Follow me only
Who do people follow
The unbelievers in today’s world claim that there are over 40,000 Christian denominations alone. Then they add in the numerous eastern and other none western religions and state all these religions claim to have the truth.
They then ask, who are we supposed to believe and follow? The short answer is none of them. There is no specific bible verse in either the Old Testament or the New stating that provides a command for anyone to follow a specific denomination or religion.
The Old Testament direction
In the OT, even though it is called Judaism, we read in Deut. 4 and other chapters that God instructs Moses to tell his people that they are to follow his statutes, his commands, and his ways if they wanted to enter into the Promised Land.
God did not instruct his followers to follow the extra rules the Pharisees and other religious leaders concocted up over the following generations. God was very specific about who was to be followed and what rules were to be adhered to.
There was no question about it in God’s mind, in Moses’ mind or the people’s mind about what was to be done.
The New Testament instruction
On many occasions Jesus said these words to his future disciples, ‘follow me.’ In the Gospel of Matthew we find 8 references alone where Jesus used the words ‘follow me’. In Matthew 4:19 we read these words
And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
In Matthew 16: 24 we find the following
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Then Matthew 19:21 we hear these words:
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Jesus does not direct anyone to follow someone who is not him
The red letters
There is a group of people out there calling themselves the Red Letter Christians. They call themselves this because they put more weight on those words of Jesus highlighted in red throughout the gospels.
They considered those the actual words that Jesus spoke while the rest of the New testament are not the words of Jesus but of Paul,Peter and others. That group is very misguided.
To follow Jesus correctly we must understand one important fact and it comes in the Book of John:
for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. (John 17:8)
Notice the wording in that passage. The words that Jesus spoke came from God his father. He, in turn, passed those words onto his disciples and followers and finally his followers accepted those words.
What this means is that all the words found in the New Testament have no human origin. They are the words of Christ and the words of his Father, God. Those Red Letter Christians and others who dismiss the words of the New Testament are dismissing Jesus’ and God’s word.
To follow Jesus we follow all of the Bible correctly since the Old Testament are God the father’s words and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one with him.
Bring a different gospel
Paul talks about those that bring a different gospel than the one Jesus and his disciples brought. Those words are one clue we have to telling the difference between which religion we are to listen to and accept their words.
Peter and other New Testament writers spent a lot of time speaking about false teachers and how they will tell people what they want to hear. They also give other instructions to help us identify false teaching and false teachers.
We are not judging anyone when we identify those people and have them removed from the church. Nor is this act a hate crime. It is obedience to God’s word to disallow false teachers into the church and let them lead ,any of the faithful away.
Many today call themselves Christian yet bring a different gospel than the one Jesus and his disciples brought.
Christians do not convert to perfection
This is one of the elements of life that confuses many unbelievers. There seems to be the misconception in the unbelieving world that once a person converts, they become perfect like Jesus.
This is far from the truth. To become holy as God commands in 1 Peter 1:16 tells us to become takes along time. There are many struggles and temptations, bad teaching and so on that the believer must overcome in order to reach that mark.
It is not an easy path to walk especially when family and friends do not travel the road with you. Throughout this time, Christians are going to make mistakes, sin, and make bad decisions. The Bible is filled with examples of this.
Perfection will not come to the believer until they leave this world and join God in heaven and receive their new bodies. But to follow Jesus we must not condemn those who err, become misguided, etc., and drive them from our presence.
We are to forgive, help, guide, instruct, provide justice, give mercy when it is called for and a lot more. We do this until they become strong and mature enough to handle the Christian life correctly. Sometimes longer.
To find eternal life, we follow Jesus
What all of this boils down to is this. While there are church denominations and groups who truly follow Jesus, we follow Jesus over them when they provide the wrong instructions, have us disobey God with their ideas etc.
We compare their words with the words of Jesus and his apostles and see if the match up. There is no blindly following a famous spiritual or religious leader. We go to God for help to accomplish this
I know many times during attending my undergrad classes where I felt in my spirit that the professor was saying something wrong. Even Christian professors say the wrong thing and we must be ready to ignore their words and follow Jesus first.
© 2019 David Thiessen