Many today falsely claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, the Man from Heaven I wrote about in the August 11, 2019 post under the category, Glory To God! This is nothing new, of course, since those that are false or apostates have been present in all of the history of the Church on earth from the first century (Galatians 2:1-5; Philippians 3:17-19; Titus 1:10-16). But just as the Lord and His apostles foretold, these latter days overflowing with deception, falsehood and apostasy are especially filled with those that deceive themselves and anybody gullible enough to believe or worse, imitate them in their folly as professed Christians (Matthew 24:4-5, 11; 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13; 2 Peter 2).
Exactly what does it mean to follow and be a follower of Jesus Christ?1 First, a basic understanding of each word to help get to what the Lord means by them. Webster’s Dictionary defines “follow” with several layers of meaning to include: “To come or go after; to chase, pursue; to attend, accompany…to comply with, obey and to come after in time, order or position.” It defines a “follower” as “One that follows--especially a pursuer; an attendant; a subordinate; an adherent of the methods or teachings of another.” In or about AD 30, Jesus of Nazareth began calling Israelites to repent, believe in and follow Him as the sign God’s promised Kingdom was near (Matthew 4:12-17).
He also directly and authoritatively called specific men to follow Him to do as He was doing (Matthew 4:18-22, 9:9). With the specific men, multitudes responded to His preaching and miraculous works of healing power to become His followers or disciples (Matthew 4:23-25) and gathered together to Him to hear Him teach (Matthew 5:1-7:27). It was not unusual for a Teacher or Rabbi to have a following and be popular in Israel in those days (Acts 5:34-39). However, none performed the miracles of Jesus or taught with His commanding authority (Matthew 7:28-29)! He taught those that gathered to Him what He required to be His disciple as He did on one occasion.
The Lord first told the twelve men He was equipping to be apostles He must suffer death and be resurrected (Luke 9:18-22). “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,’” (Luke 9:23, NKJV). A faithful and true follower of Jesus Christ is to disown his life for the sake of chasing after, pursuing, being with, obeying and lining up behind Him to suffer death if necessary; filled with faith that just as God raised Christ from the dead, He will raise him too (Luke 9:24-26). Thus, the Lord plainly and firmly teaches there is a cost one must be willing to pay to be His disciple which He has never walked back!
This cost involves a giving over of self to following Christ so completely, He becomes the uppermost love of a man’s life. Too, there is a willingness to carry an assigned cross to the death and to “forsake all that he has” or he, says the Lord, “cannot be My disciple,” (Luke 14:25-33, NKJV). Nothing of Christ’s requirements to be His disciple is missing from His own life and example as the Disciple of God the Father (Isaiah 50:4; John 5:16-20, 6:38, 8:29). As a result, love for His Father above all others was Christ’s deepest motive for following Him and doing every single thing He had been shown and commanded to do without deviation (Mark 3:31-33; John 14:31).
Love for God the Father led to Christ’s resolve to bear and endure His cross as intensely difficult as it was to get there (Mark14:32-42; Hebrews 5:7-8). Nevertheless, He went to the cross forsaking any yearning for or claim to mortal pursuits; suffering its agony to please His Father and save fallen mankind (Isaiah 53:1-6; John 3:14-17, 19:17-18). He loudly cried out to His Father from the cross before yielding His spirit into His care at the finish of the mission (Matthew 27:45-46; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). He was buried with no one really understanding why He died, but at His resurrection on the third day after it was made plain to His followers (Isaiah 53:7-12; Luke 24:1-49).
At His command, His apostles went forth preaching the Good News about Him. Hearers through repentance and faith were and have been made new disciples of Christ from that time until now in nearly every nation on earth (Matthew 28:18-20)! They were all supposed to be taught the same instruction and requirements of following Christ as those in the first century.2 But even before that century ended satanically inspired deceit and falsehood to include religion invented by men began to arise and threaten the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3-4, NKJV). Following Jesus as He taught became the experience of but a remnant that God preserved in every generation.
1 Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is one of the important eternal roles of Christians I write about in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get a print copy or
digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy
of the book in the Strong Man Store.
2 This is one of the common sense reasons God had the requisite teaching and commandments of Christ written down so they could be perpetually and accurately pre-
sented (Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:1-15). Oh, how clever the deceiver and evil the guilty human hearts that have twisted and corrupted even the straightforward teaching and
commandments of Christ over the centuries to this very hour! And you do not think you will have to give an account to God for that?
As the Lord led, I ended the August 4, 2019 post, Man No Freak Accident, under the category, Biblical Worldview, speaking of God’s eternal destiny for man. God’s originally planned eternal destiny for man is now for faithful followers of Jesus Christ and glorious beyond human words! Even so, we are given glimpses of man’s astounding eternal destiny in Christ through words He and His apostles spoke that were written down in Holy Scripture. These Scriptures were meant for us to understand through the illuminating agency of the Holy Spirit sent into the world for that very purpose among other of His responsibilities (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
Truly, man is not only a creature, but God’s highest creation as the only of His creatures expressly made in the divine image and likeness! Let’s get it said right here as Scripture does that this amazing truth applies equally to man as male and female as God designed each respectively to function in serving His purposes in this present mortal age (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1-2).1 Just because God did not initially speak of man’s eternal destiny as immortals, does not mean this was not His plan from the beginning; a plan postponed by God only after man’s fall as foreknown by Him since Christ as Savior was already set to come (Genesis 3:22-24; 2 Timothy 1:8-11)!
As I wrote in another place, the first stage of human existence is mortal.2 However, the second, last and ultimate end of mortal man is immortality whether as condemned rebels forever with fallen angels in Hell or redeemed by grace through faith in the Gospel of and standing with Christ in eternal glory (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, 25:31-46)! Those that stand with Christ fulfill with Him the spiritual end of God’s creation of man which is to be eternal sons to rule over all of His created works including angels (1 Corinthians 6:3; Hebrews 2:5-13).3 The creation of man from the dust in mortal, natural bodies begins with the original man, Adam (Genesis 2:7).
In a context explaining to the church at Corinth how essential the possibility of resurrection from the dead is and the reality of Christ’s (1 Corinthians 15:1-34), the apostle Paul presents the means of it and why it is necessary beginning with mortal Adam (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). Explaining the means of resurrection, Paul unapologetically points to God in power and wisdom! In accord with His mighty power and eternal plans prepared in advance, Paul teaches God makes the second, immortal stage of man possible by overcoming death through resurrection and metamorphosis as is commonly seen, for example, in the planting of a grain seed (1 Corinthians 15:35-44).
Adam introduced death to himself and “the world” in the instant of his disobedience to God as he had been warned would occur (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6-11, 17-19; Romans 5:12, NKJV). Death has reigned from Adam--the first and federal head of mankind as well as “a type of Him who was to come” as Deliverer--through sin ever since even during the centuries without law from God (Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:13-14, NKJV). However, in God’s “grace” and perfect timing He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, from Heaven to earth “born of a woman” and “under the law” with the free gift of salvation, eternal life and “adoption as sons” through faith in Him (Romans 5:15-21; Galatians 4:4-6, NKJV)!4
Summarizing the apostle Paul’s teaching from 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, the first Adam is of the earth and was brought to life by God from its dust. Like him, all mankind is of the earth too, bears Adam’s fallen creature image and shares in his experience of death. But Jesus Christ the second and last Adam is from Heaven having eternally been God, the Son and Word of God (John 1:1-5, 14-18). Though in His incarnation a body was “prepared for” Him, He always “Am”; ready to give eternal life to all who believe on Him (Luke 1:26-35; John 8:51-58; Hebrews 10:5-7, NKJV)! Those who line up behind Christ as their Head by faith are made spiritual sons of Heaven and live forever bearing His glorious immortal image as planned before time by God (Romans 8:29-30).
Still limited by their earthbound thinking, many professed Christians refuse to believe God will do anything different with our bodies at the resurrection to immortality other than what we have now in form and function as male and female after the first Adam. However, Paul teaches that while these natural, mortal “flesh and blood” bodies do come first, they “cannot inherit the kingdom of God” and a metamorphosis is required (1 Corinthians 15:50-53, NKJV)!5 Because Christ’s former mortal body has already undergone the metamorphosis to immortality, Paul writes we no longer “know Him” after “the flesh” and are to already be enjoying in Him the “new” things He now enjoys to be fully revealed to and in us at His coming (2 Corinthians 5:16-17; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, NKJV).6
1 As I write in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, although the female version of man bears the image and likeness of God as creature glory after the
man, Adam, that glory nevertheless, is fully the glory of the divine image and likeness (1 Corinthians 11:7)! You can get a print copy of the book on sale in the
Strong Man Store.
2 See the July 3, 2016 post, Man As God Designed Him, under the category, God’s Creatures.
3 See the June 19, 2016 post, Eternal Sons Of God, under the category, Instruction.
4 Read the three-part post beginning January 29, 2017, Jesus, Son Of Man, under the category, The Cause.
5 Read the two-part post beginning May 18, 21014, The Body Beautiful, under the category, God’s Creatures.
6 Read the three-part post beginning July 10, 2016, Raised To Immortal Glory, and the July 31, 2016 post, The Immortal Bodies Of God’s Eternal Sons, all under the
category, God’s Creatures.
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