Jesus said Come, Follow Me!
This book is written from a heartfelt desire to help others by way of the light the Lord has graciously shed in my life through intense study of His Word, leading of the Holy Spirit, much prayer and a genuine desire to absolutely obey Godís will in the course of a daily walk of faith in Christ. I once lived as the religious described in this book until the Lord showed me undeserved mercy by bringing me to the end of myself and revealing the great need that I have for Him. Perhaps my failures and more importantly Godís solutions will be of value to those seeking the truth by the Spirit as they journey down the narrow path that leads to eternal life. The author realizes that even if one holds all truth, without charity, he is nothing (1 Cor 13). Charity is love directed first toward God and then toward Oneís Neighbors. Let us love one another with the love of God.
The author realizes that we are all unique before God and each come to Him from varied backgrounds and situations. The Spirit no doubt deals with each of us in an appropriate and personal manner as He sees the need based upon these circumstances. Although we may each interact with the Lord in distinct ways, there is no doubt that ultimately the Spirit is leading us all to the same place of conforming to the image of Christ in holiness and righteousness. We must be obedient and faithful to yield to God as we have knowledge and the ability to change wrongful areas of our lives. In other words, as the light of Christ shines and reveals inappropriate areas in our lives (darkness) that we have the immediate ability to change, then we must be faithful and obedient with the knowledge He has given us. Many will disagree with the conclusions in this book. Those who truly seek the Lord and want to be faithful must discern whether their contention is based upon the flesh or the Spirit. Fortunately we have Godís Word and the Spirit will also teach those who are willing to learn, and I encourage you to seek Him. The Lord does hear all those who cry out to Him in repentance, genuinely desiring to serve Him. Ezekiel 33:11, "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye dieÖ? The beauty is this, once you are truly converted, you will voluntarily follow the Lord and adhere to His Word based upon the love you have for Him. No one will have to tell you to do anything. There will be no need for rules to follow; His Spirit will lead you and Christís Word will give you understanding. You will be drawn to His wonderful light. Amen
Many of the same truths are often stressed throughout this book in different ways for emphasis. Although this may seem repetitive at times, a purposeful and consistent life-changing message is being conveyed and hopefully will emerge and be understood. Having once been religious, yet hypocritical, the author understands how deception can blind the eyes to gloss over fundamental truths or interpret them in wrongful ways. Reaching out to God is not a difficult thing to do for those who will humble themselves and yield to Him. Man has put many a stumbling block in the path by seeking God his way and for his purposes.
This book is primarily written for the "professed believer" who is not a whole-hearted follower. Those who are lukewarm and in great danger of being spewed (vomited) out of Christís mouth due to their complacency and disregard for their lack of the meaningful ongoing relationship that the Lord desires to have with them (Rev 3:16). Those who think they are rich (self-sufficient) and have need of nothing, but are actually poor (spiritually lacking), miserable (far from God), naked (sinful) and blind (deceived) - Rev 3:17. For those who have conceded to the doctrines of Balaam, meaning that they have mixed their belief in Christ (less than faith) with paganism, idolatry and the things of the world, yet believe that all this is acceptable within the grace of God (Rev 2:14). For those who have chosen to walk in their will over Godís as evidenced through their daily thoughts, manners, deeds and actions. This is a message for those who do not necessarily believe they are in need of one and do not necessarily desire to listen. The hope is that a great light will be shed on the dark deception that encapsulates many, and that hearts will change and repentance be sought for the purpose of an enduring and eternal relationship with Jesus Christ through living faith. Whether you as the reader have strayed from this daily obedience, reliance and trust in God that He desires, you alone will have to determine. I exhort you to: 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" Please ask the Holy Spirit to convict your heart as you read, lift the blindness and reveal the truth of Godís Word to you. 1 Corinthians 11:31, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." So I encourage you: Lamentations 3:40, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD."
The message of this book is not only to present the truth, but to "call-out" the reader to start living (applying daily) the truth of Godís Word. Undoubtedly most will think they are now living as such. I challenge you to submit fully to God (see Chapter One Ė Godís Order) and start to see (as He removes the blindness) just how incorrect this presumption may be. We must "follow" in a tangible way - existing in reality (not imagined or pretended, but rather Ė authentic, genuine and substantive).
For those actively following the Lord in their daily lives, the authorís message is, Acts 14:22, "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." The church body is called to encourage, advise, strengthen, and warn each other (exhort) as well as to instruct one another in faith and holiness (edify). We live in wicked times and persecution and tribulation abounds for those who truly follow Christ. Sometimes one can feel all alone and itís encouraging to know that others are also enduring. The author acknowledges that the concepts detailed in this book set a high standard. However these truths are no more than an application of Godís eternal and unchanging Word to the modern era in which we live. For this reason scripture is referenced and used throughout. The Bible should be oneís only true source of information on matters of faith, and you are highly encouraged to read and meditate on Godís Word daily above all else. Rest assured that what seems impossible to man is possible through Christ by His Spirit, which has been given to us.
The author does not claim to be the purveyor of new and original ideas. Many of the conclusions drawn from the scriptures referenced within this book and human history have been understood for some time. While the author cannot necessarily claim originality or uniqueness of understanding, he can claim to have diligently sought the guidance, teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit on all matters contained herein. The Holy Spirit teaches and this is His work as written through this earthly vessel (Jn 14:26). For the Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10) and reveals them to us such that we have the mind of Christ (2 Cor 2:16). The author claims no wisdom of his own and quickly found that endeavoring under his own strength and devices became a tedious and frustrating process full of uncertainty and disorder leading to unfruitfulness. It was only when the author prayed, yielded and listened to the Holy Spirit that there was joy, peace, wisdom, and organization. At times the author could hardly write the things fast enough that were given of the Spirit. Therefore I say with all humility, To God be the glory! This book is offered for your consideration, but is in no way intended to replace your individual responsibility to study Godís Word and seek His Spirit to see if these things be so (Acts 17:11).
The use of the terms religious, religious institutions and religious organizations denote those people or groups who try to reach or please God through manís way (will) rather than Godís way. Since manís way always seems right to him there is much pride and deception involved (Pv 14:2 & 21:2). God is approached humbly through living faith whereby one is motivated by love and led by the Holy Spirit in accordance with Godís Word. This is an enduring life of obedience and devotion empowered and sustained by the filling of the Holy Spirit. There are many things in this book that will shock the religious mindset. There is no attempt to cover all the myriad of erroneous doctrines and traditions that have manifested in man-centered religion(s). Those beliefs that do not accept Jesus Christ in the flesh, Him crucified and His bodily resurrection need not even be mentioned. The examples used herein are for the intent of conveying to the reader Godís purposes and not to correct all known error. The author does not intend to judge anyone, for only Christ judges righteously as He has the authority and knows the thoughts and intents of oneís heart (Jn 5:22, Heb 4:12). The reader must examine his own heart before God and make necessary corrections.
When writing this book the author acknowledged and petitioned God that this is a hard message and the people will never accept it. The Lord impressed upon me that the message was not mine, and the truth was not mine, but His. The author has endeavored to look at modern society through scriptural eyes and has truly grieved over the sin that abounds Ė much of which many do not even take notice. There have been days when I was truly overwhelmed. The author petitioned the Lord that the things written in this book are very hard to live up to. The Lord impressed upon me that the strength must come from Him and will be given to those who seek it. The author petitioned the Lord that the tone of this book may seem self righteous. The Lord impressed upon me that He would have it written sternly. The author acknowledges that he is least among men and that, 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." If the Lord can change my heart and my way of life, then He can do it for anyone and I pray that readers will truly heed this call. Time is so short and world events are coming to a conclusion. This is absolutely the time to draw near to the Lord in love and cleave to Him. Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Lk 21:28).
The author does not consider himself to be a prophet or anyone special with unique or exclusive revelations from God. The author does not seek to garner followers or start a religious work or receive any personal glory. The author does not have a product to sell or a religious movement to endorse, nor is the author soliciting gifts or donations in any way. The authorís only desire is to be a humble and obedient servant used of the Lord to minister and bring life to others. Any fruit of this work will most likely be known to God alone. This book is to be freely given and you are at liberty to make copies and distribute them as the Lord leads. The content of this book has undergone considerable prayer and personal struggle (fear and trembling) before the Lord and I ask that it not be changed in any way (Php 2:12). Freely ye have received, freely give (Mt 10:8).
This book contains those things the Lord has revealed to the author and is supported by accompanying scripture. Due to the extensive use of scripture, this book should not be construed/viewed as adding to the Word of God or the authorís own version of the gospel. Each of us has an individual responsibility to seek God through His Spirit to understand His Word and then apply this understanding to our lives and live it. Only the Spirit knows the things of God (1 Cor 2:11) and we must receive the Spirit to understand them (1 Cor 2:12). This book should be more appropriately thought of as preaching put to print (1 Cor 1:21). The authorís desire is to point you in the way and provide encouragement.
When discussing human achievement, it is not the authorís intent to give a concise, chronological and detailed rendering of the development of knowledge and technology over the ages, but rather to show how man has used his knowledge to further his rebellion against the truly loving and trustworthy God and creator of us all. Major grievances of manís self-seeking purposes are included as examples, but the real danger is the extent and degree (often very subtle) that manís exaltation of himself is incorporated into daily life. We either exalt ourselves and follow manís ways or humble ourselves and follow Godís way.
This book may seem condemning, but the purpose is not to condemn. It is the sin and rebellion that this book takes issue with and not individuals. This book is for the purpose of teaching, encouraging, edifying, and exhorting. This book will also be a reproof and rebuke for some. Isaiah 29:24, "They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." If we are guilty of violating Godís Word then we must seek repentance if we love the truth (light) and hate the sin (darkness). The author also realizes that those who reprove must also being willing to be reproved. We must forsake all sin and rebellion. Only through Christ can forgiveness, deliverance and sanctification be found. We are all equally guilty before God and when we truly see our sin, none has any justification to throw stones. The purpose is to open eyes and hearts through conviction and turn hearts to God (Ez 33:9). I pray that the Holy Ghost will convict the readerís heart. Mark 1:15, "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Always remember, John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Look to Christ alone and not to man or manís institutions. Truly the Lord can transform the vilest and most corrupted man if he will see his sin and turn to God. Amen.
When addressing the issue of salvation, most want a formula or prescribed method of attaining eternal life Ė a recitation (i.e. sinnerís prayer). They desire to know what steps are necessary or what must be accomplished and what are the allowable limits. The central problem is that most think of salvation with regards to being saved from something, namely hell or eternal damnation. The only thing we must desire to be saved from is SELF, that being our fallen sinful nature. Rather than thinking in terms of being saved from something, it would be more applicable to think of who we must be endeared to, namely Jesus Christ. Salvation is not a formula, ritual, practice, method, mental acknowledgement, repeated statement, outward reformation, religious education or ceremony, but rather the result of a heart and life lived for God. Salvation is the result of a life dedicated to God by abiding in Christ Jesus - the fruit of God working in us (Jn 15:2, 8, Js 5:7)! We must come to understand Christís gospel with our heart (Mt 13:15). The clearest evidence of such is the divine influence of the Holy Spirit in oneís life, which will always be manifested in oneís actions (fruit). This book contains a comprehensive and thorough study of the Word of God (scriptures) regarding eternal life and right standing before God. The answer is clear, but is not the one, two or three-step approach that man desires to follow. This book addresses finding your life in Christ Ė How one is saved, who does the saving and what are the evidences.
The author understands that most people read a book for entertainment or for a benefit. A benefit is thought of in terms of gain and not loss. Herein may lay the paradox Ė the mystery! For to gain spiritually and eternally (reconciliation with God) one will certainly suffer loss in the flesh and temporal (worldly, earthly) Ė Col 3:2-3. Most think in terms of the here and now and are motivated by physical senses (see, hear, touch, taste and smell) and comfort (acceptance, security). Many of the details of this book will be summarily dismissed as extreme or minority views with no further consideration because of the implications of accepting such truth. This book will challenge your understanding and commitment. This is the purpose of the Holy Spirit Ė to take the self-centered and fleshly and transform it into a work fit for the Lordís use. Will you be repelled or will you surrender? There will be much shaking and those with hearts toward God will fall out. Some may think it impossible to live up to the truth contained within this book. The Lord would say: Isaiah 41:10, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Please keep this in mind as you read through this book.
This book establishes necessary foundations at the beginning and builds upon these fundamentals such that one can understand the end. Precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little (Is 28:10-13). You are therefore encouraged to read consecutively from the start. The Lord has stressed in His Word that the gospel is a mystery and those who do not seek Godís will shall not see it or understand it (Rm 16:25-26, 1 Cor 2:7). Many who followed Jesus were in fact seeking selfish benefit and never grasped His message (Jn 6:66). Please be willing to set aside your purposes and seek His as you read through this book and pray that the Lord will give you clarity of vision.
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