The way we come to know Jesus is by obeying Him (1 John 2:3), putting off our old self, renewing our mind with the truth, and putting on the new man (Ephesians 4:20-24). Contrary to popular belief, the Christian life is not about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but about obeying Jesus.
John 15:13-14 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. NKJV
Did Jesus lay down His life to be our friend, or so that we could obey Him? Does “While we were still sinners Christ died for us” mean that Jesus is our friend even if we do not obey Him? Nope! Jesus died so that we could live, but that doesn’t mean “so that we could live like we were living.” We’ve got to change.
Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? NKJV
Do those verses suggest that Jesus was more interested in having a relationship with someone He died for, or having His disciples do what they needed to do in order to have life in the end? Disciples are Christians (Acts 11:26), so this is speaking to us.
If we do not have verses like the ones above living in us, then our interpretation of “Go have a personal relationship with Jesus” can be a long way from the truth. That’s why we should not only preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-4), but we should be speaking the Word in our everyday conversations (Romans 10:6-8, 2 Corinthians 4:13).
Who can say that a Christian will have eternal life even if he does not deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus? No one should because it is not true, but they do it every day.
John 10:26-28 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. NKJV
The sheep that Jesus was referring to when He said they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them out of My hand, are the sheep that hear His voice, and follow Him (verse 27 above). If we are not among the group of sheep that hear His voice, and follow Him, then we are not included in that promise.
However, that doesn’t stop well-meaning people from quoting verse 28 (above) to those who are not qualified to receive it. Its deception, and it comes through unsuspecting people, who are filled with worldly love, which scorns correction. Those who hate correction will die (Proverbs 15:10).
Those who follow the truth do not put up with a different Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). Godly sorrow leads to repentance, but worldly sorrow produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10). So, do we take a stand for the truth, and risk losing our relationship with certain people?
Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. NKJV
Do those verses suggest that Jesus is more interested in making peace with the world, or even what’s going on in our home, more than having us do what He wants us to do? If we have not rejected Jesus’ teaching today, how is it that I can listen to Christian radio any day of the week and hear the exact opposite, even among the well-trained (Luke 10:21)? (more…)