Evangelism & Discipleship

Optimism Out of Control, Evangelism and DiscipleshipRecently I was asked, "What are the practical effects of believing that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind."  My friend does not believe that Jesus is the savior of all, but was simply trying to understand why this is such an important point.  I then realized that my book was missing an important chapter on application.  My friend's point is well taken.  If there are no practical applications of a truth or even a theory yet to be proved as truth, then its value is quite limited.

However, in this case, the fact that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind is the most practical, useful, purposeful, glorious truth in the entire world.  This truth has the grandest impacts on your personal well-being and your relationship to every other person on the planet as well as creation itself.  Believing the truth about God's grace for mankind will pull your head out of the sand and turn your life right side up!  You will be able to receive your proper title as God's child and be a true brother or sister to your neighbor.

Students of the Bible may well note that the book of Ephesians is divided into two parts.  The first half teaches the reader truth about God's love for mankind and, in particular, the church.  Careful observers have noted that there is not even one imperative statement in the entire first half of the book.  There is not one instruction to action, but only teaching the truth about God's love for us.

The second half, however, focuses entirely on the actions and behaviors required of Jesus' followers.  God's Word in Ephesians can be neatly divided into two chapters titled: Belief and Practice.  However, my book is lopsided on theory and theology, so hopefully I learn a lesson from Ephesians and promote Christian action.  My favorite verse on practical obedience is I John 3:18 (WEB), "My little children, let’s not love in word only, or with the tongue only, but in deed and truth."

If you believe that Jesus loves and forgave you because he also loves and forgave all mankind, then we have important work to do!  Love with actions and truth just like Jesus!

In the following pages of application I quote many Bible verses.  No doubt you will be familiar with most of them.  My goal in quoting them to you is not to simply serve the same meal again, but to invite you to chew on the Scripture with the seasoning that Jesus is truly the Savior of all mankind.

Follow Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So how do we even begin to follow him?

Matthew 4:18-20 (WEB) says,

18) Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19) He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men." 20) They immediately left their nets and followed him.

We can begin to follow Jesus with great confidence since we know he loves all mankind.  We do not have to impossibly determine if we are part of a chosen sub-set loved by Jesus.  Rather we follow Jesus knowing that we are part of the chosen super-set loved by Jesus and he asks us to follow him.  So we can follow Jesus with great confidence!

Matthew 16:24-27 (WEB) says,

24) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25)  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26)  For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? 27)  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds."

We can also be certain that if we do not follow Jesus we have traded the great purposes that God has for our life for... nothing.  Since Jesus could not love us more, to turn away from his love to any other thing is a crying shame.  Only complete confidence in the love of God for me and you will embolden us to give Jesus everything he asks.  If we want to pretend that we are part of a chosen loved sub-set or that our choice of God's love plus his love cinched our destiny, then we do not truly understand God's love.  Friends, we must have rock solid confidence that Jesus' love penetrates through our core to have loved us while we were yet his enemies.  Without it, we will not be able to give Jesus all that he asks.  Furthermore, because his arms are stretched wide his love includes all the Pharisees on his right and all the Pagans on his left.  We can have unwavering confidence that he loves us as well, whether we are self-righteous Pharisees or godless Pagans or somewhere in between.  His love is fully given to all.  What does he ask of us?  He wants our entire life -- our complete devotion.

John 6:66-71 (WEB) says,

66) At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67) Jesus said therefore to the twelve, "You don’t also want to go away, do you?" 68) Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69) We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 70) Jesus answered them, "Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" 71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.

Following Jesus demands our complete commitment.  Our weak human strength cannot provide this level of commitment.  Our promises cannot maintain this commitment.  Only complete dependence upon the faithfulness of God and his guaranteed love for us can provide this commitment.  We may flatter or fool ourselves thinking that we are the chosen subset because we are devoted followers of Jesus.  That is radical commitment of sorts, but unfortunately not a commitment to the true Jesus, the Jesus who loves all mankind.  Remember it is the Pharisees who were angry with Jesus when they learned that he does in fact love all mankind, including the Gentile "sinners."  Friends, as much as we waiver about the love of God toward all mankind, we will also waiver in our commitment to him.

Do not waiver about God's love for you and me!  Following Jesus demands one hundred percent confidence in his love for us as well as his love for others.  Leave your nets and follow Jesus!

Believe Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So what does it mean to believe in him?

Mark 9:21-24 (WEB) says, 

21) He asked his father, "How long has it been since this has come to him?" He said, "From childhood. 22) Often it has cast him both into the fire and into the water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us."  23) Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." 24) Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, "I believe. Help my unbelief!"

The boy's father highlights a problem that is common among even the most mature Christians.  We ought to believe in God with rock solid confidence, yet even the strongest Christian may have doubts.  One response to the thesis that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind has been "I want to believe, but it seems too good to be true!"  We should join the man above and ask God to help us overcome our unbelief!

Furthermore, some interpret this verse to mean that through "faith" we can accomplish whatever we determine.  If this is true we would not only have "faith" in God, but we would also be God!  This verse is not saying that we can always accomplish our will, but instead that through faith we can receive and always participate in God's will.  In fact this misunderstanding of the meaning of "faith" is the heart of this generation's misunderstanding of the very gospel.  "Faith" is not the condition to God's unconditional love, but instead faith is trust that God already loves us unconditionally!  "Faith" never added one person to the Lamb's Book of Life, but instead faith opens our eyes to the rock solid fact that God has always loved his people.  Do you doubt it?  Ask God for help to overcome your unbelief!

Jude 22-23 (WEB) says,

22) On some have compassion, making a distinction, 23) and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.

Efforts to tell others that Jesus is their Savior and the Savior of the world are often rejected.  Sadly religion, tradition, and avoidance are always more popular than grace.  This verse reminds us that the doubting are to be shown mercy.  Jesus commands us to believe in him, to trust him with our entire lives.  It is a good thing to question the ice before trusting it with your ice skates.  Test Jesus and you will find that he does not change with the seasons, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8 WEB).  He will never crack or melt in the heat, but instead is a solid rock!  Friends, Jesus is so trustworthy it is a sin to not trust him, so get your questions answered and your doubts erased!  Do not let your doubts turn you away from God.

John 20:24-29 (WEB) says,

24) But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. 25) The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." 26) After eight days again his disciples were inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being locked, and stood in the middle, and said, "Peace be to you." 27) Then he said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing." 28) Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29) Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed."

Even one of the twelve disciples who walked and talked with Jesus for three years doubted.  The expression "doubting Thomas" lives on 2,000 years later in his honor.  Yet this verse highlights Jesus' patience even with the doubting.  Jesus is not intentionally obscure, but wants each of us to get to know him through faith.  Ask God to show himself to you.  But do not ask to see him and then be lazy or sleeping when he makes himself known.  Do not ask to see him and then not be willing to shout to the world with Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"

Faith is not the condition to God's unconditional love.  Faith is trusting that God loves us unconditionally because he loves all mankind.  Believe in Jesus!

Trust Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So what does it mean to trust in him?

In the Bible "trust in" is basically a synonym for "believe in."  Since belief and trust are the vital components of receiving God's salvation, let's hit it again.

1 John 1:9-10 (WEB) says,

9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10) If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Getting turned on to something requires passion.  So what can give us passion for Christ?  How about total forgiveness of all your sins: past, present, and future?  God loves us like the wonderful Heavenly Father that he says he is and so he is trustworthy.  Yet some interpret 1 John 1:9 to mean that Jesus only forgives us if we ask.  Is this true?  I have mentioned elsewhere that Jesus asked the Father to forgive us from the cross, even though no one was asking.  Is there more proof?

Romans 5:9-11 (WEB) says,

9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10) For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. 11) Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Now here is good news, awesome news, that ought to get us totally turned on to Jesus.  The death of Christ reconciled us to God, forgiving all our sins, while we were yet his enemies!  The love of God was fully given before we were Christians or even acknowledged Christ.  The heart of my thesis in this book is that there is no condition to God's unconditional love... not even our faith.  In fact it is silly to suggest that "trust" is the condition to God's unconditional love.  It is silly because God wants us instead to trust that his love for us is unconditional and already given, just like Romans 5:9-11 says!  The point is that we must be fully persuaded of God's unconditional love for us to know him as he is and to make him known.

If you believe God loves you on those terms, then you will be passionate to know and make known that he loves all mankind exactly the same way.  Logically, to the exact same degree you have doubts about whether mankind's sins are forgiven, you will have doubts that your own sins are forgiven.  This is true unless you are hypocritically trusting in a condition to God's love that you supplied.  If you are trusting in a condition that you supplied, you may appear to have confidence, but again you are standing on thin ice above the fires of Hades.

Gerry Beauchemin boldly says on page 165 of Hope Beyond Hell, "The only way I [or you] can be truly assured I will be saved is if I believe that God saves all [mankind]."  Do you claim that God loves you 100%?  On what basis?  A Christian can be 100% confident that God loves him because God loves all mankind.  Robin Parry goes as far to say in The Evangelical Universalist that Calvinism has in fact corrupted the morals of its adherents.  The Calvinist is 100% confident that God loves him and equally confident that God does not love all mankind.  Parry boldly says that such a person has become morally corrupted from a false gospel and false understanding of the nature of God's love.

Trust is not the condition to God's unconditional love, but instead faith that God loves us unconditionally because he loves all mankind.  Trust in Jesus!

Hope in Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to hope in him?

Titus 2:11-14 (WEB),

11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12) instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age; 13) looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14) who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works.

Christ is returning and Christians are waiting for this blessed hope.  Yet most of mankind is not waiting or ready and thus has no hope!

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (WEB) says,

13) But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

This passage speaks of hope, yet some truths offer no hope.  For example, there is no hope for the unredeemed.  If sin is not paid for, sinners can have no hope of salvation, ever.  There appears to be no hope for Satan and his demons because apparently their sins are not paid for according to Hebrews 2:16.  However, the passage above teaches us that Christians can have great hope because we believe and know that God will resurrect the Christians who have already died.

Now this passage also says that, "like the rest, who have no hope."  Does this mean that unbelievers will never ever have hope?  Certainly not!  The passage is speaking about the "hope" that we live by through faith.  Both the believing and unbelieving redeemed have a glorious eternal destiny waiting for them.  Jesus redeemed, paid the sin debt, for all mankind while we were yet his enemies!  Believers have received this hope and live by it.  However, unbelievers refuse to repent of their self-righteousness and believe that their sins are paid for and so they do not live by this hope.  They choose the hard road even though their sins are fully paid.

Christians eagerly await the return of Christ because we know that Jesus loves mankind dearly.  Unbelievers, however, shrink back at the thought of facing the Lord of the Universe.  Just like Adam and Eve hid in the garden, they hide behind false religion, atheism, and agnosticism.  Yet Jesus will return for his people!

Jesus promised in John 14:1-3,

1) Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. 2) In my Father's house are many homes. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3) If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.

The angels also promised in Acts 1:10-11 (WEB),

10) While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing, 11) who also said, "You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky, will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky."

The point is that our lover, Jesus Christ, is currently away, but he is returning and has told us many things about his future plans to "make his enemies a footstool" and to return for his bride, the church, and to consummate eternity with the final salvation of all mankind.  Biblical Christianity offers great hope!  Do not settle for anything less!

Hope in Christ is not a wish but a confidence that Jesus Christ will reveal his salvation to all mankind in time.  Hope in Jesus!

Read Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So why do we read about him and his commands?

Joshua 1:7-9 (WEB),

7) Only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded you. Don’t turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8) This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. 9) Haven’t I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be dismayed, for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.

The Bible is God's Word given to us so that we can learn about his love and care for us.  In the verses above God spoke directly to Joshua after Moses died in order to encourage Joshua and guide him as the new leader of Israel.  God urges Joshua to be strong and courageous and to meditate on the Bible.  Reading the Bible and meditating on God's written message to mankind is vital for us to enjoy the successful Christian living that God desires.

Colossians 3:15-17 (WEB),

15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. 17) Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

We need the message of Christ in our conversation so that we can teach and admonish one another.  While our own words and ideas may range from useful to useless, God's words and his message are perfect and wonderfully useful.  Paul encourages Jesus' followers to add the words and message of Christ into our conversation.  Read the Bible, meditate on the meaning, and mention the message and words of Christ in your conversation with others.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (WEB),

12) For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13) There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

God's word is alive and active and powerful to change our lives.  We are in need of heart surgery, but what scalpel can be used to perform spiritual operations on our hearts?  God's word is compared to a double-edged sword because the Bible is able to cut away the cancer of unbelief in our lives.  We must read the Bible to allow the Holy Spirit to change us from our natural love of vice to the supernatural virtue of Jesus Christ.

Read the message of Christ to enjoy the Christian prosperity that God desires for you.  Share his message with others in your conversation.  Allow the Holy Spirit to operate on your heart with God's Word.  Read Jesus!

Talk to Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So how do we talk to him?

Matthew 6:5-15 (WEB) says,

5) When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. 6)  But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7)  In praying, don’t use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. 8)  Therefore don’t be like them, for your Father knows what things you need, before you ask him. 9)  Pray like this: "Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10)  Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11)  Give us today our daily bread. 12)  Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. 13)  Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen."  14)  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15)  But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

God is our loving Heavenly Father and he wants us to talk with him, heart to heart.  He wants no facades or religion, but person to person conversation.  More than that, he knows us and our needs better than we know ourselves.  The point is that we should have great confidence that our conversation with him will never be misunderstood.  If there is any concern at all, the concern is that we are not being honest with ourselves.  The cure for our hypocrisy is the solemn reminder that we need to forgive others and that we are fully dependent upon God for our forgiveness.

John 14:11-14 (WEB) says,

11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 12)  Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13)  Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14)  If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.

Wow!  God is listening to our prayers and he will answer them!  While some have earthly dads with resources to buy them cars and college, we all have a Heavenly dad with infinite resources available for our care.  However, we should be reminded that God's goal for our lives is that we would grow to share in his character.  God does always answer our prayers, but sometimes the answer is "no", as seen in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

Romans 8:26-27 (WEB),

26) In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. 27) He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.

Wow that is even more amazing!  Ever felt like you do not even know how or what to pray?  This is a very common problem because the truth is that we all find ourselves in situations where we have no idea what the solution could be.  Sin has broken and twisted our lives beyond repair.  We should keep praying nonetheless because, if we are Christians, the Holy Spirit is living inside of us and he will lead our prayers.

John 16:23-28 (WEB) says,

23) In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24)  Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full. 25)  I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. But the time is coming when I will no more speak to you in figures of speech, but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26)  In that day you will ask in my name; and I don’t say to you that I will pray to the Father for you, 27)  for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came from God. 28)  I came from the Father, and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

Jesus wants to make our Heavenly Father known to us.  Though the Bible may be hard to understand at times, God's purpose is not to be obscure.  Instead he has revealed himself to us and plans to do so more and more.  Why does he keep us in suspense and why is he taking so long?  I don't know.  Perhaps our finite minds can only be opened to the infinite God in small increments.  Perhaps our sin and need for repentance slows down the progress to see God face to face.  Take heart!  Jesus is praying for us and working to reveal our good Heavenly Father to us.

Prayer to Jesus and our Heavenly Father is critical to help us get to know God and understand his good purposes for all mankind.  Talk to Jesus!

Love Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to love him?

John 14:23 (WEB) says,

Jesus answered 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.'

Love for Jesus is not mystical or ethereal!  Jesus asks us to show our love very practically by obeying his commands.  While the world's notion of love is freedom to please one's self, God's definition of love is commitment to please others.  Jesus demonstrated loving obedience to his Father and now asks us for the same loving obedience.  Has Jesus won your willingness to give up your self-serving attitudes to instead serve others?

John 21:15-19 (WEB) says,

15) So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?"

He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."

He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16) He said to him again a second time,
Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?"

He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."

He said to him, "Tend my sheep."  17) He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?"

Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you."

Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18)  Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you don’t want to go." 19) Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Peter had just boasted earlier that even if all the other disciples fell away, he would never fall away.  Yet all the disciples did run away and Peter denied Jesus three times!  Jesus now confronts Peter about his boast to remind Peter of the value of humility and to restore him to his calling: to feed the sheep of Jesus.  Do we love Jesus?  Are we better than others?  Are we willing to humbly feed Jesus' sheep?  Are we willing to feed both the believing and the unbelieving, both the lost sheep and the found sheep?  Are we willing to show love to all mankind?

1 John 4:20 (WEB) says,

If a man says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Jesus challenges us to show our love for him by loving our brother.  God's commands are not burdensome, odd, or unreasonable.  Jesus is building a loving family and he commands us to love one another.  Are we with excuses like Cain asking, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  Or are we committed to saying, "I am my brother's keeper!"

Jesus asks us to show our love to him by obeying him and loving others.  Love Jesus!

Obey Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to obey him?

John 8:31-36 (WEB) says,

31) Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. 32)  You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  33) They answered him, "We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, 'You will be made free'?"  34) Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. 35)  A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. 36)  If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

Jesus has a great promise for his followers.  He plans to show us the truth about this life and to set us free!  What an awesome promise and hope!  This fallen and broken world takes its toll on every person who ever lived causing us to feel burdened and in bondage to pain and trials that we want to shake off, but just cannot.  However, there is great hope.  Jesus promises freedom.  Yet, the freedom of Christ comes with a price...  we must obey his teaching.  Though the world may offer freedom, true freedom only comes through obedience to Jesus Christ.

Furthermore there is an orderly recipe above.  First we must simply obey, even if we do not understand all the reasons for God's commands.  We must submit our will to the will of Jesus.  We must honestly understand the difference between what we want to do and what God wants us to do... and then choose God's will.  Second, through obedience we will come to know the truth.  A master's business can only be learned through obediently serving in his workshop.  The same is true with God.  Third, through knowledge of the truth we will be set free from our bondage because we will know, understand, and trust in God's loving purposes.  There is no other way, but to trust and obey.

1 John 5:1-5 (WEB) says,

1) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. 2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. 3) For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous. 4) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. 5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Jesus wants no hypocritical claim of affection for him.  If we claim to love God we must also obey his commands.  In fact, obeying his commands is the only accepted expression of showing our love for God.  God is our loving Heavenly Father and because he is our Father and we are his children we also need to obey him.  The world understands love to be giving others license to do whatever they want, to please themselves.  This is not love, but instead makes us a danger to ourselves.  A good parent would not leave his children unsupervised or without direction.  God knows that true love will direct his children to do only what is best for themselves and others.  Thankfully the commands of God are not burdensome, but are wholesome and good.  In fact as we already learned, God's commands are the pathway to learning more and more about God and enjoying true freedom as his sons and daughters.  Through obedience we take our station as the children of the King of the Universe.  We receive the honorable position of princes and princesses in his kingdom.  We also enjoy fellowship as brothers and sisters with one another!

Obey Jesus in order to know the truth and to find true freedom.  I am convinced that obeying Jesus' commands is the recipe to help you see that Jesus does in fact love all mankind.  Obey Jesus!

Imitate Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to imitate him?

1 John 3:1-3 (WEB) says,

1) See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn’t know us, because it didn’t know him. 2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. 3) Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

Jesus began his ministry with the simple call "follow me."  He wants us to learn from him and become like him.  I have been baffled by the present animosity that the non-Christian world has toward Jesus.  Perhaps they are getting their picture of Jesus from the poor examples of us struggling Christians!  Instead, they should read the historic account of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  If they read about Jesus there, they will see that he is The Champion of love for all.  He preaches against hypocrisy and vice.  He is kind to the brokenhearted.  He condemns no one!  Why he is the epitome of valor, the grand gentleman, the hero of heroes!  The great Christian hope is that one day our very natures will be transformed so that we will be like him.  No longer will we struggle with envy, anger, and hypocrisy.  We will be like Jesus effortlessly!  Meanwhile, because this is our hope, we strive to purify ourselves to be like him now.

1 John 4:17-18 (WEB) says,

17) In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.

In fact the Bible says that if we are Christians, we are already like Jesus in this world.  Even though we are terribly poor imitations of Christ, Jesus has given us the assignment to follow in his footsteps.  We are like him because we have a purpose in this world to serve God and be like Jesus.  Furthermore, if we are Christians we have the Holy Spirit working powerfully within us to accomplish the purposes of God.  While we may be painfully aware of our inadequacies, Jesus is nonetheless marching on, working his will both in us and through us.  Giving up is not an option!  The work of the Holy Spirit will be effective in changing and transforming us.  Though no one will ever be perfected in this life, progress will be made in learning to forgive, serve, and love others.  So we submit to the Holy Spirit's work in our lives and we look forward to the end of sin and perfect Christ-likeness in glory.

Imitating Jesus is hard work because our birth nature is not like Jesus.  Just as Jesus loved all mankind, we are to share his love with all mankind.  Thankfully, the hard work of transformation is not ours alone, but instead it is God who changes us, and so we learn to keep in step with the Spirit.  Imitate Jesus!

Share Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to share him with others?

Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB) says,

16) But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17) When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but some doubted. 18) Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19)  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20)  teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

This passage in the Bible is called "The Great Commission."  It is Jesus' last words to his followers.  It is our assignment.  It is The Great Commission!  After giving us his own example of how to make disciples, he then commands us to continue to follow him, to imitate him, and make yet more disciples of Jesus.  The Christian faith is not merely reading the Bible and understanding facts about God, but it is sharing Jesus' love with others and asking others to follow Jesus.  God's intention is that the good news about Jesus' death on the cross for the sins of ALL mankind would be shared with ALL mankind.  This world is filled with Satan's lies about God, suggesting that God does not love all mankind and that we are condemned.  Read Zechariah 3:1-10 to see just how mean Satan can be toward Joshua and also toward us.  The Great Commission is our great mission to defeat these lies and be used by the Holy Spirit to bring the good news to ALL mankind.

Acts 1:9-11 (WEB) says,

9) When he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10) While they were looking steadfastly into the sky as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing, 11) who also said, "You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky, will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky."

Understandably after Jesus gave the Great Commission and then ascended into Heaven, the first disciples were stunned.  I personally have never witnessed anyone teach with the authority of Jesus, work miracles, be raised from the dead, and ascend into Heaven.  No wonder the disciples were reeling with their heads spinning.  So God sent two angels to stop their spinning heads and point them back to their assignment.  Friend, God's love for all mankind is proved without a doubt.  Why do you stand there?  Go tell your neighbor!

Matthew 22:34-40 (WEB) says,

34) But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together. 35) One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him. 36) "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" 37) Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38)  This is the first and great commandment. 39  A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40)  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.' "

But we may still have questions and doubts.  Answer your questions!  Erase your doubts!  Do whatever hard work is needed to get your feet planted on the solid rock of Jesus Christ!  Pray!  Read the Bible!  Show your love for God by obeying his commands!  And if you do not know how to begin The Great Commission, then begin (and end) with The Great Commandments above.  Jesus keeps it simple for us because there are only two Great Commandments: 1) love God and 2) love your neighbor as yourself.  God's commands truly are not difficult to understand or burdensome.  The only challenge is that we must lay down our self-interests in order to be concerned about others.

The good news is too good to keep to ourselves.  God does not just love you, but he loves all mankind!  Salvation is not personal, but universal!  Jesus commands us to join his forces to fight against the lies of Satan and tell our family, friends, and neighbors about God's love.  Share Jesus!

Fellowship with Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So how do we fellowship with Jesus now?

Jesus loves to eat, drink, talk, and laugh with us, his chosen people.  He created us for this very purpose.  Consider that his first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding!  We can be so excited that we are promised eternity in the home of this man!  Glorious fellowship is promised.

Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many homes. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.

John 14:1-3 (WEB)


Okay, glorious eternal fellowship sounds great!  But how can we fellowship with Jesus in this broken world now?  How can we find real comfort from Christ's presence and the presence of his family when so much is ruined by sin?  Furthermore, Jesus has been gone for a long time!  Yes, but he has left us with the Holy Spirit, our comforter.  Also we need to be reminded that because of sin we especially need the fellowship of other real live Christians.  Sin often separates us and causes us to personally withdraw.  This is not good and so we must fight against this to live openly with Christian friends.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (WEB) warns,

Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.


Also finding Christian fellowship can be difficult and especially difficult to find Christians who are confident that Jesus loves all mankind.  However, we cannot and must not be idle or despair just because something is difficult.  Hard work must be done to find and even build godly Christian fellowship.  Jesus likewise warned in Matthew 8:19-20 (WEB),

A scribe came, and said to him, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.'  Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'


So hard work remains to find and build Christian fellowship.  However, we must also remember that Jesus invites us to another kind of fellowship in this broken world.  Jesus invites us to participate in the fellowship of his sufferings.  We can like it or not, but this world is filled with suffering and Jesus invites us to join him in fighting the good fight against evil despite suffering.  Though we may be tempted to relieve suffering by "going with the flow" Jesus set the example of swimming upstream and invites us to follow.  Jesus' disciple Peter was well acquainted with suffering for wrong doing, but also for right doing.

12) Beloved, don't be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. 13) But because you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. 14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified. 15) For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil doer, or a meddler in other men's matters. 16) But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this matter.

1 Peter 4:12-16 (WEB)


Thankfully Jesus' purpose is not eternal suffering!  Jesus never enjoyed suffering, but "endured the cross" looking instead to the joy that the cross would achieve.  What joy did the cross achieve?  The redemption of mankind and glorious eternal fellowship!  What joy does our suffering achieve?  We can share intimate fellowship with Jesus and through suffering become like him.  He suffered because of his love for all mankind and so will we!  So we must look to Jesus for strength to endure the cross that he has assigned.  We also look forward to that day when we raise our drink with Christ in celebration of victory!

But I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's Kingdom.

Matthew 26:29 (WEB)



Fellowship with Jesus is the best.  Fellowship with Jesus right now is comfort through the trials we share with Jesus.  And fellowship with Jesus then will be eternal comfort with absolutely no more trials and celebration of the victory he has won in our lives!  Fellowship with Jesus!

Prove Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So what does it mean to prove Jesus?

Psalm 34:8-16 (WEB) says,

8) Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good.
      Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
9) Oh fear Yahweh, you his saints,
      for there is no lack with those who fear him.
10) The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger,
      but those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing.
11) Come, you children, listen to me.
      I will teach you the fear of Yahweh.
12) Who is someone who desires life,
      and loves many days, that he may see good?
13) Keep your tongue from evil,
      and your lips from speaking lies.
14) Depart from evil, and do good.
      Seek peace, and pursue it.
15) Yahweh’s eyes are toward the righteous.
      His ears listen to their cry.
16) Yahweh’s face is against those who do evil,
      to cut off their memory from the earth.

Jesus commands us to trust and obey him and boasts that God is good and there is no better salvation.  However, to back up his words, Jesus asks us to prove him -- to test him.  He says, "Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good."  We are often like finicky children unwilling to eat the food that is before us.  I never ate sour cream before I entered college because I did not want to eat anything sour!  So then I tried sour cream on a potato and learned that sour cream is creamy!  I loved it.  I can no longer eat a potato without it!  So what lies and misunderstandings about God's faithfulness have we believed and swallowed?  Jesus invites us to prove him, to test him, to taste and see that He is good!

John 10:1-5 (WEB) says,

1) Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2)  But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. 4)  Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5)  They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.

Do not follow the voice of a stranger!  Our good Heavenly Father has proved his love for us by sending his one and only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins.  His love could absolutely not be greater.  He challenges us to test his love and erase all of our doubts!  He wants our whole heart without reserve and he is confident that he has all the love and forgiveness that we will ever need and more.  Do you still have doubts?  Taste and see that the Lord is good, but do not follow a stranger!

Romans 10:10-13 (WEB) says,

10) For with the heart, one believes resulting in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made resulting in salvation. 11) For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.”  12) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him. 13) For, "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Jesus promises that when we give our lives to him, he will protect and care for us, guaranteeing that we will never be put to shame.  Of course this does not mean that we will never have trials.  Instead it means that Jesus will be by our side and be our defender through even the worst of circumstances.

Jesus challenges us to test him on his promises because he is so confident that he is and has everything we will ever need and want.  Jesus is the best!  Prove Jesus!

Revere Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind! 

So what does it mean to revere Jesus?

17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man.  He laid his right hand on me, saying, "Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last, 18) and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades. 19) Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter;

Revelation 1:17-18 (WEB)

Jesus holds the keys to death and Hades.  He appoints the time our death and he raises the dead.  He also locks the unbelieving in the punishments of Hades and will empty Hades on the last day.  Friends, our destiny is not in the hands of our supposed free will, but in the hands of Jesus' will.  Jesus is the God of our past, our present, and our future.  So we are advised to revere Christ.

Twenty-first century sentiment emphasizes authenticity and sincerity.  Pastors preach in jeans.  Parishioners sport sweats.  Yet, even the actors and actresses in my oldies movie collection are wearing collared shirts with ties and Sunday best dresses.  The motto for today is "get comfortable."  This is not bad in itself.  However, if we remember our sin problem, letting it all hang out before Holy God is not honesty, but harlotry, not beautiful, but brazen.  We should answer Joan Osborne's question, "What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?"  Friends, Jesus left Heaven to be one of us, but he was never a slob like all of us.  Instead he is a perfect gentleman, the servant of all, the King of the Universe, and the coming judge.  He searches our hearts with a fiery eyed love that burns through every idol to melt the hardest hearted.

Jesus' passion for mankind propelled him to warn the unrepentant that judgment is coming.  He called us at our worst "hypocrites," "blind guides," "whitewashed tombs," "murderers," and "snakes!"  He warned unbelievers of sentence to "outer darkness," "weeping and gnashing of teeth," suffering where the "worm does not die," and "agony!"  Spineless forms of Universalism have lost touch with the reality of human corruption and the consequences that follow without repentance.  We are all summoned to stand before the almighty judge of the Universe to give account.  Even the most irreverent fool will then revere Christ.

Jesus' eternal love for mankind also promises his people that "no one can snatch [his sheep] out of his hand."  The love of Christ given to chosen mankind from even before creation is utterly inescapable!  The love of God is so wide, long, high, and deep that it "surpasses knowledge!"  In other words, God's love even partially understood "blows our minds!"  Just consider the goodness that God has prepared for his people in eternity.  "...Scripture says: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him' " (1 Corinthians 2:9 NOG).  Just to wet our appetites, the Apostle Paul was caught up into Heaven and was not even allowed to repeat what he heard there.  Even the most reverent Christian will then revere Christ even more!

Jesus spoke both words of warning and words of promise.  He warned mankind about the consequences of sin in this life as well as the afterlife punishments in Hades.  He also promised paradise for the believing as well as eternal glory for chosen mankind.  Jesus calls the shots!  Revere Jesus!

Worship Jesus

Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!

So what does it mean to worship Jesus?

Isaiah 45:22-25 (WEB) says,

22) Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23) I have sworn by myself. The word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and will not be revoked, that to me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. 24) They will say of me, "There is righteousness and strength only in Yahweh."  Even to him shall men come; and all those who raged against him shall be disappointed. 25) All the offspring of Israel will be justified in Yahweh, and will rejoice!

Though most of mankind does not know or follow Jesus, nor are they excited about him... the day is coming when every single human being will bow his knee and shout "There is righteousness and strength only in Yahweh."  While presently the majority of mankind knows nothing of the Lord's grace, the day is coming when all the redeemed will see the Lord face to face.  Though the unbelieving will have to suffer shame for their unrepentance, they too will finally repent and join the happy crowd shouting praises to God.  Note: worship sometimes gets confused with singing in church services.  While singing can be a form of worship, the shouting of praises by the redeemed over Christ's final victory is more like the loud ecstatic praise at a nail biting come-from-behind victory.

Philippians 2:9-11 (WEB) says,

9) Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name, 10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Again every knee will happily bow in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth!  Friends this verse is saying everyone will praise God from Heaven, to Earth, to the depths of Hades, under the Earth... that is ALL mankind!

Revelation 5:9-14 (WEB) says,

9) They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals: for you were killed, and bought us for God with your blood, out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, 10) and made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign on the earth." 11) I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands, and thousands of thousands; 12) saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" 13) I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!" 14) The four living creatures said, "Amen!" Then the elders fell down and worshiped.

Again every knee will gladly and willingly bow in ecstatic response to Christ's victory over sin and death.  Get ready!

True worship of Christ is not rote or ritual.  Instead, through accurate knowledge of God and persuasion about his love for ALL mankind, we throw our hats to the air in jubilation.  Worship Jesus!