Followers of Christ
By Apostle Aje Pelser, preached at Harvester Reformational Church, Cape Town, 15th January 2012.
“And having called the crowd together with His disciples to himself, he said to them, If anyone is desiring to come after me as a follower of mine, let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests, and let him at once begin to take up his cross and carry it, and let him start taking the same road that I travel in company with me, and let him continue to do so moment by moment. For whoever would desire to save his soul-life will lose it. But whoever will lose his soul-life for my sake and the gospel, will save it. For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this generation which is adulterous and sinful, also the Son of Man shall be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of His Father with the angels, the holy ones.”
“The New Testament. An Expanded Translation.” By Kenneth S. Wuest. Teacher Emeritus of New Testament Greek, the Moody Bible Institute. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids Michigan.
Followers of Christ have characteristics that set them apart from worldly standards and releases God’s glory in their lives.
Characteristics of Followers of Christ:
- Decide to become a Follower.
- Lose sight of yourself.
- Lose sight of your own interests.
- Take up your cross and carry it – at once – immediately.
- Take the same Road that Jesus travelled.
- Keep company with Him. Practise his Presence.
- Continue and persevere in fellowship with Him and His Church.
- Walk with Him moment by moment. Be constantly led by the Holy Spirit and be known as sons of God.
- Let go of your soul-life, fast and sacrifice soulish needs and gain a glorified soul-life in return.
- Boldly stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witness God’s glory.
1. Decide to become a Follower.
Make Jesus Lord of your life at once. Don’t delay and ponder about a life without His presence, you’ll lose whatever life you thought you had anyway to the enemy who is out to steal and to kill and destroy. Every week we come across broken lives people who knew God and His love, yet backslid and lost their jobs, families and self-respect. Many such lost sheep are returning to the Lord right now, it is a time of great harvest. We are seeing souls come to the Lord on a weekly basis, but will start seeing it on a daily basis soon as the world grows darker and the light of the Church grows brighter.
2. Lose sight of yourself.
Mike Wood said once that if we want to make God laugh we should tell Him our future plans. It is not because God is a killjoy, but because His plans for us are far greater than what we could ever ask or think!
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Eph 3:21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
His power is at work within us to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
The glory we seek is IN the Church, by being part of a many membered body of Christ locally, His power can work the very thing we are asking for today. The glory of the eternal church is within us as we realize our part in the Body of Christ and submit wholeheartedly to the processes of God in every phase of our Christian work as followers of Christ.
God is a Good Father that has already prepared a wonderful life full of challenges and also provision for you.
Seeing yourself as part of a team in a church, helps you to lose sight of yourself because you realize there are other people with much worse problems than you and your so-called lot in life is not that bad after all. You become grateful and content and start helping others to reach their full potential and while you are helping God with His dream the Church, He makes your dreams come true. Think of how many dreams God has helped you live out up till now and thank Him for it.
Dr. Gray’s words bear repetition: “If you make seeking God the most pre-eminent thing in your life, he will take care of so many things that you think you need to care of…”
3. Lose sight of your own interests.
The price we pay is far less than what Jesus paid on the cross of Calvary for us. Imagine the pain and humiliation He went through for us, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, like a lamb that is silent before his shearer, taking the punishment for our sins upon Him publicly stripped and beaten and crucified for all to mock and jeer at Him, and shedding so much blood that he went into hypovolemic shock and passed out on the way to Golgotha.
“Hypovolemic shock is an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body. This type of shock can cause many organs to stop working.” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000167.htm
Some complications that can occur when someone goes through hypovolemic shock are:
- Kidney damage
- Brain damage
- Gangrene of arms or legs, sometimes leading to amputation
- Heart attack
So if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, Jesus paid for it on the way to the cross and took all our diseases upon Him so that by His stripes we were healed. Past tense. Take it. Confess it now. Believe it and act out your faith in Jesus name.
What interests can you lose sight of today that are actually not going to build you up at all, rather keep you busy with things while your spirit starves to death? Not all things are edifying, so let the Holy Spirit eliminate interests that break you down and highlight interests that are good for you. Remember the key of moderation to unlock a peaceful lifestyle.
4. Take up your cross and carry it – at once – immediately.
No hesitation and no compromise is the call for followers of Jesus Christ. Put your hand to plough and hold on! As Bob Dylan sings. If you start to plough with Jesus and you look back your plough will lose direction and the harvest will be ruined.
Luk 9:59 Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."
Luk 9:60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God."
Luk 9:61 And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house."
Luk 9:62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Apostle André and prophet Nola Pelser did a show at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg once called: “The Gospel Plough.” They have unwaveringly lept ploughing the fields of the Lord and now are experiencing a wonderful harvest. I just received am SMS Epistle from Apostle André in Uganda:
Great waves of glory when I peeled, cut, mashed sweet potatoes to act out three degrees of unity! The people praised God spontaneously! Invite to Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, and someone has already started translating GG (God’s Genius – Apostolic Reformational Theology.) into Swahili, praise the Lord!
Sent from my BlackBerry®
When describing the cross we are called to carry Apostle Andre explains that it is different for each one, and that we have a cross specifically designed for us, it is something that we can’t change and something that probably won’t change for a long time. It si a case of resigned to the will of God in that area and tapping into His grace. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, an understatement of his fulfilment of the sufferings of Christ. Crosses have splinters!
Col 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,
Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God,
5. Take the same Road that Jesus travelled.
The wonderful thing about Jesus’ life is that it really became the way unto eternal salvation. His life is worth studying so that you can understand the road He travelled, smell the dusty roads, share a laugh with His disciples while he confounds the Scribes and Pharisees of His day, see the miracles that confirmed the Word He preached, the same Word He now calls us to preach. Fulfil His great command to love and His great commission to go into all the world, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.
Teach others in the Way.
When you find someone zealous for the Lord but with limited understanding, graciously share a deeper understanding with them by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as Aquila and Priscilla did:
Remember that Paul first found the couple in Corinth because they were of the same trade, and then they must have heard Paul reason and persuade people in the synagogue. That is how they were able to help the preacher named Apollos.
Act 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Act 18:25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Act 18:26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
So use your trade and occupation as a platform to disciple others.
“Help others along the way” is a phrase the Holy Spirit enlightened for me as I pondered about all the students that have come through MBC over the years already. Some of them never come back, but we have helped them on their journey, hopefully in a manner worthy of the Lord. Now and then we come across Old Locbians – old students from Life of Christ Bible Institute days, many of them have started businesses, have Godly families, some have started churches and have successful ministries. It is always good to remember where you learnt about God’s principles and from whom you learnt them.
We had to change the name “life of Christ Bible Institute” because we found out that there were existing training facilities using that name overseas already. My wish is that students that have graduated from Miracle Bible College, or Life of Christ Bible Institute will help us train another generation of reformers, of students that hear accurately from God with an open Bible, artists and performers that will show the world what God can do through dedicated artists. Apostle Leigh Collins always says “with the emphasis on the ‘dead’ in ‘dedication’.”
6. Keep company with Him. Practise his Presence.
Brother Lawrence wrote letters to a friend that were compiled into a book form available freely today on the internet, “The Practise of the Presence of God.
7. Continue and persevere in fellowship with Him and His Church.
When two or three gather in My Name
Mat 18:19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Neglect not the gathering of yourselves together:
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
Heb 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Apostle Paul taught publicly and from house to house: Act 20:20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,
Excerpt from MBC Evangelism Manual:
The biblical basis of Household Evangelism
The term "household" comes from the Greek word “oikos”(Strong’s G3624). The word “oikos” and its related word “oikia” (Strong’s G3614) have several meanings. They communicate the meaning of both "house" and "family" since Greek has no word for the small social unit called the family. It can also mean a clan or larger tribal unit.2
In the New Testament “oikia” usually means a physical building (a house) as in Luke 4:38, "and He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's home." But by metonymy it can sometimes mean the people or family living in the house (e.g., Luke 19:9, "Today salvation has come to this house"). Other examples in Paul's writings are in 2 Timothy 4:19 ("Greet Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus") and 1 Timothy 3:4 ("He must be one who manages his own household well").
In the Book of Acts, several times the word “oikos” means the members of one's household. Many of these instances relate to a situation where evangelism is being carried out. The following are verses in Acts where “oikos” means family. "And when she [Lydia] and her household had been baptized" (16:15); "And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household'"
(16:31); "He was baptized, he and all his household" (16:33); "having believed in God with his whole household" (16:34); "And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household" (18:8).
In Acts “oikos” is also used to refer to more than one's own family members. Cornelius was "a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household" (10:2). He "had called together his relatives and close friends" (10:24). And Peter told Cornelius that God had told him to "speak words to you [Cornelius] by which you will be saved, you and all your household" (11:14).
The inference of the combination of these three verses related to Cornelius' household is that “oikos” referred not only to his immediate family unit but also to his other relatives and friends. Thus the concept of "household evangelism" means the sharing of the gospel with the people with whom a believer has some kind of personal relationship, whether family members, relatives, friends, or associates. These are people in one's sphere of influence. A study of the New Testament passages referring to laymen involved in evangelism demonstrates an important observation. With only two exceptions (Philip and Stephen), the primary target of New Testament laymen was their “oikos” people in their sphere of influence). As a result of an ever-increasing network of Christians reaching others in their sphere of influence, the gospel spread rapidly throughout the many different regions in which the believers lived. This concept of laymen presenting the gospel to people in their spheres of influence seems to be the primary target of lay-evangelism not only in Acts, but also in the Gospels and the Epistles, as evidenced by the following events. Andrew brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus (John 1:41). Philip brought his friend Nathaniel to Jesus (John 1:45). Matthew held a banquet for his fellow tax collectors and other friends to meet Jesus (Matt. 9:10). Jesus instructed the former demoniac to go home and tell his family what happened (Luke 8:39). Jesus went to Zaccheus' house and his whole "house" was saved (Luke 19:9). The woman from Sychar who met Jesus at the well went back to Sychar to tell people in the town about Jesus (John 4:28). After the man born blind was healed by Jesus, he told his neighbors and others about it (John 9:8). Paul baptized the "household" of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:16). Paul told Timothy to greet the "household" of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 4:19).
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8. Walk with Him moment by moment. Be constantly led by the Holy Spirit and be known as sons of God.
Those who are led by the Spirit are called sons of God.
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
The former scriptures summarize the message for Followers of Christ. If you try to live according to the flesh it produces death anyway, but he supplies an alternative: “but if by the Spirit” it is by the Spirit that we put to death the death of sinful nature in us daily by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Try to change and fail, allow the Holy Spirit into your life and be led by Him in every aspect of your life, your very life will be saved and you will change from glory to glory and Christ will be formed in you over time as you are built into a many-membered body of Christ, through which His blood flows, cleansing you automatically by virtue of your committed fellowship with other believers walking in the light as He is in the light.
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
9. Let go of your soul-life, fast and sacrifice soulish needs and gain a glorified soul-life in return.
It is not about your feelings anymore. It is not about reasoning away your life in hesitant doubt about your calling and election wile millions go to hell every day. You soul is your mind, will and emotions. Renew your mind by His Word, Submit your will to His Will and do not be led by your emotions, but feel God’s heart and compassion for the world. In doing so you will experience His glory, His power and the eternal pleasures that are in His right hand.
10. Boldly stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witness God’s glory.
Peter and John were known to be disciples of Jesus through their boldness:
Act 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
Act 4:9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
Act 4:10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
Act 4:11 This is the 'STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.'
Act 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Act 4:14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
When Jesus confirms His word in your life, people will perceive by your boldness that you are with Jesus moment by moment, and they will not be able to say anything against the proof of Christ in you the hope of glory! Better still, you will instruct them more accurately in the way and their lives will partake in His glory too.