Tag Archives: judgment

Godly Obedience

It’s July 8, 1741, in Enfield, Connecticut. Reformation preacher Jonathan Edwards turns the hearts of hundreds of listeners as he explains that their disobedience to God’s commandments [to honor Him and love people] has put them in a precarious position:

Your  Wickedness  makes  you  as  it  were  heavy  as  Lead, and to tend downwards with great Weight and Pressure towards Hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend & plunge into the bottomless Gulf, and your healthy Constitution, and your own Care and Prudence, and best Contrivance, and all your Righteousness, would have no more Influence to uphold you and keep you out of Hell, than a Spider’s Web would have to stop a falling Rock.

Don’t worry—this week’s article isn’t fire-and-brimstone teaching; however, there’s certainly great value in simple instruction about the consequences of obedience or disobedience to God’s commandments. But what are the commandments? Do we really need to do them?

Jesus reiterated two overarching commands from the Torah (the first few books of the Old Testament): Honor God with all we are and have, and love people (cf., Matthew 22:34-40). He stated that everything taught about God’s ways can be wrapped up in those two commands. He went on to say that:

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:23-24)

Seems simple—right? Not really. If it were, we wouldn’t continually mess up, treat people horribly, and speed down that highway to hell so-to-speak. Here are a few abbreviated tips I pulled from the Bible that may help you obey, stay in the relationship with Father and Son, and inherit the Kingdom of God:

  • they love is pointless and deadly (James 2:14-26). So, help others; feed the hungry; be slow to speak and quick to listen; be slow to respond as you give reconciliation a chance (Matthew 5:39).

What about next week? Well, I think I’ll tell you about the short guy (not me!) who stands tall in the Kingdom of God: Wacky Zaccy!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Playing With Fire!

God has always demanded allegiance and obedience. There’s no middle ground, no room for ‘fudging’ things, and no gray area. He commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of a particular tree. They disobeyed, and we lost our access to the Tree of Life (but only until God returns creation to the perfection it once enjoyed!). Lot’s wife played with fire and lost her life for taking one last peek at her old lifestyle (Genesis 19). There are many other examples in the Bible of people who ‘pushed the envelope,’ testing God’s commandments. We do the same today.

God tells us to stay away from interaction with the spirits of the dead, but we engage mediums and psychics (Deuteronomy 18:10-13). We indulge in astrology, relying on created things to determine our fate instead of trusting the Creator. And testing God’s commands where sexuality is concerned is a vast area where many Christians play with fire (literally and figuratively)!

God is clear about the destination of those who practice sexual rebellion, such as adultery and homosexuality (1Corinthians 6:9-10). We are also warned to carefully choose what we listen to and observe (Matthew 6:22-23; Job 31:1; Philippians 4:8). Here’s an interesting fact: people wanting to become Christians in the first couple of centuries couldn’t if they, at the same time, participated in the theater because of the sensuality and immoralities it often portrayed (just like today!). Why must we take care of what we watch? Because the input helps map the pathways in our brain and can cause us to ‘boil the frog’ as we slowly allow or condone or ignore—become desensitized to—the things God hates. This is where watching pornography comes in.

Pornography (Greek porneia and graphe) is a compound ‘catch-all’ word representing all kinds of sexual immoralities. Indulging in anything sexually immoral, even just visually, tests God’s commands and His desires for our conduct; it won’t end well. Here’s a shortlist of other ways Christians play with fire where God is concerned:

  • We must tell the truth—especially where the welfare of others is concerned (Exodus 20:16). But lying has become pervasive.
  • We must not idolize (covet) things, but we do it all the time (stuff, sports, people, multimedia—anything but God’s ways) (Exodus 20:17; 1 John 2:15-17).
  • We are commanded to rest one day each week (for many reasons, including physical, spiritual, and mental health) (Exodus 20:10; Mark 2:27-28); however, few do this religiously.

Just because the proverbial lightning hasn’t struck us down as we rebel against God doesn’t mean that our playing with fire won’t result in judgment and destruction. So, if you’re playing with fire by doing anything God is against, please stop and change direction—fast! Next week, we’ll continue to consider God’s desires as I outline the requirements for Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Corroborating Apocalypses

What do you think of when you hear or read the word apocalypse? Nuclear war? Missiles, tanks, death, and other violent stuff? The basic form of the ancient word means “to reveal.” In the Revelation given by God to Jesus to give to John to pass on to the churches in Asia Minor (phew!) in about 90CE, Jesus revealed events to come later. That’s why Revelation is apocalyptic. But do you know that Jesus had already told much of the Revelation events or characteristics when He was on earth about 60 years earlier? It’s true!

During the week of His crucifixion, Jesus and perhaps several of His closest disciples walked from the Temple complex to the Mount of Olives. He had said that the Temple would eventually be destroyed and not one of its stones left in place (Matthew 24:1-2). On the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked several related questions: 1. When would this happen, 2. What will signal Jesus’ return to earth, and 3. When will be the end of the age (Matthew 24:3)?

Jesus answers their questions in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, which inform of the beginning of hard times (‘birth pains,’ according to Jesus (Matthew 24:5-8)) to the judgment at the end of this age (Matthew 25:31-46). He gave much more detail about the same timeframe in visions to John about 60 years later. Here’s a brief comparison of what Jesus revealed on earth to what He revealed to John in about 90CE:

  • False saviors (Christs):                                                                 Matthew 24:5 & Revelation 6:2
  • War/violence:                                                                                    Matthew 24:6-7a & Revelation 6:3-4
  • Famine/pestilence:                                                                         Matthew 24:7b & Revelation 6:5-6
  • Terrible time of trouble and persecution (Great Tribulation) by the Antichrist:   Matthew 24:10-13 & Revelation 6:7-12; 7:9-17; 12:17                                
  • Christ’s second coming (ending the Great Tribulation):                                Matthew 24:29-31 & Revelation 6:12-17
  • The Great Judgment:                                                                  Matthew 25:31-46 & Revelation 20:11-15

A final note about the False Christs of Matthew 24:5 and Revelation 6:2, which can seem confusing: The horse in Revelation is white and the rider wears a crown, which signifies righteousness and authority; however, his weapon is a bow, not a sword, which is the weapon of Christ (Matthew 10:34; Revelation 19:15 & 21).

In summary, Jesus, who came to earth to satisfy our debt to God, is the same Jesus who revealed end-times things again to John 60 years later. So, it makes sense that the information is related. It seems important! Shouldn’t we study the Bible and pray for illumination by God’s Spirit so that we can find out what God wants and do that before it’s too late??

Next week, we’ll leave the end-times and explore a dangerous practice by many Christians in Playing with Fire.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Why Bad Things Happen, Part II: Why??

Last week, we began examining “Why do bad things happen to me or any good person?” and learned that humanity separated from God, which introduced death and pain. We walked away from perfection and must deal with the consequences. This week, we’ll dig deeper into why bad things happen.

First, everyone is subject to fortune and misfortune, blessings, and catastrophe. Some wicked people will prosper – often because of deceit and injustice. Others will suffer from natural disasters or others’ bad choices despite their love for God and people.

Second, we experience the actions of others. Anyone can choose to harm us or who live carelessly.  But we know this – otherwise, there would be no need for end-of-the-world judgment and consequences. People will drive drunk and take lives. Some will steal and cause poverty and hunger. Others will, out of their anger or addictions, cause harm.

Third, we suffer from our actions at times (e.g., Matthew 26:52). Our lifestyles introduce risk. People who drive or ride in vehicles run the risk of being maimed or killed in accidents. Those who jump out of airplanes may die. Sportspeople may be killed or seriously injured, and so might those of us who participate in the national or local defense.

Also, our technology creates many risks! Cancer increases may be related to chemicals and carcinogens with which we pollute the air, water, and food. Genetic engineering may increase crop and livestock bounty but introduces the risk of human mutation and illnesses. God didn’t force us to employ electricity, vehicles, or chemical or genetic engineering, and yet we blame Him when we reap the consequences associated with our lifestyles and environments!

Finally, faithful followers of Jesus may suffer trouble out of faith (Luke 14:27-30):

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Next week, we’ll continue this train by considering how we can restrict, or enable, the presence of God in our lives. So, join me for Part III!

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

People lie with incredible ease these days. Empty, unkept promises fill the air, and it’s common to speak what we believe people want to hear. Flattery brings a smile or manipulates but leaves the victim empty and the liar or flatterer headed for destruction. Let me give you a couple of personal examples.

Years ago, a pastor would say, “Ron, I love you!” during each visit. The words, empty as I soon discovered, made me feel good at first. However, he regularly didn’t honor his word in our relationship. Outright lying and not fulfilling promises had become his way. I recently had a negative experience with a local business and was promised a call by one manager who didn’t keep his word. A second manager also made empty, unmet promises. The situation was finally addressed, but distrust had set in. Perhaps many of you have had similar experiences of flattery, empty promises, lies, broken contracts, or deceit in relationships. Maybe it’s a phone call that never came or an email that never materialized. I’m sorry if so! It wasn’t always this prevalent and certainly isn’t what God intends!

“A man’s word is his bond” was a common phrase once upon a time. And a handshake was as good as a contract because people kept their word. The understanding was that if a person could not be trusted, they would be of little value as a community member. God-fearers and Christ-followers understood that God valued honesty and word-keeping and that anything else would bring deadly consequences.

Telling the truth has always been important to God. At the beginning of time, He spoke, and stuff happened. The heavens and earth appeared, as did all creatures on land and sea and in the air. God spoke through the prophets and what He said through them came true. God promised to provide a way back to Him. Once again, He kept His word. God is fair and just; He does what He says He will do. Honoring His promise to send a savior is one reason why God is love – the kind of love He desires from us (1John 4:17-21). He has no use for liars and deceivers in this world, His Kingdom, or the coming age:

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. —Revelation 21:7-8.

So, keep your promises, do what you say you’ll do. Don’t lie or deceive others but be trustworthy as God is trustworthy. In that, we can love as God loves and join Him in this age and the next.

Questions or comments? Email publisher@taylorpress.net.

Blessings and peace,

Pastor Ron Braley, Northview Christian Church

Adopt a Bible!

Disappointingly, our plea for Bibles for Africa recently yielded no results despite the knowledge that most Africans have no Bible (including most Christian teachers and leaders!).

How can the people learn about God or become disciples effectively with no guide?

How can we who are wealthy by comparison and have an abundance of Bibles and Christian literature be obedient to Jesus’ commandment to ‘tell’ and ‘make disciples’ without doing our part to rectify this incredible disparity?

So, I thought I’d take a different approach by asking everyone to ‘adopt a Bible’. A donation of only $10 will buy one Swahili Bible. Obviously, Africa needs more than one Bible but if everyone buys at least one, we win in our obedience and Africa wins by being able to learn and teach their Faith.

Will you adopt a Bible for Africa by donating here? http://findingrevelation.com/FindingDiscipleship/Africa%20Bibles.htm

Blessings!

Ron Braley, findingdiscipleship.org & ronbraley.com

 

God – the Nature of the Creator

In our emotion-based Christian culture, we often picture our God as a kindly old man who emotionally loves us no matter who we are and what we’ve done. We’re told to imagine ourselves crawling into His lap and cuddling as we talk to Him. This is a dangerous and misleading picture!

Our God wants to be reconciled with the mankind He created and who walked away from Him 6,000 years ago. But make no mistake: we are to fear our God as we answer the call to a two-way relationship born of obedience out of faith, “I will be yours if you will be mine!

Let’s look at that ‘fear’ after glancing at some of the characteristics or nature of your God who is a jealous, just, merciful provider and protector of those who are His.

God is jealous: He wants to be our only God

A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.—Nahum 1:2-3.

 

God is just: He will keep His promises despite any ‘feelings

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. —Deuteronomy 32:4.

 

God is merciful: The promises He keeps as a just God bring life

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. —Luke 6:36.

The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. —Psalm 145:8.

God is protector and provider and forgiver of the righteous

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’” —Jeremiah 7:23.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1John 1:9.

God is judge of all

Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. —Acts 17:29-31.

Another destructive misconception in today’s Christian culture is that God is ‘not of fear’. However, that claim comes from a lack of understanding and by taking a biblical text out of context. It’s true that we have no need to fear a man when we have the Spirit; however, we are to fear God and with good reason.

  • 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.

Your just God is willing to protect, provide, and forgive when we respond to His call through faith and action. Believe. Repent. Love through charity and obedience. Fear in a healthy fear the nature of your God Jehovah and live!

 

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2016 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!

God – the Christ

No one’s perfect and everyone will sin – miss the ‘mark’. Because of this and God’s desire to dwell with us, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. All we have to do is believe that, act appropriately out of our faith, and repent of sinful behavior for God to save you from His future wrath.

You’ll find several references in the Bible to Jesus: Messiah, the Christ, His Christ, our Christ, and Jesus. Why so many names and titles? It’s important first to understand that His name isn’t Jesus Christ.  It isn’t as though someone named Jesus was born to Mr. and Mrs. Christ.

The name of Jesus is just a loose translation of the Greek word Iēsous for Jehoshua, Jesus’ proper Hebrew name. The word Christ is a title, not a proper name, which comes from the Greek word Christos – anointed one, or Messiah.  So, Jesus Christ is a loose translation of Yehoshua the Messiah. Interestingly, the Bible also refers to Jesus as God’s Christ (His Christ):

And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” —Luke 23:35.

I think the reference to Jehoshua as God’s Christ is appropriately used to label the Son of God sent as the Christos – Messiah – to save mankind through His sacrifice and resurrection. God asked Him to do this; Jesus was obedient to live and die among men so God could raise Him on the third day to fulfill a promise and serve as a sign for all who would believe and follow.

So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation —Hebrews 5:5-9.

Yehoshua’s reward for His obedience? A seat at the right hand of God the Father of Spirits, a right earned by redeeming and reconciling mankind to the one true God, which is certainly His one overarching will.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. —Acts 5:30-31.

Son of God. Redeemer. Savior. These are all good ways to refer to the one who has offered everlasting life. Believe and follow!

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 rescue 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!

Evangelism 101

What is evangelism? It’s proclaiming what we know about God and our Christ . . . out loud (i.e. Psalm 96 and 1John 1:1-5). Who has been called to evangelize? Everyone!

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence — 1Peter 3:15.

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.

Why is evangelism necessary?
•To enable mankind to be reconciled to God (2Corinthians 5:18-20).
• No one will hear if no one tells . . . (Romans 10:12-15).
• To help build faith (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
• For our relationship with God & Christ (i.e. Matthew 10:32).
• Jesus commanded it (Matthew 28:19-20)!

How do we evangelize?
• Prepare – be convinced (2 Timothy 3:14-17 and 1Peter 3:15-16). We can’t tell what we don’t know or believe. That ‘convincing’ is rooted in discipleship, mentoring, Bible study, fellowship, etc.
• Build relationships. Those you tell the Gospel message to must trust you. Remember, blind faith is useless. And, discipleship, which requires trust too, will only be possible through relationship.
• Live the life – walk the talk and be consistent! However, just being a ‘good person’ and hoping people will somehow know Jesus as a result doesn’t work. We MUST tell about the hope within us and the ‘why’ . . .
• Use what you know. Take advantage of your experiences. “Dude! I was a drunk and lost until I heard about our creator and how He wants us back even though we walked away from a relationship with Him thousands of years ago. I’ve given my life back to Him and have promised to walk in His ways. My life has changed as a result – I am definitely a new person with a renewed hope! Want to hear more?” Everyone has a story, and we can all give a basic salvation elevator pitch . . .
• Look for opportunities to share God’s message of salvation and hope.

Summary: We are all called to proclaim God’s glory and spread the news of eternal life through Jesus. So, we learn and tell others what we know. We can also support evangelists (3John 1:7-8; Philippians 4:14-19; 1Corinthians 9:1-14). Those who tell others about God’s just nature and salvation from His wrath will enjoy a relationship with Him and all it brings including the Spirit and salvation from that wrath.

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!

Hooking Up With Wickedness

We live in a world filled with people ignorant of God’s ways or the gift of salvation Jesus offers. Without our influence through relationship, they’ll likely never know these truths. But, we must not let influence work the other way around by allowing ourselves to be lured into sinful behavior.

First and foremost, we’re to spread the good news of God’s grace and mercy through the Christ to those around us. This wasn’t a nice suggestion – it was an order by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). And as Paul pointed out, how will people learn of the Gospel – that great news – if no one tells them? We’re all called to preach (proclaim and display) the Gospel. How can we do this if we don’t interact with others who need to hear the message (Romans 10:13-15)?

We’re also to be a shining example – a light to those around us. There’s no way to be that light without being visible to the world.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” —Matthew 5:14-16.

so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world —Philippians 2:15.

Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. —1Peter 2:12.

Again, we can’t isolate ourselves and therefore shield our light from the world. We must be in the world to provide an example, but not of the world (duplicating any of its ungodly values and behaviors). In fact, Paul reminded the church in Corinth that they must exist in the world, but not to be of the world by tolerating sinful behavior from those who should know better.

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one. —1Corinthians 5:9-11.

Paul also explained that although we need to be flexible and enter into relationships to preach the Gospel, we must be careful not to practice sin found in the world and therefore give up the gift of salvation (1Corinthians 9:19-27).

In another related admonishment, Paul tells the same church that they must not enter into very close relationships with unbelievers. Associate, yes – be bound together, no. The Greek word for ‘bound’ below is heterozugeō, which implies unequal yoking. This is important to understanding Paul’s intent. Yoking together dissimilar creatures would be counterproductive and, while the act may help the weakest of the pair, may bring down the stronger (or more righteous in this case).

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? —2Corinthians 6:14-15.

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals. —1Corinthians 15:33.

Who shouldn’t be bound together with unbelievers? Probably the best example is a follower of Jesus in marriage. This relationship will do nothing positive for the believer and may cause them to fall from their faith (although I’m sure there have been some exceptions).

Another sobering example that hits close to home for me is that of a relationship with atheists. These people are enemies of God and are not to be your associates! You won’t convert them. Their twisted agenda and abuse of God’s words trip up and confuse the faith of many. “Dude! You’ve gotta help me – my faith is shaken!” still rings in my ears . . .

Also included in unequal relationships that should be avoided between followers and unbelievers are business partnerships and those entering legal agreements. Why? A follower of the Christ operates under direction from the Holy Spirit and probably by a different set of moral guidelines than an unbeliever would follow. Their misaligned spiritual goals and different motivations could result in serious trouble in business, finances, friendships, or salvation.

Who are your friends and business partners? Remember to be a light to the world, but take measures to avoid having your faith corrupted and, therefore, jeopardizing your rescuing from God’s wrath to come!

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!