We have been looking over the last few weeks about what it means to follow Jesus…truly follow Him…to sacrifice all in order to follow Him wholeheartedly. Today, let’s consider why following Jesus is so very important. To start, I want us to consider who God really is. Now, there is no way for me to completely describe God. It is important, though, to look at the characteristics of God. When we think of God…many of us have ideas that pop into our minds automatically. We could picture God as a loving God who sent Jesus to take on the sins of the world. Some people picture the big father figure who is standing in judgment and we should be afraid of. Then there are others who have a view that fits how He was described growing up. But, it is most important that we don’t try to change who God is to fit who we want Him to be. For some reason, we could get the idea that the God of the New Testament is much kinder and more loving than the God of the Old Testament. We divide the two as if God had a change of heart between the two. We could split them…God of Old versus God of New. But that isn’t correct. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God doesn’t change. He hasn’t changed ever. His love hasn’t changed ever. He hasn’t become a softy through history. He is the same. God is still a jealous God and expects us to put Him first. He is still God that has wrath towards liars, hatred towards sinners. He still expects obedience from His people. That can all seem so harsh unless we consider that He does all of these things for our good. He expects us to put Him first because that is what we were created for. He doesn’t want us to fall in the traps of sin. He doesn’t want us to go our own way that leads to destruction. Like a loving parent, He shows us the way and provides guidance for us all along the way. There are consequences to our decisions…as there should be. That can make us squirm a little in our seats. We sometimes forget that He is High and Holy…Powerful and Mighty…Sovereign King… Given what we just considered about who God is, let us think about who we are. In order to do that, let’s look at Ephesians 2:1-3. In just a few short verses, we begin to see who we are. Not a pleasant view of humanity. We are dead in sin, we follow fleshly desires, we are disobedient, we deserve wrath. Without God, we are in hopelessness. We deserve punishment. Just like we don’t want to think about who God is, we don’t want to think about who we really are either. We don’t want to think about how we are disobedient and are influenced by the devil. We don’t want to think about how we go our own way. We want the pretty pictures. But, humanity doesn’t have a good side with sin. The wages of sin is death. So, we have God who hates sinners…and we have us…sinners. That is a picture for you. We see in the Old Testament where God is trying to redirect and His people keep making really bad choices. Even those who God directly told to do better didn’t. They were doomed and so are we… What do we do? Acts 2:37-40. Peter was asked the question about what to do. His response was to flee the world, repent and be baptized. They were told to repent…turn away from their sins. They were instructed to be baptized (a public showing of their decision…one that could be very dangerous). They were told to flee what this world has to offer in order to follow. Let’s continue by looking at Ephesians 2:4-10. Because of God’s GREAT love for us, God – who is rich in mercy – provided grace. We were dead in our sins. We were hopeless. But, God didn’t give up on us. He loves us. Through Christ, He provided a way. It is only by grace that we are saved…and grace is a gift from God…completely undeserved. We can’t do anything to earn it. We were created by Him…and reborn in Christ Jesus…to do good works! Sinners…provided a way…through an unearned gift…to do good works. And yet, we have a problem with total surrender. Why wouldn’t we surrender to the One who has provided so much already?
Who He Is…Who we are