The Life and Teaching of Jesus – Part 21 – The Relationship Between Salvation and Discipleship

The relationship between Salvation and Discipleship

The passage that was read for us consists of two very simple but distinct parts. In the first half of the passage there is a discussion between Jesus and his disciples about who the people think he is, and who they think he is. Then in the second part of the passage beginning with verse 34, he discusses discipleship.

Starting at the beginning (Mark 8: 27-28) Jesus asks a very perceptive question, a deeply significant question. Who do men say that I am? The disciples answer by saying “some people say you are John the Baptist. Some say you are Elijah. Some people saw the ministry and miracles of Christ and concluded, maybe this was the fore-runner of the Messiah. Other said Jesus is a Prophet, another prophet of God in a long line of prophets.

Then he Jesus asks, ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah. (Mark 8: 29-30). This is not the first time that Pater understood that Jesus was the Messiah. At the beginning of John in chapter 1, we see Andrew his brother meeting the Lord first and then after spending some time with Jesus, he immediately went to Peter and said to him, “we have found the Messiah” Having been introduced to him as the Messiah, now Peter is saying, I am personally persuaded that you are indeed the Messiah. At this point in the passage Jesus begins to teach Peter and the others about how God’s free gift of salvation will actually work out. (Mark 8: 31-33) Peter didn't like Jesus version of events particularly his need to die, but when Peter expresses this we see Jesus rebuke him. This is not a mild ticking off. “Get thee behind me Satan

Bible commentator, Warren W. Wiersbe [1] writes this.

Peter was enlightened by the spirt of God one minute and the next minute he was thinking like unbelieving men expressing the thoughts of Satan. One minute Peter was the rock the next he was the stumbling block. All believers should be aware of opening the door to Satan’s lies. Peter did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory he would eventually learn the lesson and emphasis it in his first epistle. In the mean time he  was following Satan’s philosophy of glory without suffering, rather than God philosophy of suffering transforming into glory.

 The bible tells us how we are saved, saved from judgement and eternal separation from God. Trusting in Christ and Christ alone to get you to heaven  The book of Romans clarifies what this all means very clearly when it says. “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24). The New Testament closes with this as one of its very final phrases. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life”. (Rev 22: 17) Both of these verses are both talking about the gift of salvation, given freely.

Eternal life is a free gift of God. (Romans 6: 2)3 says that in plain language. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

A gift costs the giver, but it is free to the receiver, therefore salvation means that Jesus paid the cost for your sin, so that you can receive is as a free gift. The cost is not yours, the cost was met by Jesus. There is no external cost, no effort or activity required on our part to receive it. Nothing require other than an spiritual prayerful response to God. The other great thing about this gift is that we are told it is eternal, so once gained it has no expiration date and it is not reversible.  The opening section and it is talking about salvation and it is telling us that it is without cost on our part. This means that some take the gift and never do anything more about it because it is without cost.

The second half of the passage now deals with discipleship. To follow Him, for this there is going to be a cost. Maybe now we can see why some people give the hearts to the Lord, and then never do anything about it. The want to take the free gift but they don’t want to offer to pay the price of discipleship afterwards.

The is a price we pay we are told is twofold, firstly we “must deny yourself”,  Denial of self is the denying of yourself at the ultimate authority in your life. Instead of following yourself and you own drives and motivations or even physical desires, you commit to follow the path of Lord. Sometimes, it will mean saying no to what you want to do. Often, it will mean saying yes to what you don’t want to do because Christ commands you to do it. We truly deny ourselves when we determine to obey the will of God. It means saying no to every action and desire that is driven purely by your selfish wants and needs. Rather you should now say yes to the voice of God revealed through his word, and the voice of Jesus prompted in your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says it should feel like; “You no longer live, but Christ that lives in you” (Gal 2:20). Discipleship means your life is no longer a self-centred life.  Discipleship means making your life a Christ-centered life.

There is a  second cost of discipleship. (Mark 8: 34) Where it tells us to, “take up our cross and follow him” and Luke added the caveat, “to do it daily”. This has of course elements of self-sacrifice and suffering in it but to take up your cross, I believe means following in the will of God wherever that may take you. Taking up your cross and doing whatever He prompts us to go, but this also means doing as Christ would whilst we are on that journey.

At this point in the passage Jesus begins to describe the process of discipleship.  (Mark 8:35) If you live for yourself, you will lose your purpose in life, however, if you give your life over to the Jesus and His gospel you will end up discovering what real life is about. Ironically handing over your life to Him will mean that you will get a really meaningful life handed straight back to you. The more people are wrapped up in themselves the less happy they usually are and the less they really know what life is about. I believe the happiest people on this earth are those who hand themselves over to something greater than themselves.

When it comes to cost in Gods economy, God gave us a life to spend on other people. Spending what we have on others, we are only spending what God gave us anyway.

Finally, in the closing verses Jesus unpacks this all and by doing so he takes it to a whole new level; (Mark 8:36) The King James translation is a lot better when it says, “what does It; “profit a man if he…. This tells me you can invest your live in something that will create spiritual profit. This passage reminds us that in order to be a disciple and for it to be profitable in the coming kingdom, it’s going to cost you in this life.


This passage is talking about two different things. Firstly Salvation, and then discipleship. Believing Jesus is the Messiah and following him as a disciple are two radically different things. Salvation is without cost, it’s a free gift. However, discipleship costs, which means there is a price to pay. I am promising you a cross to carry Jesus says. In some parts of the world that cost is persecution, however for us in the west it is more likely just to be criticism, not just from those outside the church but from those inside the church as well. When you criticise another Christian, when you run down the service of another believer when you aren’t willing or don’t have the ability to do the job yourself to do what they do. Then your criticism becomes the cost of their discipleship and that’s the price they have to pay.

Are you sitting there thinking, why would I sign up for that when all you are promising is a cross to carry? Because Jesus teaches that if you follow him, he will reward you not only spiritually in this life but with glory in the kingdom to come. We enter that kingdom for free, but we are rewarded in heaven with the treasure we have laid up there. Do we say you love people, or do we really love people? Or are you a burden to other believers making them carry the cost of your criticism? Rather you should be laying up treasure in heaven.

19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6: 19-21)

[1] The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 1 By Warren W. Wiersbe (Page 140)