“Excerpted from the book, What Does God Want?, by permission of the author, Michael S. Heiser.”
It might surprise you, but Jesus didn’t command his disciples to do that many things. His vision for loving God and others wasn’t complicated. But the things he did command them to do are profound and life-changing when put into practice. We’ll start with the most important point of being a disciple.
Disciples Love God, Their Neighbor, and Each Other
We already know how Jesus summed up a life dedicated to God. The greatest commands were:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 22:36-40)Jesus did these things. He told his disciples, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). How did Jesus show he loved God, his Father? He obeyed God. He fulfilled God’s plan for him. He also told them, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). Jesus asked his disciples to do the same, as his comments on the two greatest commandments make clear.
Jesus went further by using himself as an example. He told his disciples to love each other as he had loved them. When they did that, they’d be obeying him and pleasing God. He said to them:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:13-17)
. . . [J]ust as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)Love for God and love for each other are, according to Jesus, the fundamental, indispensable marks of his disciples. Jesus did not see these two commands as in any way contradictory. They were not in tension. They were two sides of the same coin. They were inseparable.
But how do we love people? The highest expression is giving one’s life: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is what Jesus did for us:
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:7-8)Short of this ultimate expression, I can’t think of a better description than 1 Cor 13:4-7. It pretty much says all that needs to be said. Here are the characteristics of love from that passage:
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love does not envy
- Love does not boast
- Love is not rude
- Love does not insist on its own way
- Love is not irritable
- Love is not resentful
- Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing
- Love rejoices in the truth
- Love bears all things
- Love believes all things
- Love hopes all things
- Love endures all things
You’ll typically see points in this list on cards at Valentine’s Day or romantic swag. That’s fine—we ought to love our spouse or that person we hope might become our spouse. But 1 Cor 13:4-7 isn’t really about romance. This is the way we should treat people in general. Whether they recognize it as love is irrelevant. God will see and know.
Some of those statements need to be read in context of other statements in the list. For example, “love believes all things” must be balanced with “love rejoices in truth.” We cannot isolate “love believes all things” to conclude love believes false or evil teaching. In like manner, “love hopes all things” doesn’t refer to hoping for evil against someone. But in general, the list is easy to understand—and a daily challenge to live out.
One more point before moving on. It’s crucial to realize that basically everything that follows in what discipleship means extends from this first command of Jesus: “As I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Loving each other—loving people—is the central point of orientation for the other things disciples do (pray, fast, give, fellowship, etc.). All these other things are expressions of this fundamental command.
Disciples Take Care of Each Other
This element of discipleship is an outgrowth of loving one another. Taking care of each other means being in and nurturing community.
As more and more people came to embrace the gospel in the days following Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), they became part of a growing community that would be called the “church” (in their case, the one at Jerusalem). In the New Testament this term didn’t refer to a building or an official organization. The New Testament tells us that the church in Jerusalem was notoriously poor. They didn’t have a building to meet in (and there were thousands of new believers; Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14). They didn’t have any official legal status, so believers were persecuted (Acts 3:11-4:31; 5:17-42).
If “the church” wasn’t about a building or an organization that had legal status, what did it mean? How did the followers of Jesus sustain themselves? They formed a tight, self-sacrificing community. Too often in modern churches we use the word community to describe something more similar to a group of people who share an interest—like being fans of a sports team or mutual supporters of a good cause. That falls far short of what New Testament community was. The New Testament church community was a family.
What’s the difference between family and a group of people who bond together because of a mutual interest? Lots of things. Would you expect someone to give you money to pay your rent or groceries just because you liked the same baseball team? Would you expect someone to give you a job or fix your car just because you voted for the same person, or ran in the same 5K race to raise money for a cause? Of course not. But you would expect help from family members (or at least that’s the way family—blood relations—is supposed to work).
That’s what the early church was like. Here’s a glimpse:
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)This passage doesn’t describe communism or socialism. It doesn’t describe any political system. There’s nothing in the passage about a government or the State giving direction or using coercion for the behavior you see. It was entirely voluntary. It describes the behavior of a healthy, normal family. Families meet the needs of their members. This one just happened to consist of thousands of people.
This is a picture of what disciples do. They nurture community. They love one another and support one another like a family would do. That means sharing resources. For some believers that may mean money; for others it may mean time, or a service, or a skill. Basically, community does what needs to be done for those in the community.
You might wonder, with so many people involved, how this community could know each other. Believers would gather together in the temple (which usually caused conflict with the Jewish leaders, but was good for evangelism) and met “from house to house” (Acts 2:46; 5:42). This means that “the church” in Jerusalem, the original Christian community, was actually a network of smaller communities. People in smaller numbers within the community were the first line of support and acknowledgment of new believers.
These communities were the entry points for new believers. The Christian community was for people who had embraced the gospel. Each community participated in the discipleship of its members and, in certain ways, believers in the wider, larger community. What did this look like?
The first thing that usually happened was to baptize new believers (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13; 10:47-48; 16:15). Baptism was a public act (it was observed by witnesses—other community members) to identify with Jesus and his followers. It signified several things, among them that your sins had been forgiven because of what Jesus had done on the cross and that you now had new life (Rom 6:1-4; 2 Cor 5:17). Baptism was the first step to entering into the life of the community. The persons being baptized acknowledged their faith in Jesus, and the witnesses acknowledged their commitment.
When communities of believers met together, they discovered needs. If they could meet the needs of people in their small community, they would do so. This allowed believers who met needs to imitate Jesus. For those who were helped, they learned in “real time” how to live like Jesus. When needs were greater than the small community could meet, the wider family of believers was there to help. It was for this wider coordination of ministry that the apostles, the original disciples of Jesus who were leaders of the fledgling Jerusalem church, appointed helpers (“deacons”) to organize the “daily distribution” (likely, of food) throughout the entire community (Acts 6:1-7).
One of the practices of the earliest churches in this regard was to hold a feast in connection with remembering the “Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor 11:17-34). The “Lord’s Supper” was a memorial celebration of the Last Supper, when Jesus told the disciples that his body and blood would soon be given for them. Jesus told them that giving his life was a fulfillment of the “new covenant” (Luke 22:20). The description of the feast at the Lord’s Supper says the same thing (1 Cor 11:25). The Lord’s Supper was a way to remember what Jesus had done. Jesus had told his disciples to do it “in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24-25). It was also another way to make sure the poor in the believing community were taken care of.
“Fellowship” is a New Testament word that describes the activity of the believing community. Taking care of each other is part of biblical fellowship, because when believers meet together, needs can be discerned and met. That said, we need a short discussion of fellowship to talk about other things disciples do.
Many Christians today equate “fellowship” with having fun together. For sure doing fun things together strengthens relationships. Enjoying the company of people builds bonds. But that really isn’t biblical fellowship in the sense of becoming disciples.
The basic difference between doing fun things together and biblical fellowship is that fellowship isn’t just about spending time together. It’s much more intentional.
The goal of fellowship is ultimately “becoming one mind” around Jesus so that we can “have his mind in us.” In others words, the goal of fellowship is discipleship. A couple verses from Philippians capture the idea:
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Phil 1:27)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. . . . Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:1-2, 5)What does it mean to have the mind of Christ and then to be of one mind as a community of believers? Does it mean everyone believes the same things down to the last detail? No. The Bible speaks of unity, not uniformity. A better way to understand “being of one mind” is that every member of the community is pursuing the same goal: to be like Jesus. The goal is harmony, not unanimity, in pursuing Christ-likeness and living in community together as believers.
Early believing communities engaged in a number of activities to build toward this goal. They prayed, fasted, worshipped, and studied the Scriptures. Since all of those activities are things disciples do individually as well as together, I’ll talk about each one separately as we continue.
In simplest terms, prayer is talking to God. But that needs some thought. Doesn’t God already know what we’re thinking? He does. So why pray? Prayer isn’t for informing God. Prayer is a way we can show God (and others) that we depend on God. It is a way to express that we want God to act, that we aren’t relying on ourselves, or that we cannot find a solution ourselves. Prayer fosters our own sense of dependence on, and security in, God alone. In that sense, prayer is worship. The same is true for prayer in groups.
In Luke 11:1 the disciples, referring to John the Baptist and his followers, asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Jesus’ response is the now famous “Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11:2-4; cp. Matt 6:9-15). It is important to note that Jesus didn’t tell the disciples what words to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Rather, he told them to pray “like this” (Matt 9:9). He was giving them a model. We don’t need to use formulas or special words to talk to God. Just talk to God. Also, prayer should never be done for show (Luke 18:9-14).
There’s nothing in the Lord’s Prayer that God isn’t already aware of. Again, prayer isn’t about filling in gaps in God’s knowledge. Rather, the Lord’s Prayer is laced with things like worship and honor of God (“hallowed be your name”), obedience to God’s will (“your will be done”), forgiveness (“forgive us our debts as we forgive others”), and requests to be delivered from temptation and evil (“lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil”). Prayer is something that is designed to align our hearts with God’s lordship of our lives and build an attitude of dependence on him.
The Bible is filled with prayers, both individual and corporate. If you read them you learn that prayer is also a means by which we can pour out our feelings to God—anger, grief, love, etc. God isn’t learning anything when we do that. We learn to submit to him, believing he is good and knows best, and asking God for help. Jesus said God would indeed answer in the wider context of his wise will. In other words, God’s answers may not always be what we want, but God knows everything else that’s going on in the course of all human experience and behavior, and is working his greater plan. God may also answer in an unexpected way.
The prayers of the Bible are also not self-focused. Most of their content is aimed at blessing others or asking God’s mercy upon others. Paul’s letters habitually include prayers for those to whom he’s writing. Prayer is not always, or even mostly, about expressing our own needs and wants.
Jesus prayed frequently. He followed his own teaching that prayer should be persistent (Col 4:2-6, Luke 18:1-8). Jesus didn’t get every prayer answered—which was acceptable to him, since he was more concerned that God’s will would be done (Matt 26:36-46). This is an important reminder about prayer. Jesus taught that God would answer when we pray (Luke 11:9-13), but we cannot assume that God would answer the way we want if we are disobedient to him or not in concert with his own will (James 4:3; 1 John 3:22; 5:14).
Fasting may be unfamiliar to many readers. Generally, to “fast” from something means to abstain from that thing. To “fast” from food means to go without eating. This is the kind of fasting we see most often in the Bible, though not always. Jesus fasted (Matt 4:2). He presumed the disciples would follow his example and warned them to not be hypocrites when they did so (Matt 6:16-18). Fasting isn’t about drawing attention to yourself. It’s between you and God.
Fasting isn’t merely about abstaining from food. You can fast from all sorts of things in whatever manner you want. Jesus wasn’t recommending a strategy for losing weight. He has something else in mind when he fasted and when talking about fasting. While the Bible contains many instances of fasting, there are no specific rules. Paul noted that married couples might fast from sex (1 Cor 7:1-5) to devote special attention to a matter of prayer.
But why do it? Paul’s words in 1 Cor 7:5 about couples agreeing to abstain from sex for a time give us an indication: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” Fasting is a spiritual practice designed to help us focus on prayer. How does it do that? Perhaps an example helps. If you decide to fast from food for a day, whenever you’re hungry you are reminded to pray. Your fasting is a reminder and directs your attention to the reason you decided to fast.
Another way to think about fasting is to ask what distracts us from prayer or, more generally, our walk with God. The answer might be our phones, television, or some hobby. These are all things we can set aside for a time (“fast” from) to bring our minds back to God and prayer.
Early church communities fasted so as to collectively focus on prayer (Acts 13:1-3; 14:23). In the Old Testament, community fasting was also a way to show collective sorrow for sin and repentance (Jer 36:6; Joel 2:12).
You might think worship is easy to define or understand. Well, it is and it isn’t. We too often equate worship with what happens in a church service, mainly the music. That isn’t worship, at least in terms of how the Bible defines it, though music and song were part of Christian gatherings (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). Another propensity in our culture is to think of worship as an inner-directed mystical feeling or experience. That isn’t worship either. There are a number of passages we could think about, but let’s look at two:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:1-2)
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)We’ve already talked about the first one in our discussion of living a holy life. How do you worship God? Live like Jesus. Don’t be conformed to the world—its values and self-gratifying pursuits. That is worship. True worship is thus a matter of the heart.
The second passage is interesting for a specific reason. Jesus told the woman that God is seeking people to worship him. Worship is therefore not something that originates with us. We are invited to respond to God’s goodness and love. How and where we do that can vary. We can do this individually, with or without music, within or outside of a church service. We can also do that corporately, in fellowship with other believers.
When believers meet together in fellowship they “stir one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24-25). In other words, they prod each other to spiritual worship—imitating Jesus. They praise God for his goodness, love, and providential presence in their lives (Acts 2:46-47; James 5:13). Praise included singing songs and making music (Matt 26:30; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), but is unmistakably linked to holy living “. . . approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:10-11).
We cannot lose sight of the fact that our “spiritual worship” of God is intrinsically tied to the way we live (Rom 12:1-2). It’s not about a thirty-minute experience at home or in a church. It’s about a life oriented by, and directed to, God.
Disciples Confess Sin and Accept God’s Forgiveness
One of the things a disciple has to come to grips with as soon as their journey of following Jesus begins is that they will fail. None of us is sinless like Jesus (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:21-22; 1 John 3:5), nor can we hope to be. The Bible is clear on this point. The disciples sinned (Mark 14:30, 68, 72). One of them, John, wrote later in life:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10)It’s wonderful to know, though, that our membership in God’s family is not due to our performance. Our good works cannot put God in our debt. He never owes us everlasting life on account of any merit we might think we have. Our performance (or lack thereof) did not move him away from us. God loved us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom 5:8). Consequently, we must remember that since salvation could never be gained by moral perfection, it cannot be lost by moral imperfection.
In light of our imperfection, the true disciple of Jesus must stay focused on the kindness and love of God. Look again at the passage from John’s letter. It tells us exactly what to do when we fail God, either by doing something that isn’t consistent with imitating Jesus, or leaving something undone that is consistent with being like him: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When we sin and fail, we must acknowledge it. That’s what confession means. We must not hide, excuse, or rationalize our sin. God wants us to admit it. Why? We need to be humbled. We need to remember that salvation is about what someone else—Jesus—did for us, not what we earn. Confession acknowledges that we are children of God because of Jesus. We can be sure that our sin will not separate us from God; we will not be kicked out of the family (Rom 8:31-39). God knew before we embraced the gospel that we were flawed. It’s not something that surprises him. It doesn’t change how he feels about us.
An obvious question then is why we should care about sinning. The New Testament disciples came across that attitude in people. The apostle Paul brought it up in his letter to the Christians in Rome:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? . . . Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom 6:1-2, 12-16)Notice that the Bible doesn’t say “God forbid, don’t sin or God won’t love you anymore!” Rather, the concern is returning to the bondage of self-destruction. So, on one hand, we will sin, but on the other hand, we should avoid sinning. This struggle is something the apostle Paul knew well (Rom 7:7-25), yet he was a remarkable follower of Jesus. The New Testament alerts us many times that there is a war going on inside us. Our hearts want to follow Jesus, but our unperfected selves want self-gratification and pre-eminence in how we live (1 Pet 2:11; James 4:1).
As we seek to follow Jesus, it’s a good idea to, so the saying goes, to “keep short accounts with God.” The idea is that when we fail, we should be quick to confess it and thank God for his forgiveness. We should remember what our sin cost Jesus. We should keep following him in loyal love, being grateful that he went to the cross “while we were yet sinners” (Rom 5:8) so we could be his brothers and sisters.
Disciples Study the Bible
In the early church, believers would listen to the apostles’ teaching and study Scripture. Paul and other missionary-apostles did the same thing when they started churches elsewhere (Acts 2:42; 4:2; 5:42; 17:10-11; 18:11; 20:20). This was the more common method of learning the Bible in the New Testament era because most people did not have their own copy of the Bible. Many believers could also not read. Even though we are part of a literate culture and have access to the Bible, we can benefit from learning in community.
Learning the Word of God is necessary for following Jesus. How else can we learn about sin (behaviors and attitudes to avoid) and Spirit-filled living (the way we should behave)? Scripture teaches us to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). When we become part of God’s family through faith in the gospel, the Spirit indwells us (1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:22) and helps us live fruitful lives:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:18-24)Disciples learn and live out the Word of God in their lives. This is how Jesus showed he loved God—he obeyed God’s will. Community is a significant help in doing that. In a community we come into contact with mature believers who have followed Jesus many years. We can learn how their lives changed as they learned to “put off the old and put on the new.” We can go to them for encouragement when we struggle in our pursuit of being like Jesus. They can remind us of God’s love and forgiveness. They understand, since every Christian struggles to turn from sin and do what’s right (I John 1:5-10). Even the apostles struggled against sin and doing what was right (Rom 7:7-25; Gal 2:11-14). Community means accountability, empathy, and encouragement as we seek to be more conformed to the example of Jesus.
This element might surprise you, but it’s clear in the New Testament. Jesus told his disciples:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (John 15:18-20)This is where believing loyalty is really tested. It’s one thing to learn that we need to have a change of heart on how we live. It’s quite another to be following Jesus and suffer for it. The apostles suffered for following Jesus (Acts 5:41; 9:16; 21:13; 2 Cor 11:22-29). Holding on to faith is a theme throughout the New Testament (Rom 8:17-18; 2 Cor 1:3-7; Phil 1:27-30; 1 Peter 3:13-17). Peter, one of the original twelve disciples, had seen Jesus suffer and been imprisoned for his faith (Acts 12:1-19). He wrote to believers who had been displaced and scattered by persecution:
For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Pet 2:20-23)Enduring suffering requires us to remember that the gospel does not promise ease in this life, but an everlasting place in God’s family in the life to come. This world is not our real home.
Disciples Make More Disciples
While loving God, our neighbor, and each other is the most important aspect of being a disciple, the most important thing disciples do is make other disciples. This was the task Jesus commanded his followers just before he ascended to heaven. For that reason it’s called the Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)“Make disciples of all nations.” That was a big part of the story of the Bible. The authority of the supernatural powers that have enslaved the nations has been taken away. God wants his children, his partners—disciples of his Son, Jesus—to share the good news of the gospel everywhere. God wants as many people in his family as possible. Our task is to tell the good news, live it out in front of them, and bring them into the family of God—and teach them to do the same.
How do we do that? We share our faith—how we came to believe the gospel. It’s amazingly simple.
First, tell people about your life before you believed the gospel and embraced the forgiveness of God through Jesus. People enjoy stories, especially about other people. Why? There’s always something in a person’s story that connects to our own story. When you tell someone about your life before understanding the gospel some detail of your life will be familiar to the person you’re talking to—and maybe a lot that’s in your story will connect with them.
Second, tell them why hearing and believing the gospel was a turning point for you. Usually this has something to do with forgiveness for our sins. It’s wonderful to know that despite the things we’ve done to ourselves and other people, God still loves as and wants us so much that he offers us salvation. Then share the story of how God sent Jesus so that we could be forgiven and have everlasting life with him—the thing God has wanted from the beginning.
Third, tell people about the impact that believing the gospel and being forgiven has had in your life. Tell them what it’s like to know God’s forgiveness, love, and promise of everlasting life. Tell them how it’s changed your perspective on who you are and why you’re here. Tell them how embracing the gospel has changed you.
Some people may want to see proof of a changed heart. That’s normal—and an opportunity to imitate Jesus. This is one of the important reasons to live a holy life. Jesus loved and served people. People want to be loved and look for authenticity in other people. Responding to people the way Jesus would is powerful. They will notice. They know when someone loves them or not. They know when you put them ahead of yourself for the sake of the message of the gospel. Not everyone believed Jesus. Not everyone will believe in the gospel when you share it with them and treat them like Jesus would. But many will.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
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