People enter into various kinds of agreement or contract. Such contract will usually have what is commonly terms and conditions under which such a contract is to be operated. Such terms and conditions are usually written by the provider of the service or product to which a user would want to avail himself. In case of a dispute, such terms and conditions are expected to play a major role in arbitration as attempts are made to reconcile the parties involved. Hence, the terms and conditions documents are very important in any transaction in modern day life.
Similarly, to everyday transactions, the Christian faith has terms and conditions too. I see you are surprises about “Terms and Conditions” being applied to Christianity. The Christian faith humanly speaking has Terms and Conditions as spelt out by its founder, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, there are Terms and Conditions to be agreed to before you can be a follower of Christ. Have you seen those Terms and Conditions? Have you read them? Do you understand them? Do you agree to the T & C? Are you following the Terms and Conditions?
Where may we look to find these terms and conditions for biblical Christianity? They are to be found within the pages of the Holy Bible. Before you start rolling your eyes as you wonder, let us have a look at one article in the Terms and conditions as stated by the Lord Himself:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
A common life practice
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples about what they would be getting into if they wanted to follow Him. He frequently spoke about the terms and conditions of discipleship. He did not hide anything from them. Though He called them, He made them to feel that they had a choice in the matter, that after being called they could follow Him or refuse to follow Him.
Although, what the Lord demands of and expects from His disciples is not so-called, I here refer to such as the Terms and Conditions of discipleship as an illustration to aid our understanding.
Everyone enters into several contracts (using a website, mobile phone, car, mortgage, gadgets, and numerous services and products), on a regular basis as part of daily living. In most cases, other than perhaps lawyers, people hardly allocate more than a glance to terms and conditions of a service or contract, at least not until something goes wrong.
When something goes wrong or there is dispute, you begin to hear phrases like, “reading between the line”, “the small letters”, “the small print” and such other terminologies that usually indicate requirements that are crucial but hidden deep in the documents, and which the average user did not get to till something went wrong and the provider begins to “throw the book at us” as people commonly describe the attitude of the provider in a dispute.
“How was I supposed to know that was there?” the user would ask incredulously. And the provider would retort, “but it was there all the time, you should have read it!”
While it is common place for people to not read the terms and conditions of a contract, this attitude should not be carried over to their Christian faith. Christianity is a serious issue with eternal consequences. Anyone who claims to be a Christian should be expected to know what they are getting into.
There should be no complacency
Many are complacent in their followership of Christ Unfortunately, just as people ignore (myself included) reading and understanding the terms and conditions in physical contracts, believers in Christ also forget to read and to know the Terms and Conditions of being a Christian and a disciple of Christ.
Many assume they already know enough of the T & C as they had read through the whole bible once before. Many Christians are no more growing spiritually though they engage in numerous church activities. Indeed, many think that getting involved in a flurry of church programs and activities is an indication of growth and closeness to God!
This is rather unfortunate, especially when it is realised that unlike man-written terms and conditions of a service, the triune God made the terms and conditions of His relationship with man known and repeatedly commanded that His people take their due diligence to know them all the time.
The terms and conditions of being a Christian are to be read, and re-read as an on-going, life-long practice. There should be complacency about this.
Same standard demanded of all Christians
I am aware that some tended to divide Christians into two groups: those who are Christians and somehow are not disciples (the claim is that the rules are somehow relaxed for these ones), and those who are Christians and disciples (for which the rules are somewhat stricter). I can tell you straight away that there is no such dichotomy of the followers of Christ in Scripture. The same conditions are demanded and commanded to be met by all believers in Christ. All followers of Christ are called to discipleship.
Whether you are in leadership position or followership position in the church, all are held to the same standard. The assignments of the individuals and the accompany gifts of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the assignment will differ, but all are held to the same level of ethical behaviour and character. All are called to grow “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13).
And virtual every genuine representative of the Living God, from the prophets and teachers of the Old testament to the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God Himself, and His apostles perpetually stated and reminded the people of God, the crucial importance of operating according to the Terms and Conditions as revealed in the written word of God, the Holy Scripture.
One item on the T & C
We want to take a closer look at one of the conditions in the Terms and Conditions of following Christ as stated by the Lord Himself:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
This command was made by the Lord on several occasions and in various forms. But how many followers of Christ have actually tried to answer the question, “What does the Lord mean when He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”?
It was “said to them all.” Note that it did not say to a few, to some, but rather, to them all meaning all those disciples then present, and by extension all who thereafter would want to follow Him down through that time to our day.Yes, there are many today who claim to follow Christ, including the one writing this article now.
- But how many of us know there is a document containing the terms and conditions of such followership?
- For those who are aware of the document, how many have read and understood them?
- How many are practicing their faith according to those terms and conditions?
- How many regularly re-read those terms and conditions so as to be trained, corrected, reproved, encouraged and to be found pleasing their Saviour and Lord on a continuous basis, and as an on-going life-long process?
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
None following The Lord as He followed His Father
And he said to them all:
The Lord spoke to those who were following and listening to Him. To the average onlooker, the crowd which followed Christ would have been considered to believe in Him and had committed themselves to Him. But He was aware of their fickle-mindedness. Many followed Him because they felt entertained. Many followed because they ate His food. Many followed to mock and make jest. Many followed to argue and tried to trap Him in His words. Many followed because they had nothing else to do. Many followed because they were healed or had miracles performed on loved ones.
Many followed because they thought He was going to deliver Israel from Roman occupation and oppression at that time. Very few followed because they believed in Him. Fewer still followed Him because they have some love for Him. A tiny few followed Him because they believed in Him and loved Him though they did not understand many of what He taught them. These and many more are the reasons people followed Him.
To them all he spoke, rather, the Lord Jesus Christ laid down the marker:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
- Are you following the Lord as a member of the faceless crowd?
- Or are you committed to the Lord?
But none in the above crowd seemed to follow Him the way He had committed to and followed His Father. And the Lord wanted those who will commit to and follow Him the way He had committed to and followed His Father. to know what they will be committing themselves to.
The Lord needed to let them know what it would entail in committing to following Him, and that they had a choice to make. He did not want to leave room for any doubt. He wanted them to make an informed decision. Again, He laid down the marker, so to say, “said to them all.” ALL of them without exception.
There are Terms and Conditions of following the Lord
Yes, Terms and Conditions apply!
If any man will come after me:
There is a choice to be made, a firm decision to be made. It is a commitment that is demanded. If: It is conditional. It is a big “If” A person may decide not to come after the Lord. Several heard His teachings, followed Him for a while, and then chose not to follow Him any longer, as we are told,
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).
But if a person chooses or decides to follow Christ, there are conditions to meet. Yes, Terms and Conditions apply.
As you are already aware, in our day, we commonly hear or read of offers or bargains to take advantage of. The deal may be real mouthwatering as they say, that is, until you read, T & C or Terms and Conditions apply. You suddenly realise the T & C means there are strings attached. You really have to think hard as to whether such offer is worth it after all.
Among the crowd that followed the Lord Jesus Christ, many left. They refused to take up His offer so to say. Those who left did not agree with the little they heard about the Terms and Conditions of followership required by the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore did not follow Him anymore. They made the choice not to follow Him anymore.
- Are you following the Lord?
- Have you read the Terms and Conditions of following Him?
- Are you adhering to those T & C or not?
- Or Are you claiming to follow Christ but have set up your own Terms and Conditions?
- Do you re-read the Terms and Conditions regularly?
Salvation is free to the one who believes and commits to the Lord Jesus Christ because the Lord has paid the required death penalty and all the attendant collateral expenses.
There are enemies at the gate
But there is a cost to coming after or following Christ. This is as a result of what the believer had been involved in before salvation, some of which may not only be still on-going but for which he clings to tenaciously.
In addition, and very importantly, the enemy without, that is, the devil and the world both of which have a willing ally within, that is the flesh. All three (the devil, the world, and the flesh), combine in an ungodly alliance to wage a fierce, wicked, often successful war against the would-be Christian disciple. This trilogy of wickedness has one and only one purpose, to derail and if possible, ruin the life of the believer.
One personal decision to make
Hence, you don’t follow Christ flippantly. You must count the cost (Luke 14:28-33). So, if one decides to come after Christ, he must read the Terms and Conditions and then agree to them.
I am aware that many people have difficulty making decisions. They get confused as to which way to go. But this is one decision that cannot be delayed. One decision that no one else can make for a person. You the individual must make the decision yourself.
It is a personal decision that must be made resolutely: You must ensure that every avenue that will facilitate your turning back later is completely blocked and can never be reopened. Again, hear the Lord Himself,
“And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).
Many had committed to the Lord
Joshua put his hands on the plough as a young man and refused to look back. Decades later as an old man, he could affirm that decision publicly, saying,
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Jos. 24:15).
The twelve apostles minus Judas Iscariot committed to the Lord
The apostle Paul was wholeheartedly committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he could say towards the end of the life that,
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2Tim 4:7).
- We must follow the Lord by Choice.
- Are you?
- And if not yet, will you?
You must deny yourself
First you decide to follow Christ. Next you deny yourself
let him deny himself:
deny: To disown, ignore or repudiate.
Let him deny himself:
The one who follows Christ is to willfully refuse to acknowledge himself. He is to purposefully refuse to put himself first before Christ. He is to disown himself as if he does not exist, no praises, no desire to share the honour of God with God. Make himself of no reputation, not seeking fame or prominence as the motive for serving the Lord.
It is a personal, self-made decision. It is not a one-off thing. Rather, it must be an on-going life-long habit and lifestyle. The believer in Christ must purposefully, deliberately refuse to acknowledge himself, making himself of no reputation in the process.
To echo John the Baptist, the believer must decrease, and Christ must increase in him, and continuously so until he comes
“unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (John 3:30; Eph. 4:13).
There must be no subterfuge to surreptitiously share the glory of God with Him for what He is using you to do in His service (Is 42:8).
It is a daily, lifetime walk
and take up his cross daily:
Coming after Christ is a daily affair. It is not a once-in-awhile or Sunday, Sunday affair. It is a lifestyle. There is no part-time Christianity neither should there be part-time Christians. There is a cross for everyone that follows Christ, though not as heavy as His was, it could still entail much suffering and much pain.
As we are told, that the believers are,
“to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).
And we are told that those who are going through these are to,
“rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1Pet 4:13).
And so, the Lord Himself laid down the marker,
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Mat 10:38).
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).
Many are very devoted to themselves and so engage in many selfish interests. They nurture their ego, become a god to themselves and therefore fail to win over themselves enough to be able to do anything for God. But we should be devoted to God. The command is,
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mat 6:33).
Hence, we should put into practice, faithful church attendance, daily prayer, daily bible reading, and sharing Christ with others, all of which help us bring self under control.
The master leads and the disciple follow the master
and follow me:
The master leads always, and the disciple follows always. You put your foot where His has been. There will be occasions when we do not measure up, and times we fail. But we should refuse to be discouraged. Many fail because they lack the courage and determination to say no to the flesh, and its insatiable appetites. But having the Lord in focus, and cooperation with the Holy Spirit, as we stay in the word will go a long way in ensuring that we succeed much more often than we falter.
You cannot serve yourself and serve Christ. You cannot be your own Lord, and Christ be your Lord at the same time.
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).
Simply put, Christ must be first before all and everything else in the life of the disciple. Remember, this is speaking to a person who is already saved.
An unsaved person cannot be expected to commit to following Christ as spiritual things,
“are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14).
As we are told concerning the believers in Christ,
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Tit 2:11-12).
This is calling for a decisive decision. Why? Because Jesus Christ Himself took the way of self-denial.
The Lord kept His Father’s commandments.
The Lords says,
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10).
“For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:49-50).
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:39).
The Lord is similarly saying, “you must deny yourself because I first denied myself.” Self-denial is not to say Christ was an ascetic or that He led an austere life.
The Lord is very clear in His demand. This is not a suggestion or one option out of many that one may choose or not and still follow Him. Hear Him again:
- “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
- “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).
But what really was self-denial for Christ?
The Lord came to fulfil the will of His father, and not His own will. He therefore subjected Himself to the will and direction of the Father. He denied Himself anything and all things that could be in the way of His fulfilling the will of His Father. Yes, to Christ, everything else was very distantly secondary.
Whatever He needed to do to fulfil the will of the Father He did. To fulfil the will of His Father, He had to go through the way of the cross with all its horror and unimaginable pain. We are told
- “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. 12:2).
Crucifixion was in biblical times reserved for the most notorious criminals who had committed some heinous or atrocious crime. It was the most shameful thing to happen to a person, and the family would become stigmatized, and ostracized from society.
The lord committed no crime, yet He was subjected to this horrible death on the cross. He endured it that He might fulfil the will of His Father.
Whatever He did was for a purpose:
He fasted in pursuance of divine direction. He excluded Himself from society for the purpose of prayer. He had short sessions and long sessions of prayer. He prayed sometimes for the whole night, so that He might prepare for the great conflict with the forces of the devil, or when He wanted to do some special work, like before He called and named His twelve apostles. Thus, there was an object in these outward acts of self-denial.
He presented to the view of all, a body under the control of the mind, and a mind that was under the control of God. The Lord had many great sufferings, and He had pain more than any man could ever bear. He did not bring any of these upon Himself. They all came in the course of His fulfilling the will of His Father.
Practicing, and enduring all these was not for the purpose of forcing or twisting the hand of His Father. He was not trying to make the Father do what the Father would otherwise not have done. Rather, it was to enable Him aligned to the will and purpose of His Father all the time.
Yes, all these were for one purpose only: To fulfil the will of the Father. Fulfilling the will of His Father was the overarching single, most important purpose that governed all that He did. Even as young as age twelve, He was already about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).
And so, for us then, as it was for Him, self-denial consist of similar practice, and experience.
The self-denial of the disciple of Christ should include but not limited to:
- Single-minded, committed followership of Christ
- As His disciple we are to subject our will to the will of Christ in all circumstances (especially, when we would rather do something else)
- Letting the plain teachings of Holy Scripture be the supreme authority to guide and guard every area of our life.
- Full cooperation with the Holy Spirit in His work in us allowing for the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), to grow and blossom in us while the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21), all die off.
- Setting aside any habit, attitude and character traits that will in anyway hinder our walk as a disciple.
- Imbibe and grow in the habits, attitude, and character traits that will in anyway enhance, nurture and fertilise our walk as disciples of the Lord.
- Believers have escaped the corruption that is in the world and should thereby do what is commanded:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pet 1:5-8).
- Be a life-long student of the Holy Scripture.
- Fasting and praying regularly with purpose or clear-cut objectives
- Curtailing our appetite for things, even when they are necessary.
- To shun covetousness of all shades and degrees.
- Moderation should be our watchword.
- Our self-disciple should extend to every phase of our lives, and be all encompassing, with no area excluded.
Sufferings and pains will come to us from a diversity of sources and causes. But as much as is possible, they should not be because of our own wrong-doing. Rather they should be because of our righteous living in the course of our doing the will of our Lord and Saviour. All our sufferings, pains, and deprivations are to be considered as,
“light affliction, which is but for a moment.” (2Cor 4:17).
This is not because we are not suffering or not in pain. Not because God delights in our suffering, but rather because compared to what is to come, when we are finally glorified, they pale into insignificance. Like other saints before us, these things,
“worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2Cor 4:17).
What is set before us, are beyond anything we know in our current existence. We are even told plainly that,
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Cor 2:9).
Our self-denial is not meritorious
We should be clear in our mind that:
These acts of self-denial are not meritorious. They do not bring God under any obligation to do us some favour. And they do not twist God’s hand or in any way force Him to do something He would otherwise not do for us. They do not qualify us for salvation, or in any way augment or enhance or add anything to our salvation.
Rather, our salvation is solely a work of grace, a gift from God through Christ. All blessings we received, are receiving, and will ever receive are solely on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. We are to practice all these, not so we can be saved, but because we are saved already.
Are you willing to be so-single minded in following Christ as He did in following His Father?
Get rid of self-indulgence
I am aware many are self-indulgent. They lack self-disciple, do not practice self-denial and restraint. But we must get out of self-indulgence and be self-disciplined. We must bring our body under subjection to us (1Cor 9:27), that is, be the one controlling our body and not the body controlling us. We must set rules and limits for ourselves to guard and guide our lives. We must follow such rules. Any rule, any plan, no matter how elaborate or detailed will be useless only actually followed or implemented.
We must not be ignorant of the devices of the devil (2Cor 2:11). We must do our best to stay out of his menacing clutches. These help us to avoid or endure temptations too. We are blessed when we endure temptation,
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (Jam 1:12).
We must be audacious in self-discipline.
Are you willing to be?
For what purpose do you practice self-denial?
Do you practice self-denial? And to what purpose? Many want to practice self-denial but do not because they do not know its purpose. Many want to practice self-denial but are put off by the erroneous and false information they have been fed with. Some are put off by the seemingly hypocritical attitude of those who claim to practice self-denial around them. Some want to practice self-denial but do not know how or what to do. Many keep postponing when to start claiming to be waiting for the right time.
A right-thinking person will not be put off from doing what is true and good because of the bad practice of others. Rather, such a one will seek the right information and separate truth from falsehood and then make an informed decision and refuse to follow along with those who are in error.
Errors or misconceptions of self-denial:
Self-denial is associated with a lot of negative and unwarranted baggage in our day. So much so that you hardly hear it mentioned amongst believers. We live in an age of self-indulgence. A time when every craving of the flesh must be satisfied immediately. But in those environments where attempts are made to engage in a semblance of self-denial, certain errors are often times not difficult to discern.
Errors or misconceptions about self-denial include though are not limited to:
- The idea that self-denial is a call to ascetism and a reclusive life
- The thinking that self-denial is a satisfactory payment in full or in part for their sins.
- The idea that self-denial is a cure-all for all lust and covetousness.
- The belief that self-denial amounts to one way of twisting the arm of God or forcing Him to do what He will otherwise not do.
- Thinking that self-denial is a meritorious service that now God is under obligation to do some act demanded of Him.
- The idea that self-denial is the means of attaining a higher spiritual level, power or influence than another believer.
- The thinking that because a person engages in self-denial that makes such a one a better Christian with something to boast about.
- The view that self-denial means that believers are not to enjoy things of life and should shun all pleasurable things in life.
All these are erroneous and are not true.
We must be tenacious, and unyielding in our determination to win this greatest of all battles. We must remember that the Lord is there with us, helping us through the Holy Spirit. And believe too as we are told,
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13).
We must practice self-denial even in the face of opposition and danger to life and property. And as we persist, we begin to grow, and spiritual growth encourages us to be even more determined to continue to follow the Lord. He is the light of the world as He Himself said,
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
Without the cross there is no following Christ. Without the cross everything else is futile and would end in disastrous futility. Hear what the Lord said emphatically:
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27).
You must count the cost
Just as in common major human endeavours like wanting to build a house or fighting a war, one would evaluate the cost vis-à-vis his resources before starting or not starting, a person must evaluate the potential and real cost of discipleship and then make the informed decision to follow Christ (Luke 14:28-33). You cannot run away from the hardship and have the blessings. There is no glory except through the cross. And so, without the cross, no one is worthy of the Lord,
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Mat 10:38).
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
The cross was a picture of violent, excruciatingly painful degrading death in those days. Jesus Christ manifested total commitment to His Father, even all the way to the cross. He demands the same level of total commitment, even if such leads up to and ends in physical death from His disciples then, and from those who will follow Him today.
Stephen was totally committed and surrendered all the way to death (Acts 7:1-60). Similarly, all the apostles and uncountable number of Christians down the ages. The call to total surrender and commitment was part of the gospel message proclaimed by the Lord, and by the apostles.
Hence, the Lord repeated the call often (Mat 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 14:27). As many as make this level of full surrender, though they may loose their life, they will have eternal life (Mat 10:39).
Self-denial is not a call to ascetism and a reclusive life
This is not a call for a reclusive life in which other humans are avoided as the Pharisees practiced avoidance with members of society they considered as sinners. It is not a call for asceticism where the physical body is subjected to various types of punishment, like fasting till you look like someone with eating disorder, lying on a bed of nails, avoid shaking the hands of the opposite sex all in an attempt to “punish the body because it is a hindrance to your walk of faith.”
Rather, it a call to willingly obey the Lord’s commandments, to serve one another, and to suffer, if need be, to die for the sake of Christ. Such level of commitment is not supposed to be by compulsion or for the purpose of escaping punishment in hell. Rather, it is to be the manifest of the disciple’s love for the master. Hence, he said,
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21).
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10).
Love makes obedience enjoyable
It is love that makes obedience enjoyable even when suffering is involved,
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1John 5:3).
Christ is the one who first loved us even when we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). And there is no greater love than that,
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
His commitment was complete and His love for us so deep that He did not shy away from the death on the cross. Hence, nothing,
“shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
Christian, how is your love for your Lord doing?
Does your commitment to the Lord reflect the depth of your love for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Do you ever ask yourself this question: “Did Christ come to die on the Cross of Calvary, so you can be free from all problems and have all your heart desires to its content in the here and now?” I hope I am not assuming too much by even hinting that you may know Christ!
Did Christ go through all the humiliation, deprivation, suffering that culminated on the painful death on the cross just so you can live in luxury in your mansion, with all your fleshly desires and lust being met?
And when someone dare call your attention to the fact that your lifestyle is in obvious contradiction to the word of God, you retort in anger claiming they are jealous or do not know the word of God as it is your positive imagination and confession that have brought you wealth. You then twist the word of God and throw it in their face as you hide under religious platitude claiming that, “Jesus has come that you may have life, and that you may have that life more abundantly!”
Has it ever occurred to you that the poorest of the poor are those that have money and other material wealth of this world but have no genuine relationship with Christ and the living God? That flesh you are pampering and feeding sumptuously will be eaten by worms one day soon, and all these wealth that has blinded your eyes from seeing or wanting to obey God will go to another.
Why don’t you have a rethink now before it is too late?
Each true believer in Christ has a race set before him or her. One major reason why many lead miserable and frustrated lives is because they follow Christ thinking that God exists to pander to their cravings, and that the Lord Jesus Christ came to make them comfortable in this world. But nothing can be further from the truth. The Lord Jesus Christ came to fulfil the will of His Father, to save that which was lost.
Whatever He did or was involved in, was so He could fulfil the will of His Father. This was why he was able to despise the shame of the cross. If you single-mindedly follow Christ, you also will be able to despise the shame of whatever you have seen in your life as a source of shame.
It is only those who run the race according to the rules or T & C that will receive the prize (1Cor 9:24).
I hope it is not sounding like if you make the commitment to follow Christ as His disciple you are on your own. If you make the commitment to become a disciple of Christ, you will not be left to run your race in your own strength and wisdom. You might look at what you understand as required of you as a disciple, duck under, and declare, “impossible for any person to accomplish on their own!”
Yes, you cannot and are not expected to be a disciple of Christ fulfilling all required obligations on your own. No. Rather, enormous amount of help for your growth, progress, and ultimate completion in final glorification is promised, and is available to you.
I encourage you to be audacious with your self-denial from hence forth! Only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ with their salvation can begin to think of being a disciple of His.
If you are yet an unbeliever
If Christ is not yet your Saviour and your Lord, then you are a none-starter yet. But all is not lost. You can redress the situation now by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.
If you do not belong in the group of believers in Christ, that is, if Jesus Christ is not yet your Saviour and Lord, you have no part in Christ yet.
A Christ-less life is a crises-filled, hell-heading life on a brakeless but fast-moving vehicle.
You need to get out of that vehicle now before it is too late, and it crashes headlong into hell.
So, you should act fast and NOW: Repent, that is, change your mind about what you think of God, Christ, sin and the purpose in life.
Perhaps you are wondering what to do; thinking “how do I become born again?”
The Scriptures say that:
1. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that in God’s opinion, we fall short of His standard.
2. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in Hell.
3. “But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Even in our sin, God continued to show us His love and demonstrated this love by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us. He thus gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16).
4. There is only One step that must be taken:
1. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom 10:9-10).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
All that appropriate the sacrifice of Christ are acceptable to Him. For He Himself extended the invitation to all:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30).
Why don’t you confess the Lord Jesus Christ NOW?
How you ask? Step 5
5. Arise now and confess with your mouth that the Lord Jesus had come in the flesh and died for your sins, confess that He is now your Saviour and Lord, and, believe in your heart that God had raised Him from the dead. Confess your sins to the Lord now. That is what it means (and for want of a better way to say it), to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and your Lord.
If you have done that sincerely, then you are now a born-again child of God, follower of Christ. It is not about what or how you feel, but what the word of God says. Still saying you need help as to what to pray?
You may pray like this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I now know, accept, and confess that I am a sinner. I deserve to pay the penalty for my sins, but realize that I don’t have the means to pay. I accept, and confess that You came to the world and died in my place and thus paid for my sins. I believe in my heart that God had raised you from the dead. From this moment, I put my trust in You as my Saviour and my Lord. I will continue to Trust in, Depend on, and Obey You in everything for the rest of my life. Thank you my Saviour and my Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
That is it!
Again, I repeat: If you have done that sincerely, then you are now a born-again child of God, follower of Christ. It is not about what or how you feel, but what the word of God says. You are now a born-again bona fide child of God.
- But please understand that becoming born-again is the beginning of a New You in a New Life.
- It is the beginning of an eternal relationship with the Triune God.
- It is the beginning of a life-long journey of faith in and with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in company of other believers in Christ.
6. To continue earnestly on your New journey, and to nurture and grow in your relationship with the Lord, I encourage you to start along with the following:
- Look for a bible-believing church around you to be attending.
- Fellowship with other believers as you have opportunity
- Pray daily for others and for yourself.
- Read your bible daily asking for the Holy Spirit to explain the word of God to you.
- Witness to others about Jesus Christ
May our God guide and uphold you in Jesus’ name, Amen.