To Be Like Jesus

Have you ever considered what it means to be like Jesus? Is that our goal in life?

Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:25 implies that His disciples will be like Him. To His first-century followers, that included the prospect of persecution and martyrdom. But what else does it mean to “be like Jesus,” especially for Christians in today’s culture? I see eight portraits of Jesus in Matthew’s eyewitness account that give us some clues:

  1. To be like Jesus means to accept our roots (Matthew 1:1–17).
  2. To be like Jesus means to engage the world’s pain and struggle (Matthew 1:18–2:23).
  3. To be like Jesus means to commit ourselves to other believers, no matter how “weird” they appear to be (Matthew 3:1–17).
  4. To be like Jesus means to admit our vulnerability to temptation (Matthew 4:1–11).
  5. To be like Jesus means to openly proclaim the message of Christ (Matthew 4:12–25).
  6. To be like Jesus means to commit ourselves to changed thinking and behavior (Matthew 5:1–7:27).
  7. To be like Jesus means to serve others, especially those who are oppressed or without Christ (Matthew 8:1–9:38).
  8. To be like Jesus means to affirm others in leadership (Matthew 10:1–42).

[print_link] [email_link] [Warren Wiersbe’s Word in Life Study Bible]

Give Up Everything?

This study is on the hard saying of Jesus about having to give up everything (Mark 10:17-31) Mark 10:21.

This is an amazing illustration of evangelism? Is this the Jesus method of evangelism?

  1. With what method are you most familiar?
  2. Which method appears to be most effective?
  3. What is the difference between sharing your story and sharing his story?

Imagine this evangelism encounter as a dream come true. The man point blank asks how to be saved!

  1. Jesus does not just hand him a tract and get him to pray the sinner’s prayer.
  2. Jesus does not correct the man’s theology, good works don’t save.
  3. This man had not come to Jesus to hear him say that keeping the commandments was the way to eternal life (Leviticus 18:5).

Why does Jesus tell him he can be saved by keeping the commandments?

  1. Jesus doesn’t mention belief or faith or grace, he says to keep the Law.
  2. Jesus seems to want to make it harder on the guy: he had not done enough.
  3. When was the last time you felt that there was always just one more thing that you need to do to be saved or please Jesus?
  4. In your theology, what is the relationship between what you believe and what you do?

Jesus said there was one more thing… but it was too hard for this guy to accept. (Read more about the Rich Young Ruler).

Why would the disciples be amazed at Jesus’ answer?

  1. The concept of God’s blessing: health, wealth, children, goats, all meant blessing.
  2. Those sick and poor, not so much.
  3. It would have made more sense for Jesus to say, “Blessed are the rich, blessed are the healthy, blessed are the comfortable.”
    • How do you define blessing? What about Jesus’ definition of blessing?
    • How does Christian persecution and martyrdom fit in to this definition?
    • How reliable is a world with a works/reward theology?

What must I DO to be saved? It is not about doing, it is about receiving. Trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

Notice that Jesus loved him before he asked him to do anything (Mark 10:21).

  1. Do you sometimes feel that Jesus will only love you after you follow him?
  2. Do you feel he is judging your performance; he will love you more if you do better?
  3. When you are well connected to Jesus, how is the rest of your life affected?
  4. In what ways do you feel you must prove yourself to God? How does that reflect other relationships in your life? (do you have to continually prove yourself to your friends)?

Let’s check our identity.

  1. What three things do you generally tell others about yourself?
  2. How important is career development in your identity?
  3. How many of your friends really know you, not just facts about you?

The Point: who am I? What are the markers that define who I am?

  1. This is the question Jesus was trying to get this man to ask? Who am I?
  2. People identified him the same us we do… the rich, young, ruler, but is that who he really was?
  3. Jesus saw much more, his core. Selling all he had would have stripped him of his identity.
  4. Only by stripping these away could he identify himself the way Jesus did.
  5. This question can only be answered at the point of crisis. When something is attached to your core and is taken out (health, achievement, wealth, career, family, life)… Who are you when all these are threatened?

In a previous story (Mark 10:13) Jesus says that these nobodies had a quality that was kingdom-worthy, something that escaped the rich man and the prosperous members of society. This is what we know, NOBODIES…

  1. Don’t come to God and offer contributions.
  2. Don’t tell God who they are.
  3. Don’t have a claim to their lives.
  4. Don’t rely on trivial marks of identity.

Key truth:

  1. Paul tells us that giving all we have to the poor is of no use, if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:3).
  2. Matthew 19:21, “if you wish to be complete…” Perhaps Jesus was testing the man’s devotion because Jesus did not ask all of his followers to do this.
  3. What could he have sold?
    • Sell your self-righteousness.
    • Sell your dreams of fame and fortune.
    • Sell your popularity.
    • Sell your efforts to secure a comfortable future for yourself.

Other passages to consider:

  1. Others left all and followed him (Luke 8:3) women who were not asked to make such a sacrifice.
  2. Zacchaeus apparently took his action on his own (Luke 19:8), the language means, giving is something he was already doing or that he would now start, either fits.
  3. Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves (Matthew 6:19-21), this is not to an individual but to his followers in general, we must have the right priorities.

More Information = Less Clarity

When it comes to teaching, is it not true that we bombard our people with lots of information? The research we have done may well be from the Bible and trusted theological commentators, but so often we present way too many truth units! We often lose sight of the main thing we want our people to “take away” from the lesson.

The Big Idea: Focus on the Message-Multiply the Impact… 1

BUSINESSES: The result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before, but the church is not alone in its predicament. Businesses also get distracted with lots of little ideas and forget the Big Idea. Many marketplace leaders are relearning the importance of the Big Idea in regard to advertising. It was a multimillion-dollar sock-puppet ad during Super Bowl XXXIV that epitomized the absurdity of the advertising during the dot-com bubble. This same era brought us commercials with cowboys herding cats, singing chimps, and a talking duck — all great entertainment, but they didn’t convey a thing about the brands they represented. Brand consultants Bill Schley and Carl Nichols Jr., in their book, Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea, tell us this type of advertising is not effective branding. Schley and Nichols teach companies to redefine their products in terms of a single, mesmerizing “Dominant Selling Idea.” They go on to explain that somewhere along the way, “Johnny” forgot the basics of revealing the Big Idea in an easy, everyday way that cements a brand as top dog in the hearts and minds of consumers without resorting to puffery and shallow glitz. What are businesses learning? That “more” results in less clarity. (And less money!)

THE CHURCH: We have bombarded our people with too many competing little ideas, and the result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before.
Don’t misunderstand — this is not a rant against entertainment or churches that are entertaining. I actually think churches should be more entertaining. But that’s a rant for another book. This is a rant against churches that don’t discipline themselves to create experiences that convey and challenge people with one Big Idea at a time. Why? Because the lack of clarity that we give our people impedes the church’s ability to accomplish the mission of Jesus. “More” results in less clarity.

THE POINT: Let’s see about refining our message so that people can grasp it. If one can’t explain it to someone else, they really have not “gotten it.” Let’s not circle the room looking for a place to land, but enter the classroom with the Big Idea we want our students to hold on to. Everything we do should support the main idea for the day.

1 Ferguson, D., Ferguson, J., & Bramlett, E. (2009). The big idea: focus the message—multiply the impact. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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Characteristics of the Wicked

The Bible has a lot to say about human behavior. Take a look at this list that describes wicked people:

Abominable. Revelation 21:8.
Alienated from God. Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:21.
Blasphemous. Luke 22:65; Revelation 16:9.
Blinded. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18.
Boastful. Psalm 5:5; 10:3; 49:6.
Conspiring against God’s people. Nehemiah 4:8; 6:2; Psalm 38:12.
Deceitful. Psalm 5:6; Romans 3:13.
Delighting in the iniquity of others. Proverbs 2:14; Romans 1:32.
Despising the works of the faithful. Nehemiah 2:19; 4:2; 2 Timothy 3:3, 4.
Destructive. Isaiah 59:7.
Disobedient. Nehemiah 9:26; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 2:7.
Enticing to evil. Proverbs 1:10–14; 2 Timothy 3:6.
Envious. Nehemiah 2:10; Titus 3:3.
Fearful. Proverbs 28:1; Revelation 21:8.
Fierce. Proverbs 16:29; 2 Timothy 3:3.
Foolish. Deuteronomy 32:6.
Forgetting God. Job 8:13.
Fraudulent. Psalm 37:21; Micah 6:11.
Glorying in their shame. Philippians 3:19.
Greedy. Micah 2:2; Romans 1:29.
Hard-hearted. Ezekiel 3:7.
Hating the light. Job 24:13; John 3:20.
Headstrong and haughty. 2 Timothy 3:4.
Hostile to God. Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21.
Hypocritical. Isaiah 29:13; 2 Timothy 3:5.
Ignorant of God. Hosea 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
Infidel. Psalm 10:4; 14:1.
Loathsome. Proverbs 13:5.
Lovers of pleasure more than of God. 2 Timothy 3:4.
Lying. Psalm 58:3; 62:4; Isaiah 59:4.
Murderous. Psalm 10:8; 94:6; Romans 1:29.
Prayerless. Job 21:15; Psalm 53:4.
Persecuting. Psalm 69:26; 109:16.
Perverse. Deuteronomy 32:5; Proverbs 21:8; Isaiah 57:17; Acts 2:40.
Proud. Psalm 59:12; Obadiah 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:2.
Rebellious. Titus 1:10.
Rejoicing in the affliction of believers. Psalm 35:15.
Reprobate. 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16.
Scheming. Proverbs 24:8; Micah 7:3.
Selfish. 2 Timothy 3:2.
Sold into sin. 1 Kings 21:20; 2 Kings 17:17.
Stiff-necked. Exodus 33:5; Acts 7:51.
Stubborn and obstinate. Ezekiel 2:4.
Uncircumcised in heart. Jeremiah 9:26; Acts 7:51.
Unjust. Proverbs 11:7; Isaiah 26:10.
Unmerciful. Romans 1:31.
Unholy. 2 Timothy 3:2.
Unprofitable. Matthew 25:30; Romans 3:12.
Unthankful. Luke 6:35; 2 Timothy 3:2.
Unwise. Deuteronomy 32:6.
Without self-control. 2 Timothy 3:3.
Worldly minded. Philippians 3:19; Jude 1:19.
Worthless. Proverbs 16:27.

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Paul’s Major Teachings

Aside from Jesus, the apostle Paul is probably the most eloquent and persuasive teacher in the Bible. Many of the doctrines he taught are considered the foundational for the Christian faith.

Born a Jew in Tarsus, he was a Roman citizen, tent-maker, and a Pharisee, responsible for persecution of Christians before his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–9). He became a faithful follower of Jesus, a dedicated missionary, and a respected leader in the early church. Here are a few of his major teachings.

1. Justification by faith: According to Paul, God ushered in a new era through the death of his Son. Under the old covenant, people, such as Abraham, were justified by believing God, looking forward to the promise of the coming Messiah (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:22). Now we are justified, or declared righteous before God, through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His atoning death on our behalf. Our justification is based on the work of Christ, accomplished through His blood (Romans 5:9), and brought to His people through His resurrection (Romans 4:25).

2. Jesus Christ as the risen and living Son of God: From the moment Jesus appeared to Paul at his dramatic conversion, Paul never hesitated to proclaim Jesus as the mystery of the ages and the great Redeemer of sinful humanity (1 Corinthians 15:1–20). To Paul, Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son, the center of the gospel, and the One through whom “all things were created” (Colossians 1:16).

3. The church as the body of Christ: The only New Testament writer who speaks of the church as a body, Paul emphasized this fact in such passages as Ephesians 1:22, 23; 4:7–16; and 1 Corinthians 12. He also reminded Christians that their various gifts were to be used in building up the body of Christ and that they should work together for the common good of the Christian cause (Romans 12:4-5).

4. The power and influence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life: Paul taught that the Holy Spirit was a more effective power for holy living in the Christian’s life than the old Jewish Law had ever been. The Law told people what to do, but it could not provide the will or the power to do it. God’s Spirit could provide the necessary power and motivation (Romans 8:9–17; Galatians 5:16–25).

5. The second coming of Christ: This includes the consummation of the kingdom of God as the redeemed are received into God’s presence. Paul taught that Christ will return to earth at the end of this age and that all Christians will share in His glory in the age to come (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28).

[print_link] [email_link] Notes from the Open Bible