are many, many, more verses we could look up in order to be exhaustive in the matter.  But I believe I have selected enough to establish the following point.

The idea of the call brings with it a measure of identity.  It brings with it a measure of relationship.  And it brings a responsibility to the table.  When Christ calls you to follow Him, it is no light matter.  Your identity is utterly changed!  You are not who you once were!  And what you do now, in light of this new creation you have become is a reflection of that change.  Not only is it a reflection of the change, what you do, how you live, who you befriend, how you speak – all of these things, and many more, reflect upon the One who called you.  There is that aspect of relationship. 

There was once a time, when you did not concern yourself with what you did and how you did it, unless it bugged you personally.  Now however, you want to live so that He who has called you to new life sees that new life within!  You want to show Him his calling was NOT in vain! 

For those of you who are married, you have a new calling, now that you are bonded to another.  Indeed, if you were the female you even had your name changed!  This is that same idea.  So when we think of Christ calling Peter to be a fisher of men – this was no small matter either to Christ, or to Peter!  The very purpose of Peter’s existence had been modified!  And such is this with you, Christian! 

You received a call from Christ.  You now have a new relationship, identity, and purpose.  You have been called in a holy calling to live holy lives because you reflect a Holy God!

Now this calling does not come without responsibilities – and such responsibilities sometimes are that which undo us.  Please turn to Luke 9:57-62.

B.  Challenges to the call (Luke 9:57-62)

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:57-62)

This is where we find this new relationship, this new identity and purpose most difficult.  We think to ourselves, how can I put my hand to the plow and NEVER look back?!  That’s not possible.  And what about sin? Isn’t it the fact that I am constantly disqualifying myself?

We should shudder at times reading such passages.  Yet we should not live in a craven fear that we will not make it!  We should remember that we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. (2 Cor. 13:5)  So how do we answer Christ, when He sees us as not being fit for the kingdom?

Well, as this is a message on the call of Peter, Andrew, James and John, let’s look at how one man did.  Consider Peter – that first among the apostles.  Yet this man, who said he’d never deny the Lord did so, and even abandoned Him in His hour of need.  Even before Peter denied Him, he fell asleep when he should have been praying.  The Lords commentary is revealing though.  Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He knows our weakness, that we are only dust.  Nevertheless, though Peter could not stay awake 1 hour, though he fled, Christ did not turn from him.  He pursued Peter.  This call was not a new relationship for Peter only.  When Christ calls a man, it is the fact that there is an evident love He has for the man.  A love so deep that He was willing to die to get the man.  So while it is the fact that we are to put our hand to the plow and not turn back, when we do, we ought not to lose heart.  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7) Remember that verse? – Peter wrote it!

C.  Challenge to the congregation (appeal)

Let’s review what we’ve looked at this evening.  Christ calls his first disciples and they left everything, and followed Him.  No small sacrifice was asked, the boats, the nets, the business relationships – all was left behind. That’s what He is asking of us!

Have you left it all behind?  Or is there some small closet where you have held out.  What about keeping you hand on the plow?  Have you let it slip? 

Or how about those new idols you’ve taken up.  Sure you say – I have a great testimony – left it all for Christ.  But that was years ago!  What worldly ways have you returned to?  What small idolatry has taken root?

This call is a relationship change.  That means work.  Think about your best friend.  It could be a spouse, but it might by a close friend.  Ask yourself – are you growing in that friendship?  You should be!  Such is the natural course of life. 

What have you invested in that friendship to keep it living?  Went out for coffee? Wrote an e-mail? Went for a walk just to be with them?  How about the relationship with the Lord who saved you for a holy calling out of the sin and filth you once lived in?  Are you cultivating a vital friendship with Him?

Do you read His Word regularly?  Do you think on it – pondering His character, or pondering what He would have you to do in light of given circumstances?

How often do we really live in the light of Christ?  I really wish I had some interesting stories to illustrate the point of this probing questions, but I suspect, many of the stories are already written. Read your Bible!  Hebrews 11 is often the first place we look, and perhaps rightly – but don’t forget to ponder the lives of Joseph, David, Daniel and others! 

Look to the biographies of saints of old.  Often we can be so completely challenged and encouraged to read of the struggles they worked through as they answered this call of Christ in their lives! 

We’ve been blessed this year to have a number of our young people follow the Lord in the waters of baptism.  Think about it – there was a great celebration.  What about it – Are you continuing on?  The marriage begins after the honeymoon is over!  Don’t let the amazement that He called you grow cold! Cultivate it!  Read, pray, act in accordance with holiness, since that’s your new life! 

Now, while the majority of this message was directed to the Christian, what about you who haven’t yet come to Christ.  You’ve been thinking about it.  What’s holding you back?  Some of you young people may be for the 1st time thinking about what Jesus did for you.  Are you ready?  Has He called You?!

Amen.

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