The benefits and blessings of being a Christian

Not long ago I came across an amusing story about a family of campers. As soon as they arrived at a particular holiday park, the whole family baled out of their two cars. The teenagers in the family immediately set to work unloading equipment and started putting up the tents. While they did this the younger girls and their mother sorted through the cooking utensils and set up the camping stove. Every member of the family was enthusiastically engaged in some particular task and they all worked together as a well coordinated team. Soon everything was set up. One holiday maker observing this was so impressed by their team work and enthusiasm that he went over to their dad to congratulate him. “Thank you” replied the father “but it’s quite simple really. I have a system to motivate them all. No one is allowed to go to the toilet block until the camp is set up!”

The reason for their enthusiasm was motivation. Their dad had found something which encouraged them to work quickly and efficiently to set up camp. If he hadn’t managed to find an incentive then they would have been apathetic about the work involved and probably taken hours to get it done.

Likewise, regarding spiritual matters, the Bible teaches that there are great motivating reasons and incentives why we should enthusiastically follow the Lord rather than be indifferent and apathetic. From Genesis through to Revelation, Scripture teaches that great blessings are reserved for the faithful, just as great punishment is reserved for the disobedient. Countless verses refer to these blessings or punishment.

Regarding blessings, for example, it states in Psalm 103v2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits…” in Galatians Ch6v9 it adds, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”; in Ephesians Ch6vs6-8 it says “Do the will of God from the heart…knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord”; and in 1st Corinthians Ch 15 v58 it urges “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

When referring to future punishment, the following is a selection; Hebrews Ch2vs1-3 states “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard lest we should drift away…for how shall we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation?”; Hebrews Ch10v31 “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.”; 2nd Corinthians Ch5v11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men to repent.”; Luke Ch12v5 “I will tell you Whom you should fear. Fear Him, Who after He has killed has power to cast into hell; yes I say to you fear Him!”; Revelation Ch6vs 15-17, “…and people will hide themselves and say to the mountains and rocks, ‘fall on us and hide us from Him Who sits on the Throne and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great Day of His Judgment has come and who is able to stand?’ ”

God is the source of all true joy and the spiritual blessings and benefits which He gives to those who have repented of their sins and are now following Him are priceless.

Firstly, they have the joyful knowledge that their sins are really forgiven and therefore they have no reason to fear the Second Coming of Christ or the Day of Judgment. It wonderfully promises in Romans Ch 8v1”There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” In Hebrews Ch7v25 it adds “He saves to the uttermost those who come to God through Him.” And in 1st John Ch1v7-9 it says “The Blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin…if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (See also Isaiah ch1v 18, John Ch3v16-17, Luke Ch7v47, John Ch8v11. Hebrews Ch8v12 and Psalm 51). They have the gift of everlasting life and have no reason to fear physical death. (Romans Ch6v23).

Many years ago there was a certain man who was deeply troubled by his conscience. His mind was in turmoil and so being unable to find any peace he decided to go for a long walk in the country. After a while he sat down beside a garden hedge. As he sat there, he overheard a conversation between two women in the garden which changed his life. The women were discussing a sermon which one of them had recently heard. One of them said, “I will never forget the thing which the minister said. It gave me such hope and encouragement.” “What was that?” the other woman eagerly inquired. “The world says that you make your own bed, and so you must lie in it, but One greater than the world said ‘take up thy bed and walk, thy sins are forgiven.’ ” When the distressed man heard those wondrous words, his despair instantly changed to one of hope. He turned to Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, felt his guilt taken away and experienced the joyful knowledge that his sins had truly been forgiven.

Secondly, they have the joy of His Fellowship and Companionship. In Matthew Ch28v20 Jesus promised “Behold I Am with you always, even to the end of the age” and in Hebrews Ch13v5 it adds “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Those who are faithful in following the Lord are promised the gift of His continual Presence and Companionship throughout this present life and beyond. It is a relationship and partnership which begins the moment a person truly turns to the Lord and it continues forever. It is friendship with a Divine Being Who is closer to them than any created being ever can be; One Who loves and cares for them more than anyone else does, and Who shares all their experiences more than anyone else can do. He is their ever-present personal Friend and Companion. And what a comfort this brings. It means an individual Christian is never really alone. They may have been abandoned by their family, or forgotten by their fellow men, but the Lord Himself will never desert them. This sense of Divine Fellowship puts an end to the “cosmic loneliness” and emptiness non Christians often feel deep down in their being.

To illustrate the powerful beauty of this truth the Rev John McNeill tells of a boyhood experience he had,
which comforted him throughout the rest of his life. He wrote “I remember one Saturday night it was nearly midnight when I started to tramp six or seven miles down through the lonely glens to get home. The road had a bad name, it was supposedly haunted and terrible things had happened there. This particular night was very black, and two miles outside our little village the road gets even blacker. I was just entering this dark defile when about 100 yards ahead, in the densest of the darkness, there suddenly rang out a strong cheery voice, ‘Is that you Johnny? I have come to meet you.’ It was my father, the bravest man I ever knew. Together we walked through the densest darkness, but I wasn’t afraid of anything because I was not alone. Many a time since then, I have reflected on that experience when things have been getting black and gloomy about me. Then I sense a Voice greater than any earthly parent cry ‘Fear not for I Am with thee’ and I think to myself ‘Yea even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because Thou art with me.’ “The comfort which the Lord’s Companionship brings as a Christian treads the journey of life is indescribable.

Thirdly, they have the promise of God’s help and strength to overcome whatever problems and temptations lie ahead. Repeatedly, Scripture states that the power of Christ changes and transforms lives. Those who follow the Lord are promised supernatural strength to obey His will, resist temptation and to overcome whatever problems they may face. In John Ch1v12 it promises “to as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become children of God,” in 1st Corinthians Ch 10v13 it adds “God is faithful Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist,” and in 2nd Peter Ch2v9 it says “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.”

Many years ago the pioneer missionary Ludwig Nommensen was granted permission to live among the Batak tribe. For two years he studied the customs and traditions which ruled their lives and finally he was invited to meet their chief. The chief asked him to explain in what ways the Christian religion differed from that of the traditions of the Batak. After the missionary explained the Ten Commandments the chief commented “We too have laws which say we must not steal, nor take our neighbours wife, nor bear false witness.” Ludwig then replied profoundly “The difference is my Saviour Jesus also gives us the power to keep His laws.” The chief was startled and asked “Can you teach my people that?” Ludwig said “No I cannot, but God Himself will give them this power if they ask for it and listen to His Word.” The missionary was permitted to stay for a further six months during which time he focused on one main issue- the power of God to the believer. At the end of that time he met the chief again. The chief said “You may stay. Your law is better than ours. Ours tells us what we ought to do. Your God says ‘Come, I will walk with you and give you strength to do the good thing.’ “

The Living God is a God of power, and those who sincerely seek to follow Him are promised His power and strength to deal with whatever they face in life. Whether it be temptation, ill health, affliction, persecution or whatever, the Lord’s power is available so a Christian can overcome evil rather than be overcome by it. When St Paul was enduring severe affliction the Lord reassured him by saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2nd Corinthians Ch12v9) and in Philippians Ch4v13 St Paul wrote “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (See also 2ndCorinthians Ch9v8). The greater the need and more awesome the problem; the greater the power and strength supplied. In Christ “we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” (Romans Ch8v37).

These are just some of the many motivating reasons and incentives why we should enthusiastically follow the Lord; as it exhorts us in Deuteronomy Ch30v20 “love the Lord and obey His voice, cling to Him, because He is your life…”