Who remembers this series from last year? It was epic. Week-after-week the Holy Spirit was revealing Jesus to us and destroying our wrong thinking in the process.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. The series went on for sixteen weeks and some people couldn’t handle the heat and are no longer with us.
This was a bit perplexing to me because each week the Holy Spirit was pouring these amazing truths into me, and I was simply pouring them back out.
I can say this with confidence. Every one of those sixteen messages was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I was nothing more than a willing vessel delivering God’s message to this church.
It was amazing. And I just assumed that everyone was just as excited as I was. Jesus was being revealed for who He really is and all this religious nonsense that we’ve believed for years was being destroyed in an instant.
Well, not everyone was excited. But most of you were because you were willing to let the Holy Spirit cleanse you from deception. Praise God for that!
Even though this series caused some people to spread rumors about me and slander our church, I have no regrets.
This was the first time I’ve truly experienced persecution. And I am thankful for it because now, the fear of persecution can no longer stop me.
I am free to share God’s truth even when I know people are going to fuss at me for it. I’m not here for people to like me. I’m here to equip the church for the work of God.
So, for the next four weeks, I am going to give you a replay of messages from the Different series. Because sometimes, you need to hear a message more than once for it to really soak in.
Here we go! Let’s start with the scripture that reveals why this series is so life-changing.
God is revealed through Jesus.
John 14:9-10 NLT – Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”
If we want to know God, then we need to get to know Jesus. The best way to get to know Jesus is through the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Through this series, we are going to work through the book of John and discover how to follow Jesus. Get ready for different.
When preparing for these messages, I found out I didn’t know as much about Jesus as I thought I did. I was often surprised by something Jesus said, or what He did, or the way He did it.
American Christianity likes to paint this picture of Jesus as this super nice guy who was politically correct and never required too much of you. Well, we’ve been duped.
And it makes us quite ineffective when we don’t really know Jesus.
But you are going to get to know Jesus through this series. A lot of inaccurate, religious ideas about Jesus are going to be blown to smithereens. So this might hurt a little, but it’s worth it.
In the Beginning…
So let’s head to the very beginning of the book of John.
John 1:1-5 NKJV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
This is foundational stuff right here. Jesus didn’t just come into existence when he was born to a virgin named Mary over 2,000 years ago – He’s been here all along.
Jesus is the one who brings us light. This light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t even understand what’s going on. That’s why the world doesn’t “get it” when you choose to follow Jesus.
Notice how Jesus is also described as the Word. The Word of God, the Bible, is not just a book. It is Jesus. No matter where you are reading – Old Testament or New – everything points back to Jesus.
Even just a few verses later in the book of John, we get a full explanation of how salvation works.
The Morality Trap
Most people think good morals will earn your way to heaven. Or, they think that God is such a loving God that he wouldn’t send anyone to hell. Both of these ideas are lies and a lot of people end up in hell because of them.
The truth is, Satan is not against good morals. If Satan can deceive you into thinking good behavior will earn you eternal life in heaven, he absolutely loves it because you’ll end up in hell and take people with you.
The reason is, good morals without Jesus are nothing. The key to eternal life is believing in and following Jesus. Then, good morals show up as a result.
Thankfully, the true way to salvation is made plain over and over again in scripture. You only have to read to the twelfth verse in John to see the truth:
John 1:12-13 NLT – But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
To become a child of God, two things are involved:
- First, believe in Jesus.
- Secondly, accept Jesus.
Other translations say to receive Jesus. And if you look at this word in the original language, you find out that it means: to give Jesus access to yourself.
In other words, this is what salvation sounds like:
I believe in you Jesus. And because I believe in you, I follow you.
This is the good news of Jesus Christ. To take hold of abundant life here on earth and secure your eternity in heaven, simply believe in Jesus and follow Him.
I don’t want you going to hell because you thought good morals would earn God’s forgiveness. I don’t want you going to hell because you thought that God’s love wouldn’t let you go to hell.
God’s love sent Jesus so that you could be saved. But you can’t be saved without Jesus. Because without Jesus, you are relying on yourself. You’ve probably realized by now, you’ll never cut it. You’ve already messed it up. And good things will never undo bad things.
Only Jesus can clean the slate.
When you believe in Jesus, you are born again. It’s like a fresh start. Everything you’ve done wrong is forgotten and the power of God comes to live inside of you and enables you to live free from sin.
You’re not going to get it perfect, and that’s why you keep following Jesus. You believe in Him, so you follow Him. Along the way, you’re going to mess up, but Jesus is going to take you by the hand and say, “Keep following me.”
Alright, now let’s talk about what following Jesus looks like. The first thing we learn about following Jesus in the book of John is found in the next verse:
John 1:14 NKJV – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
In this verse, we learn the first thing about following the way of Jesus.
To follow Jesus, I must embrace grace and truth.
There’s a group of Christians who fully embrace grace but neglect truth. This causes people to believe that living in sin doesn’t even matter after you get saved because grace covers it all. So, just do what you want.
The problem is when you sin you welcome deception into your life. Eventually, if sin continues, deception wins out and you get to a place where you no longer follow Jesus, indicating that you don’t really believe in Jesus.
That’s a discussion that no one likes to have, so let’s talk about the other group of Christians who fully embrace truth but neglect grace. These are those legalistic churches that we all know about that tell you what to wear, how to cut your hair and the list goes on.
Neither group is actually following the way of Jesus. They’ve created their own way and disguised it as following Jesus. To truly follow Jesus, you must embrace grace and truth.
The Woman at the Well
I can’t think of a better story that illustrates this than one found in John chapter four where Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well in the middle of the day and asks her for a drink of water.
She was astonished that he would even ask because Jews didn’t have anything to do with Samaritans. But Jesus uses the opportunity to explain to the woman that He is the Messiah and is able to give her living water.
Jesus is the master of meshing grace and truth together in the most beautiful way. We like to use truth to run people away, but He used truth to draw people closer to Him.
It all comes down to motivation. Jesus deeply cared about this woman. So He spoke some hard things because He knew it would lead her to freedom.
To follow Jesus, we must embrace grace and truth just like He did. Let grace serve as our only motivator to share the truth and never shy away from truth because of grace.
It was amazing what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman. Even though He had just met her, He was enabled by the Holy Spirit to know specific details about her. He knew she had been married five times and what happened in each marriage.
This spiritual gift is what 1 Corinthians 12 calls a word of knowledge. It’s when the Holy Spirit enables you to know something that could not have been known otherwise.
This brings us to the next thing we learn about following Jesus:
2. To follow Jesus, I must use spiritual gifts to reach people.
You are going to see this over and over again throughout the gospels. Jesus uses healing to reach people. He uses miracles, prophecy, the word of knowledge, faith. He welcomed spiritual gifts into His life to reach people every day.
We just witnessed how He used the word of knowledge with the Samaritan woman. Now let’s read the story in John chapter 1 where he does the same thing to connect with one of his disciples, Nathaniel.
John 1:47-51 MSG – When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.” Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.” Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!” Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet!”
The American church is really weak in the area of spiritual gifts. We think we’re so sophisticated that our fancy buildings, lights, sound, and good-looking pastors are all we need to lead people to Jesus.
Isn’t it great for us to think that we know better than Jesus? No, this is foolishness! If Jesus needed spiritual gifts to reach people, then we need spiritual gifts to reach people.
You might be wondering, “Can I even have spiritual gifts? Or is it only for certain people, like the leaders and the people who pray long prayers?”
I can answer this for you. It’s very clear:
I Corinthians 12:7 NKJV – The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
What Are the Spiritual Gifts?
We have all been given spiritual gifts. When I operate in my spiritual gifts, it profits all those around me. When you operate in your spiritual gifts, it profits all those around you.
In other words, when you choose not to operate in spiritual gifts, you are missing opportunities left and right to make a difference in the lives of others.
This scripture goes on to give us a list of spiritual gifts. This is not a complete list as you will discover other spiritual gifts throughout the Bible, but let’s look at them so we can get an understanding of what’s available to us.
The Word of Wisdom
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit,
The Word of Wisdom refers to an intimate understanding of God’s Word. It enables you to take something in the Bible that seems hard to understand and make it simple for others to understand.
You benefit from this gift every Sunday when I bring you the Word. You thought I was just smart. Nope. I’m yielded to the Holy Spirit and called by God to be your Pastor.
It’s a bummer when people decide they can’t receive from me because of my age or some rumor they heard about me. Because this isn’t me. This is God speaking through me.
When you resist what I am teaching you, you are not resisting me. You are resisting God. And He’s just trying to get something to you so you can be blessed. Don’t reject the gift. Receive it.
The Word of Knowlege
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
We just witnessed two examples of this. The word of knowledge is when the Holy Spirit enables you to know something that could not have been known otherwise.
This gift can be a little uncomfortable because it is very odd to act on something the Holy Spirit reveals to you that could not have been known otherwise. I mean, you have no data or experience to back it up.
Because of this, it might just be the most neglected gift. God reveals something to you that can change this person’s life forever, but you stay quiet because you’re not sure how you know this.
Just remember how Jesus used this gift with the Samaritan woman. He knew her most intimate secrets and used them not to shame her, but to reveal God to her.
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – to another faith by the same Spirit,
Every person has enough faith to believe in Jesus and follow Him. But the Spirit can give the gift of faith on top of this.
This is when you obtain absolute confidence in what God is going to do. It might seem crazy to everyone else, but you know God is going to do it.
Healings, Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits,
Healings, miracles, prophesy – these are the three gifts of the spirit most people are familiar with. However, healing is a miracle so you might wonder how they are different.
Miracles refer to things like how Jesus fed the 5,000 and calmed the storm and raised people from the dead.
Discerning of spirits is a gift that lets you in on what is really going on. Like somehow you just know when the other person is lying to you, or when a situation isn’t what it seems.
A perfect example from Jesus is when He knew sickness was caused by a demon, and so He cast the demon out and the person was healed.
Tounges and Interpretation
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
In other words, the Spirit enables you to speak in a language you don’t even know. It can even enable you to interpret a language you don’t even know.
Beth and I operated in this gift last week at the end of worship. I spoke in an unknown tongue and she interpreted what I said.
I Corinthians 12:8-11 NKJV – But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
The Holy Spirit distributes these gifts as He wills. This person might have one gift, another person might have three. You might operate in one gift one day and another gift the next.
This seems like a great mystery, but it’s really easy to understand. God wants to draw all people to Himself. If a spiritual gift is going to help with that, He’ll freely give it for you to use.
The reason we don’t see them at work more often is becauase we are close-minded to spiritual gifts. We run from spiritual gifts because we think our knowledge and science are all we need.
But let me remind you:
To follow Jesus, I must embrace spiritual gifts.
I want to give you a chance to do that right now. If you are ready to embrace spiritual gifts, simply reach out your hands in a posture of receiving and let the Holy Spirit know you’re ready.
Now we are going to take a moment and see what the Holy Spirit wants to do right here, right now. If one of the gifts we just talked about rises up in you, I want you to stand up and operate it in.
Earlier I explained how true salvation only comes when you believe in Jesus. And when you believe in Jesus, you follow Jesus.
Examine your life right now. Does the way you live show that you believe in Jesus? I’m not talking about perfection. But I do want you to get real with yourself. Are you following Jesus?
If not, you need to dig into the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and let Jesus reveal Himself to you. Because when you find out who Jesus really is, you won’t be able to help yourself. You have to follow Him.
Maybe this happened for you today. Jesus revealed Himself to you and now you really do believe He is your Savior and your Lord. If that’s you, I want to help you put words to what has happened on the inside of you. Repeat this after me:
Jesus Christ, I believe in You. Thank you for giving your life to save me. I’m forgiven! I’m free! I dedicate my life to following you.