By Pastor Israel

Text:John 6:26-27, 32-35

The theme chosen for our messages for the next few weeks is: ‘Leaving all to follow Jesus.’ We read in the gospels about the early disciples of Jesus like Peter, James, John, Levi and others who left everything to follow Jesus.

They followed Him because they realised He was not just ordinary Rabbi like those around them but a Rabbi and teacher with heavenly authority and power. They came to know later that He was the Christ – the promised Messiah who would save His people.

Of course, this is valid reason for following Him though many followed Him during His earthly ministry for variety of reasons including the desire to see His miracles, to receive healing, listen to His teachings or spy on Him, or to be fed with food and others.

These reasons may seem normal at a time when people were not well informed of the actual reason He came to the world. But His reason for coming was greater and spiritually beneficial to humanity than what many people thought about Him. Jesus came to set man free from the bondage of Satan, sin and death and give us life so that we may live eternally with Him. But what is your own reason for following Him? What follower of Jesus are you? This is the focus of our discussion in this message.

Jesus told the people who were seeking Him the second day He fed over five thousand of His followers with bread and fish: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labour for food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (Jn. 6:26-27 NKJV).

But a long time has passed, over two thousand years, since Christ walked on this planet. His reason for coming to our world, though misunderstood before despite that it was contained in the Old Testament Scriptures, is now well understood from the New Testament records of His teachings and the revelation of the Holy Spirit to His faithful servants. There is no doubt that we now know Christ’s identity – His ministry at His First Coming and the reason for His expected Second Coming.

Like when He first came, even today multitudes of people seek and follow Jesus for ordinary things of life rather than for their salvation and the hope of eternal life through faith in Him. Churches are filled with miracle and prophecy seekers. They follow Him, not because they love and appreciate what He did for them by conquering Satan, sin and death, and bringing salvation to us through His atonement death for us on the cross, but because of their physical needs like healing, provision of job, social connection, financial successes, marriage partner, fruit of the womb and a host of others.

These are legitimate things but they do not guarantee our salvation. In some cases they can eventually derail our faith and separate us from Christ. Moreover, people do not realise that it is futile to run after only material and physical things of life which are temporary, and ignore the spiritual that are permanent and last for ever.

Apostle Paul wrote: “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18 NKJV).

What is the need of having all the good things of life and lose the more important thing which is our salvation? One may experience healing miracles and still perish if he has not made his peace with God through saving faith in Christ. Jesus told His followers: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37 NKJV).

Many will end up in eternal hell for following Jesus for reasons other than the salvation of their souls. Paul also wrote: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19 NKJV). This statement has said it all. For those who are only seeking and following Jesus for the things of this world, this statement is for you. Note that Jesus came so that those who believe in Him may not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16).

Today prosperity messages have become hot-cakes for many carnal Christians. They have flamboyant preachers who dish out this stuff for them. Churches that preach this deception are the darling of many church-goers. They are always packed full and the worshippers listen to them with rapt attention as they listen to prosperity prayers and prophecies. Salvation and repentance from sin are rarely mentioned in such churches.

Members are made to believe that prosperity is the sign that you are right with God. This is a lie from the pit of hell. If it is the sign of right standing with God, what about non-Christians who are rich in material things (according to the narrow definition of the word ‘prosperity’), does it mean that they are saved and on their way to the kingdom of Christ in heaven? I believe not, because Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6).

We may ask ourselves why many early apostles of Christ suffered hunger and thirst when they could pray down prosperity from heaven? Or could it be that they did not know or read about the promises of prosperity in the Scriptures? The prosperity of the Old Testament patriarchs, which is often quoted to buttress this preaching, was just symbolic of the spiritual prosperity that awaits all true followers of Christ.

The Old Testament contains the shadow of the true riches that God promised to His true servants who have faith in Christ Jesus. Christians should get this point clear and not allow themselves to be given cold comfort of going to God’s kingdom while steeped in worldliness.
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul? My main objective in this message, as in all my messages, is to teach the truth of the word of God so that people may know the truth and be set free. And also that I may not be condemned when I stand in God’s presence to give account of my stewardship.

While I intend to stop this message at this point, I want to ask, what type of follower of Jesus you are. Are you following Jesus only for mundane things? Are you ready to leave the things of this world behind and follow Him? Remember that no servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other (Lk. 16:13).

One cannot love the world and at the same time love Jesus and be ready to do only His will. Jesus Himself exhorted that we should first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all that we need, will be made available to us. King David wrote: “Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him” (Ps. 34:9 NKJV). To fear Him is to keep His commands. He will always meet the needs of those who come to Him through faith in Christ.

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