HOW TO FOLLOW CHRIST
Life's Greatest Decision
Two great moments in our lives are when we are born and when we discover why we were born. We were created for a reason -- a divine purpose. Our lives are not accidents of fate. God has a personal plan for each of us. His purpose in our lives can only be accomplished because of Jesus Christ.
The life of Jesus Christ is the turning point of all history. Our calendar is hinged on His birth. Who was this man from the small town of Nazareth in the Middle East? Hundreds of years before He came, prophets announced His coming. Many great men have appeared in this world, yet none were divine and announced beforehand, except this one man -- Jesus.
Almost 2,000 years ago, four writers recorded the life and teachings of Jesus. The first four books in the New Testament bear their names: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Mark's record is the earliest of the four accounts. He was only a boy during Jesus' ministry on earth, but he later traveled with the apostle Peter. Mark wrote what Peter preached about Jesus to all who would listen.
Matthew, like Peter, was one of Jesus' twelve disciples. He offers a first-hand account of what Jesus said and did over the three-year period. Luke was a physician who became a follower after Jesus' ministry on earth. He spent time with many who were close to Jesus during His earthly ministry. Jesus' mother, Mary, gave Luke a mother's insight into Jesus' birth and early life.
The apostle John was the disciple who stood alone at the foot of the Cross. When Jesus died, He demonstrated His great trust in John by committing the care of His mother, Mary, to John. At the time he wrote the last of the four histories, John was the only remaining disciple still living.
Were Jesus' followers telling the truth about Him? The proofs that Christ came back to life from death were so convincing the early Christians gave their lives rather than deny that Jesus was the Son of God.
The apostle Peter was a fisherman who traveled with Jesus for more than three years, listening to His teaching and observing His life. Peter was one of Jesus' first followers and became one of His closest friends. In a letter Peter wrote to churches late in his life, he said, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16 NIV).
The Book of Acts in the New Testament, records a simple and clear presentation Peter gave about Jesus Christ to a Roman named Cornelius:
"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached - how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen - by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:34-43 NIV).
Peter said that God wants to forgive us and bring peace into our lives. Jesus Christ opens the way to peace -- peace with God and peace with others. Other people have sinned against us, and we have sinned against other people. We can do something about both - - by asking God to forgive our sins and forgiving others for their sins against us.
The life of Christ calls for a decision. Was He just a great teacher and spiritual leader? Or was He who He claimed to be: the Son of God who has the power to forgive sin and grant everlasting life to all who will believe on Him? Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6 NIV).
Life has only two roads, and we are on one of them. One leads to death and eternal punishment -- the other to everlasting life.
Jesus Christ taught that every person will exist for eternity. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 NIV). He also taught that being saved from sin's penalty is simple: "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9,10 NIV).
We all know in our hearts that we have sinned. Even if we have never read a Bible or do not understand what it means to sin against God, we can know we are sinners, because God created each of us with a conscience. We know what we don't want others to do to us. We don't want them to steal our possessions, lie about us, or be unkind to us. When we do to someone what we don't want done to us, our conscience lets us know we have done wrong.
The penalty for sin is death. That is why all people die. But 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, became a man. For 33 years He lived without sin. Then He was killed. He paid the penalty for sin without committing the crime. So death had no power over Him. After three days, He came back to life again.
He is alive! And now He offers forgiveness of sin and the gift of everlasting life to everyone who will ask Him.
You can receive Christ as your Savior right now, this moment! You don't have to be in a church or special place, or have the help of a minister or priest.
You can pray now, wherever you are. God is listening. Tell Him in your own words that you are sorry for your sins and that you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask God to help you change your heart and life. It's your prayer He wants to hear. You can pray the following prayer, but it is not enough just to say the words. You must mean it from your heart:
"God, I know I have sinned. I believe Your Son, Jesus Christ, died to take the punishment for my sin. I believe Jesus came back to life from death and has the power to forgive my sin and change my life. Forgive me. Come into my life and change me. I want to live for You and follow Your plan for my life. I believe You have forgiven me, and I thank You for hearing my prayer, in Jesus' name"
God has forgiven you if you prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart. God knew before you were born that you would receive His Son as your Savior. Now you can begin the life He has planned for you! Step by step God will lead you to what He has chosen for you. He will show you the way to live and will teach you each day as you grow spiritually and become the person He planned for you to be.
Now that you've begun your journey with Jesus, please visit Guidance for Life to learn step by step how to begin your wonderful new life following Christ.