Believer or Follower? by Mayada Naami

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

(John 10:27-30, NIV)

In the above-mentioned verse Jesus clearly states that if His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him, He will give them eternal life. I have often wondered if all believers are “saved” and recently have turned to the Bible for the answer. In Romans 10:9, the Bible tells us: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Emphasize added). Again the word “and” is declared in this verse which tells me believing in Jesus is not in of itself sufficient to be saved. Believing is an action of faith. It is much more than believing a statement that “Jesus is Lord.”  It requires boldly declaring with your mouth that He is your Lord and Savior and to surrender and submit your will to His will. Many people saw Him and walked with Him, only to turn away when He said, ”follow Me.” The Bible tells us even demons believe and tremble.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

(James 2:14-19, NIV)

Salvation is described as much more than just believing a statement about God. It reveals a life of full reliance upon Him. In Mathew 19, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him, “What good must I do to get eternal life?” (Mathew 19:16, NIV). Jesus responded, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This man could not and went away sad.

Nothing must come between us and following our Savior—not money, friends, family, or even a spouse. As followers of Jesus, we should be willing to give up all we have if He asks us to-as He sometimes does. He will never force us. Following Jesus is a personal choice which involves humbly submitting our entire self to Him. We are then transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and slowly transform into His likeness. We undertake a radical change in lifestyle because we can no longer conform to the world and do things that go against the Word of God. We leave old things behind and do not look back. We do not long for things of the past, things that kept us in bondage. We are set free when we choose to follow Him through the narrow gate. Our lifelong hope is that our lives will mirror the character of Jesus and show others His love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we are told following Jesus gives us the mind of Christ and with this assurance we are empowered by His Spirit and given His understanding and insights. As His sheep we are to listen for His voice and follow Him. We are to be followers of Christ and not just believers. The early believers were so loyal to His teachings that other people knew they were followers of Christ by the way they spoke, acted, and lived. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Mathew 7:20, NIV).

Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.‘”

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