It takes commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Following Jesus Christ is the best thing we can do in this life. Yet there are people who don’t know this fact. There are people who think that since they are nice, they have to be good. They think that they are just as good as any Christian.
I think some people don’t realize this point of following Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, saying that we have faith seems to be all that we have to do. We can keep on doing the good deeds that we were doing before we started to follow Jesus Christ. Saying that we are good seems to be equivalent to saying that we believe in Jesus Christ. However, they are not equivalent in any fashion.
Let’s look at how doing good deeds is not the same as professing faith in Jesus Christ. As we make this comparison, we will see that having the Son of Man lifted up causes good deeds to be done because of the decision we have made.
A. Jesus Christ is lifted up so that we may believe and have eternal life (John 3:14-15)
1. A snake lifted up?
a. The Israelites complained against God after they left Mount Hor (Numbers 21:1-9)
b. The Lord sent poisonous serpents to punish the Israelites
c. Yet, the Lord made a way for them to escape by having Moses make bronze poisonous snake to be sent on a pole; those who looked at it and live
2. Jesus will be lifted up on the cross
3. Whoever believes in Jesus may have eternal life
4. So far we see that complaining can lead to death, as it did for the Israelites. Yet, God provided a way for the Israelites to have life, despite their sin. We also see that looking up to Jesus as he was on the cross brings life to us. This life is one that will last for all time. But we have to decide what we want.
B. We make the decision to receive what God has given the world (John 3:16-18)
1. God loves even those who oppose him, the people of this world
2. If we believe, we may not perish but may have eternal life
3. It is still possible after saying that we believe in Jesus Christ that we perish and not have eternal life
4. We know that those who refuse to believe have condemned themselves
5. They won’t live nor have eternal life
6. God wants us to believe in the name of the only Son of God. But it is our choice. If we choose Jesus, then we may have eternal life. If we don’t choose Jesus, then we know we won’t have eternal life. To believe in Jesus means we may not perish and that we may have eternal life. It appears then that professing faith in Jesus Christ is only part of having eternal life.
C. Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to live in the light (John 3:19-21)
1. Before we express faith in Jesus Christ, we were in the darkness
2. After expressing faith in Jesus Christ, we are in the light
3. Before expressing faith, the deeds/works we did were done in darkness, even were dark deeds!
4. After expressing faith, the deeds/works we did were seen as being done in the light, even deeds of light
5. So, deeds that we did before knowing Jesus could have been nice, but actually dark deeds
6. Isaiah told rebellious that their “good works” were as good as a thrown away menstrual pad! (Isaiah 64:6)
7. Paul wrote that all he did before knowing Christ was rubbish (Philippians 3:8-9)
8. Yet, we don’t look back at what we did. We look forward to what God has for us in Jesus Christ. For as we come to the light that is Jesus Christ, we are to do good deeds/works. This is living that eternal life that God has for us in the now, in the light.
D. Paul helps us see what faith in Christ leads us to do (Ephesians 2:1-10)
1. We were dead, doing deeds of darkness
2. Our passions were being satisfied – we got our reward for doing a good deed!
3. God’s love makes us alive in Christ, through his grace
4. We have been given life, a gift from God!
5. Now our way of life is good deeds, showing & living the faith we have in Jesus Christ
6. John Wesley reminded the early Methodists of this when he kept some of the Articles of Religion from the Church of England. Specifically, Article X — Of Good Works: Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.
7. Again, Paul wrote “just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4)
8. If we have decided to believe in Jesus Christ, then we are deciding to love as God has loved. Jesus was lifted up so that all people would be drawn to him. That was a good deed/work for us, to demonstrate God’s love. By placing our faith in Jesus Christ, we are bound to love as God loves. This means we do good deeds/works that God has for us to do.
Are doing good deeds the same as professing faith in Jesus Christ? Doing good deeds before we place faith in Jesus Christ does not bring us life. Doing good deeds after we place faith in Jesus Christ does not bring us life. But doing good deeds/works after placing faith in Jesus Christ does show that we are living in the light that leads to eternal life.
Believing in Jesus Christ allows us to have eternal life. That eternal life is lived by doing good deeds/works that are done in love. The fruit of our faith in Jesus Christ is doing good deeds/works.
Over the next month we will hear again and again about the Holston Conference Mission Offering. This year that offering will be given to children’s ministries within the Holston Conference. As part of the Mission Offering we are asked to send $10 per worshiper to help fund children’s ministries. The other part of the Mission Offering is us being asked to serve a ministry to children for 10 hours per person between now and June 7th.
So, one way that we can live out the good deeds/works that God has for us to do is to serve the children around us. The “Road Trip/Big Bus Trip” is a way for us to serve the children around us. As we deliver lunches to the trailer park(s), we are serving children. By doing this we are living our faith in Jesus Christ. For we will be loving our neighbors by feeding them, inviting them to church, and telling them about God’s love. I hope to see you Saturday morning!