Everything this time of year is a first. A number of times this past
week I heard some variant of the sentence, â€œThis is the first
_________ this year!â€ The New Year is almost intoxicating with all
that it offers. A chance to start over. Some of you might have made new
years commitements. Youâ€™re going to eat better, exercise, read your
Bible, pray more often, be on time, Be more loving, take better care of
your finances take better care of yourself, or any of a million other
plans have been set before you.
New years resolutions are notoriously short lived but the practice does
highlight for us something that lasts: New Life lived In Jesus Christ!
Today we celebrate the New Yearâ€™s first Communion! Communion is a
celebration of the death of Jesus Christ â€“ a retelling in bread and
wine of the substitutionary atonement. Jesus took my place and yours
when he died on that cross. We deserved the death penalty and he
deserved life. We exchanged places, and we received forgiveness of our
sins. We have crossed over from death to life and received in our
hearts the indwelling Spirit of God.
So having encountered the living Jesus â€“ and having had ourselves
cleansed from sin. I wanted to take a look this morning at what Christ
calls you and me to do in a simple message Iâ€™ve titled â€œLiving The
Redeemed Life.â€ Holiness and worship are our two most obvious
responses to Salvation. Yet scattered through the gospels are a number
of occasions when Jesus specifically spoke to someone directing them in
their next step, and it all started with them following Him.
Probably the most familiar instances of
Christ speaking to someone about following him would be his call of the
disciples. Such passages as Mark 1:17 come immediately to mind.
Mark 1:17 â€œAnd Jesus said to them, â€œFollow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.â€
John 1:43 is another such passage, â€œHe found Philip. And Jesus said to him, â€œFollow Me.â€â€
But it wasnâ€™t just the twelve that Jesus issued this order. When a
man asked him about Salvations cost Jesus told him the same thing:
Matthew 19:21 â€œJesus said to him, â€œIf 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.â€
It may not sound profound but it is the hallmark of our relationship
with Jesus to simply follow him. Salvation exists in more than a one
time prayer to receive Jesus. Salvation exists in more than praying or
reading the Bible only when you need guidance for the moment. But
salvation exists in our relationship with God. When we humble ourselves
and slaughter our self sufficiency at his altar and surrender to his
commands. We know we belong to Christ when we obey his commands. Jesus
himself said as much.
God expects us to follow him with our lives. But what does that mean?
For one thing it demands radical obedience.
Jesus calls us away from apathy away from complacency and away from mediocrity. In Matthew 16:24 He says to his disciples, â€œIf anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.â€
He certainly wasnâ€™t asking us to join him on a picnic. This is
unparalleled comittement. This is life commitment. â€œIf youâ€™re going
to follow me than you must follow me knowing that it will cost you your
life.â€ And Jesus was talking about far more than merely dying a
martyrâ€™s death. Jesus was talking about absolute surrender.
Absolutely placing Him first. Absolutely putting yourself – your likes,
your fears, your dislikes your money, your family, your job – your
carâ€™s boats and houses – everything is Christâ€™s and nothing is
yours. Anything less than this absolute surrender is wholly inadequate
Just like Jesus told the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21, â€œIf 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.â€
So let me ask you, what are you holding back from Jesus? Does he
*really* have it all?
Following Christ means radical – no holds barred commitment, and also
requires obedience to his word.
Obey His word
John 8:31-32 Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, â€œIf
you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you
will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.â€
Continuing in the word of Christ doesnâ€™t mean you read your Bible,
but that your Bible makes a difference in your life. Lots of people
read the Bible – but that doesnâ€™t make them Christians. Responding to
what Christ says with obedience is what it means to continue in his
As you continually entrench yourself into Godâ€™s word, Godâ€™s word
will guide you, direct you and change you. Get into His word daily, no
Living the redeemed life means Following Christ which takes Commitment
and Obedience to His word. It also means resting.
Rest In Your Forgiveness
Thereâ€™s a story in the gospel of
Matthew that almost always shows up for Sunday school. You remember the
scene. Jesus is preaching to a packed house and four friends come
carrying their paralyzed friend to see Jesus, only, they canâ€™t get
in. With brash audacity they carry him up to the roof and cut a hole in
the ceiling and lower that man right in front of Jesus. Assessing the
situation, Jesus recognizes that what has just happened is one of the
strongest displays of unbridled faith heâ€™s seen. So he turns to the
man in front of him and simply says, â€œTake courage, son; your sins
are forgiven.â€ (Matthew 9:2)
Take courage means just that. â€œBe firm, be resolute! Donâ€™t let
hardship or troubles break your faith! Donâ€™t let danger or adverse
circumstance soften the sharp edge of your faith be enheartened, be
One of Satanâ€™s greatest tricks is to try and steer you off course by
trying to get you to doubt that Godâ€™s word is true and that your
forgiven soul is in Godâ€™s protective hands. But he keeps using the
same old trick because we keep on believing his lies. He tells the
saved their not saved and the forgiven that theyâ€™re guilty. But
Godâ€™s word says something else.
God knows those that are his, he isnâ€™t mistaken, and He wonâ€™t be
fooled by Satanâ€™s lies even when we are. Just trust him. If anyone
will confess Christ Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God
raised him from the dead he will be saved. Thatâ€™s a pretty all
encompassing promise. Just trust him.
Rest in your salvation.
Living the redeemed life means Following Christ with Radical Commitment
and Obedience. It means Resting in your forgiveness and it means
cutting sin out of your life.
Go and Sin No More
Jesus didnâ€™t save you so you could
continue to sin. His grace doesnâ€™t mean license it means you have a
new lease on life.
In John chapter 8 we have the woman caught in adultery and brought to
Jesus. When Jesus confronts them with their own sin, the men all
retreat leaving the woman alone in the middle of the street.
John 8:10-11 â€œStraightening up, Jesus said to her,
â€œWoman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?â€ She said, â€œNo
one, Lord.â€ And Jesus said, â€œI do not condemn you, either. Go. From
now on sin no more.â€
Itâ€™s a simple command with obvious ramifications. Being redeemed
means living like it. I can remember a security officer once bragging
to me about how many Christians he had arrested for shoplifting. Sadly
the line between whoâ€™s a Christian and who is not is all too often
blurred beyond recognition.
Living the Redeemed life means Following Christ with Radical Commitment
and steadfast obedience to his word. It means resting in your
forgiveness and cutting sin out of your life. All of this leads to an
obvious conclusion. If God has done this great work of redemption in
your life, what else should you do but tell people about it?
Tell What Jesus Has Done For You.
Most of the time it seems
Jesus told people inside of Israel not to tell about his healing – we
can assume this is because he wanted to make sure they would crucify
him. But sometimes as in the case of the Gadarene demoniac Jesus told
them to go testify to his work.
Mark 5:19 â€œHe said to him, â€œGo home to your people and
report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He
had mercy on you.â€
Likewise in Matthew 28 we have the great commission
Matthew 28:18-20 â€œJesus came up and spoke to them, saying,
â€œAll authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. â€œGo
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age.â€
Being a Christian means more than going to church, reading your Bible
or praying. It means having a relationship with God – a relationship
that comes from God reconciling you to himself in the death of his Son
Jesus Christ. It means being redeemed.
Living the redeemed life means Following Christ with Radical Commitment
and complete obedience to His word, it means resting in your
forgiveness as a complete gift of God and turning away from sin.
Finally it means sharing the work of Jesus with the people around you
so that others also might join you in Living for Him.