Today too, the biblical picture of following Jesus from His own teaching and example as well as that of His apostles flies in the face of teaching from many pulpits that narcissistically and falsely make Christianity all about the follower! Yes, Christ suffered, died and rose again to save me, but not so I can go off selfishly to do my own thing and only receive from Him what is in my narrow self-interest. No longer preaching the Gospel of Christ, repentance from sin and faith in Him to be saved and become His disciples, many to their destruction preach this other gospel of narcissism to attract the attention, attendance and affections of followers for themselves (Galatians 1:6-10, NKJV).
Here is God’s reality check for the preachers and professed Christians of these self-absorbed and materialistic latter days: it is not about you! It is about Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen, ascended and returning soon! Lining up behind Christ as our Savior and Lord through faith, He still expects us to follow His example in everything (John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25). This being so, love of Christ who died for our sins is to be our deepest layer of motivation after faith and thanksgiving for following Him. And just as He modeled, we are to also be willing to go where He sends us, speak and do what He commands, forsake all, suffer and die for Him if required (Matthew 10:16-39).3
Moreover, in accord with His Father’s will, the Lord was quite intentional about giving us an exemplary display of His nature, character and demeanor we are to exhibit. Indeed, there are four distinctive characteristics of Christ His followers as aspiring strong men and great women of God in His image are to commonly exhibit I write about in my book. Like Him, we accept the roles God assigns, obey God to the death,4 rely on God for everything and trust God for vindication. Even the most casual reading of the four Gospels plainly show Christ walked out these characteristics in His life and service as a Disciple of His Father.
In His role as “the Lamb of God” in particular, He powerfully displayed all four characteristics at once! Again, moved by love for God and us He accepted this role, obeyed His Father’s will to the death, relied on Him to care for His soul in death and trusted that God would vindicate His sacrifice as He did first by raising Him from the dead to immortal glory (Isaiah 50:5-9; John 1:29; Acts 2:22-36, NKJV)! Sinful human love is incapable of reproducing Christ’s required example. No doubt, for this reason and anticipating the coming of the Holy Spirit to help, the Lord queries Peter who had denied he knew Him three times: “do you love Me,” (John 21:15-17; Romans 5:5-8, NKJV)?
The Lord’s demand to be the highest recipient of our love is not just a means to secure our sold out devotion, but also to help us keep our priorities straight with a Kingdom perspective and avoid becoming distracted and divided in heart, unfaithful, unwilling to suffer for His cause and coldly religious (Luke 9:57-62, 12:35-48; 2 Timothy 4:9-10; Revelation 2:1-7).5 Not following the Lord in sold out love and devotion causes a man to develop blind spots in his life that Satan comes by stealth and exploits to seduce him into various sins. For example, greater love for a wife or other family member can lead a man to disobey the Lord’s commanded will or allow them to take liberties that do so.
As well, absent the motive of love for Christ first it is easy to give oneself permission to mistreat others or be dishonest. If the man in these examples is in church leadership, Satan’s end game of scandal and profaning the name of Jesus in the wider world will be exponentially realized. Church history is replete with instances of such failed professed Christians to this hour many of whom for whatever all of the secondary reasons besides being impostors, fall away from Christ as foretold because they quench the Holy Spirit their source of love for Him (Matthew 24:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:19, NKJV). Only sold out love first for and faith in Christ will overcome Satan and cause a man to stand faithful and true to Him to the end (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3-5; Revelation 12:11).
Finally, if we will really line up behind Christ, it must be in accord with His written Word, interpreted and applied not as we wish, but as it is objectively understood! This is critical since God has allowed these foretold times of “testing” to be seductively filled with the purposeful deceit and falsehood of demons leading to the Antichrist as a final exam (Deuteronomy 13:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 3:7-11, 13:1-18, NKJV). God’s Word as it is written must be fully anchored in our hearts, loved and obeyed in order not to be deceived (Psalm 119:11, 97). Otherwise, God warns of the eternal consequence of failing His final exam--a likely prospect for the many rebel professed Christians now deceived in so many ways (Jeremiah 12:5-6; Revelation 14:9-13, 22:11).
(I will be enjoying a Labor Day rest on September 1st. The Lord willing, look for my next post on Sunday evening, September 8th. Have a great Labor Day!)
3 If a man is not willing to do these things, then, as Christ warned he cannot be His disciple since he will not line himself up behind Him in the full commitment He requires
(John 12:25-26; Galatians 2:20) or follow His example as He wills (Philippians 2:5-8, 3:7-14).
4 I urge readers who have not to read and those that have to re-read the July 14-28, 2019 posts to honestly evaluate the objections you have to what is written in light of
just these first two distinctive characteristics of Christ God wants also displayed in us. If you are a professed Christian male or female refusing to accept the roles, rank
and responsibilities God has assigned and are in fact a disobedient to the Word rebel doing Christianity your own way, are you really a biblically defined disciple of Je-
sus Christ (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Hebrews 3:7-19)?
5 A Kingdom perspective pays attention to the will of Christ the King contained in the written Word and views all of life through that prism; staying also prophetically aware
and alert. Read the October 19, 2014 post, Sons Of The Kingdom under the category, Instruction and Out Of Step With The Times?, posted on May 5, 2019 under the
category, Bible Prophecy.
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?
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