Frequently Asked Questions
about Following Christ
by Charles Dailey
- 1. Why do I (Charles) follow Christ?
- Among many reason, because he loved me enough to die for me. I know that he died for millions of others, too, but that does not subtract from his love for me. Another reason that carried more weight when I knew less about Jesus was that I did not want to pay for my own sins. There are two times in life when we should be afraid. One is when we jump out of an airplane without a parachute and the other is the thought of facing God for breaking some of His laws.
- 2. What rules do I use in following Christ?
- I run (or try to run) all decisions of life through this test: Which option before me is the most pleasing to God? Jesus used that rule as did the inspired men (apostles and prophets) that followed Jesus in the early years of the church. It is unfortunate that not all English translation use "pleasing" and so the rule is obscured for some, but it is there.
Jesus said in John 5:30 "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." (NIV)
The inspired Paul wrote to the Romans in 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship."(NIV)
We conclude that the essence of following Christ is to please God. The change from pleasing ourselves to pleasing God is called repentance. Focusing on pleasing God means that we will spend little time building a catalog of sins, especially those items too new to be included in Scripture (like smoking cigarettes). Our goal is to see how pleasing we can be rather than how much we can get by with.
- 3. Isn't the sum of following Christ simply loving Him?
- I have a problem with summarizing the Faith that way. There are millions of people that love God but in an uninformed way. That's a leading reason the followers of Christ are so divided. Love for God is required of Jesus' followers, but so is learning His will. In that way, we please God to the best of our ever-growing knowledge. His marvelous grace adjusts for our ignorance.
- 4. What do I see as the central historical fact of Christianity?
- Following Christ centers in the truth of his resurrection from the grave. The evidence for this resurrection is simply overwhelming in the New Testament. This resurrection was a focal point in every sermon in Acts.
- 5. How does our personal salvation and relationship with Christ connect with His resurrection?
- We begin with faith. Our faith or trust in Christ and his way of life grows as we learn about Him. It brings us to the point where we are willing to live His way instead of ours. This is called repentance. Then we identify with Jesus' resurrection by being immersed in water and coming out a new person. Faith captures our allegiance, repentance changes elements of our lifestyle, and immersion changes our legal standing with God.
- 6. Some have substituted sprinkling or pouring for immersion. What about them?
- God has not asked us to have water poured on us or to be sprinkled for any cause. When we begin substituting our preferences or traditions for God's commandments, where do we stop? The symbolism of immersion identifies us with Christ's death and resurrecion.
See related article on baptism as immersion.
- 7. What about the millions that have received Jesus as their personal Savior but have not been immersed?
Paul spoke to the Colossians of receiving Christ (Ephesians 2:6) and connected it with being baptized into Christ. (Ephesians 2:12) Those who speak of "receiving Christ" today nearly always claim that baptism is not required for salvation.
See related article on baptism as required for salvation.
- 8. What if a person had received Christ but had not been immersed at that time?
- If I were among those that have "received" Christ only, I would lose no time in following the instructions given to another believer, Saul of Tarsus. He was told, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." Acts 22:16 (NIV) There may be some searching required to locate a person willing to immerse for this reason.
- 9. Aren't the promises of Christ to every believer?
- The promises of God are beyond comprehending. It like telling a beggar from the streets that he can have one of everythg in Costco. These wonderful proŠomises are to those IN Christ - in a permanent contractural union with Him.
How do we get INTO Christ? How do we enter that relationship? One component is baptism. "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Galatians 3:27 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" Romans 6:3
After we have entered the relationship with Christ, then we can claim the promises.
- 10. What do I need to believe about the creation of the earth if I become a Christian?
- While I'm convinced the planet was made habitable in seven days, a certain view of creation was not a part of the "faith in Christ" package preached by the inspired leaders of the early church. The Greeks already knew about the theory of evolution and some of the other pagans believed the earth was riding on the back of an elephant and other mythology. The inspired men focused on the resurrection of Christ for salvation. No doubt there were interesting discussions about where the earth came from among newly converted pagans.
- 11. Do I need to believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus if I accept him as my Lord?
- Matthew, the inspired witness and Luke, the inspired historian both believed and taught that Jesus was virgin born. See Matthew 1:18-25. Additionally Luke was a medical doctor and had a professional reputation to uphold and he recorded that Jesus was born of a virgin mother. (Luke 1:26-35) It is meaningful that the Holy Spirit allowed both men to enter the fact in the sacred record. The Apostle Paul also alludes to the Virgin Birth.
It should be pointed out however, that the means of Jesus' birth was not an issue that he raised during his ministry and the inspired men did not raise it as an item required to begin the life of Faith. The Book of Acts that describes the sermons of two or three of the inspired men does not make reference to His Virgin Birth. That issue was solved as the new believers came to have more trust in the sacred writings.
- 12. What church should a believer join?
- All Christians (except church planters) in the New Testament story were part of a church in their town that taught salvation by faith, repentance from sin and immersion in Jesus' name. In some towns, such a group must be searched out. In others, a group must be started.
A part of our times is individualism. In the New Testament, such individualism gave way to being a part of the body of believers in each town. The entire book of Ephesians stresses the primacy of the body of believers - the church. God did not intend for His people to do their own thing, to run their own ministries while being disconnected from a congregation.
- 13. I went to church a few times and found it boring. What can I do?
- You can follow the example of Jesus. Luke 4:16 "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom." (NIV) It is doubtful that Jesus, the Word in the flesh, found the tedium of a rabbi's halting presentation exciting. He had a life-long habit of being there because it was pleasing to God. We can do no less.
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