Come, follow 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
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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
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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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What is life really all about?

 


Would you start a business in an industry that you did not understand?  Your venture would soon fail.  Would start out in a new position of employment without knowing what your employer expected you to do?  You would not be able to keep the job.  In every human endeavor the people who succeed are those who understand what it is all about.  And the same is true of life itself.


However, we start out our lives as infants, not knowing what life is all about.  That doesn’t matter at first, when we are very young, because our parents care for us and provide for all our needs.  It is also their responsibility to teach us what life is all about.  But what if they don’t know, because their parents had failed to teach them, and their parents’ parents had failed to teach them?  Then we can’t possibly find out what life is all about, unless we learn from another source.


In the real world, that is what actually happened.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and created human beings.  Our first parents, the first humans, had some insight into what life is all about because God dealt with them personally.  But they rebelled against their Creator, and they gave birth to rebellious offspring. 

“. . . sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.” —Romans 5:12

“One thing I have learned:  God made people good, but they have found all kinds of ways to be bad.”       —Ecclesiastes 7:29 NCV


As they continued to multiply and spread abroad to fill the earth, our ancestors drifted farther and farther away from God and failed to pass on to new generations any knowledge of what life is all about.


On a number of occasions God intervened in human affairs to remind us.  Through the flood of Noah’s day he wiped away a world that had become filled with violence and sin, and gave mankind a fresh start.  But, as soon as enough generations had passed to build a sizeable population, they again forgot about God and rebelled against him.  To stop them from building a technologically advanced society centered around a skyscraper they were building at Babel in the land now known as Iraq, God confused their languages—giving each family group its own speech and grammar, so that they could no longer work together.  They were forced to give up their building project and move away from each other, eventually populating the far reaches of the earth.


As they spread abroad to remote places and lost contact with each other, the families of man did a poor job of passing on to their offspring any knowledge of the Creator and his purpose for human beings.  Although most national groups retained some dim recollection of heavenly beings, and some even retained a story of the worldwide flood in their oral traditions, the stories became twisted through centuries of retelling by people who, themselves, were not faithful to God and who had no desire to live by his rules.  Before long, people everywhere were bowing down to idols of wood, stone and metal, guided in their worship by priests and prophets who knew nothing of the true God.


Eventually God began to break this cycle of ignorance by speaking to a man named Abram, whom he renamed Abraham.  God later revealed himself to Abraham’s son Isaac and to Isaac’s son Jacob, whom God renamed Israel.  Many generations later, when Israel’s offspring had multiplied greatly and found themselves enslaved in Egypt, God sent Moses to free them from bondage and to bring them into a covenant or agreement with God.


Each party to the covenant made promises.  God promised to give the Israelites the land of Canaan (whose inhabitants he had sentenced to death for their gross sins), and to bless the Israelites there as a special nation living under his laws.  And, as their part of the agreement, the Israelites were obligated to obey God’s laws, which included not worshiping any false gods.  But the covenant also contained a clause spelling out what would happen if they broke the agreement:  God would uproot them from the Promised Land and would scatter them worldwide among other nations that would hate and abuse them.


As far as the Jewish people were concerned, based on what God had revealed up to that time in history, life was all about keeping the laws God had given to them.  Moses told them

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” —Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV


Wise king Solomon investigated the alternative pursuits that people came up with on their own, trying to give some other meaning to their lives, and he concluded that all of these pursuits were “vanity and a chasing after wind” (Eccl. 1:14; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:16; 6:9)  Rather, he reached this inspired conclusion as to the real meaning of life:

This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.”                                            —Ecclesiastes 12:13-14


Most of the Old Testament consists of the historical record detailing how the Israelites repeatedly broke their covenant with God and took up the worship of false gods, and how the true God punished them repeatedly to discipline them.  Eventually, he announced to them that he would institute a new covenant that would be superior to the covenant they had broken.  The new covenant would include forgiveness of sins, a closer personal relationship with God, and opportunity for non-Israelites—people from all nations—to know and worship the true God.  Those who enter the new covenant receive a fuller understanding of what life is all about.


The New Testament introduces this new covenant and tells how people of many varied nationalities quit worshiping their idols and entered into this new covenant mediated through Jesus.  For example, the Apostle Paul said this to an audience of pagan idol worshipers in ancient Athens, Greece:

“‘. . . we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man.  The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent,  because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.’” —Acts 17:29-31


Many pagans in Paul’s audience there in Athens and in other cities he visited around the Mediterranean Sea left behind the worship of false deities and embraced Christianity, coming under the new covenant mediated by Jesus.  When we turn to “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 12:24 KJV) we are adopted as God’s children and we receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised.  The eighth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Roman congregation discusses this at some length. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. . . . Those who are in the flesh can’t please God.  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you.

“But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.  If Christ is in you . . .  if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. . . .

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.  

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us.”                                         —Romans 8:1-18


This closer relationship with God—through our adoption as his children and our receiving his Holy Spirit—gives us greater appreciation of the meaning of life.  And this relationship is not one that ends tragically in death, but rather an everlasting relationship that will only grow as time goes on, with a glorious future. Knowing that this is what life is really all about helps us put our present sufferings into a larger perspective.  Momentary suffering today becomes insignificant when we compare it to what lies ahead for us.  And the love of God revealed to us through Jesus strengthens us to face any sort of trouble in this world.  As Paul wrote:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Even as it is written, ‘For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’  No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:35-39


Jesus came in the flesh so that he could set the example by suffering for us on the cross, so that we might be adopted as children of God:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”                           — Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV


The devil can no longer use our fear of death to force us to do evil, because we have been adopted as God’s children with the hope of a glorious future forever in heaven.  Christ, the captain of our salvation, suffered for us, to set us free from slavery to this sinful world. 

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”          —Hebrews 2:10 NKJV


God’s purpose is to bring many sons to glory—to adopt us as his children and bring us to heaven to live with him in glory.  We can’t really understand the meaning of life without grasping this. 


This “mystery,” or “secret” as some translations put it, was kept from mankind over the centuries until God revealed it through the New Testament.  The Apostle Paul referred to it as

the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” —Colossians 1:26-27 NIV


God is ready to destroy this wicked world in rebellion against him, but he holds back that destructive power at this time, while he continues to prepare us for the glorious eternal life to come:

“What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath made for destruction, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?”                                                                     —Romans 9:22-24


If we understand that our present circumstances in this world are only temporary, and that eternal glory awaits us, this can give us the strength and courage to endure the troubles we face now:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”                            —2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV


In just a short time—short compared to the eternity of joy ahead of us—Jesus will return to take us home with him.  Or, if we die before his return, he will raise us to life:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’  ‘Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?’

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”       —1 Corinthians 15:51-58


So, although king Solomon declared all human endeavors to be “vanity and a chasing after wind” (Eccl. 1:14; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:16; 6:9), our labor is not in vain in the Lord.  He gives us the victory over death, and wipes every tear from our eyes.  The meaning of life becomes clear when we have eternity in view.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  —Revelation 7:15-17


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