This is liable to be a very controversial post and trust me it has not been easy in preparation as I have been under conviction and rebuke from God in the areas where I am not following like I should, or am not following Him at all. So please keep in mind that this is being preached to me first and foremost. This may also be a series of posts, as there are several issues I feel led to touch on and a few I want to touch on and hope that I am able to.
As you can see from the above image we will be looking at what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus, who we know is not only the Son of God, but Got manifest in the flesh and thus is also God. At Matthew 16:24 our Saviour says:
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
When we "come after" Jesus, we are going to be following Him, and here we are given very clear instructions. In fact, you can rightly say that Jesus commanded this. How though does Jesus feel about what He has commanded and what our responsibility is to His commands? He tells us at John 14:23:
If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
WOW! That's a pretty strong statement, and honestly, I find it very clear and direct, very black and white with no gray area. John added to this at 1 John 2:3-5 where he said:
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
That's some strong stuff too. All of it truth. Most of it ignored by many who claim to be Christians. In these three verses we see a good definition of what a Christian is. It is a follower of Jesus Christ, who denies themselves and who keeps the words of Jesus. Another term would be a disciple. Just because someone responds to a Gospel invitation and is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, does not make that person a Christian. A person can be saved and not be a Christian.
What then is a disciple? Simply, it's a student, one who is learning. In this case, one who is learning about Jesus Christ and what He has commanded. At Matthew 28:18-20, commonly referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus said to 11 remaining apostles and to us:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus commanded us to do more than just see people get saved. We are to also see them get baptized and discipled so that they can go and see others get saved, baptized and discipled and on and on it is to go.
As we go on from here, we will be looking at what all Jesus commanded in Matthew through John, and what the Holy Spirit inspired the rest of the writers of the New Testament to write down as commands for how we are to live.
This promises to be en exciting and challenging journey. Let's see where we are when it end........