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Preparing the Church for the future

Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Day 52: Who Murdered Jesus?

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 22, 2011

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Several years ago, Mel Gibson came out with the movie The Passion of the Christ. A lot of controversy swirled because one could draw a conclusion from the movie that the Jews killed Jesus.

While there is no question from Scripture that the rejection of the Jews was the basis for Jesus murder and that the leaders of the Jews wanted Jesus killed, I propose that they were only a party to the crime.  The actual murder still lives today.

The Romans

The Roman leaders were acting in behalf of the Jewish leadership because the Jews could not, under Roman law, sentence a man to death. Pilate, Herod and company simply placed their stamp of approval on the murder of an innocent man and condemned him to death.

So who killed Jesus?

The Roman guards were the ones who beat and whipped him.  They were the ones who pulled out his beard and crowned his head with thorns. They were the brutes who made him carry his own instrument of death to the top of a dirty hill where they stripped him of his clothes, casting lots for his underwear and  nailing his hands and feet to cross beams of wood to be raised up in order to let the sun beat on his naked, battered and bruised body for six long torturous hours.

The Roman guards watched him breath his last and saw the darkness and earthquakes.  They made sure of his death by thrusting a spear in his side.  So obviously, they are guilty.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus say from the cross, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing”?

So maybe they aren’t the only ones guilty.

So who murdered Jesus?


Let’s blame Judas.  If he didn’t betray Jesus to the Jews, maybe Jesus would still be walking the earth today.  That back-stabbing man ate dinner with Jesus just before he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver… the cost of a slave, and to add insult to injury, he pointed him out to the Jewish leaders with a kiss of friendship.

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus approve Judas’ task by telling him before hand, “What you are going to do, do quickly”.  That really muddies the waters.

So who murdered the perfect man?

His Father

What about God?  I mean, didn’t God send his son to earth to die? How many fathers would do that to their child? Didn’t he love Jesus? Didn’t he care? Couldn’t he have stopped the whole thing? Didn’t Jesus pray for another way and God not answer that prayer?

But wait…

Didn’t Jesus tell us that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”. Didn’t he tell us that God so LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his son.  Maybe God’s love for the world was so great that he did what he had to do to make a way for the world to return to him. Maybe Jesus meant what he said in that same prayer when he concluded his plea with “nevertheless – not my will, but your will be done.”

So who was it really?

You and Me

What about us? You know… “the world” that God loves so much.

It started with a man named Adam and a command from God that said, “Don’t eat of this one tree, for in the day you eat of it, you will die”.

Adam defied God’s instruction, and Adam’s first sin planted a seed in each and every person ever born in this world that God loved so much.

Every person is doomed to die apart from God because of sin that rules and reigns in the hearts of men.

Sin lived in the Jews that wanted Jesus dead, the Romans that carried out their wishes, and it lives in you and me today.

It is the sin in us that murdered Jesus.  If we had not sinned, Jesus would not have died.  An innocent lamb sent to the slaughter so that by his death, anyone who believes on him won’t have to die apart from God, but can have eternal life with God.

We are all guilty.  We committed the murder of the ages, a crime beyond any every conceived. We all participated in the death of God, and yet… It is by that very death that we are forgiven for the very murder we committed.

It is the only crime that makes things right again in the heart of those that committed it, but only to those that believe on the saving work Jesus death brings to mankind.

Though we are all murderers, the wrath of God was poured out upon his only son so that we could all live in peace and freedom with God.

So yes, we are all guilty, but you can be free of that guilt by accepting what Jesus went through on your behalf. Believe in Jesus, receive the gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness, confess Jesus Christ as the master of your life and you too can be free of the crime of the ages.


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Day 30: The Law of Falling Bodies

Posted by undergroundchurch on February 6, 2011

The Law of Falling Bodies has nothing to do with what happens to you as you grow older.  It is a law established in 1604 by Galileo that proved that both heavy and light objects fall at the same rate.

This may not seem like a really great discovery, but it did overturn centuries of Aristotelian thinking.  Basically, gravity has the same effect on all objects causing them to fall at the same rate (when they are in a perfect vacuum).

Logically, it may make sense that “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”; however, they still get to the ground just as fast as smaller objects.

Biblical Application

Romans 3:23 tells us that “All have sinned and fallen  short of God’s glory.”  In other words, nobody is good enough to make it to eternity with God.  It doesn’t matter if you are a mass murderer or a person trying to make a positive impact on the world, the destination is the same apart from Christ.

Nobody really talks about hell anymore; it might be because we don’t want to think that a loving God sends people to an awful hell.  However, God never sent anyone to hell… we did.  It was our sin that separated us from God and destined us to eternal separation from God.

Not all hope is lost though.  God did all the work for us, if we just receive it.  Jesus Christ came from God as a perfect man to die in our sinful place so that if we just receive that through believing in Him, we don’t have to die apart from God but can live with Him for all eternity (John 3:16).

Just like the Law of Falling Bodies, we are all doomed to hit the same hell when we die, but unlike that law, there is a greater law of love from God that keeps us from that place of torment if we only believe.  It doesn’t nullify hell’s existence, it just changes our destination.

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Day 29: When were Jesus’ Disciples Saved?

Posted by undergroundchurch on February 4, 2011

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 I really don’t have a straight answer to this question, but when you look at several events in their lives, you get a sense of the progression of their salvation as they live during a transition time between the Old Covenant and the New.

John 1:35-42 shows us that at least two of John the Baptizer’s disciples became followers of Jesus.  One of these two was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  One of the requirements for being John’s disciple was to be baptized.  John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4).

Shortly after this period, Jesus began doing what John was doing, namely baptizing people. Actually, it was the disciples that did most of the baptizing (John 3:22-26, John 4:1).

The disciples obviously believed in Christ, though it wasn’t until after the resurrection that they understood what Christ was all about.

A key moment in their lives was when they received the Holy Spirit… no, it wasn’t in Acts 2:4, it was John 20:22.  Jesus breathes on his disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit.  This happens after the resurrection, and if you could put a New Covenant date of salvation on the disciples, this would be it.

We also receive the Holy Spirit when we are saved as a deposit guaranteeing our eternal reward (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5).

Receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation is only the first step in His involvement.  Acts 1:8, 2:4 tell us how he empowers us through the Spirit’s Baptism. This is not a salvation experience but an empowering experience.  We call the day of Pentecost the “birth of the Church”, but it should be more accurately called the “Empowering of the Church”.  The church already existed, though it was quite small.

One way of looking at the experience of salvation in the disciples’ lives is to see it as a slow motion movie of what a believer experiences today – Belief, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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Day 9: The Power of Confession

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 9, 2011

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Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:5

King David’s writings pre-date the Apostle John’s by about 1,000 years, yet one could argue that they were contemporaries.

John writes on this same matter:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

The theme of confession runs through the Bible.  It is the foundation of our salvation (Romans 10:9,10) and our forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and even though God required sacrifices, the sacrifice alone did not express a heart of forgiveness. God required the sacrifice to pay the “penalty” of sin, but true forgiveness can only be found when the heart of man goes before the offended God and confesses (acknowledges) the sin.

John the Baptizer’s ministry focused completely on this aspect of confession (Mark 1:5). He didn’t instruct people to offer sacrifices but confess their sin, repent and turn to God.  This set up softened hearts that could receive the Messiah who followed his ministry.

Confession does not stop with our sins and God.  We should…

Confession shows accountability and demonstrates a willingness to accept responsibility.  This first step leads us to a place of humility where God meets the offender and then lifts them up. (Proverbs 28:13, Isaiah 59 (esp. vs 20), James 4:10)

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Day 7: Relationship with God

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 7, 2011

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The Christian faith is primarily about relationship to and companionship with God. – Fire Bible (commentary on Hebrews 3:12)

Every aspect of God’s revelation to man was about relationship, but it seems at times that we emphasize “rules” e.g. “don’t do this, don’t do that, etc.” Rules do play a role in any good relationship, but the rules don’t define the quality of the relationship.

Think of the rules that govern your relationships. You set boundaries around the times you “drop in” to see a friend. You don’t cheat (I hope) on your spouse because it demonstrates a lack of love.  These rules are important, but they tell you nothing about the quality of the relationship.

Beyond the rules and the trappings of what we call “religion”, God desires more than anything for each of us to enter a real relationship with Him.

Look at what He tells us about Himself in that relationship…

And don’t forget that the core rule given by God to Love him with all your heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) only works in real relationship because God first demonstrated His love for us by giving his one and only to die in our behalf (Romans 5:28).

If true love exists, the guideline, “don’t cheat on the one you love” doesn’t need to become a rule because you would not even consider it an option.

This is God’s love.  He loves unconditionally, and nothing you can do will sway that love (Romans 8:39)

Religion produces rules designed to sway God to love man.  Relationship starts with God and ends with God. We just happen to be the benefactors if we enter into this relationship.

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Day 1: Peace Unlike the World Cannot Understand

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 1, 2011

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Corey Russel, in a recent message titled Declaration of Dependence mp3 / PDF, posed a provocative point based on Matthew 7:13-14, 24:

Stop trying to make the narrow gate wider.  God designed the gate to be narrow, small and difficult. Following Jesus closely brings difficultly not ease.

God did not call believers to a life of ease but a life of fighting battles against the tide of popular opinion. The world hates the believer because of Jesus (Matthew 24:29); not only that, but “everyone” will hate wholly devoted followers because of their passion for Jesus as they draw nearer to him (Mark 13:12-13). This might even include other believers that just don’t get why those followers must be so passionate for Christ.

The question you need to ask yourself, “Whose peace am I seeking?”

If you seek peace with the world, you must compromise your relationship with Jesus.

If you seek peace with yourself, then you must try to soften the effects of the struggle you face in trying to run the race set before you. As you do this, you miss blessings poured out from God (Matthew 5:3-12):

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, or 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.

Jesus says that our peace should come through him because of our hope in the His victory.  The condition of our environment must not be the source of our peace. True peace only comes when we realize that all we go through pales in comparison to the spoils awaiting for those that make it to the end and join the King of kings in the victory celebration in eternity.

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Sanity in the Midst of the Insane

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 7, 2010

Ever look around and think you are the only sane one in the room?

OK, maybe not.

What about those times that everything around you is going crazy, and the only way to keep from going insane is to act crazy too?

OK, that struck a chord.

However, if you take it to the extreme, which I often do, you can actually out shine the insanity around you and people will avoid you. (That’s the story of my life.)

It’s also the story of David one time when He was hiding from Saul among his own enemies, the Philistines.

David had to come up with a plan fast to save himself, so he fained insanity.

So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” 1 Samuel 21:13-15

That might seem like a strange ploy, but it worked, and David lived another day.

When we live out our faith, we must seem to the world around us like David looked to the Philistines in Gath.  They tell us, “Your insane to believe that the whole universe was created in 6 days,” or “How can you believe that Jesus is the ‘only’ way to eternal life?”

However, the best laid logic of the human mind just can’t put its arms around an infinite God that stands outside of the time/space continuum.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:21-24

It’s not that we know all the answers to the questions, “Why”, “How”, “When” and “What”, but we do have the answer to the question “Who?”



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How to Defend the Gospel

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 4, 2010

NOTE: This article contains strategies for believers and is not intended for those of you that do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ because it contains strategic information (trade secrets).  If  you wish to establish a relationship with Jesus prior to reading this article, shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to talk with you. Then you can read the article and get more out of it.

Call me a pacifist, if you will, but I do believe that there is a right and a wrong way in which believers defend the good news (a.k.a. the Gospel) of Jesus Christ and that for the most part, we get it wrong.

Do our methods hinder the message?

Personally, I am appalled at the way the world treats the God who came and died in their place, took on their guilt and shame, and made a way back to himself.  I mean, what did Jesus ever do to deserve the bad rap He gets from unbelievers?

The answer to that question may lie more with His followers more than in His own life.  While it is true that Jesus saidthe world would hate us because of him, we aren’t making that attitude any better with our public pulpit indiscretions, our internal disputes played out on the world’s stage where we are mocked, our church splits, and even how poorly we drive when we cut off another driver while we flash our “I love Jesus” bumper sticker.

We can learn from Paul in Philippians 1:7 that there are three basic ways to reflect the good news: in chains, defending and confirming.   We spend a lot of time on the second, and not much on the other two.

In Chains or In Battle

What does it mean to be in chains for the Gospel?  And more importantly, what does that look  like in America?

Paul represented this aspect of his testimony by being shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and stoned all of which only reflected Jesus attitude on the Cross when he forgave his killers while they were killing him.  This is a lost art with the Christian world in America.  There is a proverb that reads, “in doing so (being nice), you will heap burning coals upon their head”.  Our tactic tends to display defensive aggression and not much offensive conversion.

We followers of Jesus need to follow Jesus.  We need to understand that the world is lost and they don’t need to Adopt godly standards, they Need God.

I was reading an article about an artist showing his “art” where he depicted Jesus in, shall we say, non-biblical ways.  Now here is the question for all the believers reading this article; how should followers of Jesus respond?

A) We can respond the way the Christians are reported on in the article and protest.  What does this do though to the witness for Jesus? If we get them to take it down, then what? Do people come to Christ because the art is not longer there?

B) We use the opportunity to show people what Jesus was really like. Oh, you might need to turn the other cheek, but in so doing, you may make them look away long enough to show them a better way.

What is the intent of our defense?

I guess it comes down to this.  We can make noise and protest the world’s…. uh, worldliness. In so doing, we might even change the look of things… less strip clubs, less bars, less cheesy art exhibits, but are people coming to Christ, or have we just won moral victory that makes us feel better, but really does nothing for the advancement of the Gospel?

I’m not saying that we should just let the world do their thing and build strip clubs on every corner.  We have an American right to live in a place that reflects morals (Constitutionally backed), but the dilemma we face is that moral legislation, moral victories, moral indignation, does not bring people to Christ.  Sometimes, we need to put on the chains for Christ in order to set people free. Through our chains, we confirm Jesus’ good news.

What does our testimony reflect?

Is our testimony to the world reflecting Christ or leaving a bitter taste that becomes a stumbling block to the message?When they think about the church of Jesus, what image comes to their mind?  Is it the image of a group of zealots that want to change their laws and restrict their freedoms?  Is it a group of holier-than-thou people that live paradoxical lives?  Is it a church that burns books from other religions, protests funerals of soldiers or removes evolution from text books in public schools?

Or… should it be the image of a church that first and foremost ministers to widows and orphans and feeds the hungry, helps the needy?  Is it an image of a church that has hope for eternity and knows where they are going and knows how to show them the way?  Is it an image of a church that spends less money on their buildings, parking lots, sound systems and salaries than they do on their outreach to communities through helping others and ministering Christ to a lost and dying people?

The Calling

As a church, we are called to take on the image of Christ and to reflect Christ to each other and to the world.  When we defend the good news He brought us through the cross, does our defense become an offense to those that need to know the news?

A lost world is lost and trying to find their way in darkness.  By default, they are going to do things that repulse believers. It is the nature of the world.

We carry the light of Jesus Christ and have to use that light to bring people to Christ FIRST. If we change the heart, we change the world.

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Salvation yet to Come!

Posted by undergroundchurch on March 26, 2010

…who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:5

A man falls overboard into the ocean from a boat. I throw him a life preserver and tell him I am going to save him.

Is he saved?

He is being saved. His salvation will be complete once I drag him back onto the ship.

The life preserver gives him opporunity to overcome the raging waters of death, and as long as he holds to the promise of salvation, he will be saved.

Likewise, the promised work of salvation occured on the Cross. It is finished. The process of being saved is occuring now in the hope that we are going to be saved.

Hope is knowing that our salvation will be completed. Hope knows that Jesus’ promise is sure. Meanwhile, in your journey to completed salvation, you cling to the faith while in the sea of doubt, which presses in all around you.

Hold to your faith! Do not doubt! Your salvation is assured. One day soon, you will stand on the shoreline, and the feeling of deadly waters will be a distant memory as your salvation is fully revealed. Praise the Lord!!!

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Your Mission: Be a Kingdom Priest

Posted by undergroundchurch on December 30, 2009

My cousin, Deana Cardenas and her husband Anthony have just started a new web site http://www.kingdompriestworship.com, and when I went there to check it out, I noticed 4 scriptures at the top of the page that got me thinking about the job of a priest and how that relates to the believer today. Whenever I read Scriptures I usually ask 3 questions right off the bat, Why? What? How? I have posted the scriptures below for you to read, then we shall evaluate:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. – Exodus 19:5-6

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. – Revelation 1:6

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. – Revelation 5:10

These passages have two common strings, kingdom/nation and priests, and what got me thinking was, “Why a priest? What are their duties? What is this kingdom/nation? How do we get there?”

Why a priest?

I’m not sure that we humans see the function of a priest the same way that God sees the function of a priest.  Normally, we see the priest as a person that is a mediator or intercessor between all the followers and deity.  They can offer offerings on the follower’s behalf for sin and perform the work of the ministry.  It is also usually limited to a few select individuals.

I think God sees this slightly different.  Yes, in Israel, there were a tribe of Levities that supplied the priests that served the tabernacle/temple, but the Exodus passage above suggests a more expansive approach to the priesthood. The nation would be a “kingdom of priests” a “holy nation”.  This suggests that it wasn’t just the responsibility of the Levities to be “priests” alone, but that it was the responsibility of the entire nation to be a priesthood before the Lord and the rest of the world.

What are their duties?

The duties of a biblical priest are really three-fold:

  1. Worship before God – this is the priest’s primary function. Everything else they do revolves around this crucial activity. It is essential for each believer to worship before God because it produces a connection to God that nothing else matches.
  2. Minister to the followers – this is the ministry task given to each of us.  Paul calls us a “body of Christ”. Each member ministers to one another.  In this priestly fashion, we build the church by building one another up in the faith.
  3. Light to the world – If the nation of believers is a priesthood, then our mission is to be priests for the world.  We intercede for them, praying that God “sends out laborers in the harvest field”, “that the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts and minds of the lost so that they will turn and repent and be saved”, and “that we will show the way to all who cross our path”.

I really get tired of hearing people say, “my faith is a private thing” or “I don’t want to push my faith on others”.  No one is asking you to “push” anything on anyone else, but you do have a responsibility to show the way!   You have been given a gift of life. If you believe, and if you are going to just sit there and watch your brothers and sisters eternally die because you aren’t willing to tell them the way out, then you defy the very heart of Christ who said, “Go into all the world and tell everyone the good news.” (Mark 16:15)

What is this kingdom/nation?

For Israel, it was their calling as a nation to be priests.  For the believer, it is the calling of the church.  We are a kingdom people, a royal priest hood, a people set apart by God, for God’s ministry.  None of us can escape that calling. The kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom.  In fact, the last passage above suggests that the believer will reigning on the earth at some point in the post apocalyptic future.  We will in some way become priest/kings as it were.  That’s a whole different study, but the fact is that God’s kingdom is not limited to this life, but is an eternal kingdom that has always been and always will be. It is a growing kingdom and one that has one primary mission – to Glorify God!

How do we get there?

Scripture is pretty clear, you must believe in the one God sent – namely Jesus, to be part of the kingdom.  But once there, the growth of this kingdom takes each and everyone of us actively participating in the kingdom work using the gifts and callings God has placed on each one of us. If you don’t know what your calling is, there are plenty of ways to discover it; however, might I suggest a default for you – a starting point as it were. These points apply to you know matter what your calling is, and it will help in your search.

Learn to worship.

Worship will be the primary function in all aspects of kingdom ministry.  Break out of your preconceived mold of what you “think” worship is and challenge yourself to go deeper…. much deeper.

There are ministries around this nation that have a deep heart for worship. Some like the International House of Prayer devote themselves to 24/7 worship.  Even they will admit after years of 24/7 worship that they have not “arrived”.  They are constantly seeking a deeper relationship with God through worship. If you think you have arrived in worship, you have just begun your decline.  Worship cannot plateau; it must be ever increasing and never content.  Worship is not a byproduct, it is a passionate mandate from God and the most important thing you do as a believer and as a “kingdom priest”.

Learn to Intercede

If your prayer life is consumed with praying for your own needs, then you have a ways to go to become an intercessor.  Interceding means that you stand in the gap for others.  A priestly duty for each of us is to stand in the gap for our fellow believers.  To pray for them, encourage them and build them up.  An intercessor also has a heart for the lost – praying for those that need Christ in their lives. If everyone approached prayer in this manner, then nobody would need to spend time even praying for their own needs.

Learn to Share Jesus

Sharing Christ with others is a critical part of every believer’s life.  You can start by learning a few basics:

Know your Testimony – Remember the day you were saved, and learn how to share it in under a minute.  Keep in mind these three pieces What was your life before Christ, what was you salvation experience, and what has it been like since you were saved.

Learn to show the way – Surprisingly few Christians can tell someone how to be saved, or walk them through scriptures that would help lead someone to Christ.  You need to know how to tell someone to be saved.  I know, it’s a “duh” thing, but I have to say it.

In the end, a kingdom priest is a lover of God.  He/she lives life for God in every way so that God will get the glory in all things.

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