Print Sermon

These sermon manuscripts and videos now go out to about 116,000 computers in over 215 countries every month at www.sermonsfortheworld.com. Hundreds of others watch the videos on YouTube, but they soon leave YouTube and come to our website, because each sermon directs them away from YouTube to our website. YouTube feeds people to our website. The sermon manuscripts are given in 34 languages to thousands of people each and every month. The sermon manuscripts are not copyrighted, so preachers can use them without our permission. Please click here to learn how you can make a monthly donation to help us in this great work of spreading the Gospel to the whole world, including the Muslim and Hindu nations.

Whenever you write to Dr. Hymers always tell him what country you live in, or he cannot answer you. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net.




THE EXAMPLE OF THE MARTYRS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, July 12, 2009

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).


Christ told His Disciples that “he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things…and be killed” (Matthew 16:21). But Peter rebuked him, saying, “This shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22), “This shall never happen to you.” Jesus turned to Peter and said,

“Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “This was really Satan speaking through Peter [by] Satanic persuasion. The natural man almost instinctively recoils from the idea of the atoning death and resurrection of Christ, and Satan bitterly resists it” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishers, 1995, note on Matthew 16:22).

Then Jesus turned back to the other Disciples. Mark tells us that He was also speaking to a crowd of people (Mark 8:34). And Luke tells us, “he said to them all” (Luke 9:23). So He was speaking to everyone in the crowd.  He said to them all, 

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

The “cross” here does not refer to Christ’s Cross. It refers to the Christian’s cross. If anyone wishes to follow Christ, he must “take up his cross” and follow Christ. In Matthew 16:24-27 we see three things concerning the cross that every Christian is called to bear.

I. First, the Christian’s cross means self denial.

Note that Jesus said,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Christ made it clear that this is for everyone, not just a select few. Christ said,

“Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Today, especially here in the Western world, we hear that there are two kinds of Christians – the large group of nominal Christians, and then a very small group of disciples. It is generally believed that they are all real Christians. But that is not Biblical. In the Bible every Christian was a disciple. We read in the Book of Acts that

“the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

This shows that every Christian was considered a disciple of Christ in the first century. There was no division between a Christian and a disciple in the Book of Acts. If you were a Christian, you were a disciple of Christ. If you were not His disciple, you were not a Christian. This sheds a great deal of light on our text,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

It also sheds light on what Jesus said in Luke 14:27,

“Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

This great truth is beautifully expressed in Dr. Rice’s favorite hymn. Sing it. It is number 17 on the song sheet.

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
   All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
   Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
   All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
   God and heaven are still my own!
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

“Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee.” My, what a call to self denial! Will anyone do it? The early Christians did! Dr. Philip Schaff, the great Christian historian, said,

Millions [in the Roman world of the first centuries were] absolutely indifferent to the sight of human suffering. [They had] a relish and a passion for torture…in watching the spasms of extreme agony…The most horrible recorded instances of torture were usually inflicted…in their presence, in the arena. We read of Christians bound in chains of red-hot iron, while the stench of their half-consumed flesh rose in a suffocating cloud to heaven; of others who were torn to the very bone by …hooks of iron;… of two hundred and twenty-seven converts sent on one occasion to the mines, each with the sinews of one leg severed by a red-hot iron, and with an eye scooped from its socket; of fires so slow that the victims writhed for hours in their agonies; of bodies torn limb from limb, or sprinkled with burning lead; of mingled salt and vinegar poured over the flesh that was bleeding from the rack; of tortures prolonged and varied through entire days. For the love of their Divine Master [Christ], for the cause they believed to be true, men, and even weak girls, endured these things without flinching, when one word would have freed them from their suffering. No… proceedings of priests in a later age should [end] the reverence with which we bend before the martyr’s tomb (Philip Schaff, Ph.D., History of the Christian Church, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976 edition, Volume II, pp. 80-81).

Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.) said that the church, for her love of Christ, “sends in all places and at all times a multitude of martyrs to the Father” (Schaff, ibid., p. 79). The Catacombs of Rome are long tunnels under the ancient city. They “extended over nine hundred English miles, and are said to contain nearly seven millions of graves, a large portion of them including the [bones] of martyrs” (Schaff, ibid., p. 80). Added to the actual execution of these millions of martyrs the “far more numerous insults, slandering vexations, and tortures, which the cruelty of heartless heathens and barbarians could devise…which were in a thousand cases worse than death” (Schaff, ibid. p. 80).

By their suffering, the martyrs of the first three centuries preserved “the Christian religion for all time to come…The martyrs and confessors of the ante-Nicene age suffered for the common cause of all Christian denominations and sects, and hence are justly held in reverence and gratitude by all” (Schaff, ibid., p. 80).

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Sing, “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow.” It is number 18 on the song sheet.

I can hear my Saviour calling,
   I can hear my Saviour calling,
I can hear my Saviour calling,
   “Take thy cross and follow, follow me.”
Where He leads me, I will follow,
   Where He leads me, I will follow,
Where He leads me, I will follow,
   I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
(“Where He Leads Me” by E. W. Blandy, 1890).

II. Second, the Christian’s cross means losing your life for Christ’s sake.

Please read verse 25 aloud.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Dr. McGee gave this comment on Matthew 16:25,

The person who will not assume the risks involved in becoming a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ will, in the long run, lose his life eternally. The opposite is also true (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 94; note on Matthew 16:25).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says of this verse,

True discipleship involves following Christ and doing His will, wherever that path may lead (John F. Walvoord, Ph.D., Roy B. Zuck, Th.D., editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, Victor Books, 1983, p. 59; note on Matthew 16:25).

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

This divine paradox of dying to self and living unto God is the very essence of a truly…fulfilling life in this world and eternal life in the world to come (Morris, ibid.; note on parallel passage in Matthew 10:39).

Sing, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” number 17 on the song sheet.

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
   All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
   Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
   All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
   God and heaven are still my own!
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

Please read verse 26 aloud.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

When I see the funeral of some famous singer, like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, John Lennon or Michael Jackson, I always think of this verse. It should be in our minds constantly.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

God has called us all to say with the Apostle Paul,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

III. Third, the Christian’s cross brings rewards in the coming Kingdom.

Please read verse 27 aloud.

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).

The Apostle Paul said,

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12).

To the church at Smyrna, Jesus said,

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Sing, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.” It is number 17 on the song sheet.

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
   All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
   Thou, from hence, my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
   All I’ve sought, and hoped and known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
   God and heaven are still my own!
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

The Christian historian, Dr. Schaff, said of those early martyrs,

To these [long] and cruel persecutions the [Christians] opposed no revolutionary violence, no carnal resistance, but the moral heroism of suffering and dying for the truth. But this very heroism was [their] stanchest weapon. In this very heroism [they] proved [themselves] worthy of [their] divine founder, who submitted to the death of the cross for the salvation of the world, and even prayed that His murderers might be forgiven. [The martyrs suffered] in self-denial for the sake of a heavenly country, and for a crown that fadeth not away. Even boys and girls became heroes, and rushed with holy enthusiasm to death. In those hard times [they took seriously] the words of the Lord, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me”… “Blessed are they, who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “He, that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.” And it applied not only to the martyrs themselves, who exchanged the troubled life of earth for the blessedness of heaven, but also to the church as a whole, which came forth purer and stronger from every persecution, and thus attested her indestructible vitality… “Go on,” says Tertullian tauntingly to the heathen governors, “rack, torture, grind us to powder: our numbers increase in proportion as ye mow us down. The blood of Christians is their harvest seed…And who, after having joined us, does not long to suffer?” (Schaff, ibid., pp. 75-76).

Those who…confessed Christ before the heathen magistrate at the peril of life, but were not executed, were honored as confessors. Those who suffered…death itself, for their faith, were called martyrs or blood-witnesses (Schaff, ibid., p. 76).

Oh, what zeal they had to follow Christ, to deny themselves, to take up their crosses, to lose their self-centered lives in obedience to Him, to go on to glory in His coming Kingdom! Who dares to follow in their train? Who dares to say, “I will deny myself, and take up my cross, and follow Jesus, no matter what it costs”? Who dares to say, “I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way”? Sing, “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow,” number 18 on the song sheet.

I can hear my Saviour calling,
   I can hear my Saviour calling,
I can hear my Saviour calling,
   “Take thy cross and follow, follow me.”
Where He leads me, I will follow,
   Where He leads me, I will follow,
Where He leads me, I will follow,
   I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
(“Where He Leads Me” by E. W. Blandy, 1890).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 16:21-27.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Crucifixion Road” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE EXAMPLE OF THE MARTYRS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

(Matthew 16:21, 22, 23; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

I.   First, the Christian’s cross means self denial,
Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:27; Acts 11:26.

II.  Second, the Christian’s cross means losing
your life for Christ’s sake, Matthew 16:25, 26;
Galatians 2:20.

III. Third, the Christian’s cross brings rewards in the
coming Kingdom, Matthew 16:27; II Timothy 2:12;
Revelation 2:10.