Introduction: Lesson 6 vocation.
Dr. DiGangi: Jesus Christ is sent by God, to draw us back to himself. There's a very fascinating passage of Scripture found at the beginning of the gospel according to Mark. Let's take a look at it. It's the basis for this particular study. The Gospel of Mark Chapter One at verse 14. After John was put in prison, That's John the Baptist Of course. Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, He said. The Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news. As Jesus walked beside the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. Come. follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. At once, they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat preparing their nets. Without delay, He called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Now in this passage of the Word of God. We find some great lessons. We need to consider them carefully. Here we have a sample of the message of Jesus. Jesus declares, the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is near and that men must prepare to enter that kingdom.
Dr. DiGangi: How do you enter that kingdom that is drawing near? How can you participate in its blessings? Well, you need a passport to get into that Kingdom. And that passport must be stamped in two ways. It must declare that we have repented for sin and that we have believed the good news. In order for you and me to enter the Kingdom of God and share the blessings of that kingdom, our passport must be stamped with these words. This individual has repented, This individual has believed the gospel. In other words repentance and faith must be written into our passport before we are eligible to enter the kingdom that is drawn near. It matters not if we are rich or poor. It matters not if we are university trained or have barely gone through elementary school. It matters not if we're blue collar or white collar in our work. It matters not if we are male or female, young or old. It matters not if we are sick or in very strong health. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless our passport is clearly marked and shows that we have repented for sin and believed in the Gospel.
Dr. DiGangi: The first Mark then is that of repentance. Jesus says repent. Notice that Jesus does not say do penance. There is some people who feel that the way for them to earn the forgiveness of God is to do penance. To starve themselves to do without food or drink, to mutilate themselves to go up a pair of sacred stairs rung after rung until their knees are red with blood. Or to have themselves whipped across the back. Or to sit in an uncomfortable posture for days on end reciting and mumbling prayers. Jesus does not say do penance, he says repent. What is repentance? Repentance is not a mere set of external actions that penance. Repentance begins in the human heart. When we really repent we have a conscience that has been stabbed by the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. When we repent we feel pain in our heart because we have broken God's law and we have been less than what we know we should be. When we repent we confess our sins. It is easy to recognize somebody else's sins. It it's easy to say that somebody else should confess his sins, but when I repent, I feel uncomfortable for my sin and I acknowledge my sin before the Lord. Repentance must be a very personal business. Moreover I must not only confess my sin but I must feel sorry for my sin. Some people are sorry because they have been exposed as sinners. We are to feel sorry, not because we've been caught, but because we have sinned. To feel sorrow for sin is not quite enough. We must also hate our sin, be disgusted with our sin, turn our back on our sin, and turn ourselves toward God, seeking his forgiveness, asking for his mercy, open to receive his grace, and praying that with the help of God, we will go and walk in the path of obedience from this day forward. In the old testament book of the prophet Joel who must have lived more than 26 or 27 hundred years ago. we find him delivering a message from God which can be expressed like this. I don't want penance I want repentance. Don't rend your garments but rend your hearts in the sight of God. Jesus says that we cannot really enter the Kingdom of God unless we have repented.
Dr. DiGangi: In the second place. Jesus makes it crystal clear that we must not only feel sorrow for sin and hatred for sin and experience a break with sin and turn to God but we must dare to believe the gospel. we must believe the good news. Those who went to the kingdom are not only a people of repentance but a people of confidence. They have confidence in the good news. They believe the gospel. In the opening chapter to the gospel according to John, John 1 starting at verse 10, we read some very interesting words. We're told that Jesus came to his own and his world, the world that he had made, didn't even recognize him. He came to his own people and his own received Him not. He was despised and rejected. But to those who receive him, to them God gives the right to belong to his family and be known as the children of God. Why? Because they believe on Christ's name. They have confidence in all that his name represents. They trust his person. So we see that to receive Christ, is to believe in him, to trust him. Faith is receiving Christ. How do you receive a guest? Well that guest comes to your home. He may knock on your door and then you open the door. Jesus said, Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door. I will come into him and we'll have supper with him and he will have fellowship with me. To believe is to open your life to receive Christ. It also means that you rely on him, and on him alone, to deal with your basic problem, the problem of sin. You must rely on Christ 100 percent for your salvation. You must not dare to add anything to what Christ has done to save you from your sin. Either he paid all of your debt or there still remains some part of that debt for you to pay. The Bible says that Jesus paid it all and we owe everything to him. We must let him be our savior from start to finish. In fact the work of our salvation is finished. What we have to do is rely on Christ, rest on Christ, and let him do for us what we could never do for ourselves. To believe means to receive Christ, to rely on Christ, and to reject any idea of having merits of our own. Our self righteousness must be crucified dead and buried. If you and I have any standing in the presence of God it's not because of our goodness, but because of the goodness of the Lord Jesus. If you and I have access into the presence of a holy God, it is not because we deserve it but because Christ has deserved it. And he introduces us to the father. We must have faith. Believing the gospel. Receiving Christ. Relying on Christ and rejecting and renouncing any idea of human merit and certainly self-righteousness.
Dr. DiGangi: The message of Christ then can be summarized very briefly. The kingdom is near. Get ready to enter it. Have your passport stamped with repentance and faith. But in addition to the message of Christ we have the call of Christ. Jesus issues a call to discipleship. He calls two sets of brothers Simon Peter and Andrew and also James and John Jesus called them to be his followers. He asked them to go after him. He asked them to leave what they were doing and entrust their future to him. To put their destiny in his hands. That is the call to discipleship. Now you and I are not by the sea of Galilee and our name may not be Simon or Andrew or James or John. We may not be fishermen either. And yet Jesus still issues his call and he invites us to be his followers and entrust our destiny into his hands. He calls us to be his disciples how does Jesus do this? I traveled to the land of Italy several months ago and met a man who said I was sitting in a bar in a tavern and your radio broadcast was on and I listened to what you had to say. And at the end of the broadcast they gave an address and a telephone number and I contacted those people and they visited me and because of that I have heard the call of Christ. And today I am a follower of Jesus and saw all the members of my family. Some people hear the call of Christ through a radio broadcast. Some may hear it through a cassette recording. Some may hear it through a record. Others may hear it through a noted evangelist in a great crusade or campaign. Some hear it through the preaching of the word by the pastor of a church. Some hear the call of Christ through a friend. Some hear the call of Christ when God speaks to their conscience and reminds them of his word. Our Lord has many ways of calling people, but he always calls us to follow him. Christ calls us to discipleship and he does it by means of his Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who convinces us of our sin and causes us to see are in need of turning to the Savior. It is the Holy Spirit who enlightens our mind and enables us to see the attractiveness of Jesus. But we should leave everything to follow him. It is the Holy Spirit who enabled us to be born again. Who takes away the rebellion of our hearts and wills and encourages us to turn to Jesus and follow Christ. It is the Holy Spirit working in our heart in our mind in our will. Who persuades us to come to Christ, to choose Christ, to embrace Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who tells us that if we go to Jesus he will not cast this way, He will not turn us aside, He will welcome us into his fellowship and into his family. And once we have come to Jesus, then we ourselves are meant to be the means through which others will be called to repentance. Others will be invited to believe the Gospel. Others will be drawn to become followers of Christ.
Dr. DiGangi: Jesus wants us to follow him. Jesus wants us to become fishers of men. We are to come to Christ and through us. Others are to be attracted to him. By the words of witness that we speak, by the kind of life that we live, in our families, Through our daily work, as citizens of the country to which we belong, we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world and attract others to follow Christ. Repent and believe the good news and follow me. These were the words of Jesus then. These are the words of Christ, today.
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