FOLLOWER OF JESUS
A follower of Jesus is a person who follows what Jesus teaches by His words and example. The simplicity of the statement reflects that following Jesus is the purest form of Christianity, without the confusion of manmade religious teachings and customs.
MANMADE RELIGION CONTAMINATES:
Initially the followers of Jesus were the people that followed Him when He walked the earth. After Jesus rose from the dead and returned to His Father in heaven, His followers, with God's Spirit's guidance, begin to remember what Jesus had taught and shared His teachings. Along with Jesus' teachings there were some rules and guidelines added that were not supported by what Jesus or God taught. Apparently for approximately the first ten years of Christianity, one religious assumption they added was that only Jews could be Christians. God had to intervene with a vision and instructions to a non-Jew, Cornelius, and then to Peter, who subsequently went and shared about Jesus with Cornelius and his relatives and friends. Later Peter shared his experience with the Christian leaders in Jerusalem to convince them that non-Jews could be Christians. A key factor convincing Peter and the Christian Jews with him that God wanted the non-Jews or gentiles to be Christian was when they observed that Cornelius and other non-Jews were receiving the Holy Spirit in the same way the Jews had originally received the Holy Spirit as they were celebrating the Jewish feast of Pentecost1. As oral records of Jesus' ministry were recorded in writing, there were several instances mentioned where Jesus ministered to non-Jews and even one time where Jesus shared how God used the prophets Elijah and Elisha to minister to non-Jews2.
Jesus' followers continued following the teachings of the Apostles, which included the teachings of Jesus. In recording the Apostles Teachings or what is more commonly referred to as the Didache, additional religious rules were added. Although much of the Didache follows what Jesus taught, as found in Matthew's Gospel, when they encouraged people to pray the prayer Jesus taught, they also added in the rule that you should pray it three times a day (Didache 8). Jesus did encourage us to fast3 but in the same section of the Didache they added religious rules saying how often we should fast and what days we should fast.
Luke wrote in Acts that "In Antioch the followers were called Christians for the first time"5. Over the following nineteen hundred years, many religious rules and doctrines or teachings were added into what today is called the Christian religion, which often may not be compatible with what Jesus teaches. To follow simply what Jesus taught by words and example is Christianity in its most pure form.
HOW DO YOU KNOW, IF THEY FOLLOW JESUS?
Most people who say they are Christian will say they follow Jesus and yet even the most uneducated person can recognize that people following Christian religions have many different beliefs, sometimes even within the same organization or denomination. Jesus said, "Do not judge" other people, so it is better to let their beliefs and their actions speak for themselves and then as Jesus says, "by their fruit you will recognize them". If you follow Jesus, then follow Jesus in all simplicity but not what others say about Jesus. Be careful, as there are many religious doctrines about how to read the bible that will add to the confusion. Refer to and follow simply what Jesus teaches and "then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"7. Do not listen to what people say, only listen to Jesus, which is usually found in red letters in many bibles. If a follower has prior experience with a Christian religion, be careful to not allow religious teachings from the past to influence understanding of what Jesus says. Simply believe what Jesus says the way it is written! If a follower does not understand Hebrew that Jesus spoke or Greek that was originally used to record Jesus words in the New Testament, insight may be gained by observing Jesus' words in different translations. Warning: if there are statements trying to discredit some verses in the bible in some translations, usually these statements are incorrect and the verses questioned are found in the majority of Greek manuscripts and frequently in some manuscripts as old as the ones claimed to be more authoritative. Follow all of Jesus' teachings in the bible.
JESUS LEADS US TO GOD!
A follower of Jesus will learn that Jesus puts a lot of effort leading people to God. As Jesus says, "... no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him". Jesus quoted or referred to the Hebrew Old Testament almost 100 times. When Jesus taught His followers to pray, the prayer begins "Our Father in heaven ". Jesus teaches followers to pray to God and specifically "ask" in Jesus' name. Jesus makes it very clear that God is the one being asked and that God will do it for us because God loves us as followers of Jesus and not that Jesus will ask for us4. Jesus told Satan, " Worship Yahveh your God, and serve Him only". Satan is under God and has to ask God for permission. On another occasion Jesus said, "The first of all the commandments is: `Hear, O Israel, Yahveh our God, Yahveh is one. You shall love Yahveh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" 8. Jesus leads us to God. Although we are not certain how Jesus did it, frequently when He healed someone, everyone seemed to realize that the healing came from God and praised God for the healing. One example was after Jesus healed a blind man, "Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God". A possible insight was just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He spoke to God so everyone would hear Him and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me"9. By example Jesus would seek God's guidance and obey Him. Jesus tells us that His Father told Him "what to say" and what to "do". We know Jesus frequently sought guidance by talking to God or praying. Jesus was praying all night before choosing the 12 apostles. The best example of being willing to obey God is, after Jesus asked God to help Him avoid unpleasant arrest and crucifixion, He stated, "not My will, but Yours be done"10.
Faith is subject to many religious teachings but Jesus keeps it simple by saying "Have faith in God"11. Having eternal life or going to heaven is a concern that has almost as many different religious opinions as there are religious groups, with many claiming that their group is the only ones going to heaven. Although Jesus says His Father has given Him the authority to "judge" everyone, Jesus makes it very clear that anyone who wants to go to heaven must "obey My Father in heaven"12. When Jesus says not to "worry", His solution is "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants"13.
JESUS "PRACTICES WHAT HE TEACHES".
When prayers are not answered immediately, Jesus teaches a follower should persist in prayer. Jesus says "continue to ask " and Jesus follows what He teaches as He asked God three times, if He could avoid unpleasant arrest and crucifixion14. Jesus does what He teaches.
Jesus teaches everyone to "forgive" others and when Jesus was being crucified He said "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"15. Jesus does what He teaches.
Jesus teaches not to "worry". One time He was sleeping on a boat during a storm and His followers were so worried they woke Him saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" Jesus was not worried16. Jesus lives what He teaches.
When a follower of Jesus begins to develop Jesus' encouragement to "deny" ourselves, a lot more is accomplished than just eliminating pride and selfishness. Most sins including most of the Ten Commandments are eliminated or reduced by less selfishness and self concerns. When Jesus refers to a "cross" in connection with denying ourselves, He is communication a level of self-denial that God describes when He said "they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death"18. It may take some followers years to make real progress in denying themselves and it can help to seek God's assistance in denying ourselves, in our daily prayers.
LEARN TO HEAR AND OBEY:
As a follower of Jesus develops a life style of following everything Jesus said and did, following goes beyond just following the red-letter words of Jesus in the bible. Not only did Jesus say that God told Him what to "say" and what to "do" but also there are glimpses of Jesus receiving guidance from His Father in heaven. All this makes it more relevant for followers when Jesus says, "anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing" and also says that we will be blessed when we "hear the word of God and obey it"17.(note: the word of God is the words God actually speaks, not the religious doctrine that refers to the bible as the word of God) Followers will follow Jesus' example and hear God's voice and obey Him.
Jesus is Not for Everyone
Apparently Jesus is not for everyone as Jesus says; "no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him to Me". We can tell people about Jesus, we share what Jesus has done for us and means to us, but God still has to draw or give a person a desire to come, which may be the subject of our prayers for that person. I thank God every day that He told me to just follow Jesus. Some Christian groups have elaborate steps that remind others of sales approaches of large companies. Their steps may include how to "close the sale" or get the person to make a commitment or a statement that allows them to proclaim the person is "saved". Then they brag how many people were "saved" like a sales organization may brag about the number of sales. Much of "what people value highly is detestable in God's sight". We do not convince people to come to Jesus by sales pitches or by great logic or strong intellectual reasoning or biblical proof or by attractive social programs that close the back door of the church, etc. Jesus makes it clear that "you cannot come to Me, unless the Father makes you want to come". We make "followers" by helping those who God has given a hunger and desire to come to Jesus know the truth, which is following what Jesus teaches. Then we "baptize" them and obey Jesus by teaching "them to obey everything that I have told you". How do you know who has been drawn to Jesus? Even if you have great communication with God, unless God specifically tells you not to, it is safer to share or witness to everyone. If they respond with interest, pursue but don't argue or insist, just pray for them and let God do His thing. If they fall away, continue to pray for them but do not allow the accuser to give you a guilt trip. Sometimes there is a person you really care about and yet no matter what is shared from God or what God says through Jesus, they do not seem to hear. Jesus shares a possible answer we may not want to hear. "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God". Since the only other one people can belong to, is the one Jesus calls the "devil", we may want to include spiritual warfare in our prayers for that person. 19
God's Son does not lie!
God's messenger to Jesus' mother, Mary, clearly stated that Jesus would be called the "SON OF GOD". Yet many follow a manmade teaching that Jesus is really God in human flesh. Jesus specifically says He is "THE SON OF GOD". If people believe anything else they are calling Jesus a liar and are saying they do not believe Jesus, which will negatively affect their eternal life. Jesus put a lot of effort in His ministry on earth directing people to His Father. Jesus teaches us to pray daily to His Father, who is our Father in heaven. Jesus was frequently recorded as praying to God. Jesus is not deceiving or lying when praying to His Father. Deceiving and lying is a characteristic of the devil. Some are confused when Jesus said, "I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE", forgetting that Jesus quoted God regarding married couples when He said, "THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE". Yes, Jesus' oneness with God is stronger than the oneness of a married couple as Jesus says He intentionally says what God tells Him to "SAY" and does what His Father tells Him to "DO". 20
A few who consider themselves Christians teach that God had more sons even though Jesus clearly says He is God's "ONLY" son. Some even suggest that Jesus is just the son, implying that He is not very important, forgetting that God gave Jesus the authority to "JUDGE" and gave Jesus all "AUTHORITY" on heaven and earth. Jesus says He was with God before "BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE". Jesus said He would be sitting at the "RIGHT HAND" of God, the place of honor. Many years after Jesus rose from the dead, John was made aware of both Jesus and God presence at the same time in Jesus' revelation to John. The Son of God is awesome and definitely not someone to diminish or disbelieve or treat as a liar. 21
Click here to read a simple understanding of just following Jesus.
1. Ac 10:1-48; 11:1-18; 15:6-29
2. Jn 4:4-30, 39-42; Lk 7:2-10; Mt 15:21-28; Lk 4:25-27
3. Ac 2:42; Mt 6: 9-13, 16:17
4. Lk 10:22 (TL); Mt 6:9-13; Jn 16:26-27; 23
5. Ac 11:26 (IC)
7. Mt 7:1; 7:20; Jn 8:32 (NI)
8. Mt 4:10; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Lk 22:31-34; 54-62; Mk 12:29-30 (ET)
9. Mt 9:1-8; Luke 7:11-16; 13:10-13; 17:11-19; 18:35-43; John 11:41-42(NI)
10. Jn 12:49; 14:31; Lk 9:18; 28; 6:12-13; 22:42 (NI)
11. Mk 11:22
12. Jn 5:27; Mt 7:21 (TL)
13. Mt 6:25-34 (IC)
14. Lk 11:5-8; 8:15; 18:1-8; Mt 7:7 (IC); 26:44
15. Lk 6:37; 23:34 (NI)
16. Mt 6:25; 8:24-26 (NI)
17. Jn 12:49; 14:31; Lk 2:49; 22:42;Jn 14:12; Lk 11:28 (NI)
18. Lk 9:23; Ex 20:3-17; Rev 12:11 (NI)
19. Jn 6:44 (TL); Lk 16:15 (NI); Jn 6:65 (CE); Mt 28:19-20 (IC); Jn 8:44-47 (NI)
20. Lk 1:35; Jn 10:36; 3:16; 10:30; Mk 10:8 (Ge 2:24); Jn 12:49; 14:31 (KJ)
21. Jn 3:16; 5:27; Mt 28:18; Jn 17:5 (GN); Lk 22:69; Rev 6:16; 7:10; 21:22-23 (NI)
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