You've heard the good news that God loves you and He sent His Son to rescue you. You believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, rose from the dead, and He gives you eternal life with God. Fantastic.
You are born again. Forgiven your sins. Made right with God. And His forever.
Before anything else, settle these truths in your heart. Know for certain that you have new life and a new relationship with God, independent of your good works or obedience but based only on Jesus' act of grace.
A good second step is to know that trusting Jesus changes everything but that it's only the first step in a whole new way of living with Christ at the center.
Jesus Christ calls each believer to be a disciple, to be willingly follow Him as an act of trust and love. Similar to how Jesus called His earliest recruits to follow Him, He invites you to do the same.
Jesus commissioned the apostles to,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."
So a disciple is a person who not only trusts Jesus for eternal life, but also openly identifies with Him as symbolized in water baptism, and lives close with Jesus Christ in obedience.
- Disciples trust Jesus and live out their faith in the world
- Disciples love Jesus and obey Him
- Disciples abide in God's Word, commit to community, and generously bless others
- Disciples personally experience wisdom and goodness of Christ in their lives
John 8:31 Jesus [said] to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Notice, it is possible to believe in Jesus and have eternal life and yet not be His disciple, or not continue in His word. In other words, it is not only possible but it's far too common for believers not to obey His every word. Sadly I include myself in this.
Yet, today, Jesus' calls you and I to be His disciple. And from Matthew 28, this is a learned thing. We have to be taught to "observe all that I commanded you." So a disciple learns over time, even time after time, how to obey God's Word.
But realize Jesus' first disciples blew it all the time. So will we. But let's choose to say "YES" to Jesus' call.
Jesus says it is well worth your time. In John 8 (above), He answers your question, "What's in it for me?"
First, if you continue in His word, you prove to be His disciple (John 8:31). You prove yourself to be someone who abides in Christ and in His love.
Second, as you follow Jesus and obey Him, you also gain a deeper, more personal understanding of God (John 8:32). This word for "know" in the phrase "you will know the truth" refers to an experiential knowledge. When you act on your faith and you obey Jesus, you will know personally the goodness and wisdom and power of Christ in personal experience. Your joy in Christ will increase.
Third, as you step out in faith and follow Jesus, you will experience the freedom that He seeks to lead you into. "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Jesus calls us to follow Him. He even incentivizes it, makes it well worth it. Yet it's not an easy life.
Join me and say yes to Jesus' invitation to walk closer with Him today. Daily.
If you have not been baptized as a believer, this may be your next step. Let's do it.
Yet whether you are a new believer just starting out or a seasoned saint who was baptized and has known Jesus for years, there are several practices to help you to grow your faith and to strengthen you as a follower of Jesus.
These will be the subjects of future posts.