1.1 WHO IS A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matt 28:19-20 NKJV).
Christians should be followers of Christ. But we know that is not the case. It is not the “claiming to be a Christian” that makes one a follower of Christ. A true follower of Christ should not only proclaim the gospel of Christ to the world (Her environment) but must live a life that challenges that world.
Only a separated life, which reflects Kingdom principles, can speak and turn a generation upside down just like the separated life of first century followers of Christ “turned their world upside down” (Acts 17:6b).
1.2 THE EXAMPLE OF 1ST CENTURY FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST
First century followers of Christ upended the established order (empires, cultures, practices and religions) with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
They did not overturn their world through alliances with political, religious and commercial establishments of their day. Rather, they relied on the Holy Spirit. What they believed impacted their way of life: right doctrines lead to right Kingdom practices and wrong doctrines oppose Kingdom practices.
Christians in latter centuries who followed in the steps of the first century followers of Christ were able to distinguish true and false doctrines with the help of the Holy Spirit. Those who failed to rely on the Holy Spirit made shipwreck of their faith.
2.0 WHAT THE 1ST CENTURY FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST BELIEVED AND PRACTICED
• Christ Jesus is humankind’s salvation–His name is the only name under heaven that saves (Acts 4:12).
• Followers of Christ are new creations in Christ Jesus.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20 NLT).
• Friendship with the world is not for followers of Christ.
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (Jam 4:4 NLT).
• The sanctified life (separation to Christ Jesus) means no partnership with unbelievers.
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? (2Cor 6:14 NLT).
• Resurrection power (Holy Spirit Empowerment) comes from sharing in Christ’s suffering and death.
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death (Phil 3:10 NLT).
• Persecution or even threat of death should never deter followers of Christ from speaking the truth to their world.
3.0 WHO ARE THE FAKE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST?
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things (Phil 3:18-19 NKJV).
Anyone who mutilates the gospel of Christ (‘dicing and splicing’ the Scriptures) for personal profit is a fake follower of Christ. Such persons pick and choose what to preach or teach to serve a selfish agenda.
Fake followers of Christ, especially those in leadership positions like GO’s and pastors, love to preach greed-based messages (money, mammon, worldly prosperity).
Being very smart, they understand human psychology: most human beings want to be rich and famous. So they play on that.
Hence their flamboyant living, which is subliminally telling their followers that they too can become rich if they remain in their churches.
Those who see friendship with the world as a matter of survival and good strategy are fake followers of Christ. Forming alliances with the world’s political, religious and commercial establishments is part of that strategy.
Greed-based teachings and promotion of ostentatious lifestyles actually oppose the gospel of Christ. Anyone who teaches and encourages glitzy lifestyles is an enemy of the gospel because they call into question the authenticity of the Scriptures.
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24 NLT).
Fake followers of Christ are poster children of the kingdom of darkness. They mislead and draw away unsuspecting Christians from the gospel of Christ and prevent unbelievers from becoming true followers of Christ.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (1Tim 4:1 NKJV)
4. BECOME A TRUE FOLLOWER OF CHRST
Any Christian being persecuted for the gospel of Christ in our generation and who has separated himself from the world, just like the 1st century followers of Christ, is a true follower of Christ.
Dear reader, do you want to become a true follower of Christ? If the answer is yes, please do the following:
• Make a radical commitment (total surrender of your life to Christ) to follow Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
• Purpose to contend for the gospel of Christ once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) under all circumstances not fearing the consequences (suffering and possibly death).
• Commit to a life of meditative study of the Scriptures (2Tim 2:15; Josh 1:8).
• Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2Cor 6:14)
• Flee from any church where Christ is not at the centre of all its activities and or where mammon (solicitation for money under whatever guise) is lifted up in the services.
• Purpose to preach God’s word without charging your listeners: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:8 NKJV).
5.1 THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ONLY INTEPRETER OF GOD’S WORD
The All-knowing God, who sees the future, has made provisions for 21st century followers of Christ. He has prepared you and I for this hour when the ‘love of many would wax cold’ and Satan would raise many false brothers and sisters to deceive gullible Christians.
Peter’s pronouncement on the Day of Pentecost that the age of His word through Joel (Joel 2:28) had commenced was not just for the early church alone–it was for the entire period of the Church age.
‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants–men and women alike–and they will prophesy (Acts 2:17-18 NLT).
God gave Christ’s followers the Holy Spirit so that they will not be deceived. His children have no excuse if they fall for the trickery of Satan and his demons. God has fully equipped us. We have the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit indwells us.
But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame (1John 2:27-28 NLT).
5.2 THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO CONTEND FOR THE GOSPEL
The Holy Spirit enables Christ’s followers to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
Anyone filled with the Holy Spirit ought to discern what is true and what is false. There is always a disquiet (an inner witness) in the spirit when a true follower of Christ hears and or reads something that contradicts the Scriptures.
Unfortunately, many who have had such disquiet ignored it and or quietened it. In their minds a general overseer or pastor with millions of followers cannot be a conduit of the devil.
Rather than go to the Scriptures to check out things for themselves, they begin to make excuses for their pastors. They convince themselves that it is not in their place to challenge false teachings. The matter they conclude is for God to sort out. After all did not the Bible say ‘touch not my anointed’?
What would have happened to our faith had Peter, Paul, Jude, John and other disciples not called out the false teachers and elders in their day and warned us about them?
None of us is a passenger in Christ’s church. Each of us has a role as member of the Body of Christ. We fail the Head of the Body when out of cowardice we chose to follow those we know in our spirit are preaching a different gospel (Gal 1:8). In fact, we could become complicit in their sins.
5.3 CHRIST’S PROPHECY BEING FULFILLED
The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied that few would have faith at His coming. No doubt, He saw many trapped in churches having a name that says they are Christian but denying the cross of Christ.
Just as Satan is an interloper claiming that the world is still his despite having been defeated by Christ on the cross, so are there interlopers in many churches claiming to be ministers of the gospel when they are indeed working for their master (Satan).
But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8b NLT)
Only those who are listening to the Holy Spirit indwelling them have the kind of faith that withstands the onslaught of Satan and his horde of demons. They worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They have no one teaching them but God.
But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24 NLT).
TIME FOR ACTION
You have finished reading. You have the inner witness that what you have just read is true. Then it is time for action. Make the radical commitment to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and purpose to listen only to the Holy Spirit indwelling you.
Then pray and ask God to direct your path.
Hear the prayers of your Children. Open our eyes to behold Christ crucified for our sins and who resurrected for our justification. Forgive us our sin of unbelief and for having been listening to human beings instead of the Holy Spirit. Also, forgive us for not judging every doctrine/teaching we have been hearing using the Scriptures. In Jesus name we pray.