How Can I Follow Jesus?
The New Testament records a remarkable story in Acts 16. Two missionaries, Paul and Silas, were preaching about the life and teachings of Jesus near a town called Philippi. Some prominent men became upset, claiming that Paul and Silas were causing trouble in the town. The town leaders had them beaten and thrown in prison.
Here is the account of what happened that night:
25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.
27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas…
Imagine the jail keeper’s surprise when he learned that none of the prisoners had fled when the doors opened. In those times, a jailer could lose his own life as punishment if he let a prisoner escape. So the fact that the prisoners had willingly stayed in their place must have left quite an impression.
We come to that conclusion by what the jailer asked Paul and Silas in the next verse:
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
That question the jailer asked is THE life-altering question. It has been asked by millions upon millions of people since that day in the prison. People down through history have wanted to know the same thing the jailer wanted to know – “How do I get to know Jesus…How can I have a relationship with him…How can I be saved?”
The good news is that knowing Jesus isn’t complicated. Here is how Paul and Silas answered the jailer:
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…
That is it…Simply believe. There is no magical formula, crazy ritual or death-defying feat you have to perform. Just believe in Jesus.
What Am I Believing?
The best way for you to understand who Jesus was and what it means to be his follower, is to read our 30 Days for Seekers Bible reading plan. Or you could take a few hours and read the Gospel of John. Many have come to faith in Jesus simply by reading that one powerful book.
But, if you are ready to follow Jesus now, here is what you need to believe:
1. Believe that God is perfect and holy and that you are not. Compared to God, we are all sinners. We do not have the ability to be good or do good things all the time. Romans 3:23 puts it this way, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
2. Believe that there are consequences for our sin. The consequences of sin are that we cannot have fellowship with a God who is perfect. Holiness and sin are not compatible, like oil mixing with water. They are opposites. Romans 6:23 says that the consequences or “wages of sin is death,” meaning eternal, spiritual separation from God.
3. Believe that you are powerless to fix this problem. There are no personal works we can do to get right with God or attain His favor. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” God saves us from the consequences of our sin. We cannot save ourselves.
4. Believe that God provided a way for us to know Him. God doesn’t want to be separated from us. He created us and loves us. He wants us to be with Him for eternity. So his solution to the sin problem was to send his only Son Jesus.
Jesus was perfect and holy, just like God His Father. He willingly chose to offer himself as a sacrifice for us by dying on a cross, a punishment reserved for the worst criminals. When Jesus was crucified, God placed the sins of all mankind on him. Jesus took the penalty of death that we deserve for our sin. Miraculously though, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and eventually returned to his Father in heaven.
Here is what the Bible says about that:
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
- John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- I Corinthians 15:3-4 – “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
- II Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
- I Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
- I John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
5. Believe that all you have to do is believe. Just like the jailer, you simply have to believe in Jesus as the one who can save you. He is your only way to have a right relationship with God. No matter who you are, you can be sure that if you ask him, he’ll do what he promised. Romans 10:13 says it clearly, “…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
If you are ready to trust in Jesus, go ahead. Just ask him in your own words. Tell him you recognize what the problem is, that you believe in what he did for you and that you are placing your trust in Him as the Lord and Savior of your life.
If you don’t know what to say, you can pray something like this:
“Lord Jesus, I know that you are perfect and I am not. I recognize that my sinfulness is keeping me from having a proper relationship with you. And I know there is nothing I can do to save myself. I believe that you died for me and took the penalty of death that I deserve. Please forgive me of my sin. Come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I want to follow you the rest of my life.”
Following Jesus is a game-changer. Life will never be the same. If you just asked him into your life, you have started on an incredible journey that will last for all eternity.
But what are the next steps? Being a Jesus follower isn’t always easy. You will still experience ups and downs, hardships and challenges in life. But there are some things you can do to help get the most out of your new faith.
Here are some practical steps to do immediately and going forward:
- Tell someone you trust about your decision to follow Jesus.
- Begin reading the Bible. The best place for you to start as a new believer is with our New Testament reading plan.
- Spend time talking with God each day in prayer.
- Find other followers of Jesus who can support you. The best place to do this is at a local church.
We’d love to know about your decision to follow Jesus. Let us know by contacting us here.