THE SALVATION AND EDIFICATION OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Many religious additives are held in high esteem by Man (Luke 16: 15), but are an afront to the integrity of the spoken words the Person and the finished (John 19: 30) Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Religious activities that do not involve the exercising of the individual's free will, or that are void of divine participation (John 15: 5), fall short of the faith requirement that God requires (Heb. 11: 6).
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Most who claim to be a Christian can produce documentation indicating the date, place, and the religious officiator (1Tim. 2: 5) of the various rituals and ceremonies endorsed, required, and promoted by denominational religion. But being a "documented" member in good standing with a local assembly, ministry, or denomination does NOT, in of itself, mean that one's named has been recorded in the Rev. 20: 15 Book of Life.
I know of one "Christian religion," that back in the 1970's, required engaged partners of different "Christian" denominations to sign a document threatening the member of it's denomination with Hell-fire if any children that came along were not raised in "their" Church.
Christian parents are responsible, by word and deed, to present their children with the unadulterated Gospel Message and post salvation Bible Doctrine for the development and advancement o their post salvation spiritual lives. This is where the parents' own personal discipleship comes into the picture, as one can not pass onto their children (or anyone else) what they have not first secured for themselves.
Religious parents can produce religious children, but being religious does not mean that one has been born again. Being religious does not mean that one is executing the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
Scripture teaches that spiritual activity is to be evaluated by the fruit it produces. The local assemblies and or ministries that God designed produce the opportunity for unbelievers to hear the unadulterated Gospel Message, and the opportunity for born again believers to be equipped with what they need to identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life.
Parental choices of where their children are to receive their spiritual information is a choice that can have If I had only known then what I know now, I would have made different choices. Good enough is NOT good enough, and worshipping together as a family is no excuse for compromising doctrine.
There is no guarantee that just because children are exposed to accurate doctrine that they are going to stick with the program, but there is a degree of comfort knowing that as a parent you at least afforded them the best opportunity to do so.
After one acknowledges the need (John 3: 7) and means (John 14: 6/John 8: 24) to be born again, there will be a compelling desire to have the names of others written down in the Rev. 20: 15 book of life. If you learned that a bomb was going to go off, would you keep the knowledge to yourself and just silently walk away, or would you have the desire to save as many people as you could. A disaster (Rev. 20: 15) much worse that any bomb here on Earth can produce IS in store for anyone whose name is not written in the Rev. 20: 15 book of life!
A productive way to bring up the subject of salvation is first to ask permission to ask a personal question. If granted, ask if the person has had his or her name recorded in Rev. 20: 15 book of life. This can open up the door to explain the need (John 3: 5), the means (John 3: 16), and either the blessings (John 3: 16) or the consequence (John 3: 18) for having done (or not done) so.
Likewise, picture yourself entering a waiting room. You have have the discernment to perceived that one of the chairs was defective and was an accident waiting to happen. You wisely choose to sit in a different chair. A few minutes later, someone else enters the room and heads for the defective chair. Would you want the person, or would you consider it none of your business?
Funny, how we wouldn't hesitate to speak up to spare a stranger physical harm, but when it comes to sparing people spiritual harm, we often remain silent, even among those we claim to love. In this the devil is well-pleased.
”And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)."
No one having the "mind of Christ (2Cor. 2: 16 NASB)" would want to see anyone go to Hell, but this compelling desire to see others saved and edified will be especially true regarding family, friends, and people that the born again believer knows on a personal basis.
For spiritually dead or back-sliding individuals, spiritual issues may not come into their personal relationships. Frankly, I don't know how an edified born again believer can claim to love someone else, and then not be concerned for his or her spiritual well-being.
The window of opportunity for salvation and edification of our children does not end with OUR Earthly departure, but does end with their own.
It would be nice to leave this world knowing that everyone we know personally was saved and edified BEFORE we depart, but our timing and His are not always the same.
God was in charge before we got here. God is in control now. God will be in control after we leave. God is the father of the fatherless and the widow that we leave behind (Psalms 68: 5). Regarding the salvation and the edification of those we leave behind, we can take comfort providing we had taken the opportunities given to encourage the spiritual re-birth and/or edification of ones who have departed before us, and the ones we leave behind.
What eventually becomes of our loved ones, in both the spiritual and secular realm, will be determined by the choices THEY make.
I was raised in a Christian home. I was born again as far back as I can remember. Attending church and Sunday School in my formative years was NOT an option.
Never the less, I didn't always make discipleship (the study and application of the Word of God) my top priority until later on in life. I did not engage in effective ambassadorship until even later in life. These prior years were not wasted. God used all of my life-long experiences,both good and tragic, to set the stage for my ministry. Thirty years in law-enforcemt, the relatively early loss of parents, the loss of a stillborn son after a full term 9 month seemingly perfect pregnancy, enduring life-threatening illness, and raising three children to adulthood gave God a lot to work with along my road to spiritual maturity.
I have now been a Christian writer for more than 35 years, and have been an ordained pastor- teacher going on 13 years, yet both of my parents went home to be with the Lord before a single word of mine was written or spoken in the capacity of a writer or pastor-teacher.
While I wouldn't wish adversity on anyone, writing or teaching as one who has "been there and done that" can make a tremendous difference.
God spoke of David as being a man after His own heart (1Sam. 13: 14/Acts 13: 22). David was the inspired (2Tim. 3: 16) author of many of the Psalms. One of the last psalms that David wrote () concerned the future of his son, Solomon, who was to be his royal successor. During his lifetime, David was deeply impacted by the loss of one son because of his (David's) own sin (2Sam. 12: 14 h 18), and the loss of another (2Sam. 18: 33) who led a rebellion in an failed attempt to dethrone David.
Solomon was the later son of David and Bathsheba. David married Bathsheba after impregnating her in an adulteress relationship. David arranged for Bathsheba's husband to be killed in what would appear to be an act of war. The life of the child that was the product of the affair was taken by God, executing divine discipline on David.
Did David suspect that Solomon might be influenced by his (Solomon's) pagan wives (1Kings 11: 1 - 4), motivating him (David) to reiterate the importance of Solomon remaining faithful to the Lord?
Sometimes we fear that our own inability to appropriately deal with sin and temptation will be the experience of our offspring. This can lead to over-protection and restrictiveness on one hand, and failure to discipline on other. Both cases are a recipe for disaster.
David, the shepherd, the psalmist, the musician, the warrior, the king, was also David the adulterer, the plotter of murder, who made many poor decisions that set the stage for both familial (2Sam 12: 14 - 18/2Sam. 18: 33) and national disasters.
Many Biblical "heroes" had a lot of issues on the home front. But even in the best of relationships, there is NO perfect marriage, parent, sibling, or offspring.
If personal or familial failure were to exclude oneself from participating in the evangelization and edification of family, friends, and goes, the Great Commission would have had the wind taken from its sails from the very beginning of the Church Age.
Even with an ancestral record of murder, adultery, rape, rebellion, idolatry, etc., it was still to be through David's family line that the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ would come, giving Him the messianic title of the son of David (Matt. 1: 1).
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Many parents make all kinds of sacrifices and lose many a night's sleep pondering over issues that threaten the EARTHLY prosperity of their young and adult children. While such things are a part of good parenting, the (Mark 8: 36) principle should be the greater concern for Christian parents.
"For what does it profit a man to gain (or to be given) the whole world, and forfeit his soul (Mark 8: 36 NASB parentheses mine)?"
The devil has his strategic plans and schemes (Eph. 6:11) to see to it that the unadulterated Gospel Message is not promoted, and that born again believers do not identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship (2Tim.3: 12).
Accordingly, the devil has targeted each one of us and each one of our offspring. It matters not (to the devil) if he accomplishes these objectives with prosperity or adversity. The devil and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil have had thousands of years of experience, learning just what buttons to press and when to press them for maximum effect.
In the spiritual realm, the devil executes his plans by promoting false gospels and false religious teachings and practices as the means to obtain, retain, or regain salvation. The devil promotes meaningless worship (Matt. 15: 9). The devil promotes alternative types of post salvation spiritual lives.
It is strategically more profitable and logistically easier for the devil to endorse falsehood (salvation by religious rituals, good deeds, and good behavior) that human viewpoint AGREES with, than to make a frontal attack on the things that advancing disciples will not compromise.
Such head-on frontal attacks are reserved for the type of local assemblies, ministries, and believers that he can not deceive. Therefore, a good indicator of godly local assemblies, ministries, or individuals is not always the overt blessings they experience, but by the persecution and adversity (2Tim. 3: 12 they receive.
God is not the only source of overt earthly prosperity (Luke 4: 6).
Why wouldn't the devil "bless" and encourage a local assembly, ministry, or individual that unwittingly promote false teachings and practices (1Timothy 4: 1)?
The evangelization (presenting the unadulterated Gospel Message) and the edification (presenting accurate Bible Doctrine for the development of discipleship) of family and friends has its own inherent set of difficulties.
"Jesus said to them, “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)."
One of the reasons for this is that people who know us best are fully aware of our dark side that has and will manifest itself from time to time as we, like everyone else, struggle with the fallen nature that remains within us (Romans 7: 14 - 20).
Satan and/or those who do his bidding will be right there to use past failures to try to discredit and to destroy our evangelistic or edification efforts, and challenge our "worthiness" to serve God in various positions of service.
Paul wrote of his own ongoing internal struggle nearly thirty years after he was born again and towards the END of his earthly life and ministry. Fortunately, Paul did not allow his infamous past to exclude him from his present service.
When a godly message "hits a nerve," the natural defensive reaction is to attack the messenger (Matt. 7: 6).
From time to time this will be the experience of anyone taking part in the Great Commission, with the greatest challenges involving family and friends.
When I was studying for ordination, one of the principles I was taught and later experienced was that the life of a pastor is one that frequently bounces back and forth between life in the penthouse to life in the dog house.
This roller-coasrer ride WILL not only be the experience of pastors, but the experience of EVERY believer who executes the life of discipleship (2Tim. 3: 12), especially when dealing with family and friends.
Within days, Jesus (who was sinless) went from being publicly praised as the One who came in the name of the Lord on Palm Sunday (Matt.21: 9), to being publicly rejected, with the prevailing crowd calling for Him to be crucified (Luke 23: 21, 23).
End of Part Three