HOW TO BEGIN FOLLOWING JESUS
Some people wonder why God doesn’t just show Himself to us so that we can know He’s here. But He wants us to come to Him by faith, simply believing what He has told us in the Bible. If He showed Himself to us, we would believe Him by sight, not by faith. And He wants us to trust Him when He tells us in the Bible that He loves us. Not seeing Him requires that we trust Him!
Although it’s difficult to summarize all of what Jesus said about coming to follow Him, we know that we bring joy and pleasure to God when we come to Him by faith. The Bible even says “ … without faith it is impossible to please God …” (Hebrews 11:6). It was true for Abraham thousands of years ago and it’s true today.
Do you believe that God made you and wants you to enjoy a close relationship with Him? If your answer is yes then you may be ready to enter into this relationship with Him.
BUT WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM: FOR HE THAT COMETH TO GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS, AND THAT HE IS A REWARDER OF THEM THAT DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM.
Some people try to earn their way to God, to justify to God almost as if saying, “God, you should let me go to heaven because I’m a good person. I haven’t committed murder and I try to be kind to others.” The problem with that approach is that your own efforts will never be enough!
For example, if I break the law by speeding I’m a law breaker even if I’m not guilty of reckless driving. I still deserve the penalty for breaking the law (like a traffic violation ticket). I can’t say I’m innocent if I break the speed limit law.
Just how much is enough? If you have tried to earn God’s love, how would you know if you’ve done enough? Remember, God gets pleasure when we trust Him, not when we try on our own efforts to earn His grace. The scriptures say, “ … it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so there’s no room for boasting in what you are or what you’ve done” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You can’t earn your way to God. If you’ve been trying but now you’re ready to stop and trust Him, you can tell Him so right now.
FOR IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, THROUGH FAITH—AND THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD— 9 NOT BY WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE CAN BOAST.
The scriptures describe sin in many different ways. Our sin is like an archer who continuously tries to hit a bull’s eye target. Sometimes we hit it, but no matter how hard we try, we miss the mark, too. Our sin is like a debt that has to be paid. The scriptures often speak of sin in the analogy of a court case. We are the defendants and we are guilty of breaking the law. There is a sentence to be handed down to the guilty – you and me.
Our sin leaves us guilty before God. Our sin has created a problem. We have chosen sin instead of choosing God and the penalty for our sin is death.
Jesus never sinned; He was completely innocent of sin. And yet He experienced one of the most horrible types of criminal execution: He was crucified. He wasn’t helpless; He could have avoided it. In fact, He went right into the city of Jerusalem 2000 years ago knowing that He would be killed. He did it willingly because He loves us! He didn’t have to experience death because He had no sin of His own to pay for. Instead, He took the penalty of our sins upon Himself and paid that death penalty. He died in our place. He substituted Himself into our death in order to rescue us.
DEATH OR LIFE
“What we earn from our sin is death, but God has provided the gift of life through Jesus” (Romans 6:23). Though we think of death in the physical sense, the scriptures make it clear that death of the spiritual nature – a second death that comes after life on this earth is over – is much worse. Jesus said that at the judgment throne of God there will be “gnashing of teeth” (an ancient Jewish expression that means it will be really bad!) for those who condemn themselves by their own sin. And everybody deserves this second death. We earn it because of our sin. But God has provided the gift of life through Jesus.
Jesus paid the death penalty for our sin. All we do is respond in faith to what He did for us. It comes back to faith. Do you believe that Jesus suffered death in order to rescue you from your sin? If your answer is yes then all you need to do is tell Him that you believe Him.
FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD
IS ETERNAL LIFE IN [A] CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.
Placing your faith in Jesus Christ is not the end of our answer about how to become a Christ follower … it’s the beginning! God wants you to experience the intimacy with Him now, not just after you die! This is the beginning!If you just told God that you believe Jesus died for your sin, you need to tell someone else. We urge you to call us at Forest Park Church to tell us about your decision to follow Jesus. If you don’t live in northeastern North Carolina we can help you connect with a church that will help you learn more about following Jesus Christ.