Monday, October 25, 2010

What does "following Jesus" look like today?

1. Can someone accept Jesus as their hope of salvation, but not as Lord?
Can they hope to have eternal life if they reject them as their lord? No. Conversion leads to increased lordship. If someone rejects the lordship/leadership of Jesus over their life, it shows that they do not have a converted heart, their is no "new birth". Where there is no repentance, their is no acceptance of the savior. Mark 1:15, Jesus taught, "Repent and believe the good news (that Jesus is the Messiah/savior)". Repentance/turning from sin is part of the process.

2. Before you accept Jesus as savior & lord, you must count the cost. Do you really want God to forgive you? Do you really want to repent/turn from a self-directed life & follow Him?
Here is what Jesus recommends-
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
If you realize that you sin, are convicted that you have been dishonoring God and need a remedy, and want to change from self-directed living, and live a life that is honoring to God you can cry out to God for forgiveness, then receive His provision for your forgiveness, the savior Jesus. Ask Jesus to come and be your saviour and you will have eternal life.

In considering whether you want salvation or not, you should consider whether you want to follow Jesus/ honor God in your life.
Side 1- A case for NOT accepting God's peace-offering, plan of salvation for you.
A. If you really don't want God to cramp your style or lead your life, then you can't accept Jesus.
B. If you are still opposed/indifferent to God & His son Jesus, then you can't have this salvation until you are willing to bend your will.
C. If you still want to "sin" or do things you know are wrong (according to God's standard), and don't want any authority over you, then you are not ready to accept Jesus.
D. Being a Christian will mean being rejected & persecuted for your faith. They did it to Jesus, they will do it to you.
E. Suffering and having a burden for hurting people is a common by-product of being a Christian.
F. Accepting Jesus means that everything you have is at the disposal of God (your life, your resources, your dreams)

Side 2- The consequences of rejecting Jesus as savior and Lord are:
A. You have no peace with God (although you may FEEL that God has no problem with you, God does).
B. If you die, before you gain this peace with God, you know what the consequences are. In case you don't, it is eternal separation from God in a place of conscious torment (by the way, Satan does not run "Hell"). More on what Hell is like some other time, or you can email me for a study on Hell.
C. Contrary to religion, following Jesus is about freedom. Freedom from the consequences of sin both here & in the eternal state. Sin always brings death, and can be seen in life.
Examples of sins that lead to death-
God doesn't want you to be drunk- what are some negative consequences to being drunk? He says this to give you life, freedom, protection, wisdom.
God doesn't want you to sleep around- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
God tells us it is not good to slander people-what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
God tells us not to rebel against authority- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
Jesus tells us to "turn the other cheek"- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage if we don't? If we are people of revenge?
See what I mean here? Following Christ actually brings freedom, not bondage. However, to the person who prefers vice, then Christ will seem like one who puts chains on them.
D. Answered prayer.
E. Power for caring for others
F. Ability to understand the Scriptures
G. A helper (the Holy Spirit) to give you peace, comfort, perspective during hard times

3. So what does following Jesus look like today?
When you ask someone to be a Christian, so many different caricatures or straw-men come to mind. Guys standing on corners with signs, angry people, wimps, Jewish people, unstylish people, hypocrites, kind people, compassion, care, boring, fun, cowards, courageous, etc.
A. Submitting your will to God's will. This may mean God leading you to the mission field, it may mean God has you go to the college of your choice, into the career of your choice-then getting a job & making that your mission field. We should be open to where God may be leading us.
B. Perseverance. It means not denying Jesus when persecution comes. We stand with Jesus, even if it means we lose our job, friends, family. This is common in Muslim cultures. It means that work, etc. takes a lower priority to doing what Christ has called us to do. Because you are a Christian does NOT mean that you won't have any problems. In some respects, your problems may get worse, as mentioned above. We are still a work in progress (mentally, physically, emotionally, volitionally).
C. Lover of God. You will honor God in your thoughts, attitudes, words, deeds. No compromise! In fact, you do this not because you "should" but because you want to. Because you love God. Once again, God isn't impressed with our checklists of morality, he wants our hearts. For example, David struggled with a few very bad things, but still had a heart that strived for God. God was impressed with this. God will give you a heart for Him.
Part of this loving God is learning how to live for Him and how to represent Him well. It looks like having a desire to dig into Scripture to learn what God has to say & learn what God is like.
D. Caring for people. This means stepping outside of yourself and considering the interests of others above yourself. It may look like caring for a sick grandma, may look like volunteering at a soup kitchen/ crisis pregnancy center, going on trips to help people in Haiti, etc... It will look like getting involved in a local church and encouraging others in their faith by serving somewhere. Part of this is also a growing desire to invite others to enjoy the blessings of having peace and a relationship with God & his "called out ones"/Church.
E. Eternal rest. Death becomes a comma for the Christian. Afterward following Jesus means an eternity of rest & enjoying the presence of God with those who have trusted in Jesus as well, in a state unmarred by sin, death, destruction, and suffering. To the Jewish person, Heaven/paradise/Eden is likened to a fig tree- with thick leaves it is a place to rest, away from the intense heat of the sun. For the Christian, our current side of the comma is the closest we will get to Hell. For the lost, our current side of the comma is the closest they will get to peace & heaven.

Choose today, whom you will serve.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Lk 14:25–33). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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