18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:18-20). Jesus called; the men responded by following Him. They established that following Jesus demands a totality of life commitment, not simply a self-righteous activity that slightly appears religious.
The church in America today is declining in numbers of attendance, and folks this was true before the dreaded Covid hit. Admittedly, the decline has advanced more dramatically in the past two years as a result of Covid and the restrictions accompanied by much false information.
According to resent polls and blog reports, another apparent happening within the Christian faith is a lack of faith or standing on the Word of God, the Bible, as being authoritative and dependable above other religious writings. Some are indicating that the Church needs to be in panic mode over these recent findings, or conclusions, of men.
Personally, I am not panicked, I am merely aware of the source and of the task. Let me explain. What we are seeing that many are calling a new trend of the time is actually a revelation, or reminder, of what the Holy Scriptures have already informed us about. I will share just a few Scriptures in this writing.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Beloved, 41 years of being a pastor has shown the reality of this truth. The sad truth is, not everyone who attends a church is truly saved no matter how regular in attendance and church functions they may be. I have had persons routinely in church hearing the Word spoken, but not receiving or applying the Truth in their lives; no apparent knowledge of the Word or changes in the life. Not long ago, a new person attending my church spoke about being a Christian for many years, but I noticed when I invited folks to turn to one of Paul’s epistles, this person was frantically looking in the Old Testament to find that reference. This is a sign of a complete lack of biblical awareness because of a breakdown in personal discipleship, or flat out laziness.
In the first church I attended after being saved had a rather large Board of Deacons. This church had three sections of pews in the worship center, and the first row of each section of pews was reserved for the Deacons to be seated in their dark suits and air of piety. During a revival the church was having, on the last night of powerful preaching and movement of God, the Chairman of the Deacon Board got gloriously saved! He had been a Deacon in that church over 20 years, and an elected Chairman for several of those years. Again, not everyone in the church is a born again Christian, no matter what they do within that church.
Often, discipleship is weak or commitment to being discipled is weak, or both. There will be some who are saved perhaps, but not submitted to God.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” (I Timothy 4:1)
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13)
“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (II Corinthians 11:3)
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5)
Signs of True Followers of Jesus Christ:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Born Again, or Spiritually Rescued, Spiritually Revived, Wholly Submitted to God, this is the first earmarking of a Christian. One must confess and repent of his sins and receive God’s forgiveness by faith, surrender his life to Jesus Christ, and walk according to His Word.
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“quick” = “living” For the Word of God is living and powerful!
This is a most remarkable statement to be made about a book! Only the Bible has a right to this claim. Living and therefore powerful! Living because it is God-breathed!
Another sign is Prayer. Prayer is Calling Upon God, or Communication with God. A true follower of Jesus will be a person of prayer as Jesus was a man of prayer. It will be a key role in his life, not just a sporadic appeal for help when in hard situation. To be an effectual Christian, one must make it a daily routine to have a quiet time alone with God.
A true believer will train himself to be a Listener (Paying Attention to the Spirit) while praying and walking through life. Habitually, many begin their morning with thoughts and plans of everything they feel the need to get done through their day. While our responsibilities are important, it’s more crucial to spend time listening to God, asking Him to guide us into His plan for the day or days ahead, and not simply our own. He has a right to interrupt our plans as the Sovereign God requires our submission and obedience to His will. That is reason enough to learn to listen for His voice as we examine His Word and pray.
Belief, defined as Faith, Conviction, Trust, and Confidence in all things God, is another identifying sign for the believer. If we don’t believe/trust Him, we’ll live self-absorbed lives and will not do what He imparts to us. True followers of Christ, will trust Him in the midst of their troubles, sorrows, enticements, and necessities.
True followers of Jesus Christ will give themselves to Obedience Compliance, Agreement, Submission, Respect, or Conformity.
“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
Following requires Obedience. When one stubbornly refuses to obey God, He will allow sufficient distress and hassle in his life to correct him. Obey Him trustingly because He is the basis of all delightful things.
Next sign of a Christian: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and will all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Love, (Adore, Worship, Devoted To God). We cannot have a divided heart, and follow Christ. You are either all in, or you are not in at all! The true believer cannot allow unclean thoughts, images, or words in our minds while claiming to love Him. Unconditional love for Jesus affects our total lives, what we think, watch, do, and where we go.
A True believer will Share the Good News of the Gospel. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). This is Jesus’ command, the Great Commission. Those who follow Him will share God’s Word with others, despite any consequences. Ours is a world filled with unpleasantness, hatred, hostility, and even death. True Christians risk their lives to convey the gospel throughout the world, but true Christians share anyway. To follow Jesus, true believers can anticipate some form of suffering in life. It may be through rejection, a financial loss, or loss of friendships or family connections because Christians make people of the world feel uncomfortable. Nevertheless, none of this ought to stop us from sharing the gospel as we follow Jesus. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29).
“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26). Jesus came as a servant; true believers will want to honor Him by serving Him and others in His name. We can Serve in many unique manners, such as, helping, caring, encouraging, comforting, giving, supporting, teaching, or sharing God’s Word.
These are a few of the signs that must mark the true believer as he follows his LORD! Often some will try to pursue one or two of these qualities to the neglect of the less desirable; however, all of these signs are of vital importance to the true believer who loves his LORD Jesus.
If you find any of these attributes challenging to assume in your life, pray to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to bring into being each of them into your life by changing your heart so you can come across to the world as a true follower of Jesus in abundance. Beloved, Be a Hero; Make a Difference; Pray On!