10 - Winning along the Way

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As a forgiven follower in the process of being transformed, it is critical that you navigate the ongoing reality of temptation, sin and the need for continued repentance. Sin destroys and continues to do so. It led Jesus to the cross. It required His suffering. And although He conquered it, we will continue to wrestle with it until we are resurrected with Christ.

Our Struggle with Sin: As a follower of Christ, we are not immune to temptation. It is a battle that will be ongoing for the rest of our lives.

  • 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Ephesians 6:11-13
  • Romans 7:21-25

This constant battle requires us to understand the fight and how we should respond.

Temptation:

We Are All Tempted - 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. "

Jesus Was Tempted

  • Matthew 4:1
  • Hebrews 2:18
  • Hebrew 4:15

We Are Tempted By Internal Desires - James 1:13 "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

God Helps Us In Temptation - 1 Corinthians 10:13 "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. "

Giving In To Temptation Is Sin - James 1:13-15 "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

Sin:

 

  • We All Sin - Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," 
  • Sin Always Produces Death - Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  • Sin Wants to Master Us - Genesis 4:7 "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

 

Repentance:

 

  • Repentance Is Required of Us - Acts 3:18-20 "But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus," 
  • Grief of Sin Leads to Repentance - 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 "For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
  • God Is Faithful to Forgive - 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
  • Once Forgiven, We Are to Strive to Sin No More
    • John 8:10
    • John 5:14

 

08 - Strength for a Successful Journey

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As each of us starts out in our journey following Jesus, we do so like newborn babies.

  • John 3:3-6 "In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.' 'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.'"
  • Mark 10:15 "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
  • 1 Peter 2:2-3 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

 But the Bible has a built in expectation for growth and maturity.

  • Ephesians 4:13-14 "…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."
  • James 1:4 "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
  • Hebrews 6:1-3 "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so."
  • Hebrews 5:11-14 "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."

Disciplines for Growth: God desires us to grow in knowledge and relationship with him. This is not passive growth, but growth that requires us to engage in disciplines as a disciple and grow to maturity. Luke 14:27 "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (mathētēs - a learner or pupil.)

Discipline implies the practices employed by a pupil or learner to master their subject.  Some of the basic disciplines new believers must engage in to grow include:

1. Bible Reading

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
  • Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

Knowing where to read in the Bible can be difficult. Bible study tools such as a reading plan or devotional can be helpful.  Elevate uses the LIFEJournal Reading or YouVersion – see website for more details - http:www.youversion.com. 

2. Prayer - Prayer is the primary way that we communicate with God and should be an active part of any believer's life. There are four basic aspects of prayer. Consider:

  • Praise -  Psalm 59:17 "O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love."
  • Thanksgiving - Psalm 100:4 "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!"
  • Petition - Psalm 20:5 "May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!"
  • Repentance - Acts 8:22 "Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you."

3. Participation in Church Life - Ephesians 4:11-13 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

4. Coaching – consider partnering with someone more mature in their walk with Jesus on a structured basis.  

  • 2 Timothy 2:1-2 "You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
  • Ecclesiastes 4:12 "And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

5. Serving - Romans 14:17-19 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building."

BEWARE: Enemies of Growth

Just as unhealthy foods can be an enemy to good growth so are there many things that will inhibit the growth of a believer. It is important that we identify and understand enemies of growth. Consider:

  • Luke 8:5-15 "'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.' When he said this, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.' His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' 'This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

3 Enemies of Growth

1. Unbelief - Hebrews 3:12 "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God."

2. Testing - James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

3. Choking - Luke 14:15-24 "When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, 'Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But he said to him, 'A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come, for everything is now ready." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused." And another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused." And another said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the servant said, "Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the servant, "Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."'"

07 - Why Jesus Came

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The questions might be posed, "Why did Jesus really have to come and die?" and "Couldn’t God have worked it out another way?" God set it up this way from the beginning. Consider the specific reasons why Jesus had to come:

1. To Make Atonement for Sin - atonement (reconciliation between man and God) must be explained in steps:

a. God is perfect and cannot tolerate sin

  • Deuteronomy 32:4 "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."
  • Romans 1:18-23 "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

b. Man sinned and therefore must die

  • Genesis 2:16-17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" (Original Sin)
  • Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—" 
  • Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

c. Man could not pay for sin because he was corrupted from the beginning

  • Psalm 58:3 "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies." 
  • Isaiah 64:6 "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

d. Only a sinless man could redeem (purchase or buy back) humanity

  • Hebrews 4:14-15 "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

2. To Give Revelation of and Bring Glory to The Father - John 17:1-4 "When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.'" 

3. To Destroy the Works of Satan

  • 1 John 4:4 "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
  • 1 John 3:8b "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."

4. To Destroy Death and Bring Life - 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'   'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'"

5. To Seek and Save the Lost

  • Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
  • Matthew 18:12-14 "If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

06 - Facts about Jesus

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Scripture reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who always existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He took upon Himself the form of man (incarnation) and became the God-Man. In the one person of Christ, there are two natures, human and the divine, each in its completeness and integrity. They are distinguishable but indivisible so the He is fully man and fully God. It is this sinless union of the divine and human natures which qualifies Him to be the only sacrificial mediator between God and man.

The Deity of Jesus: 

1. Eternally Existing - John 1:1-3, 11-14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

2. Part of the Godhead

  • Genesis 1:1  "In the beginning God… (’ĕlôhı̂ym - el-o-heem' - plural - specifically used of the supreme God; )
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."
  • John 10:30 "I and the Father are one."

3. Son of God - Luke 1:30-35 "But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'  'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

4. God in the Flesh - Jesus was incarnate, meaning He was God who took upon Himself human flesh.  Additional phraseology that describes Jesus being God is the essential union (hypostatic union), describing the union between God and flesh:

  • Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (God with us).
  • Philippians 2:5-8 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!"

5. Jesus Accepted Worship 

  • Matthew 28:17 "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."
  • Luke 24:51-53 "While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
  • John 9:38 "Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him."
  • Revelation 5:11-12 "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'"

6. Claimed to Be God

  • John 10:30 "I and the Father are one."
  • John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
  • John 8:58 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'
  • Mark 14:61 "But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?' 62 'I am,' said Jesus." 

7. Claimed to Be the Only Way to God - John 14:6-7 "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'"

8. Proclaimed By Angels To Be God - Luke 2:10-12 "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"

9. Proclaimed by Devils to Be God - Mark 1:24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"

The Life and Humanity of Jesus: 

1. Born - Matthew 2:1 "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea…"

2. Grew - Luke 2:52 "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

3. Emotions - experienced joy, anger, frustration, rejection

4. Physical Challenges - needed food, sleep, lodging, worked a job

5. Tempted without Sin

  • Matthew 4:1-3 "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'"
  • Hebrews 2:18 "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

6. Died - Mark 15:37 "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last."

7. Buried - Mark 15:46 "So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb."

8. Resurrected - Mark 16:6-7 "'Don’t be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, "He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’"'"

9. Ascended - Luke 24:50-51 "When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven."

Jesus Today:

1. Alive and at the Right Hand of The Father - Ephesians 1:20 "he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,"

2. Making Intercession for Us - Romans 8:34 "Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."

Jesus Future:

1. He Is Coming Again

  • Acts 1:11 "'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'"
  • Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."

2. His Coming Millennial Reign on Earth - Revelation 20:4 "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

3. His Eternal Reign - Revelation 22:1-3 "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him."

4. Acknowledged and Worshipped in Heaven

  • Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
  • Revelation 5:6-13 "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.' Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength  and honor and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'" 

5. Judge the World - Revelation 20:11-15 "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

6. Send Satan to His Eternal Doom - Revelation 20:10 "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

7. Spends Eternity with Believers - John 14:2-3 "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."

Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus - There are approximately 300 Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Christ.  Consider the following 60+:

1. Born of the Seed of Woman – Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4.
2. Born of a Virgin – Isaiah 7:14; Mathew 1:18, 24-25; Luke 1:26-35.
3. Son of God – Psalm 27:1; Matthew 3:17.
4. Seed of Abraham – Gen 22:18; Mathew 1:1.
5. Son of Isaac – Genesis 21:12; Luke 3:23, 34.
6. Son of Jacob – Numbers 24:17; Luke 3:23,34.
7. Tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33.
8. Family Line of Jesse – Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23, 32.
9. House of David – Jeremiah 23:5; Luke 3:23, 31.
10. Born at Bethlehem – Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1.
11. Presented with Gifts – Psalm 72:10;  Matthew 2:1, 11.
12. Herod Kills Children – Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16.
13. His Pre-Existence – Micah 5:2; Colossians 1:17.
14. Called Lord – Psalm 110:1;  Luke 2:11, Matthew 22:43-45.
15. Shall Be Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14;  Matthew 1:23.
16. Shall be a Prophet – Deuteronomy 18:18;  Matt 21:11.
17. Priest – Psalm 110:4;  Hebrews 3:1.
18. Judge – Isaiah 33:22; John 5:30.
19. King – Psalm 2:6; Matt 27:37.
20. Special Anointing of Holy Spirit – Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17.
21. Zeal for God – Psalm 69:9; John 2:15-16.
22. Proceeded by Messenger – Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-2.
23. Ministry to Begin in Galilee – Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-13, 17.
24. Ministry of Miracles – Isaiah 35:5,6;  Matthew 9:35.
25. Teacher of Parables – Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:34.
26. Would Enter the Temple – Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12.
27. Would Enter Jerusalem on a Donkey – Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:35-37.
28. "Stone of Stumbling" to the Jews – Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7.
29. "Light" to the Gentiles – Isaiah 60:3; Acts 13:47-48.
30. Resurrection – Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31.
31. Ascension - Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9.
32. Seated at the Right Hand of God – Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3.
33. Betrayed by a Friend – Psalm 41:9; Matthew 10:4.
34. Sold for 30 Pieces of Silver – Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15.
35. Money to Be Thrown into God’s House – Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5.
36. Price Given for Potter’s Field – Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:7.
37. Forsaken by Disciples – Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:50.
38. Accused by False Witnesses – Psalm 35:11; Matthew 26:59-60.
39. Silent before Accusers – Isaiah 53:7;  Matthew 27:12.
40. Wounded and Bruised – Isaiah 53:5;  Matthew 27:26.
41. Smitten and Spit upon – Isaiah 50:6;  Matthew 26:67.
42. Mocked – Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:29.
43. Fell under the Cross – Psalm 109:24-25; Luke 23:26.
44. Hands and Feet Pierced - Psalm 22:16; Luke 23:33.
45. Crucified with Thieves – Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38.
46. Made Intercession for His Persecutors – Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34.
47. Rejected by His Own People – Isaiah 53:3; John 7:5, 48.
48. Hated without Cause – Psalm 69:4; John 15:25.
49. Friends Stood Afar Off – Psalm 38:11; Luke 23:49.
50. People Shook their Heads - Psalm 109:25; Matthew 27:39.
51. Stared upon – Psalm 22:17; Luke 23:35.
52. Garments Parted and Lots Cast -  Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24.
53. Suffered Thirst - Psalm 69:21; John 19:28.
54. Gall & Vinegar Offered to Him – Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:24.
55. His Forsaken Cry – Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46.
56. Committed Himself to God – Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46.
57. Bones Not Broken – Psalm 34:20; John 19:33.
58. Heartbroken – Psalm 22:14; John 19:34.
59. His Side Pierced – Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34.
60. Darkness over the Land – Amos 8:9; Matthew 27:45.
61. Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb – Isaiah 53:9;  Matthew 27:57-60.

05 - The Consequences of "Yes" and "No"

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YES - When a person, through the drawing of the Holy Spirit, responds to the invitation to follow Jesus with a YES, things change immediately. Although the changes cannot always be seen, the affects are unmistakable.

1) Payment for Sin Is Applied to Our Lives - the sins (iniquities) of us all were laid upon Jesus. He became sin for us. His death was the substitute for ours. We should have been destroyed by God for our rebellion, but Jesus took our place. Isaiah 53:6 "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

2) We Become New - we receive a new heart, new mind, and new spirit. The Bible also describes this transformation as being born-again. We are first born of the flesh, and then through Jesus we are born of the spirit.  2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

3) We Receive a New Identity - as followers of Jesus we identify with Him and as His. We become part of the family of God; we are His children, both sons and daughters. We become part of God's kingdom; God is king and we are His people. We are become part of His church; Christ is the head and we are His missionaries. 

4) We Receive His Family Name - Acts 11:26 "…and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."

5) We Are Given Life - Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

6) We Receive Hope - Romans 5:1-2 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

7) We Receive Provision - Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?   And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

8) We Receive Freedom - 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 "But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

9) We Receive a Father - Matthew 5:45 "… that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Matthew 6:14 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 7:11 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

10) We Are Given Eternal Life - God created us for eternity, but the corruption of sin caused death to our physical bodies. However, through Jesus, we are invited to spend eternity in heaven with Him. This life begins when we accept Jesus' invitation to follow Him. Our lives become fuller here on earth as we wait for Jesus to return.  Matthew 19:29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

11) The Holy Spirit Takes Residence in Us - God gives us His Spirit to live in us and empower us to live for His glory. When we are weak, the Holy Spirit enables us to be strong. When we are tempted, He gives us the strength to resist. When we are timid, He emboldens us.  1 Corinthians 3:16 "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"

12) We Become His Possession - We are His! This is great news. Because we are His, and because He loves us, He will provide for all of our needs. He has our best interests at heart and will protect us. He is good and desires to see His people blessed.  1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…"

13) We Will Dwell in God's Perfection for all of Eternity - Revelation 21:1-5 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" Revelation 21:22-27 "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

The benefits to following Jesus are too many to number. All of His goodness is now directed on those who follow Him. This does not mean that everything will be good in life, but that He will "never leave you or forsake you." In this life we may struggle, but God, the Redeemer of all, invites us into eternity with Him. There He will put to death all pain, suffering, crying, and evil. His goodness will outshine everything. He loves us so much that He invites us to follow him!

NO - Although the invitation to follow Jesus is extended to all, not all who are invited choose to accept. For those that reject Jesus' invitation there are many consequences that result.  The following  shows lists a few of those consequences:

1. Unforgiven – Those who reject Him do not receive forgiveness. John 20:22-23 "And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'"

2. Does Not Know God – Those who reject his invitation do not know God or have Him as Father. 1 John 2:22-23 "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." 

3. Responsible for Personal Payment for Sin

  • Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  • Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."

4. Remain Dead in Sin

  • Ephesians 2:1-2 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."
  • Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… 

5. Enemies of God

  • Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
  • Philippians 3:18-19 "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things."
  • Hebrews 10:26-29 "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?"

6. Objects of God's Anger

  • Ephesians 2:3 "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." 
  • John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."
  • Romans 2:5 "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."

7. Identified with Satan

  • John 8:44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

8. Without the Holy Spirit

  • 1 Corinthians 12:3 "Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit."

9. Unable to Discern Spiritual Truth

  • 1 Corinthians 2:14 "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

10. Hardened by Sin

  • Romans 11:7-8 "What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8as it is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.'"

11. Deceived

  • 1 Timothy 3:12-13 "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."

12. Turned over to Shameful Lusts

  • Romans 1:24-26 "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones."
  • Ephesians  4:19 "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."

13. Remain Separated

  • Ephesians 4: 17-18 "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."

14. Destined for the Lake of Fire

  • Revelation 20:15 "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

04 - Responding to the Invitation

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God has given us free will to respond to his commands. Adam and Eve were given the choice to obey or disobey. Though He desires everyone to say yes to a relationship with, He lovingly allows people to decide how they will respond to His invitation. Consider:

  • The Rich Young Ruler - Matthew 19:21-22 "'…then come, follow me.' When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth."
  • The Ethiopian - Acts 8:35-36 "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?'"

It is also important to understand that not everyone makes the decision to follow Jesus in the same setting or the same way. No two decisions are alike. Some decisions take place on the spot in a gathering of the church family and are charged with emotion while others respond over time and often away from a church building.

A Right Response: Repent and Be Baptized: after an incredible presentation of the invitation to follow Jesus, the crowds asked the Apostle Peter:

  • Acts 2:37 "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'"

Peter went on to articulate the key components of a right response to the invitation to follow. Consider: 

  • Acts 2:38-39 "Peter replied, '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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'"

What Is Repentance?  Repentance is often misunderstood. It is not simply being sorry for an act. Nor is the admission of wrongdoing. It goes far beyond a mechanical prayer. Repentance speaks of the initial decision to leave our sinful course to follow Jesus, but it is not limited there. It describes a lifestyle of recognizing our sinful condition and making the conscious choice to follow Jesus and to be changed. It also describes the course we take as we walk with Jesus and still commit sin. Repentance, in the original Greek (metanoia), reveals the following key components:

1. Godly Sorrow - remorse - sorrow for sin, a sense of one's wrongdoing

  • 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

2. Recognition/Confession of Guilt - a clear recognition of our sinful condition, sinful course of life or sinful act. This usually starts with a confrontation with God's word, recognition for personal ownership followed by statements of such to God and often others. It usually includes clear understanding that the said condition, course or act is sinful because God has deemed it so.

  • Peter - Luke 5:8 "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!'"
  • Achan - Joshua 7:19-20 "Then Joshua said to Achan, 'My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.' Achan replied, 'It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done…'"
  • King David - 2 Samuel 12:13 "Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD.' Nathan replied, 'The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.'"

3. Change of Mind and Direction  - a turning around and going the other way. Turning from sin to God. 

  • Acts 3:19-20 "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus."
  • Matthew 3:8 "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

What Is Baptism? The internal decision to follow Jesus is expressed outwardly by means of water baptism. Baptism is not the decision, but rather the public statement of the decision. It seals our response and makes it public.

Why Be Baptized?

  • Jesus Was Baptized to Show His Commitment to Follow the Father - Matthew 3:13-14 "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?'" 
  • Believers in the Bible Were Baptized as They Responded - Acts 2:36-41 "'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other Apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, '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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.' 4ith many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day." (Acts 8:12-13; Acts 8:36-38; Acts 9:18; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:5; 1 Corinthians 1:14-16; 1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • Scripture Teaches Us to Be Baptized as Part of Our Response - Mark 16:16 "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38) 

Baptism Communicates:

  • your decision to follow Jesus to your friends/family, church and the world
  • the symbolism of your life being washed of sin
  • the symbolism of your old life ending, and a new life of following Christ beginning
  • the symbolism of Christ's crucifixion, burial and resurrection and your partnership with Him in that act
  • the symbolism of your future death and expected future physical resurrection with Christ

Who Should Be Baptized?

  • followers of Christ who have never been baptized
  • new followers of Christ who were previously baptized without an understanding of their actions
  • followers of Christ who have rededicated their lives to following Jesus after falling away

Who Should Not Be Baptized?

  • individuals previously baptized, except for the reasons above
  • individuals not following Jesus
  • individuals engaged in sinful activity who refuse to repent
  • individuals desiring to satisfy wishes of friends/family or because friends/family are being baptized

Can Children Be Baptized? Any child who is old enough to articulate their understanding of Jesus dying for their sin that leads to a life of following Jesus is old enough to be baptized. Children under 18 should have the permission of parent/guardian.

03 - What Does It Mean to Follow Jesus

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From the start of Jesus’ ministry, His message was "follow me." He made the first invitation to a set of fishermen brothers named Simon and Andrew on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18-19). He followed with a similar invitation to another set of fishermen brothers named James and John (Matthew 4:21-22). These men responded and became some of His closest followers. The same invitation was made to individuals as well as crowds all through His ministry. This same invitation is being offered to people today, including you.

It’s important that we understand what Jesus means when He invites us to follow Him. In our culture, following can be as passive as clicking "like" on a social media platform. From a Biblical perspective, following is radically different. Consider Jesus statement and the original Greek word:

  • Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" The Greek work for "follow' is akoloutheō. It means to accompany, to be on the same path or to be a disciple of someone.

Following Jesus Requires an Active Response - Jesus' invitation was not passive then, nor is it today. It demands a radical response that impacts every aspect of our lives. The concept of following (being a Follower) Jesus is used interchangeably in scripture with that of believing (being a Believer). Here too, it is important to recognize that believing in our current cultural context can be as passive as acknowledging a historical fact. Too often this cultural use of the word replaces the Biblical references of believing. Believing in the Bible, like following, implies action. Consider:

  • John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The Greek word for "believes" is pisteuō. It means to have faith in, upon, or with respect to a person or thing, and to entrust someone with one’s spiritual wellbeing.

Believing in the Bible is more than an agreement of a truth or acknowledging that something is correct. Consider James' emphasis of this fact:

  • James 2:14-18 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." 

Clearly from this text, believing in Jesus changes nothing. That knowledge hasn’t changed the Devil’s course of action nor his eternal destination. Unfortunately, our culture is riddled with the misunderstanding that simply believing in God, or Jesus, or anything for that matter, is the qualifier for spiritual enlightenment or eternal safety.

Following Is More Than Prayerful Affirmation - Further misinformation within our culture, and often even the local church, would lead people to believe that a simple "repeat after me" prayer that acknowledges Jesus as Lord is the only requirement which leads to Christianity and eternal life. Sadly, these gloss over the prerequisites suggested by Jesus including:

  • Luke 9:23 "Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'''  

The decision to follow Jesus must also be understood in the context of priority. Not only does it require a decision, but the decision must be understood to be come before everything else in life. A person can not follow Jesus while attempting to follow other things. In order to follow Jesus, everything else in life must be submitted to Him and His Word. Following Jesus is not like adding a key book to one’s bookcase to round out the library. We can not add Jesus to our lives to improve it or complete it. We must abandon our lives to follow Him where we will find new life in Him:

  • Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and anything/anyone."  
  • Matthew 10:37-38 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

02 - The Invitation to Follow Jesus

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Jesus repeatedly invited individuals to follow Him. These invitations were made to key individuals, eventual disciples, many who accepted and even to a number who rejected. Consider:

  • Simon and Andrew - Matthew 4:18 "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said…"
  • The Rich Young Man - Matthew 19:21 "Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
  • Peter and John - John 21:19-22 "Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!' Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?') When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?'  Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.'"

The invitation to follow did not stop when Jesus ascended into the heavens and departed from earth. The invitation was extended to the masses and following generations, long after his departure. Therefore, this invitation is to all people everywhere. Consider:

  • John 12:26 "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."
  • John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
  • Romans 15:5 "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus…"
  • 1 Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

7 Specific Ways Jesus Invites People to Follow Today - While Jesus is not physically present here on earth today, He still invites people into a relationship. The fact is, He uses just about anything, anywhere, at anytime with anyone. Without that drawing, man would never find Him on his own. Consider John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." The word "draws" in the original Greek is helkuō. It means to drag, literally or figuratively. There are a couple of key methods He uses to draw individuals to Himself:

1. By Drawing Attention to His Person - The actual lifting up and crucifixion of Jesus on the cross draws people’s attention, causing them to look and consider. But His "lifting up" doesn’t end on the cross. This concept also applies when we make Jesus famous. When we shine the spotlight on His Person, character, works or deeds by means of our words, actions or worship, that spotlight draws attention to Him as well. Consider:

  • John 12:32 "'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'" The phrase “lifted up” in the original Greek is hupsoō. It means to elevate, literally or figuratively and to exalt or lift up.
  • Acts 2:36-39 "'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, '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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'"

2. The Process of Revelation - God supernaturally reveals His Son Jesus to people. This process doesn't always happen at once. It can take place through a number of encounters, and it tends to be progressive in nature. It can even be quite painful depending on how "thick-headed you are." This process is important to understand, especially as a parent or ministry leader. While we do all we can to teach and lead, we understand that God must do His part and draw. As a parent, you should watch and pray for this activity in the lives of your children! It is critical. We are not raising families to know Bible facts and figures. We are raising them with the expectation that they will have a born again relationship with the creator of the universe. We teach our children. But they need a revelation of Him!

  • Matthew 16:15-17 "'But what about you?' he asked.'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'" The Greek word for "revealed" is apokaluptō. It means to take off the cover, or to disclose something.
  • Galatians 1:15-16 "But when God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me…" 

3. The Word of God - From cover to cover, the Bible naturally and supernaturally reveals Jesus! That is why it is important to incorporate the Word of God into our lives, discussions, ministries, homes, etc. If we expect God to draw people into a relationship with His Son, His drawing is always accelerated as we involve His Word! Consider:

  • John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
  • John 1:4 "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
  • John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
  • Romans 10:17 "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

4. The Work of the Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit is unfettered in dealing with a person. He is not limited by space or time. He can deal with a person lying in bed at night. He can ignite a single sentence in a movie. He can whisper in the middle of a concert. Ultimately, the Spirit of God is the arm of God that reaches out to man and touches his dead spirit to inflate it like a dried out balloon, bringing new life. He can do what no talent, persona or effort could ever do. He can and will grab the hearts of all men. He draws. In our gatherings we expect His drawing. Consider:

  • John 16:13-15 "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

5. The Supernatural and Miraculous - Anything that God does of a miraculous nature has His ultimate goal of drawing attention to himself so that people will see His goodness and respond to the relationship he offers. Consider:

  • Acts 5:12-14 "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."

6. The Efforts of His Followers - We are called to draw the attention of others to Jesus with our words, actions and worship. Consider:

  • Romans 10:14 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"

7. The Difficult Circumstances of Life - God often uses bad circumstances, sometimes brought on by our own actions, to get our attention. Knowing that God desires to draw all men, and uses negative circumstances, we have to be careful not to fix everything for the people we love.

  • Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Ultimately, God's drawing process needs to be responded to with a decision... the decision that says, "Yes. I believe. Yes, I will abandon my course. Yes, I will follow you."

01 - God's Story about Himself

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The Bible is God’s Story in written form. Inspired by Him, it communicates who He is, shows how He reveals Himself to mankind, and reveals His work in their lives. It’s not a book about men. It’s a book about God. 

The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a fifteen-hundred-year span. God inspired more than forty authors from every walk of life to write His book. These authors included kings, military leaders, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, tax collectors, poets, musicians, statesmen, scholars, and shepherds.  It was written in different settings, ranging from times of war and sacrifice to times of peace and prosperity, from palaces, prison cell, deserted islands and pasturelands. It was written on three different continents: Asia, Africa and Europe, and was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible includes a wide variety of literary styles including poetry, historical narrative, song, romance, didactic treatise, personal correspondence, memoirs, satire, biography, autobiography, law, prophecy, parable and allegory. It addresses hundreds of controversial subjects that elicit opposing opinions when mentioned. These include marriage, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, adultery, obedience to authority, truth telling and lying, character development and parenting. Yet despite all this, the writers addressed these issues with an amazing degree of harmony.

Like a large puzzle with many pieces, the Bible has various accounts and thoughts, but all are connected together. These pieces form a singular threadwork which reveals a larger picture of what God wants every person to know. This big idea can be boiled down into eight different components: 

1) God Is Perfect - Matthew 5:48  "…your heavenly Father is perfect."

  • His Works Are Perfect - Deuteronomy 32:4 "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."
  • His Way Is Perfect - 2 Samuel 22:31 "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless."
  • His Knowledge Is Perfect - Job 36:4 "Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you."
  • His Law Is Perfect - Psalm 19:7 "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
  • His Beauty Is Perfect - Psalm 50:2 "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth."
  • His Faithfulness Is Perfect - Isaiah 25:1 "…for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."
  • His Will Is Perfect - Romans 12:2 "Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
  • His Gifts Are Perfect - James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
  • He Is Perfect In Every Way - 1 John 1:5 "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."

2) God’s Creation Was Perfect

  • light - Genesis 1:3, 4 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
  • ground and sea - Genesis 1:9-10 "And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground 'land,' and the gathered waters he called 'seas.' And God saw that it was good."
  • day and night - Genesis 1:16-18 "God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good."
  • fish and birds - Genesis 1:21 "So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."
  • animals - Genesis 1:24-25 "And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."
  • man - Genesis 1:26-27, 31 "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." 

3) Man Had the Perfect Relationship with God

  • Genesis 2:8 "Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed."
  • Genesis 3:8 "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…"

 4) Imperfection and Separation Came via Sin

  • The Command against Sin - Gen 2:16-17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
  • The Act of Sin - Genesis 3:6 "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."
  • The Immediate Impact of Sin - immediately after sinning in Genesis 3, man experienced sin’s poison in the following ways:
    • he felt naked (3:7);
    • he felt the need to cover/disguise himself (3:7); 
    • he hid from God (3:8), he became afraid of God (3:10); 
    • he began to blame others for his actions (3:12,13); 
    • he experienced conflict in relationships (3:10); 
    • he felt the immediate sting of conflict with Satan and was promised that it would continue (3:15); 
    • he began to experience physical pain (3:16); 
    • he began to experience struggles with and in authority (3:16); 
    • the entire planet was cursed (3:17); 
    • work became difficult (3:17); 
    • physical death (3:19); 
    • animals died to cover his sin (3:21).
  • The Eviction of Sin - Genesis 3:23-24 "So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." 
  • Our Current Separation - Isaiah 59:1-3 "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things." 

5) God Promised a Solution for Imperfection and Separation

  • The Serpent and His Work Will Be Crushed - Genesis 3:15 (to the serpent) "'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'"
  • Sin Will Be Washed Away - Isaiah 1:18 "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'"
  • Separation Will Be Removed - Jeremiah 29:14 "'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,' declares the LORD, 'and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.'"
  • Redemption Will Be Completed - Isaiah 54:5-8 "'For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,' says your God. 'For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,' says the LORD your Redeemer."

6) Jesus Is the Remedy for Imperfection and Separation 

  • He Came to Save Sinners - Matthew 1:21 "'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'"
  • He Came as a Friend of Sinners - Luke 7:34-35 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by all her children."
  • He Came to Forgive Sin - Matthew 9:2 "Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'"
  • He Took Sin upon Himself - Romans 6:10 "The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God."
  • He Became Sin - 2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
  • He Paid for Our Sin - Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" 
  • He Became Our Substitute - Galatians 1:4 "…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…"
  • He Removes Obstacles between Us and God - Isaiah 40:3-5 "A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.'"
  • He Reconciles Us to God - 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" 
  • He Continues to Perfect Us - Romans 8:29 "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…"

7) Responding to Jesus Perfects Our Relationship with God

  • Believe - John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."
  • Repent - Matthew 4:17 "From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'"
  • Follow - Luke 9:23 "Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'"

8) In the Future, Perfection Will Be Completed 

  • We Will Be Perfected - 1 John 3:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
  • Our Bodies Will Be Perfected - 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 
  • Our Separation from God Will Be Perfected - 1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
  • Our Relationship with God Will Be Perfected - Romans 8:23-24 "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved."
  • All of Creation Will Be Perfected - Romans 8:19-22 "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."
  • Heaven and Earth Will Be Perfected - Revelation 1:1-5 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying. 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"