CHRISTIAN COMMUNICATION – WHAT ARE THE KEYS?

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The art of Christian communication covers many aspects of the relationship between born-again believers and our relationships with the world at large. There are in the New Testament what are called the “one another commands.” These commands, when followed, are a source of correct Christian communication. The commands could be looked at as God’s code of conduct for Christian relationships. However, we do not naturally do the things that are commanded in the “one another’s.” Christian communication is a skill we must choose to learn by submitting to the Word of God and by applying it to our lives.

The following is a list of some of the “one another” commands found in the New Testament related to Christian communication:

Love one another – John 13:34 & John 15:12,17.
Forgive one another – Ephesians 4:32 & Colossians 3:13.
Be servants to one another – Galatians 5:13.
Show hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:7-10.
Pray for one another – James 5:16.
Build up (edify) one another – Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Greet one another – Romans 16:16, 1 Peter 5:14.
Forbear one another – Ephesians. 4:1-2 & Colossians 3:13-14.
Do not judge one another – Romans 14:13.
Do not speak evil of one another – James 4:11.
Do not murmur against one another – James 5:9.
Do not bite and devour one another – Galatians 5:15.
Do not provoke and envy one another – Galatians 5:26.
Have the same care for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26.
Receive one another – Romans 15:7.
Teach one another – Colossians 3:16.
Admonish (counsel) one another – Romans 15:14 & Colossians 3:16.
Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21-22.
Confess your sins to one another – James 5:16.
Do not lie to one another – Colossians 3:9.
Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32.
Comfort one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11.

Every Scripture reference in this list begins and ends with the first one. “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34). The love of Christ is the catalyst for our Christian communication with each other in our marriages and indeed in all our relationships.

It is very interesting to note that the word communication can refer not only to our interpersonal relationships but also our whole manner of life, and these commands are a correct guide to walking as believers. As we comport ourselves according to the “one another” commands, we are “doers of the word and not just hearers” (James 1:22), and we communicate to the world around us that we are children of our Father.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE SUPPOSED TO BE?

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The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:11). The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Being crucified with Christ means that we consider our old nature as having been nailed to the cross and we choose to live in the new nature, which is Christ’s (2 Corinthians 5:17). He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. Living the Christian life means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habukkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end (Ephesians 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” The true believer is one who believes to the end.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHY MANY PEOPLE HATE TO HEAR THE WORD ETERNAL DAMNATION?

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In the shifting winds of modern cultures, the idea of everlasting torment and damnation is difficult for many people to grasp. Why is this? The Bible makes it clear that hell is a literal place. Christ spoke more about hell than He did of heaven. Not only Satan and his minions will be punished there, everyone who rejects Jesus Christ will spend eternity right along with them. A desire to reject or revise the doctrine of hell will not mitigate its flames or make the place go away. Still, the idea of eternal damnation is spurned by many, and here are some reasons for it:

The influence of contemporary thought. In this postmodern era, many go to great lengths to assure no one is offended, and the biblical doctrine of hell is considered offensive. It is too harsh, too old-fashioned, too insensitive. The wisdom of this world is focused on this life, with no thought of the life to come.

Fear. Never-ending, conscious punishment devoid of any hope is indeed a frightening prospect. Many people would rather ignore the source of fear than face it and deal with it biblically. The fact is, hell should be frightening, considering it is the place of judgment originally created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

A flawed view of God’s love. Many who reject the idea of eternal damnation do so because they find it difficult to believe that a loving God could banish people to a place as horrific as hell for all eternity. However, God’s love does not negate His justice, His righteousness, or His holiness. Neither does His justice negate His love. In fact, God’s love has provided the way to escape His wrath: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 3:16-18).

A downplaying of sin. Some find it shockingly unfair that the recompense for a mere lifetime of sinning should be an eternal punishment. Others reject the idea of hell because, in their minds, sin isn’t all that bad. Certainly not bad enough to warrant eternal torture. Of course, it is usually our own sin that we downplay; other people might deserve hell—murderers and the like. This attitude reveals a misunderstanding of the universally heinous nature of sin. The problem is an insistence on our own basic goodness, which precludes thoughts of a fiery judgment and denies the truth of Romans 3:10 (“There is no one righteous, not even one”). The egregiousness of iniquity compelled Christ to the cross. God hated sin to death.

Aberrant theories. Another reason people reject the concept of eternal damnation is that they have been taught alternative theories. One such theory is universalism, which says that everyone will eventually make it to heaven. Another theory is annihilationism, in which the existence of hell is acknowledged, but its eternal nature is denied. Annihilationists believe that those who end up in hell will eventually die and cease to exist (i.e., they will be annihilated). This theory simply makes hell a temporary punishment. Both these theories are presented as viable options to the biblical teaching on hell; however, both make the mistake of placing human opinion over divine revelation.

Incomplete teaching. Many contemporary pastors who do believe in the doctrine of hell consider it simply too delicate a subject to preach on. This further contributes to the modern denial of hell. Congregants in churches where hell is not preached are ignorant of what the Bible says on the subject and are prime candidates for deception on the issue. A pastor’s responsibility is “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3), not pick and choose what parts of the Bible to leave out.

Satan’s ploys. Satan’s first lie was a denial of judgment. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). It is still one of Satan’s main tactics. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the blindness he produces includes a denial of God’s holy decrees. Convince the unsaved that there is no judgment, and they can “eat, drink and be merry” with no care for the future.

If we understand the nature of our Creator, we should have no difficulty understanding the concept of hell. “[God] is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4, emphasis added). His desire is that no one perish but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

To contradict the Bible’s teaching on hell is to say, essentially, “If I were God, I would not make hell like that.” The problem with such a mindset is its inherent pride—it smugly suggests that we can improve on God’s plan. However, we are not wiser than God; we are not more loving or more just. Rejecting or revising the biblical doctrine of hell carries a sad irony, which one writer put this way: “The only result of attempts, however well meaning, to air-condition hell is to assure that more and more people wind up there.”

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHO WILL GO TO HELL?

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Hell has become a controversial subject in recent years, even among Christians. However, the controversy is entirely man-made. The rejection of the reality of hell stems from a human inability to reconcile the love of God with eternal punishment or from an outright rejection of God’s Word. Even some professing Christians have come to unbiblical conclusions. Some have tried to redefine hell, create an intermediate state not found in Scripture, or deny hell altogether. In doing so, they are ignoring Jesus’ warning in Revelation 22:19, “If anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”

Hell is mentioned 167 times in the Bible, sometimes called Gehenna, Hades, the pit, the Abyss, or everlasting punishment (Proverbs 7:27; Luke 8:31; 10:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Jesus spoke of heaven and hell as real places (Matthew 13:41–42; 23:33; Mark 9:43–47; Luke 12:5). The story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus was an actual event that demonstrated the reality of the two eternal destinations (Luke 16:19–31). Heaven is the dwelling place of God (2 Chronicles 30:27) where Jesus has gone to “prepare a place” for those who love Him (John 14:2). Hell was created for “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). But because every human being is a sinner, every person past the age of accountability has already been condemned to hell (Romans 3:10; 5:12; John 3:18). We all deserve hell as the just punishment for our rebellion against God (Romans 6:23).
Jesus was clear that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). He was also clear that hell is an eternal punishment for those who do not obey Him (Matthew 25:46). Second Thessalonians 1:8–9 says that in the end God “will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” John the Baptist said about Jesus, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

John 3:18 explains in the simplest terms who will go to heaven and who will go to hell: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” So, those who go to hell are specifically those who do not believe in Jesus’ name. To “believe” goes beyond a mental recognition of the truth. To believe in Christ for salvation requires a transfer of allegiance. We stop worshiping ourselves, we forsake our sin, and we begin to worship God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:36–37; Mark 12:30).

God desires that every person spend eternity with Him (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9), but He honors our free will (John 4:14). Anyone who so desires can go to heaven (John 1:12). Jesus already paid the price for our salvation, but we must accept that gift and transfer ownership of our lives to Him (Luke 9:23). Heaven is perfect, and God cannot take anyone there who insists on holding on to his or her sin. We must allow Him to cleanse us of our sin and make us righteous in His sight (2 Corinthians 5:21). John 1:10–12 shows us the problem and the solution: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

We can choose to trust in Jesus’ payment for our sin, or we can choose to pay for our sins ourselves—but we must remember that the payment for our sin is eternity in hell. C. S. Lewis said it this way: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”

Prophet Nathan Emol

 

 

HOW SHOULD A CHRISTIAN VIEW WEALTH?

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The Christian view of wealth should be derived from the Scriptures. There are many times in the Old Testament that God gave riches to His people. Solomon was promised riches and became the richest of all the kings of the earth (1 Kings 3:11-13; 2 Chronicles 9:22); David said in 1 Chronicles 29:12: “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.” Abraham (Genesis 17-20), Jacob (Genesis 30-31), Joseph (Genesis 41), King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:5), and many others were blessed by God with wealth. However, they were a chosen people with earthly promises and rewards. They were given a land and all the riches it held.

In the New Testament, there is a different standard. The church was never given a land or the promise of riches. Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Christ spoke in Matthew 13:22 concerning the seed of God’s Word falling among thorns and “the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (NKJV). This is the first reference to earthly riches in the New Testament. Clearly, this is not a positive image.

In Mark 10:23, ” Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’” It was not impossible—for all things are possible with God—but it would be “hard.” In Luke 16:13, Jesus spoke about “mammon” (the Aramaic word for “riches”): “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Again, the imagery here is of wealth as a negative influence on spirituality and one that can keep us from God.

God speaks of the true riches He brings to us today in Romans 2:4: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” These are the riches which bring eternal life. Again, this is brought out in Romans 9:23: “And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (NKJV). Also, Ephesians 1:7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Referring to God giving mercy, Paul praises God in Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” The emphasis of the New Testament is God’s riches in us: “That you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians1:18b). God actually wants to show off His riches in us in heaven: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7).

The riches that God wants for us: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). The greatest verse for New Testament believers concerning riches is Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” This statement was written by Paul because the Philippians had sent sacrificial gifts to take care of Paul’s needs.

First Timothy 6:17 gives a warning to the rich: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” James 5:1-3 gives us another warning about riches that were wrongly gained: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” The last time that riches are mentioned in the Bible is in Revelation 18:17, speaking of the great destruction of Babylon: “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”

To summarize, Israel was given earthly promises and rewards as God’s chosen people on earth. He gave many illustrations and types and truths through them. Many people desire to take their blessings, but not their curses. However, in the progression of revelation, God has revealed through Jesus Christ a more excellent ministry: “But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6).

God does not condemn anyone for having riches. Riches come to people from many sources, but He gives grave warnings to those who seek after them more than they seek after God and trust in them more than in God. His greatest desire is for us to set our hearts on things above and not on things on this earth. This may sound very high and unobtainable, but Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). The secret is knowing Christ as Savior and allowing the Holy Spirit to conform our minds and heart to His (Romans 12:1-2).

Prophet Nathan Emol