Tag Archives: saved

Come Back!!

The Creator Called: He wants His stuff back! Return. Partner. Live!

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ —1Thessalonians 5:9.

And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation —Hebrews 5:9.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. —1John 2:17.

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

 

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!

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!

The “A-B-C’s” of Judging Others and Discipleship (Originally “Judge Dread”)

The idea of judging really trips people up. Many know their own faults or past sins and feel they have no right to judge others about anything as a result. On the other hand, some people behave as though it’s their duty to inform everyone around them of every act they feel is contrary to God’s ways. The truth regarding judging others resides somewhere in the middle.

Are we to judge at all? Definitely! How else will we disciple others or ‘sharpen’ (which is more of a complete reshaping, by the way!). But, let’s take a look at what the word judge means before we go any further.

It comes from the Greek word kree’-no, which means to ‘call into question’. Of course, we can’t call anything into question if we don’t know what should be questionable or why. Who should judge whom? According to Jesus, God will judge the world – those who aren’t Jesus’ followers – and Jesus will judge followers at His return and the end of this current age. Meanwhile, we’re to hold one another accountable for growth and moral positioning.

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst . . . Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. . . . Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. 1Corinthians 5:1-13.

So, how are we to judge other followers of Jesus? We are to be careful and gentle, basing the ‘questioning’ on adherence to the Christ’s commandments and not on emotion. The goal must always be to help those followers who are ‘sinning’ to turn back to the truth and be reconciled with the church (e.g. James 15:19-20).  The text below not only confirms that but also reminds us that we’re not to tolerate the unrepentant practice of sinful behavior within the Church.

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” —Matthew 18:15-17.

Want to ‘love’ your brother or sister in the Christ? Then judge them according to God and our Christ’s commandments with a sense of urgency before it’s too late for those who are practicing sinful behavior that will earn them a one-way ticket to God’s judgment!

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!

The “A-B-C’s” of God’s Law and Covenant

What is the Old Testament ‘Law’ (note the capital L) and what does it have to do with today’s New Testament Christian? To answer these questions, we must first understand where the Law came from.

Long ago, God formed a covenant with mankind through the nation of Israel with Abraham, reaffirmed through Moses. There was no formal Law before God revealed it to Moses in about 1445 BCE. The covenant God formed with Israel was to be as close and as binding as a marriage contract and the resulting relationship. This is why He called Israel His ‘wife’ and the Church is called the ‘bride of Christ’. The Law given to God’s bride through Moses and the prophets would serve to guide her in this relationship with God. It would also become an unachievable standard by which we realize our sinful and imperfect nature (i.e. Romans 5:20 and 7:7; Galatians 3:24).

Today, no one can truly be called ‘Christian’ unless they’ve entered into a similar covenant with God through our Christ. That marriage-like agreement and its “I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine” promise begins with a change of heart and corresponding behavior that moves our direction and actions toward God and His ways (repentance). We give ourselves to God and then reaffirm our commitment to Him and our Christ – the Savior of mankind as foretold by God through the prophets – whenever we drink from the Communion cup.

But . . . salvation from God’s wrath to come and eternal life with Him through a following of our Christ doesn’t nullify the Law as some suggest (see Paul’s response in Romans 3:31). Jesus fulfilled the Law by His coming, death, resurrection (i.e. Matthew 5:17-18), but it still serves a purpose and the words contained within it and the Torah (Old Testament) that houses it are very valid, even today. We may no longer be under the religious requirements of the Law (i.e. any of hundreds of rules from tithing to sacrifices), but that ancient guide can tell us a lot about how we’re to walk with God and treat our fellow man.

Want to know the mind of God – what He likes and what He hates? Interested in knowing where you came from, spiritually-speaking? Then study the Old Testament and the Law – the Scriptures referenced by the Apostle Paul (2Timothy 3:14-17)!

The old covenant between God and His bride, Israel, brought us the Law. God’s new covenant with the world through our Christ fulfilled the ancient Law and provides the Spirit to all who truly believe and follow. The perfect law is now written on the hearts/minds of followers through the Spirit (i.e. Romans 2:13-15; prophecy of Jeremiah in Chapter 31, etc.). And, we still have the ancient Law as it existed to instruct, guide, and provide a sanity check in our daily activities (i.e. Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8).

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!

The “A-B-C’s” of God’s Judgment

God will judge everyone in the last days for reward or punishment. We, as followers of Jesus, are to judge the behavior of the Church – police ourselves, if you will (more on that in a future blog).

All will be judged by God at the end of our current age – even Jesus’ followers (see Romans 14:10-12 and 2Corinthians 5:10). The names of the obedient and faithful throughout time will be found in the Book of Life. For them, eternal life and unimaginable reward await. The rest (those whose names won’t appear in that Book) will be thrown into hell – the lake of fire punishment created for Satan and his fallen angels.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. —John 3:18.

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 17:30-31.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. —2Corinthians 5:10.

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. —Revelation 20:12-15.

Eternal life and reward await those who choose reconciliation with God through the Christ. All others will be judged and dealt with accordingly regardless of whether they’ve chosen to reject God or just not bothered to choose.

Life or death. Which is your choice?

 

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!

Persevere and Live!

Make no mistake – God’s people will suffer incredible tribulation during the future Antichrist’s reign. Those who persevere and remain faithful will be brought out of that Great Tribulation and saved from God’s subsequent wrath.

A popular belief these days is that there’ll be a secret pre-second-coming gathering of the Church before this happens. But the relatively recent concept isn’t scriptural. The Bible tells a different version of the end, reminding us that tribulation is often necessary and that followers of our Christ will indeed go through the greatest tribulation in the last days. Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about our current tribulations along with a glimpse of the last, great tribulation – and the benefits of making it through them.

  • Going through trouble grows perseverance, character, and 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.

  • Refining comes through testing:

If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. —1 Corinthians 3:15.

I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself . . . —Revelation 3:18.

. . . so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . —1 Peter 1:7.

  • Christ’s followers may suffer tribulation but will escape the last-days wrath of God:

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. —Romans 5:9.

THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED. —Acts 2:20-21.

You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. —Mark 13:13.

Just as exercising your muscles promotes physical strength and health, staying the course during trouble can make us emotionally and spiritually stronger.  So, don’t bemoan those trials – tackle them head-on knowing that we have strength through our Christ to overcome. Persevere, grow, and live!