July 28, 2017

The Advantages of Following Christ

By Mike Willis

Why should I become a disciple of Jesus Christ? When so many in our society are choosing to live without a commitment to Jesus, it occurs to me that there might be some need to explain why we think there is an advantage to being a disciple of Christ by explaining what Christ has done for us. Every person might have a different list of things that he would include on his list. However, here are some things that I see as distinct advantages that followers of Christ have over others.

The Follower of Christ Has A Distinct Moral Standard By Which To Live

The need for a clear moral standard has never been more clearly shown than in the recent issues brought before our nation by the impeachment trial of our president. We have been fed a constant barrage of assertions that what the president and his intern do in a consensual way is their business. Indeed, we are being told that same thing about a number of moral issues including the following: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, etc.

The idea that what one chooses to do is his own business may sound good until one starts making application of those principles to his own children. Is one ethical system just as good as another for your children? If you approach your son, suspecting that he might be involved in fornication or drugs, would you accept his explanation if he said, “Mom and Dad, you may choose not to commit fornication or use recreational drugs and I am not condemning you for what you choose to do. However, don’t try to bind your morals on me. I may choose to live differently than you do.” I suspect that most parents will appeal to their children to live by an absolute ethical code and even enact disciplinary punishments for the violation of those ethics.

The Christian has a distinct advantage in rearing his children in this age of moral relativity. The Christian believes that there is an absolute standard of ethics that is applicable to every person in every nation for all time. Sin is wrong because it is a violation of God’s word (1 John 3:4), not because it is a violation of societal ethics or personal conscience. Because there is a God and that God has given us a law by which to live, all men are bound by the same moral code (John 12:48). I can speak with certainty to my children to explain right and wrong to them. The Bible tells us what is right and wrong. Sin is clearly identifiable (Gal. 5:19-21). I can teach these moral principles to my children and encourage them to live ac- cording to them. I can point out the danger of violating those principles: (a) One sins against God; (b) One brings consequences to himself that are painful; (c) One influences society in a negative way.

When one’s child becomes a teenager faced with all the temptations that they will face, his training in moral ethics will largely determine how peaceful the home will be during those years. One of the advantages that the Christian has over the non-Christian is in teaching his children an ethical code.

The Disciple of Christ Has A Greater Commitment to Marriage

Who can deny that marriages are in trouble in America? There are few families that have not been affected by divorce. Acknowledging that none of us is above having problems, we nevertheless assert that the Christian has a better hope of having a stable family life than does the non-Christian. The Christian has a commitment to make the marriage work because of the commandments given in God’s word (Matt. 19:9). Unlike many who believe that marriage is some kind of “trial” arrangement, Christians have a commitment to make marriage endure for life. Jesus said, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). Paul said that men and women are joined in marriage for a lifetime (Rom. 7:1-6). Only fornication gives the innocent spouse the right to divorce his mate and remarry (Matt. 19:9). There is no honorable way out of marriage except by death, for fornication is a dishonorable end to a marriage for the guilty person.

The Christian believes that the Lord reveals the proper role relationships between a husband and wife (Eph. 5:22- 33). Both husband and wife are encouraged to learn their individual responsibilities and behave themselves in that marriage in keeping with the teaching of God’s word. Biblical training keeps together marriages that otherwise may fail, with both individuals growing to be what God wants them to be. Many of us have gone through rocky times in our marriages, prayed for guidance and strength to work through those difficulties, and committed ourselves to treating our mates like God instructs us to treat one another. Over the years, the eternal principles revealed in God’s word are applied and the couple builds a home pleasing to God.

Wherever I go to preach, I find couples that have been married 30, 40, 50, and a few even 60 years. Have you stopped to consider how rare such marriages are in our age of easy divorce and remarriage? Early in our marriage, my wife Sandy went to a beauty shop. As the conversation occurred, the beautician asked, “Are you married?” She replied that she was. The beautician asked, “How long?” She replied, “Ten years.” The beautician asked, “To the same man?” Her surprise reflects the influence of late twentieth century culture. Why is it thought unusual for one man and one woman to be joined together for life? Because this is contrary to the message that our culture is sending about marriage. If you want a marriage that has a superior chance of surviving, you need to consider what being a Christian does to increase the likelihood of your marriage lasting!

The Christian also believes that he has a responsibility to his children. Fathers are taught to train the children (Eph.

6:1-4). Mothers are also responsible in the work of child- bearing (1 Tim. 2:15). In a day when many mothers abort their babies and fathers walk away from their responsibilities to their children, the Christian has a distinct advantage in rearing his children. No wonder that the incidence of child abuse and children deserted by their fathers is lower among Christians. Where divorce is reduced by the Christian ethic, the home is a more stable environment, giving our children a distinct advantage.

The Disciple of Christ Has A Personal Relationship With God

The children of God are known by God. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). What a beautiful thought is expressed in this. Not only do the children of God know their Father in heaven, but the God of heaven knows me by name. He knows who I am, what I am doing, what my ambitions and desires are, what is happening in my life, etc.  God cares for me. He even stores my tears in his bottle (Ps. 56:8), signifying his awareness of and concern for my needs. He sees our needs and cares for them (John 11:35). We cast our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).

What a blessed privilege we who are children of God have in that we have the right to go boldly into the throne of grace to find help in the time of need (Heb. 4:16). The child of God has a right to take his concerns to God in prayer because God is his father (Matt. 7:7-11). The privilege of prayer is a blessing that one does not want to face the troubles of life without. Whether Christian or non-Christian, a person faces the troubles common to man, but the Christian faces them with God’s help (1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 4:13).

The Disciple of Christ Has The Forgiveness of Sins and Hope of Heaven

This is listed last in this article, but not because it is of lesser importance. The child of God has a present peace of mind knowing that he is right with God (Phil. 4:6-7). He has a clear conscience because he has been forgiven (1 Pet. 3:21). Then when death comes, he has the blessed hope of heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Many have forgotten that the Bible speaks of some who have “no hope” (4:13) and who are “without God” (Eph. 2:12).

There is no hope for mankind outside of Jesus Christ. We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23) and the wages of those sins is death, eternal separation from the presence of God (Rom. 6:23; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). There is no amount of       righteous living, no amount of sorrow, and no restitution that he can make that will take away one sin. There is only one thing that can wash away sins — the blood of Christ Jesus. Unless one turns to Christ for the forgiveness of his sins, he will be eternally doomed to the punishment of hell.

The Christian has the blessed knowledge that his sins have been washed away by Christ. He has hope in his warfare against sin, not based on his perfect knowledge or perfect ability to live by the word of God, but by the grace of God that cleanses us from all unrighteous upon the condition of faith (though not “faith only”).

Conclusion

There are many other advantages to being a Christian. I am confident that any of our readers can easily expand the list that I have begun. We need to meditate on these advantages so that we can praise God, the source of all our spiritual blessings and be prepared to give answer to any who ask us why we choose to be a Christian (1 Pet. 3:15).

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