Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Turning Bad Into Good!

Winter is coming. When I realized that, I probably said something like, “Man! Why?? My life is over for the next several months!” But is it?

As it turns out, winter is a necessary refreshing that gives birth to springtime and then summer. Like King Solomon wrote, “There is an appointed time for everything.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Enduring the cold, sometimes dreary weather actually makes me stronger in several ways. Now, I realize that making it through winter isn’t quite like enduring life’s hardships, but the idea is similar. Here’s what James, Jesus’ half-brother, said about faith and enduring:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3).

Sometimes, our life can feel like a perpetual winter. My sister and a good friend are working through bouts of cancer. Two other friends are unemployed and faced with potential financial hardships. I’m working through my own trials as I seek to re-enter the workforce after a several-year sabbatical and heal from a recent knee replacement. Yet, some of us are persevering—enduring—with outstanding attitudes and strong responses. That kind of character supplies hope, potentially in this life and indeed in the one to come. The apostle Paul taught the Roman Christians that their endurance through trials would produce excellent character, which would, in turn, develop hope:

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope (Romans 5:3-4)

Don’t worry. If you’re going through trials or struggles and you’re a child of God, you have His Spirit to comfort, teach, and guide you. As with winter, remember that whatever you’re experiencing will likely end, and ‘spring’ will come. You’ve got this! But if you feel you’re losing the struggle or need a hand, seek professional help right away! What’s next? As we approach remembrance of the Pearl Harbor destruction of December 7, 1941, we’ll explore the dangers of being unprepared—spiritually, in our case.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Faith, Hope, & Love, Part II: Hope

Last week, we were introduced to the belief – faith – confidence – we are to have in God. It’s not meant to be blind faith, but a solid one based on things like Bible study, fellowship, discipleship, prayer, meditation, and illumination by the Spirit of God. Why is a strong faith important? So that we can stand firm in the face of trouble and persecution and know how to honor God in our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Today, we’ll also learn that a solid faith in what God has done and is doing also gives us confidence (faith) in what God will do in the future. That faith in the future is called hope, and it would be just wishful thinking and not expectation without the confidence that faith-building brings. Here’s what the writer of the Book of Hebrews says about the role of faith in hope:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  —Hebrews 11:1.

Hope is the expectation of fulfilling all that we believe will come about: salvation (rescue from coming judgment) and a new age when God will make all things new and dwell with humans. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. —Titus 2:11-14.

Similarly, the Apostle Peter reminds us that our hope is possible only because the Son (Jesus) died to pay for humankind’s rebellion against the Father. The Father raised the Son from the dead to become the first of all who the Father will raise for the new world to come.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. —1Peter 1:3-5.

Faith is the confidence in what God has done and is doing; hope is that same confidence in what God will do. But faith and hope are worthless unless they move us to love (faith in action). We’ll revisit that faith-born action (love) next week!

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

How to Read the Bible Part I: Why??

Each Christian can benefit from basic instruction for reading the Bible. Sure, we can read it at a high level and understand most simple messages. For instance, God’s desire to reconcile His creation through Israel and then Jesus is understandable. He loves the world, so He gave. Jesus’ mandate to respond with the same kind of love through obedient charity and personal purity is also pretty straight-forward. However, many messages can be challenging without essential guidance. Reading alone isn’t always enough, though – the texts are often meant to transform us through meditation and application. So, why should we care?

First, we need help in understanding the meanings and applications of things written thousands of years ago. Also, biblical texts in the form of poetry, histories, proverbial wisdom, and instructional letters were often written to or for particular people in a specific place for a unique reason. For instance, the apostle Paul wrote several letters to solve specific problems in particular churches. We’re not those people, and we’re far removed in language, culture, politics, and geography. We may not have been the original intended recipients, but we get a good shot of understanding the author’s intended messages if we use a few basic tools, which I’ll give you starting next week.

Second, we’re responsible for understanding biblical messages – especially if we pass on what we may think we know to others. Be careful: there’s a massive penalty for anyone who teaches anything other than God’s truths, even if out of ignorance (e.g., 2 Peter 2)!

Third, we can’t be what we don’t learn and internalize. In other words, we’re called to imitate Christ and reproduce that image in others through discipleship and godly living. We must become Christ in our communities. The process requires (1) learning truth through reading the Bible aided by tools such as commentaries, a concordance, or a theological dictionary and through illumination by God’s Spirit, (2) meditating on what we learn, (3) applying what we’ve taken in so that it becomes a part of us. Learning can also be aided by applying fundamental concepts such as using sound grammar principles to ‘follow the theological breadcrumbs,’ considering author, audience, and purpose, and thinking about the scriptures’ context.

Next week, I’ll begin giving the techniques I promised and will provide some very provocative examples of how carelessness has resulted in many rotten Christian understandings and sayings. We’ll unmask “Where two or more are gathered . . .” and “God has a special plan for my life . . .” And, you’ll learn about idioms (cultural sayings) and how not to turn them into the religious stuff.

Oh – here’s your first golden nugget of biblical truth: There’s only one meaning to a text but often multiple possible applications. Tune in next week for Part II: How??

Questions or comments? Email publisher@taylorpress.net.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

The Holy Spirit Part II: The Ultimate Equipper!

Last week, I introduced the Spirit of God, our connection to the Kingdom of Heaven, as we await a new age when the Father and Son will dwell with all creation. Meanwhile, the Spirit instructs and convicts and gives lovely gifts. He brings comfort, knowledge, and the ability to discern between right and wrong. Here are a few glimpses into a contemporary yet ancient Spirit:

God’s Spirit was at creation (Genesis 1:1-2): In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

He filled the Jews with wisdom and craftsmanship (Exodus 31:3-5): I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

He enabled the prophets (Numbers 11:25): Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.

Even today, the Spirit’s gifts include human languages (for preaching and teaching those of other nations) and that of heaven along with interpretation, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, and discerning spirits. But the Spirit gifts according to the Father’s purposes, not ours. He will do what He will do through the Spirit to suit His excellent pleasure (will). Here are gifts of the Spirit for the common good of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7-11):

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Here are additional resources:

Acts 2:4 – 13 (other languages to preach the Gospel).

Ephesians 4:1-6 and 11-16 (use the Spirit’s gifts for God’s purpose, equipping, and unity within the Church).

Regeneration by the Spirit enables access to the Kingdom of Heaven. Spiritual growth and equipping by the Spirit through gifts, talents, and the Church keep us heading in the right direction. Next week, we’ll uncover the discernible effects of walking by the Spirit and what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit.

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

Evangelism: Playing the Detective

As we’ve already learned, evangelism is absolutely critical to our salvation and that of others we witness to . . . or don’t.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” —Matthew 10:32-33.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” —Matthew 28:19-20.

One great way (but not the only way!) to evangelize the Gospel message is to build a relationship between yourself and those you to whom you express the good news. This will build trust and present opportunities to share and teach. Building that trust and seeking those golden opportunities will require you to get to know the other person. What is their background? What are their fears – especially regarding God or Christianity? What are their perceptions around religion? What physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual needs do they have? ‘Playing the detective’ will help you learn the answers to these questions and more in your relationship-building exercise.
Playing the detective requires that you ask open-ended questions, listen carefully to the responses, and then respond with additional questions as you ‘build their story’ and then relate your experiences and the Gospel to it. For instance:
“What do you think about God?”
“I don’t know. I’ve heard a lot of stuff and think he’s probably some higher power somewhere.”
“I know what you mean. The concept of God can be confusing – especially when so many people seem to have personal opinions about Him or be involved in different manmade religions. Tell me more about what you’ve heard.”

Well, I think you get the idea . . . Additional help in playing the detective can be found this highly-effective habit expressed by Dr. Stephen Covey: “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood”.
The following biblical advice can also help you treat your fellow man appropriately as you build evangelistic relationships:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus —Philippians 2:4-5.

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!
And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from http://www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

Purity & Holiness

God desires righteousness and blamelessness from us. Therefore, purity would describe the level of attainment of that state whatever the thing we want to be pure in. Think of it this way: in nature, something nearly pure (like fine gold or diamonds for instance) has little if anything else mixed with it. The purer, the more desirable the object is.

We, in covenant with our God through the Christ, must be set apart from worldly behavior (be holy, by definition). It’s not a mere suggestion, but a mandate. Those who practice immorality and sinful behavior will perish; the righteous who pursue purity and holiness through discipleship and application will live and enjoy their reward.

Be an example through purity, which may come at least in part through understanding of the Word of God.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. —1Timothy 4:12-13.

As followers of Jesus, we should be ‘dead’ to immorality and impurity.

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. —Colossians 5:3-8 (see also Ephesians 5:19-5).

Be pure, and therefore set apart from wicked behavior.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2Corinthians 7:1.

So, just how do we learn and apply God’s ways in the pursuit of holiness?

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. —Philippians 4:8.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. —2Peter 1:5-7.

Speaking of self-control in application of what we learn: Just as our belief in Jesus must result in obedience to be effective, our desire for purity must be put into action through self-control of the body and its desires. When we didn’t know better, it was easy to become slaves to lusts of our body. Paul had a lot to say about this in Romans Chapter 6 (definitely worth a read!). Other excellent Scriptures that highlight the importance of self-control in the pursuit of holiness include the following.

  • Exercise self-control to avoid being disqualified from the race and prize Paul equates to righteousness and eternal life. 1Corinthians 9:25-27.
  • Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • We should always ask whether what we’ll use our body for will be pleasing to God. 1Corinthians 6:18-20.
  • We must no longer be enslaved by our body and its lusts but the other way around. Romans 6:6 & 12-13.

Purity and holiness are possible when we learn God’s ways and apply them consistently. Like the body builder in pursuit of an exceptional physique, application can be difficult and painful at first; however, the rewards far outweigh the pain of achieving them.

What’s your pursuit?

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

Who’s Your Life Coach?

Everyone (even the casual Christian) seems to be looking for the latest self-help book or some kind of life coach these days. A silver-bullet approach to fixing ourselves or quick, easy fix toward self-improvement are high on the list of priorities for many.

Seems like a good pursuit. Right? I guess that depends on why we think we need ‘fixing’ or the standard to which we’re comparing ourselves and repairing what we perceive as damaged. And it could be anything from physical improvement to emotional well-being . . .

Well, if this describes you and your direction, you’re in luck! Your creator – the Father of Spirits – has provided you with everything you need to know to redirect your steps toward righteousness, perfection, and the ultimate self-help path that will also keep you from His incredible judgment and destruction to come!

For instance, Jesus tells us that we’re to be obedient to His commandments if we want to live (John 14:21-24). And, He and the Apostle Paul warn us of the behaviors that will land us in hell (Matthew 25:31-46 and 1Corinthians 6:9-10). Going further back in time, we can even learn about behaviors that can aid in healthy living (e.g. the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

Speaking of the Apostle Paul: We learn from him that immersing ourselves in the Scriptures (the Torah from which the Old Testament was formed) can keep us on the right track and help us discern right from wrong and truth from fable (2Timothy 3:16 and 1Timothy 4:6-7).

So, what do we do when we realize we’re heading down the wrong path? We repent – a change in behavior that comes from a change of heart (Acts 3:19 and 11:18; Romans 2:5).

The Spirit of God can also provide us with tools and gifts we can use to live well and for eternity (John 14:26 and 1Corinthians 12:7-11). In fact, those who believe in, and follow, our God, and, therefore, receive His Spirit, display characteristics such as peace, joy, and self-control (John 7:39; Acts 19:2; Galatians 5:22-23).

So, allow the words of God, and His Spirit, to be your life coaches. Learn. Commit. Grow. Improve. Live!

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part XIII “Fear is not of God!”

Misquote: “Fear doesn’t come from God” Well, actually, it does. Our emotion of fear, healthy respect, or awe isn’t some demon with a job title of “the Spirit of Fear”. Instead, it’s an important part of our makeup that aids in our protection by warning of possible or impending danger. Read the entire Bible, keeping references to ‘fear’ in context, and you’ll learn that we’re taught to fear – God, for instance, because of His incredible power and just nature.  You’ll also find that the ‘fear’ we often take out of context actually refers to cowardice in proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus!

This misunderstanding hinges on taking 2Timothy 1:7-8 out of context. Here’s the abused reference:

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God —2Timothy 1:7-8.

The Greek word used here for ‘timidity’ (also translated as ‘fear’ in some versions) is deilia (Strong’s G1167). Incidentally, this is the only place this word is used! It comes from the Greek word deilos (Strong’s G1169), which is used in only three places and represents the fear of men – cowardice (Matthew 8:26, Mark 4:40, and Revelation 21:8).

Indeed, cowardice isn’t of God. In fact, He gives His Spirit to those who follow, and that Spirit brings boldness and the wisdom necessary to tell others about the gospel that leads to life (i.e. Mark 13:11). So, who are the cowardly? Those without the Spirit who are headed to God’s judgment and wrath. Let’s take a brief look at the other types of fear that can be very good for us who do have the Spirit.

  • Fear of God and Christ (i.e. Luke 7:16, Acts 13:16, Romans 13:7, 2Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:12, 1Peter 1:17). This healthy fear is represented by the Greek word phobos (Strong’s G5401); it indicates alarm, fright, or terror.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. —2Corinthians 7:1.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling —Philippians 2:12.

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth —1Peter 1:17.

  • This next ‘fear’, phobeō (Strong’s G5399), comes from the one we just covered, and it basically means to ‘be in awe of’ or revere. Examples of its use can be found in Luke 12:4-5, Romans 11:20-21, Acts 5:10-11, and 1Peter 2:17.

“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!—Luke 12:4-5.

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. —1Peter 2:17.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Don’t be a coward. God has offered you a way out of His judgment and wrath through our Christ’s sacrifice. If you’ve taken that path, then you know the gospel that brings life and have a testimony of some kind. Share it with others by the wisdom and boldness of the Spirit. And, have a healthy respect for the power, authority, impartiality, and just nature of our God and Christ!

With this, we’ll end our current series of Apocalyptic Misquotes.  Never fear, though – we’ll continue to train in righteousness through weekly blogs as we equip believers to become followers.

Ron Braley

www.ronbraley.com

www.findingdiscipleship.org

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part XII “Nothing can separate us From Jesus!”

Misquote: Nothing can separate us From Jesus!” This misunderstanding hinges on taking Romans 8:35-39 out of context and paves the way for dangerous doctrines. Here’s the abused reference:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? . . . neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:35-39.

Actually, WE can separate ourselves from the love of God (which is action – not emotion!) through disobedience and our own lack of faith-born action.

To understand and apply Paul’s intended message, we must answer these questions:

  1. “Who was Paul speaking to and in what context?”
  2. “What is the ‘love of God’?
  3. “Who are ‘we’ who can’t be separated from God’s love?”

Let’s tackle the question regarding Paul’s audience and the context of his letter to the Church in Rome first. Paul was speaking to both Jew and non-Jew (Gentile) believers, and the overarching theme of his letter was the gift of salvation and eternal life to those who choose to follow, being led by the Spirit. This theme included a reminder that nothing can keep the righteous from God’s mercy and protection. Here’s a breakdown of the first eight chapters of Paul’s letter.

Chapter One: The righteous live by faith; all others will experience God’s judgment (v.17-18).

Chapter Two: More about the judgment of the righteous, who “by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality” will attain eternal life (v.7) and the unrighteous who practice evil and will suffer God’s wrath.

Chapter Three: All – both Jews and Gentiles – have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Righteousness isn’t attained through works of the Law (note: this is a reference to the Law of Moses and NOT ammunition to claim that belief needs not result in action!).

Chapter Four: More about righteousness through faith (not works under the Law).

Chapter Five: The gift of redemption through our Christ. Also included is a reminder about what the faithful may need to endure and the growth that comes as a result: “. . . tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; . . . through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (v.3-5).

Chapter Six: God’s grace offers no leeway to continue in sinful behavior. We are to be obedient and not sinful (see “live by faith” in Chapter One; “doing good” in Chapter Two; perseverance in Chapter Five, etc.). “. . .  But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed . . .” (v.16-17).

Chapter Seven: Comparing and contrasting the law of God and the law of sin.

Chapter Eight: No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. By the way: the way ‘in’ is used implies that there’s no distinction between us and our Christ with regard to our behavior . . . “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (v.9)  “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (v.14)

Next, we need to define the ‘love of God’ the righteous can’t be separated from. This is the action-based agape love made manifest by God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice. It has nothing to do with emotion and is the same kind of ‘love’ we’re told by Jesus to have for him and our God through obedience (John 13:34-35 and 14:15-31, James 2:14-26, and many others). This is the ‘fruit’ resulting from the Spirit at work in the lives of the righteous. No obedience to God and Christ’s commandments, no Spirit. No Spirit, no fruit . . .

Finally, although it should be clear now, let’s look at ‘who’ can’t be kept from God’s saving grace. As we saw in several chapters climaxing with Chapter Eight, they are the righteous – those who are led by the Spirit, live by faith, do good, persevere, and are obedient to our God and Christ. They don’t practice sin and aren’t those who only believe and yet don’t act.

In summary, these early chapters of the letter to the Romans establish a baseline of righteousness and unrighteousness and introduce the choice that can bring life. Those who choose to accept God’s gift of redemption through an ongoing covenant by being will be rescued from God’s judgment to come, and nothing can change that. Conversely, the unrighteous disobedient (including those ‘believe’ but are inactive) will experience God’s wrath. Be righteous and live!

For a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

Apocalyptic Misquotes . . . Part IV

“No Weapon Formed Against me will Prosper” & “I can do all things Through Christ”

Let’s continue our Apocalyptic Misquotes with a look at more abuses that support a false and dangerous spiritual rock star mentality.

Misquote #1: “No weapon formed Against me will prosper” I’m continually amazed that we’ll justify our lack of biblical study in part by claiming that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us. And, yet, we’ll pluck Scripture out of its context to support bad doctrine. Here’s the abused reference for this week’s misquote #1:

 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.—Isaiah 54:17.

In this example (in its entire context), God is issuing a warning and promise through Isaiah about Israel’s current disobedience and loss of protection, and last-days reconciliation with Him. This is part of a near-far prophecy where God is basically saying to Israel, “You’re going to get a smack-down because of your unfaithfulness, but I’ll bring you back to me in the end and no one will harm you because of My protection.

Unfortunately, out-of-context abuse of this reference bolsters today’s Christian spiritual rock star doctrine that God will give us anything we want and nothing bad will happen to us. So, when someone’s prayer isn’t answered the way they believe it should have been and when bad things do happen, common responses from within or by others include, “The devil must be after me!” or “There must be something wrong with your spiritual walk!”.

Neither is necessarily true. First, Satan has no authority or influence on true followers of our Christ. Second, neither God nor our Christ ever promised earthly prosperity or escape from sickness or danger. We’ll talk more about ‘why bad things happen’ in a future blog; however, Jesus’ true followers can expect tribulation now and in the last days (e.g. Matthew 24:9 & 21; John 16:33; Romans 5:3 and 12:12; 1Thessalonians 1:6; Revelation 7:14, 13:10, and 14:12). We’re told to ‘count the cost’ (Luke 14:27-33). And, try telling the apostle Paul that there must’ve been something wrong with his spirit life because of all the trials he had to endure . . . (check out 2Corinthians 11:23-27).

Misquote #2: “I can do all things Through Christ” Here’s yet another verse that, when taken out of context, lends itself to spiritual rock star and superhuman ways of thinking.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13.

This verse is abused because it, like the others we’ve studied recently, has been taken out of its context. Read the entire chapter to determine the intent of the writer, and you’ll find that Paul is saying he has learned to be content in any situation.

Remember 2Corinthians 11:23-27 from Misquote #1? Good. Then you should understand that Paul had persevered through many trials experienced while doing Jesus’ will: preaching the good news of salvation from God’s coming judgment to the lost – all in support of the Father’s overarching will, which is to reconcile mankind to Him.

Christ’s strengthening and resulting perseverance were possible because Paul was doing the will of our Christ and God as he sought the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (cf. Matthew 6:33).

So, if you want the Spirit of God to strengthen you in your activities, aiding in perseverance, then make sure that whatever you’re doing is in pursuit of the will of God as you seek His kingdom before all else.

For more information regarding the return of our Christ and our ‘marriage’ to Him, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.

Next week, we’ll look at another great example of personal interpretation and bad hermeneutics as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture. The next topic: “God needs an audience to show up – where two or more are gathered . . .”.