Come, follow Jesus!
(the real Jesus)

The Gospel
in simple terms
for nonbelievers
and new believers

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Come Follow Jesus - the real Jesus

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Jesus said, "Come, follow me."
How can you follow Jesus?
"But I'm a sinful person, not fit to be a follower of Jesus!"
Your new life as a follower of Jesus
Find fellowship with other followers of Jesus
Your prayer life
Know your Bible
Your service to God
"Jezebel" in the churches
"If we deliberately keep on sinning . . ."
Why believe the Bible?
Who is Jesus?
What did Jesus teach?
What is life really all about
Angels and demons
Gray areas, mysteries and religious authorities
What Jesus revealed about life after death
'But my relatives won't like it if I follow Jesus!'
Watching for Christ's return
How I came to follow Jesus: the testimony of David A. Reed
Why this book?
Dedication, copyright, ISBN & Scripture references

Come, follow Jesus! (the real Jesus)
online edition of the book by David A. Reed
The Gospel in simple terms for nonbelievers and new believers.
How to become a follower of Jesus Christ, and live as Jesus commanded

Home  |   Jesus said, "Come, follow me."  |   How can you follow Jesus?  |   "But I'm a sinful person, not fit to be a follower of Jesus!"  |   Your new life as a follower of Jesus  |   Find fellowship with other followers of Jesus  |   Your prayer life  |   Know your Bible  |   Your service to God  |   "Jezebel" in the churches  |   "If we deliberately keep on sinning . . ."  |   Why believe the Bible?  |   Who is Jesus?  |   What did Jesus teach?  |   What is life really all about  |   Angels and demons  |   Gray areas, mysteries and religious authorities  |   What Jesus revealed about life after death  |   'But my relatives won't like it if I follow Jesus!'  |   Watching for Christ's return  |   How I came to follow Jesus: the testimony of David A. Reed  |   Why this book?  |   Dedication, copyright, ISBN & Scripture references

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Find fellowship with other followers of Jesus

If you wish to follow Jesus, it is important to find other followers of Jesus to meet with.  Jesus said that he would be personally present in gatherings of his followers, even though we cannot see him:

“‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.’”            —Matthew 18:20

Christians gather together for Bible study, to share testimonies, to hear Bible-based sermons, to celebrate Communion, to support and send out missionary preachers, to help and pray for one another, and to sing songs of praise to God.  The New Testament records how the Apostles and early disciples set the pattern by continuing to meet together after Jesus ascended to heaven, and how new congregations of believers sprang up in one city after another as the message about Christ spread across the ancient Roman Empire.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”     —Hebrews 10:23-25 RSV

Who should you meet with?  In the first century it was very clear:  Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem gathered together with the Apostles, and in cities around the Mediterranean Sea there were congregations founded by the Apostle Paul or other traveling missionary preachers.  But now in the twenty-first century a city may have ten or twenty different churches with different names, belonging to different denominations, and separated from each other by different practices, customs and doctrines—as well as small house churches meeting in private homes.  Does it matter which one you choose to attend?  Which one is the true church filled with followers of the real Jesus?

The true church is not any man-made denomination or organization, but is the worldwide body of all those individuals who belong to Christ.  The true church is

the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven”          —Hebrews 12:23 NASB

Once you become a follower of Jesus, you immediately and automatically become a member of that true church, and your name is registered in heaven in the true church’s membership rolls.  Jesus knows those who belong to him.

Then, what about all the different churches and organizations?  Which one should you fellowship with?  Or should you avoid the organized churches with large buildings, and instead meet with fellow believers in a private home?

Some groups will tell you that they are the one true church, and that all the others are false.  Others recognize one another as fellow Christians, but maintain separate organizations due to different preferences in style of worship or different traditions for conducting baptisms, celebrating Communion, and so on—relatively minor distinctions—while agreeing with one another on the main elements of their faith.

Does it matter which one you choose to fellowship with?  Yes, it matters very much.  Some churches or groups calling themselves “Christian” are actually destructive cults that ruin people’s lives.  Some are mere social clubs.  Some lead people away from Jesus, while using his name to make people feel good about doing bad—even teaching that Jesus accepts the very things he condemned.

Jesus himself warned,

“‘Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?”  And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.”’” —Matthew 7:21-23 RSV

And the Apostle Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus that leaders would arise among them who would mislead the churches:

“I know that after I leave, some people will come like wild wolves and try to destroy the flock.  Also, some from your own group will rise up and twist the truth and will lead away followers after them.” —Acts 20:29-30 NCV

So, how can you discern whether a church is really doing God’s will?  How can you know whether those in leadership are following Jesus, or are leading away followers after themselves?

You won’t be able to make complete sense of the confusing array of churches and denominations without knowing what the Bible says about the history of the early churches, and what later church history says about how some of the original churches became corrupt, and how they broke up into various denominations and groups.  Such a study could take years to complete, and your understanding of these matters may change as you grow and mature in the faith and as you gain experience in dealing with other believers.  You may find yourself moving from one church or fellowship to another as you learn more, or as the fellowship you are in changes its character, which often happens as different individuals assume positions of leadership.

But none of this should cause you to postpone fellowshipping with others who want to follow Jesus.  Approach the matter prayerfully, trusting that God will answer your prayer by guiding you into a fellowship where you can learn and where you can help others—even if it eventually turns out that what you learn is that you need to go elsewhere, and that you end up helping others go with you.  (Compare my personal testimony found later in this book.)

Reading through the New Testament even just once will give you a general sense of what Jesus and his Apostles taught, and will allow you to compare that with what you hear in church.

Due to the widespread apostasy (departing from the faith) in Christian churches today, it is important to exercise caution when choosing a body of believers to associate with.  But, at the same time, you should not look for perfection, because you won’t find it.  Consider, for example, the very first Christian group with Jesus and the twelve Apostles at its nucleus.  If you attended their meetings, you might have noticed that one of the Apostles was embezzling funds from the group’s cash account—Judas Iscariot who later betrayed Jesus.  (John 12:6)  But did that mean it was a phony church you should avoid?  Obviously not, because Jesus himself was there, leading the group.  Likewise today, every church group has its problems, including some impostors among the flock, perhaps even in positions of leadership.

Just as he keeps working with us individuals to help us grow up in the faith, Jesus works with churches to help them mature and do better.  In the meantime, even a truly Christian church may have serious problems.  For example, Jesus used the Apostle Paul to work with the church in Corinth, which at one point was having such serious problems that Paul told them,

your meetings do more harm than good.”   —1 Corinthians 11:17 NIV

Some false teachers preached “another Jesus” to the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:4)—not the real Jesus whom Paul preached.  The Corinthian church also tolerated sexual immorality in its midst.  Paul also worked with the church at Galatia, where false teachers had introduced “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6) that perverted the gospel of Christ.  Speaking from heaven through a vision, the risen Christ had the Apostle John condemn the church at Thyatira for tolerating a woman who promoted sexual immorality.  (Rev. 2:20)  In fact, of the seven churches addressed in the opening chapters of Revelation, only two churches were found to be following Jesus acceptably;  the other five were sternly warned to “repent.”  But that call to repentance meant Jesus was still working with them.  So, if five out of seven churches in the first century needed to repent before they could receive Jesus’ approval, what about the churches today?  And what about their teaching?

If you want to follow Jesus—and not be misled by church leaders who are preaching “another Jesus”—prayerfully read the Bible.

And keep in mind that Jesus is alive.  Besides living in heaven at the right hand of the Father, Jesus also is alive on earth, living with, in and through Christian believers.  He promised:

“‘One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him. . . .

“‘If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.

“‘. . . But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.’”       —John 14:21, 23, 26

And Jesus is present in the meetings of the congregations of Christian believers:

“‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.’”            —Matthew 18:20

So, when we fellowship with others, our focus should be on Jesus and not on the shortcomings of our fellow worshipers.  Remember that we have our own shortcomings too, and the worldwide church is the body of Christ.  Just as the different parts of our own physical bodies have their strengths and weaknesses, so the different members of the church each contribute different talents, and help each other with their weaknesses.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—-whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free. . . . Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.  . . .

The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.  . . .

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” —1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 21-22, 27-28 NIV

Fellow believers can be a source of instruction and encouragement.  And, as you grow in the faith, you will be able to help others in turn, especially as you become aware of the gifts and talents God has given you.

But beware of letting any church interpret the Bible for you, especially if the interpretation turns out to teach something different from what an ordinary person would understand from reading the Bible alone.  Instead, become so familiar with the Bible itself that you can use it to evaluate the teachings you hear at church.  Some pastors may resent your doing this, but those who follow Jesus and love the written word of God will welcome your using the Bible to check up on them.  The Apostle Paul was glad when his listeners

received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” —Acts 17:11 NIV

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