I do not even remember the first time I heard the name of Jesus. I was fortunate to be raised by Christian parents who taught me about Jesus from the day I was born. We were always active in church. That heritage was such a rich blessing, but it also made it easy to take some things for granted. Sometimes Jesus and His church became routine, almost a habit that never really required any attention. As I got older and wrestled with how to instill faith in my own two children, I began to discover all over again the excitement of knowing Jesus. As I have battled sin and Satan through the years, I have continued to renew my faith in the Son of God. I realize that of all the decisions in life, the only one that truly matters is this: what will I do with Jesus?
I continue to be active in my local church. It is a place of worship, of ministry, of service, and a place of refuge in a world that just does not make sense. Some of the closest relationships I have are those with my church family. These brothers and sisters are not perfect, but they are forgiven believers committed to following Jesus. So in the words of Jesus, and sometimes in the words of some of his followers…let me tell you about Jesus and His Church.
Who is this Jesus?
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- Peter, Matthew 16:16
This is the fundamental truth about Jesus. He is God’s Son. In fact, Jesus went on to say that this truth was the rock upon which He would build His church.
“Surely he was the Son of God.”
- The Centurion at the cross, Matthew 27:54
These words spoken at the cross where Jesus died are the great truth in the history of mankind. God let His Son come to earth in the form of man. This is the truth that will change your life forever.
Why Did He Come to Earth?
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
- Jesus, Luke 19:10
We were lost in sin, and Jesus came so he could save us. We have all done things contrary to God’s Will, and failed to do things in accordance with His Will. Jesus came to we would not have to stay lost forever.
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a random for many.”
- Jesus, Matthew 20:28
Jesus’ one true purpose was to die so the ransom for our sins would be paid. He did great ministry, but he came to this earth to pay the price for our sins. He died for my sins, and for yours.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God…”
- John, John 13:3
Jesus knew exactly who He was and what His mission was. He knew that He had been sent from His Father and He knew that He was going to go back home when his mission was completed. God made us, He has a purpose for us here, and when we have finished our mission…we are also going home.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
- Jesus, John 14:2-3
Jesus returned to the Father to prepare a room for each of us in God’s house. He will come back for us and take us home to be with Him forever.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- Jesus, John 14:6
There is no way to the Father except through Jesus. He is the only way. He is the truth. He is life…both here and forever.
How Important is the Truth About Jesus?
“I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
- Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:1-3
The Gospel is important. Paul preached the Gospel, and he says the Corinthians received the Gospel and have taken their stand on the Gospel. We are saved by the Gospel if we will just hold on to it. And it is of first importance. So what is this Gospel? Jesus Christ died for our sins He was buried, and He raised on the third day. This is the good news of salvation. It is the most important thing you can know. Jesus died for you He was buried and on the third day He came out of the tomb. That is the good news that has saved my life, and it can save yours also.
What Do I Do About This Good News?
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self.”
- Jesus, Luke 9:23-25
If you really want to follow Jesus, there are three things He calls you to do. The first is to realize it is not about you. It is about Jesus. When I surrender to Jesus, I am denying myself. My life is now out of my control, and under the control of Jesus. Then, I take up the cross every day. I remember every day that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and every day I commit to live – and die – in view of the cross. And I will follow Jesus. I commit to try to live as He lived. I will treat people as He did I will worship and serve and love as He did.
“…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
- Paul, Romans 6:3-7
What do I do about the good news that Jesus died for me, and that he was raised from the dead? I share in it. I want to be crucified with him and share in his death. Paul says that we do this in baptism. When I am baptized into Christ I am baptized into his death. In fact, baptism exactly mirrors the good news of Jesus. I die with him in baptism, I am buried with him in baptism, I am raised in baptism to a new life here, and my baptism guarantees future resurrection. When I share in the death of Christ in baptism, I crucify my old self and am freed from sin. Jesus died for my sins, and when I share in that death, my sins are forgiven.
What Else Should I Know About Baptism?
“Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
- Peter, Acts 2:38
There are two great promises in this passage associated with baptism. The first great promise is that our sins are forgiven. The second is that in baptism we receive the Holy Spirit.
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
- Paul, Galatians 3:26-27
Baptism is a response of faith in Jesus Christ. Our baptism not only wraps us in Jesus, but it makes us children in the family of God.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
- Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:13
Baptism is a visible sign of unity with other believers. Whatever our background, we all share in baptism and receive the one Spirit. It is our entrance into the body of Christ. And that body is one.
Who’s In Charge of This Family Body?
“…as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ…”
- Paul, Ephesians 5:23-24
Jesus is the head of His church family, His body. A body cannot have two heads, and no man, or group of men, can rule as head of the church.
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder…Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears…”
- Peter, 1 Peter 5:1-4
Local congregations do have elders who serve as spiritual shepherds and examples to their church. Peter himself was an elder at his local congregation. These shepherds are under the authority of the Chief Shepherd…Jesus.
What Do We Do as a Family?
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
- Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This is the second of the visible acts of our submission to the Lordship of Jesus (baptism is the other). This is the focus and center of the church’s worship. We remember the body of Jesus given for us on the cross and are reminded of His incredible love for each of us. We also remember His blood shed for our sins and are overwhelmed with gratitude and adoration. This communion together is also our witness to the world that Jesus died, that He was raised, and that He is coming back for us. The church will continue this celebration event till the Lord returns.
“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
- Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Participating in the Lord’s Supper is an act of unity. It is an act of sharing with Jesus in His death, and serves as a reminder of the commitment we made when we were crucified with Christ in baptism. It is also our statement of unity as the body of Christ. We may look different, our styles of worship may be somewhat different, we may live in different parts of the world…but we find our unity in our sharing the Supper together.
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people…”
- Luke, Acts 20:7
Christians meet together on the first day of the week for the purpose of sharing together the Lord’s Supper (breaking bread). God’s people also spend time hearing the Word of God.
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Paul, Ephesians 5:19-20
Christians sing when they are together. Our praise in song is our offering of thanks for everything God has done for us. We also sing as a way to encourage each other and to build each other up. What we express vocally to God and each other is an outpouring of hearts full of love, gratitude, and praise. Singing is a celebration of life together in Christ.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
- Paul, Colossians 3:16
The family of God teaches and admonishes each other with the wisdom that comes from the word of Christ. We do this by preaching, teaching, and singing.
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
- Luke, Acts 4:31
When the family of God prays, we access the power of God. Prayer empowers us and emboldens us to speak the Word of God.
“…when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”
- Paul, Philippians 4:16
Christians support others in the preaching of God’s Word.
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
- Paul, 2 Corinthians 9:11-12
God’s people take care of each other. God provides us resources so that we might take care of those in our family with needs.
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…”
- Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:2
We take advantage of our being together on the first day of the week to take up a collection to support the preaching of the Gospel and to help God’s people.
What Do I Do as a Child of God in His Family?
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
- Anonymous, Hebrews 4:14-16
I celebrate with confidence my life in Christ. I will hold firmly to my faith. And when times of trouble and need arise, I will approach God boldly because of Jesus. Jesus lived on this earth, He was tempted, and He was without sin. So He understands how it is to live on this earth. Jesus feels our pain, sympathizes when we struggle, and extends grace and mercy when we fall. He loves us and serves as our advocate in Heaven.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”
- Anonymous, Hebrews 10:25
I will continue to meet together in worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Every Christian needs the encouragement that comes from our family gatherings.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
- Luke, Acts 2:42, 46-47
Life as a Christian is much more than regular attendance at worship assembly on Sundays. The church seen in Acts also met regularly in smaller groups for study, prayer, and fellowship. They shared their joy and praise in frequent meetings in their homes, and people continued to be added by the Lord. Growth happens when God’s family is involved in real and frequent fellowship in smaller groups. It is in these settings that new Christians will be able to learn and grow.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him…Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
- James, James 5:13 & 16
Sometimes tough times come for us as children of God. We want to be joyful and praise God, and when trouble comes we want to be in prayer. We want to get others to pray for us when we are sick, especially our spiritual leaders. When we sin, we want to have a close fellowship group so that we can confess our sins and get healing. We want to be able to receive help when fighting Satan. We want people who will pray for us, who will help us in our battle, and who will help keep us faithful. It is also important that we be willing to help others when they need us. We want to pray with and be helpful to our brothers and sisters in trouble.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
- Peter, 1 Peter 2:21
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
- Paul, Ephesians 4:1
It is important for us to live like Jesus. Read the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These show us how Jesus developed His relationship with God, how He treated people, and how He lived His life. Though we can never pay Jesus back for what He did on the cross, it is important that we strive to live consistent with the call of Jesus in our lives.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”
- Paul, Romans 6:11-13
As children of God, we are going to battle sin in our lives. We will count ourselves dead to sin because we are alive to Jesus. So we will resist the desire to sin. We will remember that we have been brought from death to life and so we will use our bodies in the service of Jesus and not sin. We will continue to defeat the evil one who would have us continue to live in sin.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purified us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- John, 1 John 1:7-9
Let’s not fool ourselves. Each of us sometimes falls into sin. It is not what we want to do or how we try to live our lives. Remember that Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin. If we are walking in the light and stumble, his blood cleanses us. God is faithful and will forgive us. Live forgiven.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
- Paul, Romans 12:1-2a
We will offer ourselves as living sacrifices to our God. Our lives will be lived to a different standard and higher calling than the world. We will renew our minds with the things of God. We will study the Scriptures, we will talk about Jesus with others, we will pray, and we will think on spiritual things.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
- Paul, Colossians 3:13-14
Not only do we want to be forgiven when we sin, we are to forgive our brothers and sisters when they sin. God forgave us and we must extend forgiveness. Families love each other. Sometimes we hurt each other, but because we love each other we learn to forgive each other.
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Paul, Galatians 6:1-2
We are not just going to forgive each other, but we are going to help each other be restored. We will gently work with each other to return to faithfulness and to remove the sin from our lives. We will carry each other’s burdens, we will support each other, and we will love each other.
“For 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 that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- Paul, Ephesians 2:8-10
We are samples of God’s workmanship. He saved us by grace when we could not save ourselves. He has a purpose for us, and that purpose is to do good works. We do not do good works to be saved, but we do good works because we are saved. God has a plan for you and for me.
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
- Jesus, Matthew 5:13, 14, & 16
We as God’s family are salt of the earth and light of the world. The result of our doing good in this world is that people will see God and Jesus. We are the living witness of God’s goodness and grace in this world.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus has entrusted us to be missionaries in this world for Him. We are to make men His disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. We want men to respond to Jesus and then to grow in Christ. This is why I want to tell you about Jesus and His Church. I want you to know the good news of Jesus, I want you to be crucified with Christ in baptism, and I want you to be part of a church family that will help you grow as a disciple of Jesus.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
- Anonymous, Hebrews 12:1-3
Above all, I will never give up. I will finish the race laid out for me. I will keep my eyes on Jesus. If he can endure all that he did for me, then I will keep on till I make it home to Heaven.
I do not know where you are in your relationship with Jesus, but I want you to know that God loves you so much that He let His Son die for your sins. Jesus was buried and on the third day He rose from the dead.
If you have not been baptized into Christ, I urge you to make the decision to give your life to Him.
Please connect with a local church so you can truly be part of a family. Grow as a disciple of the Lord, and lead others to Him.
If you would like help in making this decision, or in implementing you decision to follow Jesus, please contact us.