As a Christian, and a youth sponsor / mentor at my church, I have the opportunity to speak truth into the moldable lives of young people who are seeking answers to all sorts of questions. In a few weeks, I will have the privilege of giving this talk to them. I hope that it blesses and challenges you in your walk with Jesus.
Q: Do you know who you are (your status), because of Jesus?
I want to talk with you for a few minutes about the importance of understanding our new identity, as Jesus followers, and explain a few things that God expects of us, as His children.
- · You were chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and going along with that, you were specially created, different, separate from all the other things God made (see Gen. 1:26-27).
- · You were given a way to be saved from eternal punishment and death, through Jesus (Rom. 5:15, 17, John 3:14-17, Hebrews 9:26b-28).
- · Once you are born again, even when you sin, you are not condemned (Rom. 8:1-2), and when we confess our sins, God forgives them (1 John 1:9).
- · We are made to do good works, after our salvation (Eph. 2:10) and even though our good works don’t save us, they are an important aspect of our Faith.
- · We have been made alive, whereas before we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-5).
- · We have access by the Spirit, to the Father (Eph. 2:18).
- · The Comforter, Helper, Spirit of Truth, now lives in us, and helps us to walk in victory over sin, and to guide us into all Truth (John 14:15, 26, 15:26, 16:7, 13). He enables us to produce and live the fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control) – see Galatians 5:22-23
- · We are no longer yoked to sin (Galatians 5:1), but we are yoked to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).
- · We are a work that Christ will complete (Philippians 1:6).
- · We are adopted, co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:5)
These are all wonderful, encouraging things to hear and believe, and I hope that your faith is built up and made stronger by hearing and knowing them. But, being a Christ-follower is not always easy. As you know, there have been many Believers who have given up their lives for Jesus.
Jesus told all those who would follow Him, that it would be a difficult, and often times, lonely journey of obedience and sacrifice:
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25
This daily cross bearing is something that is hard, but God gives us the strength to do it through His Spirit.
Paul is one of my favorite examples, because he was a lot like us. He had real struggles with his flesh, with sin, with living a consistent life for Jesus, and yet he was faithful even to death.
One of my favorite passages describes how Paul thought about his life compared to being found in Christ:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 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, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:9-11)
He was willing to die for Jesus, because He loved him and believed in His Truth so much. I often ask myself “Am I willing to die for Jesus?” It is not something we want to think about, but it is something we should ask ourselves, because we might be put in the position where that question is asked of us, and we have to decide to either die for Jesus or deny Jesus.
I don’t want to scare you or make you feel guilty if you have never considered these things, but I do want you to know that Jesus said (through Paul) that “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
We should encourage one another by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Through His strength, we can endure whatever hardship He allows us to experience. Isn’t that encouraging? My prayer is that we would speak these truths into each other’s lives on a daily basis, and that we would pray for stronger faith, and a bolder witness as we seek to be Jesus’ hands and feet of love and mercy in this lost and dying world.
To close, I want to pray one of my favorite prayers from the Bible over you all:
“And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Amen.