THE SALVATION AND EDIFICATION OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Luke 12: 52 teaches that within a family unit there can be both believers and unbelievers living under the same roof. ALL family members are not necessarily going to spend eternity in the same location (2Cor. 5: 8/Rev. 20: 15).
This is food for thought since, in most cases, all family members usually go through (or are put through) the same religious rituals, ceremonies, and activities, at least in their childhood days. Same familial environment, yet different outcomes.
Q. So what's the determining difference?
A. To enter the Kingdom of God, you MUST be born again (John 3: 5, 7), requiring a conscious decision to believe when presented with the in adulterated Gospel Message.
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There is a conditional PRINCIPLE in Proverbs 22: 6 that is often erroneously promoted as an unconditional PROMISE of God.
"Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go, Even when he is OLD he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22: 6 NASB)."
"Old" is not referring to biological or chronological age. There are many older and even elderly Christians that never made it out of spiritual infancy (1Cor. 3: 1, 2). Many were "trained up in the way they should go," but CHOSE to do otherwise and departed from it. The "old" being spoken of in Proverbs 22: 6 is referring to reaching spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is measured by the quantity, the quality, and the APPLICATION of Bible Doctrine circulating in one's soul structure (Matt. 7: 24 - 27).
The Prov. 22: 6 outcome is CONDITIONAL. Its end result of not departing is dependent on the child CHOOSING to apply and to continue choosing to apply the knowledge, guidance, and example that godly parents provide. Before one can depart, he or she must have already been there.
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To believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message is a one-time decision. Discipleship calls for the making of ongoing decisions during each and every day of his/her post salvation spiritual life. Disciples and ambassadors can come from the same home as back-sliding believers and unbelievers. Godly parenting can be a powerful tool in the hands of God. Ungodly parenting can be a powerful tool in the hands of the devil. It is the parents that make the choices as to where and to what kind of spiritual guidance, if any, their children will receive, usually following familial traditions.
I always found it intriguing that in (Matt. 7: 11) Jesus referred to earthly fathers (the logistical provider and spiritual head of the home) as being evil.
Without a doubt, many eyebrows when Jesus, after being raised in Orthodox Judaism, locked horns as an adult with the religious leadership of His day. Following one of His earliest statements He made from the isynagogue's pulpit, the congregation wanted to throw Him over a c!iff (Luke 4: 28, 29). As a result, I wonder what the local gossip had to say about the parenting He received, being perceived by many to only be the son of a deceased local carpenter.
At the end of the day (life here on Earth), each one of us will give an account of ourselves to God. What others did or didn't do for us or to us does not dismiss our responsibility or accountability for the spiritual choices we make. We are free to choose what we be!I've, but we are not free having to make choices.
When given the opportunity to read or to listen to a presentation of the unadulterated Gospel Message, we CHOOSE to either listen to it or not to do so. Once we have been presented with it, either The spiritual we choose to believe it or not. Choosing to believe or to disbelieve the unadulterated Gospel Message results in being born again (John 3 5, 7) with your name being written in the Rev. 20: 15. that we make while here on Earth determine where and how we will experience eternity. Anyone whose name is not written in the Rev. 20: 15 book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.
Once one's name is written in the Rev. 20: 15 book of life, WHERE he or she will be spending all of eternity has been settled. HOW a born again believers will experience eternity (with or without reward and or privileges) is dependent on the quality of his or her post salvation spiritual life.
The integrity of a born again believer's salvation will never be decreased (Romans 8: 1). However, one's level of spiritual maturity is ALWAYS either on the rise (2Peter 3: 18) or it is diminishing (2John 1: 8), impacting the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life.
If one's offspring decides not to respond to the knowledge and guidance he receives, the outcome is on them.
The quality of a born again believer' post salvation spiritual life on Earth does not alter the integrity of the salvation that he/she has already received (Romans 8: 1), but determines what rewards and privileges he/she will receive or forfeit in Heaven.
Back-sliding children, including back-sliding adult children, is a heart-breaking experience for godly parents. It can place godly parents on a FALSE (Ezekiel 33) guilt trip. Once the watchman has sounded the alarm, the blessings or consequences of the response is the responsibility of the one's warned.
Never the lease, spiritually wayward offspring can be a painful reality and example of the Mark 6: 4 principle.
"A prophet (spokesperson for God) is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household (Mark 6: 4 NASB parentheses mine)."
Here in the Church Age the evangelization or the edification of others, be it family, friends, or ENEMIES (Matt. 5: 44) is what gives spiritual purpose and significance to our post salvation spiritual life, 24 - 7.
Going to (or otherwise connecting with) a church or ministry should be a part of one's post (after) salvation spiritual life (Heb. 10: 25) to in order to embrace discipleship. It is there, in accordance with plan of God, that a born again believer receives his/her spiritual edification, equipping him/her to glorify God by serving others.
Don't be deceived. "Attending" Church and engaging in religious activity, ministry, or service does not necessarily mean that one who does so has been born again (Matt. 7: 21).
If the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16, 17) should take place during worship services, I believe there will be some, perhaps many (Matt. 7: 13), left behind sitting in the pews, and/or standing behind the pulpits or lecterns. Some left behind, will return home only to find that some who THEY did not consider to have been very "religious," were taken up and away!
There are times when circumstances may not grant us the opportunity to be as involved in the evangelization and/or spiritual development of certain others as we may want to be. The good news is that omnipresent God is everywhere and not limited by circumstances. God chooses the time, the place, circumstances and communicator for each one of us to be presented with the unadulterated Gospel Message. It can take place when one is 5 or 95 years of age, if that is what God so orders.
Most religions, including most Christian religions, have a plan for recruitment and retention of its followers from the cradle to the grave.
The Christian life, however, begins at whatever age one is born AGAIN, and continues on in the presence of God (2Cor. 5: 8) in the 3rd Heaven ( 2Cor. 12: 2), after leaving the body behind at the moment of physical death.
Christian parents have the obligation, by way of their example and words, to establish a home, social, and worship environments that sets the stage and encourages the spiritual well-being of their offspring.
In some cases, it may be a child that is born again outside of the home that presents the parent(s) with the Gospel Message or an edifying principle of doctrine.
But as the 16th Century proverb says, the horse can be led to water, but it can not be made io drink. As much as we may want to be, we may or may not be the one that God has in mind to be the one who presents the Gospel Message to any given person or group of individuals, including our family members.
Our own discipleship (study and application of the word of God) determines the extent that God can use us to evangelize and/or edify others, no matter who they are. We can not pass along the unadulterated Gospel Message to unbelievers or edifying principles of Bible Doctrine if we do not possess such things our selves.
When we are not the one that God has in mind (Matt. 6: 4), all that we may be able do in that situation or circumstances is to live the life that sets the example and sets the stage to be used by God to evangelize and/or edify the ones He has in mind for us.
Like any other spiritual activity, the salvation and edification of everyone else should be made a matter of prayer, asking God to reveal to us what part He would have us play.
Don't be surprised if God's answer to such prayers are(regarding the salvation or edification of others) is to have all Hell break out in the lives of the ones prayed for, if that's what it takes for God to get their attention.
There are times when advancing disciples will be called upon to risk jeopardizing the harmony within their personal relationships in order to take a stand for God (Luke 14: 26), and or in order to participate in the Great Commission. Better to be hated (John 15: 18, 19) now, than have them say of you that you knew where they were heading, but said nothing to warn them.
Jesus loved His family, friends, and foes enough that He was willing to be hated for their sake.
As we close, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions.
Q1. Am I a religious person who HOPES, or am I a spiritually edified disciple that KNOWS that if I died today, I would find myself in the presence of the Lord?
Q2. If you are one who KNOWS, what is it that I have done, am doing, and will do, so that others can have the same confidence?
Q3. Am I still a baby Christian (Heb. 5: 13), or have I grown (2Pet. 3: 18) up to the point that I am being used of God to edify my fellow believers, be they family, friends, or foes?
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles (e.g. unadulterated Gospel Message/basic doctrines) of the oracles of God...(Heb. 5: 12 NASB parentheses mine)."
Q. 4 What would we think of a person who discovered, but kept to himself, the cure for some dreaded disease?
Q. 5. In light of your answer to A. 4, what does God think of a Christian who KNOWS the truth that could save or edify another soul, but keeps it to himself?
Your answers to these questions will reveal much about where you are in your own personal relationship with the Lord, and the QUALITY of your own post salvation spiritual life. Where you are along the road to spiritual maturity in your own walk with the Lord is the same point to which God can use you bring others to, be they family, friends, strangers, or foes.
We did not get to choose who are parents would be, or the positive or negative input that they would have on our spiritual life. We do, however, have choices regarding where we can receive negative or positive information and guidance. God cannot command us to grow in His knowledge (2Pet. 3: 18) or call us to follow Him (Luke 9: 23), and then not provide us with the means (Phil. 4: 19) and opportunity to do so. To experience spiritual death in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) as an unbeliever, or to suffer the consequences (Heb. 12: 6/1Cor. 3: 15) of spiritual rebellion or ignorance are choices we make.
Positive information and guidance rceived is not justfor our own benefit, but for the benefit of others, as well.
End of presentation.