Loving God

Matt 28:16-20 (HCSB)
16 The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, 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 everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The above passage takes place after Jesus had been with and taught His disciples for three years, after Jesus had been murdered on a cross, after Jesus had been resurrected from the dead by the power of God, and before Jesus was taken into heaven to be with the Father so he could send the promised Holy Spirit.

Question: What does Jesus seem to want for every single human being?

Answer: From this passage, it appears as though Jesus wants everyone to:

1. become a disciple of Jesus
2. be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
3. be taught to observe everything that Jesus commanded His apostles

Question: Today, what is the more commonly used term to refer to someone who is a disciple of Jesus?

Answer: Today, the more commonly used term to refer to someone who is a disciple of Jesus is a ‘Christian’.

Acts 11:25-26 (HCSB)
25 Then he [Barnabas] went to Tarsus to search for Saul, 26 and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

This passage takes place a little later (after Jesus had already returned to the Father and after Jesus had already sent the promised Holy Spirit). We see that the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch. From what I understand, the people in Antioch were actually making fun of the disciples of Jesus by calling them, ‘Christians’, which means, ‘little christs’. From this passage, we can extract the idea that the word ‘Christian’ was actually just a nickname for those who were disciples of Jesus and that a Christian is the same thing as a disciple of Jesus. Some people think that disciples of Jesus are ‘the really committed Christians’ and that Christians are those who believe in Jesus and who go to church every now and then, etc., but this is not true according to what the Bible records from history. A Christian and a disciple of Jesus are one and the same. Just like I am can be called Chad, Chad Garber, Mr. Garber, dad, etc. All these names refer to me. It’s the same with the word ‘Christian’ and the phrase, ‘disciple of Jesus’. They refer to the exact same thing.

Question: What is a ‘disciple of Jesus’?

John 8:30-32 (HCSB)
30 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1 John 2:5-6 (HCSB)
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: 6 the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.

Answer: A disciple of Jesus is someone who follows Jesus’ teachings and who walks like Jesus walked.

Trick Question: What is a Christian?

Answer: A Christian is someone who follows Jesus’ teachings and who walks like Jesus walked.

So if we approach trying to determine how to be a disciple of Jesus, i.e., a Christian, by looking up the passages where the word, ‘Christian’ appears in the Bible, we won’t learn very much. But, if we approach trying to determine how to be a disciple of Jesus, i.e. a Christian, by looking at what the Bible teaches about being a disciple of Jesus, we will learn a great deal.

Ok, so since we know that:
1. Jesus wants everyone to become a disciple of Jesus, to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to observe everything Jesus commanded His apostles
2. You and I fall under the umbrella of everyone, i.e., Jesus wants you and I to be disciples of Jesus, to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and to observe everything Jesus commanded His apostles to observe
3. A disciple of Jesus is someone who follows Jesus’ teachings and who walks like Jesus walked.

… the next logical step in trying to determine what a disciple of Jesus, i.e., a Christian, is seems to be to look at Jesus’ teachings (including what Jesus commanded His apostles), and to look at how Jesus walked.

Matt 22:34-40 (HCSB)
34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Question: What does Jesus say is the **most important** commandment?

Answer: Above all else, a Christian is someone who loves God with all his/her heart, with all his/her soul, and with all his/her mind.

Having a relationship with God is the whole point of being a Christian (and in fact, is the whole point of living)! I believe that the Bible can be summarized as being a plea from God to every single human to get and stay in a right relationship with Him because He loves us all. As we go through some more of Jesus’ teachings, if we keep this in the forefront of our minds, the Scriptures will make a lot more sense to us than they will if we don’t keep this in the forefront of our minds.

There are many ways we can love God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. The rest of this study, we are going to look at what I believe to be some very important ways we can love God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds.

Mark 16:14-16 (HCSB)
14 Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected. 15 Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

One way we can love God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds is by believing in Him and in the good news of the gospel. Jesus says that whoever believes the gospel will be saved. A summary of the gospel is: Jesus came to earth in the form of a man, He walked among us for 33 years, He shed his sinless blood on the cross for our sins, He was resurrected from the dead by the power of God and now He sits at the right hand of God in heaven.

A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus and the good news of the gospel.

Matt 6:6 (HCSB)
6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Another way we can love God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds is by praying to God. In any relationship, one cannot have a healthy relationship with another person without somehow communicating with that other person. In the same way, we cannot have a healthy relationship with God unless we communicate with Him. Prayer is the way we communicate with God.

A Christian is someone who prays to God.

Matt 4:4 (HCSB)
4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Another way we can love God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds is by reading, memorizing and meditating on His Word. Just like how in any relationship, one cannot have a healthy relationship with another person without somehow communicating with that other person, it is also true that one cannot have a healthy relationship with another person without listening to the other person. In the same way, we cannot have a healthy relationship with God unless we listen to Him. The way we listen to God is by reading, memorizing and meditating on his Word.

A Christian is someone who does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Luke 14:25-33 (HCSB)
25 Now great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them: 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, 30 saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000? 32 If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.

Another way we can love God with all our hearts, all our souls and will all our minds is by putting Jesus before everyone and everything else. In verses 25-27, I believe that Jesus is using hyperbole to make the point that if anyone wants to be a disciple of Jesus, one must love Jesus so much more than anyone else-including one’s own life-that in comparison, one’s love for everyone else looks like hate. Jesus is not saying that one must literally hate these other people or one’s own life, but one’s love for Jesus must be unrivaled. If one doesn’t love Jesus way more than everyone else-including one’s own life-one cannot be a Christian!

A Christian is someone who loves Jesus way more than anyone else-including one’s own life.

In verses 28-30, I believe that what Jesus is saying is that if we truly do want to have a relationship with Him, we must first make sure we have enough love for Him that we are willing to suffer greatly for Him, we are willing to die for Him and we are willing to walk as He walked. If we do not have enough love for Jesus to be willing to suffer greatly for Him, to be willing to die for Him and to be willing to walk as He walked, He says we can’t be a Christian.

(Hold your place and turn over to Mark 8:34-38)

Mark 8:34-38 (HCSB)
34 Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? 37 What can a man give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

A Christian is someone who denies him/herself for Jesus, someone who is willing to die for Jesus and someone who walks as Jesus walked.

Turn back to the Luke 14 passage, in verses 31-33, I believe that Jesus is saying that we must be willing to ‘say goodbye’ to all our possessions for Him or we can’t be His disciple. If there is anything that we are not willing to give up for Jesus, Jesus says that we can’t be His disciple.

A Christian is someone who is willing to give up everything for Jesus.

Decision: Are you ready to make the decision to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind for the rest of your life? If so, start doing the things we looked at today.

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