The picture above is of a wonderful group of Pangu villagers (in Uganda) answering a question many have. People may say, “I believe Jesus,” or “Now, I believe Jesus is Lord,” yet add, “but I have no idea or not much of an idea what to do next. How does believing in Jesus connect to my every day life?” What should I do now?
I want to take the next few months to share a series of blogs and podcasts to answer, “What are the ABCs of how to live now? – now that I have said yes to Jesus.” In this ‘Discipleship series,’ there’ll be topics shared that you’d expect: how to pray, read the Bible, worship; but, also not so obvious things – how do I deal with a jealous co-worker, treat my unloving spouse, use my money, etc.? How do we grow in following Jesus in every aspect of our lives?
The Africans in the picture above were so funny – acting out a tense scenario between the men and women in a household. In a society where male dominance is strong, the “father” and “son” in this little play were trying to “hog” all the meat in meals, while the women were trying to trick them out of it. The men, gaining instruction from the Father’s Family program introduced in their village (a real life ministry) began to see that Jesus would have them learn to share.
Father’s Family peer groups teach holistic healing: changing bodies, minds, and spirits through Jesus Christ. The program, sponsored by the Global Orphan Project is very strong in Uganda. People change from being new or superficial believers to being strong followers of Christ, disciples.
The journey to deeper faith
What moves a person from casual or non-belief to deeply following Jesus? The starting place is words like those already mentioned above, “I believe Jesus,” or “I believe Jesus is Lord.”
But what propels people to choose to believe in Jesus? What does Lord mean in this day and age and why do people give Jesus that name? And oh yes, what is the definition of a ‘disciple?’
I just read a great story this morning of a very skeptical guy who became a believer and then a disciple of Jesus – in the Alpha Bible commentary. Alpha is a program that helps people understand Christianity in a comfortable, welcoming environment. And they provide readings to take you through the Bible in one year. (You can learn more here, Alpha.)
For Will Wisbey, it happened like this…
According to the Alpha Bible commentary, Will Wisbey was a very successful, young real estate agent. He was described as being “fiercely skeptical of Christianity.” However, one Sunday, somehow, a friend got him to go to Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London.
In the service, a person had ‘a word of knowledge.’ That means that someone sensed something God was saying about a person or a situation. The person shared what they were ‘hearing’ from God. It went like this: “There is a man here who is expecting a soft-top sports car to be delivered in the next two days. He has worked all his life so hard to achieve success. Work has been his life. He’s got the car, the house, the lifestyle, yet he’s not happy. And God wants him to know that there’s something more important for him to focus on.”
Imagine if you heard something so specific when you had not talked with anyone about it. And as a non-believing skeptic, no less! Will said later, “I couldn’t believe it!” His new car was the nicest he had ever bought. It was arriving in two days. He was making 100,000 pounds (English money) a year. Work was everything to him, but he WAS empty. He said that for the first time in his life, that night, he really prayed.
And Jesus became more than a nice idea, or some prophetic guru from the historical past. For Will, as for millions, He became a real and living God. Will was also filled with the Holy Spirit (more about this later). He said, “I know Jesus does exist. He loves me and is with me.” And this heart knowledge changed his life.
Why people resist Jesus
I don’t know Will Wisbey but I’ve known many like him. People like Will often have thoughts like these:
“How on earth would God become a man? Sounds like Sci-Fi nonsense to me.” Christians believe at the heart of their faith that Jesus took on flesh and dwelled among us. He was incarnated. (John 1:14)
Jesus died for us on the cross
“Why do I need him? I hear he ‘died for my sins?’ But I am a good guy. I’m highly successful. I have what I need. My good outweighs my bad. My life works. Besides, how does one guy’s death pay for all sin?” Christians believe that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) There is no one righteous, no not one. (Romans 3:10-11) A holy God will not have a relationship with sinful people. We need something/someone to make us right in the eyes of God so we can interact with God. Jesus is the one who did that. Accepting his death on the cross for our sins and letting Him lead us, makes us right with God.
Finally, Will may have thought, “Eternal life given through Jesus? Life after death? More unrealistic nonsense.” Or, on the other hand, like many, he may have thought heaven is the automatic destiny for everyone who dies. But, Jesus, taught, “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
I Accept Jesus as My Lord and Savior
There is so much to say just at the starting place of “Who is Jesus?” “Why did He die?” and “Why do I personally need Him?
Here is an article on those questions that you can find on my website:
But to wrap up this first blog in the series of explaining the Christian life, I want to talk about the goodness of choosing Jesus because it results not only in forgiveness of sins, but in something called eternal life.
And I want to define what being a disciple is and present a vision of what will happen if you decide to take on the learning journey of becoming a disciple.
The gift of eternal life
Two leaders, Andrew Wommack and Don Krow, created a workbook called The Complete Discipleship Evangelism 48 Lesson Course. Their material will be one of my resources.
In their very first lesson, they quote John 3:16, probably the most famous Bible verse. You will even see it on billboards from time to time. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Then they define that everlasting life using more scripture: John 17:3. It says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
The point these two wonderful teachers make is that Jesus didn’t just save people from their sins so they could go to heaven some day. He saved them for a type of life that begins here and now, eternal life.
Knowing God intimately
By accepting Jesus and what He did on the cross, we not only become forgiven but we gain a deep and personal relationship with God through Jesus. “The real purpose of salvation is not living forever in heaven, as great as that will be,” wrote Andrew Wommack, “The real purpose of salvation is to have intimacy – a personal relationship with the Lord God. There are multitudes of people who have cried out to God for the forgiveness of their sins but have never had intimacy with God as a goal.”
Wommack says in the workbook, when people think the only reason for following Jesus is that they get to go to heaven some day, they’re less likely to move to that choice or to pursue its benefits passionately, because they’re so caught up with the hardships of living day to day in the now. Or like Will Wisbey mentioned above, they think material possessions are the highest goal they can shoot for and will fully satisfy them, but they don’t.
Quality of life in Christ
Jesus lives to give us a marvelous quality of life in the now as well as forever – not one where all trouble and heartache are gone – the world is full of that – but one where He is intimately with us and helps us overcome, never leaving or forsaking us. (Hebrews 13:5)
As Wommack writes, “Jesus came to bring you back into close, personal relationship with Him. Jesus loves you. Jesus wants to know you personally. Jesus wants to give you a quality of life that is greater than anything you could obtain through any other source.” (p.8)
Being a disciple = having deep roots
Lastly, what is a disciple exactly? Another marvelous leader who wrote “Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ” is Greg Ogden.
Greg is another author whose work I will use as a resource. He asked the question, “Who is a disciple?” and answered it like this:
“A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call to follow Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.” (p.10)
There it is – “dying to self” and “allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.”
I believe Jesus is Lord
When Jesus Christ becomes real to us (He’s always seeking us by the way – that’s why He spoke to Will Wisbey through the church member), we’ll get hungry to know more about Him.
Praying, reading the Bible, worshipping at home or in a church, those things begin to make sense. Jesus will help us to grow the kind of deep roots in Him that will make us unshakeable people. No matter how great the storms that come in our lives, we’ll stick with Him and continue to live His principles rather than relapsing into our former worldly ones. Being that kind of a steady, established person is the best life offers.
Knowing in our heart of hearts, Jesus is real and He loves us always, is the priceless treasure next to which everything else the world offers comes up short. That’s why engaging in the lifelong process of becoming a disciple is so worthwhile. And it’s why I want to share the ABCs of discipleship with my readers. You may be exploring Christianity. You may be a long time believer. This series may help you or it may help you help others. But either way, I pray God will work through it for you.
The ABCs of discipleship will begin September 6, 2023 and every Wednesday, new material will be published.
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