I'm going to take off this hat before it goes everywhere here. But the last six weeks of studying out, following Jesus hasn't been inspiring? Hasn't it been convicting? I mean, you can't talk about following Jesus and not get your heart stirred, not get your heart pumping, because when you hear this call to follow Him, it does something to you. We were destined for this. We were designed to want to know God and to follow his Son. And as you get to hear these callings, we've been invited to a special, intimate relationship with Jesus. We've been called to go on a wild adventure. We've been called to make an impact on this world. We've been called to go on missions to the ends of the earth.
And today we're going to talk about we're called to follow Jesus to eternity. I'm glad that what we do on this earth, it does matter. And how we follow Jesus now, it impacts our destiny. Where we go for eternity. The call to follow Jesus it's not easy, but it has a direct impact on where you end up for eternity. And what we do on this earth literally echoes on for eternity in our destination. And Jesus said, when you die, there's one or two spots you go to. There's one you don't want to be, which is some would call it hell, but eternal punishment, fire and absence of God and love and all that is good. And on the flip side, you have eternal life, which is with Jesus, with God in perfection, and in holiness, where there is no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering for eternity. We all end up in one of these two places. And how we live on this earth matters. And those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly, like we've been studying out, you have eternal life. It's the promise of following Jesus. You have eternal lives.
And the night before Jesus was betrayed, his disciples, they were losing heart. They knew that Jesus about to be taken away and they were going to be on their own. And Jesus tells him these words to encourage him about what's to come, to keep following him, because eternity is where they're heading. It says in John 14, verses one through six, "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms. If it were not so, I would not have told you that I'm going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me, that you may also be where I am. You know the way, the place of where I'm going.' Thomas said, 'Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" And Jesus has gone ahead of his disciples that night. He's gone ahead of us to get heaven ready, to prepare a place for you.
I don't know what this room is like, and I'm sure if I did, it would be indescribable. A place to be with God, where we're complete, where we're whole, where there's no sin and no evil and no pain and no regret and no sorrow. A place where God's love and goodness is a place where his glory is filled and we are made complete before Him. I don't know if there's enough words in the English language to describe what that could possibly be like, but that's where he's gone. That's what he's prepared for you and for me. And if you follow Jesus faithfully, guess what? Your name is on the guest list. He's got a room. Your name has a destination. A place where you get to be with God forever. Paradise, eternity. And he tells the Twelve that you know the way. The way is through Jesus. It's through following Jesus. He says, I am the way. I am the truth and I am the life. There's no other way. There's no other truth and there's no other way to eternal life than through me and by following me. I've shown you the way. Follow me to the finish line.
And as you go through the gospels, Jesus talks about eternity all over the place. It's actually quite convicting to see how much he talks about and to think about how little I talk about it in my day to day life. But eternity was something that came up in his conversations that he taught about and that he talked about. And as we're concluding this series, we're going to talk about two aspects of this road that he's marked out for us to follow for eternity. It's by following his words and staying true to his weight.
Following His Words
Let's talk about following his words. In John, chapter five, verse 24, he says this:
"'Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my words and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be judged, but he has crossed over from death to life.'"
Hearing Jesus words and obeying his words, believing in his words. He says, you'll find eternal life. It literally says you'll be spared from judgment, from your sin, and you'll cross over from death to life. There's no other words on this planet, no other words on Earth that can have this promise of eternal life.
There's no other words that have the power to help someone cross over from death to life, to raise someone to a new life and to be with God for eternity. That's why we must follow Jesus. It's his words and his words alone that have this promise and that have this power. He says in John, chapter ten, verse 25,
"Jesus answered them, 'I tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in My Father's name testify about me. But you do not believe, because you're not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one will snatch them out of My hands.'"
Those who follow Jesus, they know his words, they know his voice, and they follow Him. And Jesus says those who follow Him, those who follow his words, they will have eternal life. They will never perish. And if only if they keep following his words, nothing will be able to snatch them, out of his hands, out of his promise of eternal life. In John, chapter twelve, verse 47, he says this
"If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words. The very words I've spoken will condemn them on that last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me and commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that this command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
Jesus's words are the only words that lead to eternal life. They're not to prohibit us. They're not to keep us from a good time. They're not to punish us. They're not to judge us. They're to bring life. They're to make you whole, to make you full, to complete you. His words are supposed to lead you to where you want to be. And he showed us the way to eternal life, and it's through his words. And when you follow his words, you hold to his words, you get to have every spiritual blessing in this lifetime and eternal life to come. His words are what we must follow, and it's what will be judged by.
If we don't follow Him, we're not going to make it through eternal life. He's marked out this path clearly. He's given us all the answers to the final exam. There's no trick questions. There's no surprise pop quizzes. It's there. He's given us his words, how to follow Him, how to know Him, how to have a relationship with Him. And it's up to us. I mean, he'd be stupid and foolish not to read his words, to not know his words, to not hold to his words. Because every day, every person will have to give an account to this on their last day and to his words. And you want to know them, and you want to follow them.
Imagine right now if in this building, the roof was ripped off, and this giant hand jets right down over my head into the audience, and on the tip of the index finger was a book, and his voice says, read this. Obey these words and you will live. Not you will die. Wouldn't we all be like, what is in that book? I want to read that book. We would take turns reading it. We would copy that sucker. We'd all have a copy of it. We'd be reading about we'd be talking about it. We'd be challenging pop quizzing each other. How are we doing on this? We'd be trying to follow it. Like, we would not be slouching if we knew that it had eternal consequences of what it meant.
Jesus is saying the same thing here. My words have life, eternal life. Read them and you will live. Read them and you'll be in heaven. Like, read them and follow them, and you will be made complete. His words alone lead to eternal life.
So it makes me ask this question why are so many of us not reading His Word every day? Why is there things that we know that we're consciously not obeying in His Word when he says to do it? Why are we afraid to hold each other to what his words say if they truly lead to eternal life? See, when you see his words in Perspective of Eternity, it only makes sense to read them, to follow them, and to help each other to live them out as well. To help each other live this out, it's not judging one another. He's just actually, the text, his words, is what we'll have to give an account for on that last day, helping each other to obey us and live us out, that's loving one another. That's being a good friend. That's being a good brother or sister to one another. Our day is quickly approaching where you'll meet Jesus face to face. Every day that passes you're one day closer to your eternal destination.
Should not our zeal, our fervor, our conviction, our passion for God's Word only grow day by day? If each day we're getting closer and each day we're having to get into account, shouldn't our convictions, our passions, just grow more and more? But I fear that time has the opposite effect on us. I think if we're not careful, lukewarmness will be the desired temperature of how we view the Bible and read it. If we're not careful, our most passionate days for God's Word, we'll be in the past. If we're not careful, if we're not fools for Christ, if we're not following these words, we will fail to pass them on to the next generation. The next generation will fail to live them out. These words are the only ones that lead to eternal life. It begs a couple of questions. How do we hold to his teachings? How do we hold to his words?
Make Intentional Time
First up is this you got to make intentional time each day to read His Word. If you don't carve out time, there won't be time. But it's amazing. If you make time, it will happen each day. I don't know about you, but I intentionally make time for certain things every day. I do not skip the meal unless I'm purposely fasting. You know what I'm saying? I plan, I think about it. We carve out things that mean something to us. You got to carve out time with God. Christina and I, before we started our marriage, we had this vow to one another. We said that we would not go to bed once we're married without reading God's Word. Now, we had this habit before we were married of reading the Bible every day. But as we started our marriage, we wanted to base our marriage off this. I knew I'd be the best husband I could be if I had God's Word in my life. I knew that I had the best chance to make it through eternal life, and I had the best chance of bringing Christina. And we had the biggest impact on those around us if we could read His Word every day. In ten and a half years, we've only missed one day.
And when I think about that, it's not because, like, oh, it's a checklist, or I'm a minister. It's because I have a healthy fear of God. Like, I know who I am if I'm not close to God's words. I know who I am if I'm not holding tight to them. And I don't want to be that type of husband or that type of dad. I want to follow Jesus closely, and Christina does too.
There's been days we've been in the hospital and Christina could barely open her eyes. And I'm reading her the Bible. I mean, there's exhausted days we've been traveling the world. I'm like, it's still today. We got to read. There's been mundane days. It's so easy to just give up that we've chosen to read. There's been days where, I mean, having a newborn, you hardly slept and you're dozing off. You're like, So stay awake. Come on, we can do this. We can read. We can do this together. But it's taken intentionality to carve out time each day to do this. I want to know these words. I want to live these words, I want to follow these words. I want to study them because it's a map to eternal life.
I want Christina, I want my family. You know, I get emotional each day when I pray for Aspen because I'm trying to teach her God's word. I'm trying to train this little two year old to know who God is, to want to love Him, to want to follow His Son, for it to be a joy, for it to be something that she's excited about. I get emotional praying that she's going to have to make her own choice someday. And I know the way I view God's word and love God's word and my passion, willl either draw Him closer, draw her closer to Him, or my lack of example, she won't have one to follow.
It's not legalistic, and it's not a crazy expectation to read God for every day. You think about what you read every day. Man, if you're in fantasy football right now, you're looking at that every day. Social media, YouTube, Netflix, there's so many things that take our time. Should not eternal life and following those words be at the top of the list? They should be.
Examine Your Life
Secondly, you should think about what words that Jesus said are you not following closely? All right, if you're hearing God's word, but you know that there's something like sin, that there's some sin in your life that, man, I need to repent, that I need to overcome. You should study it out. You should give your whole heart to it. Things like bitterness, impurity or lust, gossiping, laziness, self-centeredness, these things are things that Jesus doesn't do. It's going to hurt you and hurt those around you. Time to repent. Study it out. Dig deep. Maybe it's a command that you're ignoring. It's easy to ignore a few things in the Bible. Go make disciples. Love one another as I have loved you. Deny yourself daily. There's some I just wish I never read, but I did, and it's there. I don't want to ignore them. I want to have the right heart to do them.
Maybe the world has been watering down your convictions. Maybe it's a friend, a coworker, a family member. That's what their opinions and thoughts are, are skewing the way you're following Jesus words. Maybe there's some progressive theology or some podcasts you've been listening to that sounds trendy, but it's knocked off your true north. Maybe there's a hardship or pain you're going through that's just causing you to lose heart with God's word.
Whatever it is, it's time to dive deep into God's word. It's time to dive deep and to hear Jesus's heart. He says things for a reason, says things for a purpose. Discover what that is. Give your heart and understanding to what they are.
Rely on Others
The third thing is this we need each other to live out these words. We need each other. No one can live this out on their own. We need teammates, we need spotters, we need people to help us and to encourage us to do this. When we see each other going through a hard time, we need encouragement to hold to his words. When we see each other straying, we need some truth to hold to these words. When we're struggling and we feel like giving up, we need love to hold to these words, but we need each other. We can't do this on our own. If you're a part of this church, a member, you have signed up for healthy one another relationships where we hold each other to Jesus words because we all want to make it. We want to make it through eternal life. We want to help each other make it. And how we follow is where is determine where you end up. And we need help to obey God's words and to follow them.
I promise you, if you make time each day, if you overcome areas that you feel like, man, I'm really struggling to hold Jesus words. I don't have a deep conviction on it. And if you pull others in to help you, you will walk the way, you will follow the way, the truth, the light to your eternal destination of eternal life.
COVID and social isolation, it didn't create the best habits in us, did it? It got us all a bit wacky. I'm so grateful that God's word centers us. I'm so grateful it's the path forward. I'm so grateful as we live this out together, we'll really glorify God. Jesus words alone are the only ones that lead to eternal life. If you follow Jesus in such a way, his words will guide you and help get to that finish line.
But isn't it hard to stay on the path? It just is. I mean, I wish there was only one path and no other distractions. But the truth is there's one narrow road and a bajillion other roads you can walk down. And how you stay true to Jesus words and staying true to his ways determine where you end up in the end. It's easy to drift, it's easy to coast, it's easy to go through the motions and lose your way. It's crazy how once was a fullhearted commitment can become halfhearted in time. Following Jesus is a full commitment for your full lifetime and that's hard. I have a friend named Rick. He actually spoke in January on Zoom when we had, I think, our last Zoom service. I love Rick, but Rick is one of the most distracted drivers I have ever met. Honestly. I tell him to arrive places 15 to 30 minutes early to account for missed turns, side stops and forgetting something. This is just Rick. I mean, he's got the best heart, but, man, he loses attention and he gets lost all the time. It could just be a great song on the radio, and if he starts whistling, it's over. Once he starts whistling, it's a tunnel vision of the song. It doesn't matter what the GPS says. It doesn't matter what his friends say. This is your exit. If he starts whistling, he's gone. It could be a cute sister that he's taken on a date, and he's deep in conversation, and they end up in a totally different city. Like, this happens more times than I have fingers on my hands or toes on my feet. He could be in a deep conversation. He could see a squirrel. Rick is so easily distracted. I was literally on the phone with him Friday night, and we were talking to him this good time, and he says, Brian, I just walked in my house, and I know I came home for a reason, but I can't remember since we've been on the phone why I came home. Well, Rick, what do you got going on later tonight? You start thinking about it, he's like, oh, there's a baptism. I'm getting baptism clothes. Okay. He has his baptism clothes. I'm like, Rick, do you know where you're going next? Yes, I do, but it's just him. It's just him.
But if we're all honest, can't we be like Rick and his driving when it comes to following Jesus? We can begin the journey. We can even start our day knowing where we're going. But there's songs that pop on. There's squirrels that run by. There's people's conversations that happen. If you start whistling, you're never going to get to it. Like it happens when we follow you. We get distracted. It's so easy to take your eye off the ball. It's so easy to miss your turn. It's so easy to just drop your attention and stray from a path that you never wanted to go down. To follow Jesus for eternity, you got to check yourself. You got to recheck yourself, and you need God and His Word and his people to do that. Jesus reminds people that you got to stay focused and stay true to his ways. In John five, verse 39, says this,
"You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me and have life."
It's easy to follow church. It's easy to follow religion. It's easy to follow culture or patterns, traditions, habits, and lose focus of what matters most. The crowd Jesus is addressing knew God's word. They studied God's word. They've been waiting their entire life for the promised Messiah and he's standing right in front of them. He's having a conversation with them. All the Old Testament prophecies point to the man right in front of them and they missed it. They missed it because they got sidetracked, they got distracted. They missed the real thing right in front of them. I don't want to get so caught up in my routine, my comfort, my habits by going through the motions that I miss it and miss staying true to God's word. It's easier to play church than to authentically follow Jesus. It's easier to go through the motions and to be a true disciple. It takes intentionality. I don't want to get so close and in the end, find I strayed.
Follow on to Eternity
John Six, verse 66, says this,
"From this time on his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 'You do not want to leave too, do you?'
Jesus asked the twelve. Simon Peter answered,
'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'"
See, they've just gone through a hard teaching and many people who are following them decide to give up and to turn around. And Jesus looks at this all says, what about you guys? You guys in? Are you out? And Peter's response is so pure hearted. He says, to where else do we go? Jesus, I've given up everything. I am all in. There's no plan B. There's no turning back. There's no detouring. You alone are the ones that give eternal life. You are God in the flesh. I can't turn my back on following you. When you follow Jesus authentically, there's no other plan B. There's no other place to go. You're all in. Eternity is an infinite number of days and years. If you're not following Jesus in this lifetime, I don't think you're going to want to follow an infinite amount of days in eternity.
How you live now? Who is the love of your life? Who are you all in? If it's Jesus, you're going to love heaven. If it's not what? You may not make it there, and you're not going to like it there. It's all about Jesus. If you've come to the same conclusion that there's no other place to find eternal life other than through Jesus. If you come to the same conclusion that his words alone set a man free and have the promise of eternal life, then are you following like Peter said? Are you following like nothing on this earth can replace what you found? No money, no relationship, no hobby, no pleasure, no comfort is worth heaven. Nothing that this world has to offer is worth eternity. But yet we get distracted. And yet we get sidetracked. You are closer today than you were yesterday to eternity.
You know, Alan Magnusson finished his race this summer. Faithfully. He's gone home. I want to finish faithfully. Marilyn Wright. She's in hospice care right now, longing to hear, well done, good and faithful servant. You don't know when your day is. It could be today, it could be 50 years from now, but are you ready?
Eternal life is what Jesus offered you to drink from living water that never runs dry, that always satisfies to eat the bread of life that always fills and never molds and never runs out. In heaven, you're promised a new body. I don't know what that's like, but no arthritis. I'm excited about that. No aches and pains. Man, I got a new body. You get a new robe, you get a new name, you get a lampstand, whatever that's going to look like that doesn't run out like you get some new stuff I'm fired up about having in my life for all eternity. You go to a place where there's a new heaven and new earth with no sin and no pain and no suffering and no tears. You get to be comforted and made whole for all eternity. Jesus said it best as he was hanging on the cross to the guy next to him today you'll be with me in paradise. If that's the best summary word of what the eternal life he's promising, say no more. Sign me up.
If you've never been born again, if you've never repented of your sins, made Jesus of your life and then baptized, you need to study this out and figure this out. Because when you repent of your sins, make Jesus lord of your life and get baptized, that's the point when you receive forgiveness of your sins, that's the point where you receive the Holy Spirit and you get this promise of eternal life. You should study out what Jesus says, how to get there, and ask whoever invited you to church to go on this journey with you. And if you have made this commitment, finish strong, finish wholeheartedly, and finish bringing as many people with you as you can.
There's only two things that go on to eternity: you, your soul, and the souls you impacted on this earth. Let's take some time now during communion and think about our Lord and Savior hanging on the cross, suffering and dying with eternity in mind, with you in mind, your destination in mind that he would suffer and die a death that our sin deserves. All for the hope that we could be with Him for eternity. Let the words he spoke on the cross, "today you'll be with me in paradise," encourage you, reorient your heart that we're following him for eternity and on to eternity. Let's pray now for a time of reflection of his death, burial and resurrection.
God, we don't deserve eternal life. If you judged me without the grace of Jesus, without Him sparing me for my sin, without Him paying the debt I could never pay, I would fail. I would fail every single day to be worthy of being with you. And yet Jesus makes it possible. Jesus paid the price. I could never pay. But through him, I could have eternal life. God, thank you so much that you love me and you loved us enough to offer your one and only Son to save us, to bring us home to you. God, I pray that during this time of communion we can get in touch with eternity, that we can get in touch with what Jesus did. It wasn't just to change our lives here and now, but it was for a bigger picture, a bigger purpose, that eternity was on the line when he was on the cross. As we take time to remember that, let our hearts leap with joy. Let our hearts be encouraged. Let our hearts be more committed to you. Because it's Jesus who we follow and it's Jesus who's given us these promises, and he's the one who's going to take us to that promised land. We pray this and thank you for these things in Jesus name. Amen.