I recently heard a highly respected pastor and author asked the question, “How do you identify yourself when you share your faith in Christ?” The pastor responded by saying, “I tell them I am a follower of Jesus Christ.”
That’s a great answer and I hope that those of us who do follow Christ never take the weight of that declaration lightly. Jesus Himself laid out to us the characteristics of one who truly follows Him.
Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. – Luke 9: 23-26, NIV
Let’s identify 3 C’s of a Christ-follower.
- CONVICTION – vs. 23
Conviction is what separates a heart that seeks for God, rather than just having a religious intellect. Some have Jesus in their mind, but not in their heart and true discipleship is to surrender to Jesus – heart, mind, body and soul.
Following Jesus won’t make you popular.
Conviction defined: “The state of being convinced, holding strong belief, conscious awareness of one’s guilt and the atoning death of Jesus Christ as the means of remission of that guilt.” (Dictionary of Bible Themes)
– we are Convinced of our sinfulness –
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23
– we are Convinced of Jesus’ atoning death –
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” – Romans 5:8-9
-we are Convinced to follow Christ completely –
“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:9, 13
Can we have sweet assurance of Salvation? The Apostle John said, YES!
” And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” –1 John 4: 14-15,
“ These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:13
- a) Conviction leads a disciple of Christ to say NO to self and YES to Christ.
Look back at vs. 23 – What is Jesus calling us to? He is calling us to have no idols in our life. An idol is anything you love more than God….anything you fear more than you fear God…anything you trust in more than you trust in God.
Disciples of Jesus cannot have divided loyalties. I believe with the rising persecution on those who follow Christ, in the coming days we will see a clear separation from those who have surrendered completely to Christ and those who have not.
- b) Conviction leads a disciple of Christ to take a PUBLIC stand for Christ.
The ancient Romans would force the convicted to carry their cross publicly to a public execution. Friend, Jesus came from heaven to publicly take your sin to His own cross. If we are going to be His disciple, Jesus calls us to be PUBLIC about our faith!
- CONVERSION – vs. 24-25
Conversion means, “TO TURN”
To be converted to following Christ is to give God a blank contract and sign the bottom. You say to God, “I will follow Christ wherever He Leads and God you fill in the blanks.”
You can be sure of one thing. The devil won’t tell you to give your life to Jesus. He will tell you that if give your life to Jesus that you will be giving up everything. The truth is, when you give your life to Jesus, you receive everything!
You receive lasting peace, purpose, meaning, hope, forgiveness, comfort, joy, strength…
Friend, what is the value of your soul? God became a man and died a public death on the cross. He arose from the grave to give you victory because of the value of your soul.
- CONFESSION – vs. 26
I heard of a teenage girl that was sitting in the back of church during a series of revival meetings at local church. Noticing that the young girl was emotionally moved by the end of the sermon, an elderly lady of the church went back to speak to her. The older saint asked the girl; “Would you like to come up front and be saved?” Intimidated about going to prayer with the prayer counselors, the girl asked, “can’t I just pray back here at my seat?” “No.” said the woman. The girl just couldn’t bring herself to go forward. The next night, the very same thing happened and again the girl asked if she could pray at her seat and she was told no. On the third night the woman went back to the teen girl and asked, “are you ready to go forward?” “YES,” said the girl. ” I will go anywhere the LORD calls me to go! I am ready!” The older woman said, ” now, you are ready to pray at your seat.”
You are not saved by walking down an aisle, but if you truly want to be saved and follow Christ, you will be willing to walk down an aisle, across the street, or across the planet. You are willing to do whatever the LORD calls you to do.
The disciples counted the cost to be a true disciple of Jesus and they were unashamed. Shortly after the ascension of Christ into heaven, two of His disciples were arrested for proclaiming the Good News. Listen to the testimony of the Jewish leaders…
“ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13
May that be the testimony of every one who follows Jesus Christ.