Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mat 10:34-39)
However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9)We show our love for God by obeying his commands (John 14:15).
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mat 5:10-12)Persecution for righteousness, even in the milder form of being excluded or insulted, is a test. Loneliness will probably result. That is something all godly people have to deal with from time to time. Sadly, some Christians have fallen away from salvation over the test of persecution or just the fear of it:
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22,23)
They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. (1 Pet 4:4)
... They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. (Luke 8:13)So when (not if) persecution comes to you as a new Christian because you are living godly, continue to obey and let your light shine. But also remember not to cast your pearls to swine - those who boldly oppose the truth of God - because they may tear you to pieces (Mt. 7:6). Keep walking in faith thinking about the eternal rewards before you because of these persecutions. All godly people of the past were also persecuted and faced suffering:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim 3:12)We must be willing to die for Jesus if necessary and never be ashamed of Him or His words (Lk. 9:26).
Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. (Heb 11:35-39)
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Heb 11:24-27)
All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. (John 16:1).Hence, knowledge of certain things is a preventative from going astray or stumbling. Conversely, some do go astray because they are not aware of the things Jesus was referring to. Let's check the context to learn what the Lord is speaking of:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.' When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:18-27)
When I started witnessing (or testifying) about Jesus to others, I simply gave people the word of God. Sometimes I was asked a question I could not answer. I would tell them, "I'll get back with you on that." That gave me a chance to search for an answer in the Bible. After awhile, your ability to fluently witness will become more and more polished as you continue to read and study God's word. Remember, people are going to Hell all around us and desperately need to know the truth about salvation.
An excellent way to spread God's eternal truths to others is by having a personal tract ministry, but be sure to use only Biblically sound literature - literature that clearly tells one he must repent (turn from sin) to be saved from Hell. Moreover, don't distribute literature that teaches or implies the lie of eternal security, even if it is free. Our ministry makes available an excellent and very popular dual-colored salvation tract on Heaven and Hell with the vitals about the plan of salvation. We also have an important bible study on tract evangelism. Many important truths can be gleaned from Paul's evangelism too!
The true gospel, which we are to spread, includes the following truth:
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)If you are like many other new converts, when you first came to the Lord, all your friends are ungodly. In fact, some new converts don't even know a single Christian! But now that you are a follower of Jesus, at least some if not all of these old friends won't like your new priorities. In fact, some might even try to get you to sin or snare you somehow with wickedness. They want you back the way you were when you readily sinned as they still do. Scripture states:
... do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Tim 5:22)How To Be Victorious Over Sexual Temptation
Sin can make a holy person unholy and a pure person impure and no longer fit to enter heaven. It can bring a true Christian to his spiritual death (Rom. 8:13; James 1:14,15 cf. Lk. 15:24,32; etc.). Hence, after you tell your old friends your stand for God, if they want to continue in their sin, don't hang out with them anymore. DANGER: To continue to spend time and go places with such people will open you to spiritual dangers that would never exist otherwise:
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Cor 15:33)Remember, your old unsaved friends are in darkness and spiritual death. They do not think or react like you. They are also on the road to Hell, even though they don't know it.
One of the shocking (and vital) truths I learned in the Bible is that Christians are to avoid certain people, places and things. Remember also if Eve would never have gone near that tree with the forbidden fruit she would have never been tempted, which led to her sin and leading Adam into sin also. So avoid places of temptation like swimming pools, beaches, discos, Las Vegas, etc. It is also important to dress modestly so you won't cause another to sin (1 Tim. 2:9). The wicked dress to get others, if possible, to lust after their body! Remember also Rom. 12:2:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:2)
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor 6:14-18)
... there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:15,16)The importance of this is also expressed as a safeguard against shipwrecking your faith:
Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (1 Tim 1:19,20) Paul knew the same horrible thing that happened to Hymenaeus and Alexander could also happen to his faithful co-laborer, Timothy. Hence, he gave him these vital responsibilities to follow which would prevent the loss of salvation. For us to enter the kingdom of God we will have to endure to the end to be saved (Mt. 10:22). See also Hebrews 3:14 and Rev. 2:10,11. Follow Paul's example and advice to Timothy about keeping a clear conscience. This is also one of the reasons you need to be water baptized by immersion now that you have become a Christian (1 Pet. 3:21). Any true Christian can water baptize you and it doesn't have to be done in a church building.
Beyond them there are also many more false teachers on religious TV and radio, as well as authors of books, articles and tracts, which are not readily known as false teachers. These would especially include the eternal security teachers and people compromising with the Catholic church. (Eternal security is, for the most part, an unrecognized rampant heresy in our dark day.) Without writing a mini book on why these people are so dangerous, suffice it to say they dangerously downplay sin in the life of a Christian and de-emphasize the importance of bringing forth good fruit. Because of eternal security teachers, multitudes are on the road to hell but think they are on the road to heaven. Consequently, their false doctrine needs to be exposed and refuted, not supported. To support such ministries and local congregations will cause you to share in their wicked work. (For an exhaustive presentation of this teaching with Scriptural refutation, please see our 801 page book entitled, "The Believer's Conditional Security.") Don't just trust what you hear someone teach, even if they are a popular teacher over TV, radio or from a pulpit in a local church. Verify and test everything with the Bible, including miracles. You might be surprised to know that both God and the devil can perform miracles! Click here to read Bible facts about such miracles or obtain it from our ministry.
Finally, oftentimes the so-called spiritual leaders themselves and the other people in a modern-day church often hurt others, especially new converts. For the spiritual health and well being of the Christian, the follower of Jesus must forgive others so his sins can likewise be forgiven (Mt. 6:14,15).
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom 8:6)Since TV shows are produced by ungodly people to draw ungodly people, much harm can come to the Christian, especially new converts, through such besides it being a waste of precious time which could be used to serve God. Even religious TV is far from being beneficial to the viewer with all those false teachers on there, as already mentioned.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16,17)The man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work with the Scriptures alone. If someone thinks the Scriptures are not sufficient then he must not be a man of God! Finally, avoid so-called study Bibles with notes. The notes in them are often wrong and don't deserve the same space on the page as Scripture.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psa 119:9-11)A clear and sure way to grow spiritually is to crave God's word:
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Pet 2:2,3)Hunger for righteousness and you will be filled (Mt. 5:6).
Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13:23,24)It is worth any sacrifice to enter God's eternal, paradise kingdom and escape eternal punishment in Hell fire. The road to life is hard (Mt. 7:14) and there are enemies along the way, besides the devil, so you will have to dress yourself with the whole armor of God and continue in the faith, even through the rough times that will sometimes come:
"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. (Acts 14:22)You have a glorious future before you that cannot properly be expressed in words. See Rev. 21:4; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 2:9; Isa. 35:10; etc.
New Christian or old Christian, keep your eyes on Jesus, your hand to the plow and don't look back. Immerse yourself in the Bible (especially the New Testament at first) and put into practice what you read. Jesus described the true Christians (his real spiritual family) as:
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:21)Several good daily prayers are:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psa 19:14)GOD BLESS YOU.
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (Psa 119:36,37)
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. (Psa 119:133)
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