Following the Good Shepherd – February 2022

The following Bible presentation can be read as standing on its own, or, as a continuation of a series on sin and it’s consequences which can all be found immediately below the present one if you wish to read them first.
You may notice in this article references to earlier subjects in this series that follow this one in date order.

Introduction

If this is the first time you have seen one of our regular messages in The Rugby Register magazine or visited our website and read one of our monthly articles, you may be wondering why we are recommending that you ‘follow Jesus Christ’, who was born over 2000 years ago. Well, it is because in this troubled world, where there is so much suffering, poverty, killing and several billion people starving, plus continuing destruction of the environment that is so bad that the Secretary General of the United Nations has said, “We are on a catastrophic path.  We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future,” with the Guardian newspaper adding to that report, that the majority of scientists consider “the world’s governments are currently failing to avert a grim fate.”
Therefore, we, as a community of Christians, wanted to show our readers, the rot that seems to have set in will be reversed by the Creator. He has amazing plans for the earth and will not allow it to become uninhabitable by men and women.

18  For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.                                  Isaiah 45
29  The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.      Psalm 37

We started with the common criticism often thrown at Christians, “Why does God allow suffering?” and, “If God is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving, why do bad things happen to people?”  That was in October last year since when we have developed a series of monthly Bible presentations to show that it is an inevitable part of God’s amazing, wonderful purpose with the earth.  To read them you can go to the October 2021 presentation below, and work chronologically through them all there.

Following the Good Shepherd

So far in this series of presentations we have shown that a loving God created the world and men and women wishing that some, appreciating what He is doing for them, might show Him their love. October 2021  Unfortunately, we find creating men and women with the freedom to love also leads to many problems caused by those who don’t love Him.

We have seen in recent months that God gave the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, a simple, but important command, breaking of which meant they would die.  Sadly, they disobeyed and death for all was brought into the world. (November 2021)  Fortunately, God had foreseen this would happen and had provided in His plan the means to overcome sin and break down the barrier to future life enabling God to reward those who loved and served Him. (December 2021)  This hard-won victory was achieved by God’s own son, Jesus Christ, who did no sin and became the first to be resurrected to eternal life. (January 2022)  Now we need to deal with what men and women must to do to gain the same reward as Jesus – resurrection to eternal life and an amazing future life.

We have already seen that Jesus likens himself to a shepherd and those who believe in him are his sheep that follow him.  We have many examples in the Bible of how Jesus collects his followers.  At the beginning of his ministry Jesus collected many followers. For example, there were James and John, two of his twelve special followers and disciples

21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.                                                                                                       Matthew 4

That did not mean they gave up fishing completely.  They still needed to contribute to the family income, but they now had a new priority in life.  They learned the gospel Jesus taught, watched how he lived, and strove to obey him.  On one occasion an interesting young man to see Jesus.

16  And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  17  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.                           Matthew 19

They discussed what the commandments were.  Then …

20  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.            Matthew 19

Jesus could see that his possessions were more important than the commitment that was necessary to follow him.

Clearly, to follow Jesus we need to know how he lived. So, let us look at how Jesus started his ministry.

13  Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.                        Matthew 3

How important this event was to Jesus!  He was baptised by full immersion in water to fulfil all righteousness as his first public act and his Heavenly Father witnessed to the fact that Jesus was uniquely His Son and what He had done had well pleased Him. 

Then Jesus was led into the wilderness for a final period of preparation after which …

14  … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.                                                            Mark 1

And in view of the importance his Father had attached to baptism we find …

1  … that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2  (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)              John 4

So began a great work for Jesus and his disciples, the apostles and faithful men and women down the ages to the present day.

14  And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.                                          Matthew 24

What do you know about baptism?  Probably, that it is carried out in various different ways in churches and ‘Christian’ communities as illustrated.

The apostle Paul spent many years bringing men and women to salvation through Jesus Christ and we feel that it is very useful to look at an example that took place in Philippi where Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison for preaching the gospel in that city.

25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26  And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. 27  And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.                                          Acts 16

The jailer was about to kill himself because any Roman soldier who had prisoners in his care and allowed any to escape was put to death.  The record continues.

28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29  Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Paul and Silas had been in the city for a good few weeks and spread their message far and wide amongst the population. Clearly the jailer had heard and understood he needed to do something to be saved

31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.     Acts 16

Paul and Silas made sure that all the household knew and understood the gospel and only then were they baptised being taken to where there was sufficient water for immersion  As Jesus had said, …

 

5  … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.                             John 3

Baptism is a rebirth to new life in Christ in which the oen baptised promises to obey Jesus and his commandments .

There is a true saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so we are going to use some to demonstrate that the four principles involved must be understood and therefore can only apply to an adult mind and full immersion.

We hope that all who have read this article carefully will appreciate that Bible baptism, as preached by Jesus and the apostles, must be by total immersion as no other way can be an effective seal of the covenant the candidate needs to make with the son of God.  Here is a summary of the four steps.

After all, the benefits being offered for faithful service to Jesus and his and our Heavenly Father are enormous. But that is another story as this presentation has reached its limit in length. So, our intention is to deal with that next month. Please remember any questions regarding this presentation or any Bible matters including those dealt with on our website, in our comments box top right, will be welcomed and answered.

Please be assured that we only respond to questions and comments and will not approach you again unless requested.

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This presentation is one of a series.  Those before it are listed below.  Please click on any you wish to go to.

1. Why does God allow suffering? – October 2021
2. Remarkable Changes are coming – November 2021
3. He is risen (Resurrection) – December 2021
4. The Good Shepherd of his sheep – January 2022

PLUS two reasons why we know THE BIBLE IS TRUE.

Who knows the future? – February 2021 
How can Israel be God’s witnesses? – April 2021