Concerning Unsaved Loved Ones – An Encouragement

But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

~ John 7:3-5

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

~ Acts 1:14

If you have family members who don’t know the Lord, I’d like to encourage you today.

Jesus Himself . . . the greatest Evangelist, the Witness of all witnesses, and the Way, the Truth, and the Life incarnate, lived with and before His brothers for many years.

Yet during His amazing ministry, “His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).

However, in time, they came to believe on Him and follow Him.

For after His crucifixion, Luke tells us that there was a group of 120 who prayed together constantly. Among them were “His brothers.”

So remember this the next time you get discouraged because your loved ones aren’t following the Lord . . . yet.

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Comments

  1. Donald Talada says

    This post touches me deeply. My dad passed away in 1999 and I have not recovered from it yet. The experience brought me to a very serious crisis of faith that I am still struggling with. I came to Christ at age 15 through my devout Christian mother. My father was just as devout, even hostile, in his atheism. I saw him constantly ridicule my mom over her faith, and when I became a Christian the ridicule came my way as well. I have three brothers who are just as devoutly atheist as my dad was. My dad mistreated my mom in other ways as well (constant verbal abuse), and I prayed for him to come to Christ and stop mistreating my mom since I came to Christ (I am now 66 and was 52 when dad died). I just knew that God was going to save dad and bring about healing between my parents.

    I witnessed to dad many times and he rejected God every time. When he lay on his deathbed, I just knew that God had deathbed conversion in mind. I was strongly led to witness to him again on his deathbed. In retrospect, I really with I hadn’t. It was very ugly, and the last memory I have of my dad. Before the word “God” came out of my mouth, he blasted me and God with the most hate-filled language I ever heard come out of his mouth. My young daughters, also Christians, came in to say good-bye to their grandfather immediately after dad blasted me, and all he could do was accuse them of coming in to “finish the job that I had started”!! That is their last memory of their grandfather.

    A few days later, he was gone and so was my hope that dad would come to Christ and that he and my mom would have a loving marriage restored to them. Also damaged, more than I realized at the time, was my faith in the God I trusted all those years. I have been trying to recover that faith ever since. And, I cannot pray to God anymore. One of my brothers has since died without Christ and my other brothers are still hostile to Him. My prayers for my loved ones did not end happily.

    • CBG says

      Donald–
      I am so moved by your letter. I am so sorry this happened to you. I do not doubt that the Holy Spirit moved you to witness to your father. His response had nothing to do with you. I hope you know that. He could have responded differently but he CHOSE not to. He has a God-given free will. I’m sure you already know that God gave us a free will because he wanted us to choose Him. But what that does is allow some NOT to choose him. Your dad was one. So awful for your precious daughters to witness that, but one day they will understand. I will pray for your own healing. I am the only one in my immediate family who appears to be saved. Your letter has shown me that some of them MAY ultimately choose to reject God even though I pray for them daily. If God could FORCE them to accept Him, what good would it be? Yet I mourn for my father who told me when I tried to explain salvation, “That’s not what I believe.” He died 5 years ago last week. In Revelations, right after the White Throne judgment, we are told that all our tears will be wiped away. I think that is because we will see many we loved lost forever because of their unbelief. I am thankful that pain will be taken from us. You were a light in the darkness. I pray that God will bring you back to Himself. God Bless You in this darkest hour.

  2. Yolanda says

    Wow, this brought back the memory of praying for my dad who called God “the Man upstairs” for years–mostly because he was afraid of God. When he was diagnosed with cancer, our house church group prayed that my dad would know the love of Christ if he should not be healed. My dad, desperate for a healing, went to the healing rooms and he was prayed for by a Mexican woman who spoke Spanish–my father–also Mexican– fluent in English, but Spanish speaking as well was comforted by this woman God sent to him. He poured out his heart to this woman and she shared God’s love through Jesus. My father, when he passed just a few weeks later, went in perfect peace having finally knowing his Savior! So, yes, a lot of prayers for a lot of years–and in God’s time He delivered. Glad I read this post today–thank you, as always

  3. Bonnie Rosser says

    My Jewish mother found Jesus one week before she died at age 86. We had been praying for her for over 30 years. On that day I heard the Lord say ,”Now”, and I knew what He meant. I literally watched her being transformed as peace literally rippled down from the top of her head, over her face. It was just like seeing the oil being poured over Aaron’s head and over the collar of his vestments in Psalm 133. It was a moment that has changed me and my attitude towards prayer. Our timing and the Lord’s timing are often so far apart, but His is always perfect.

    Thank you for sharing this Frank.

    • Mark says

      Hi Bonnie,

      My wife’s Jewish grandmother recently had a very similar experience 2 weeks before her death. My father-in-law had been praying for 30 years and in the last 2 weeks of her life we saw the love and life of Jesus pour over and through her. The transformation was so profound and evident and though she died shortly thereafter, we rejoiced in the abundance of life she entered into. What an amazing miracle that our God can break through the most stubborn and hard of hearts to bring His life forth!

  4. Robin Aker Jakobsen says

    This was very helpful, and I am certain we can all relate to this, I know for certain that I can.

    I know that we are supposed to approach unsaved loved ones through relentless prayer, which I find “easy”, but also through unconditional love. The latter is sometimes very hard since they often are in deep rebellion, even hatred towards God in general and Christ in particular, and the things the say and do is sometime disturbing…

    In addition to family I for one has several friends that are either atheists, agnostics or just “free thinkers” (whatever that means). I love them dearly since they are so loving, caring, including and bearing good moral (in many ways to a far further extent than many Christians I know). But at the same time my heart bleeds for them, deeply. I cannot be aggressive in my approach to them in terms of faith, but I can love them and care for them. I try, but it is of course also hard at times. But there are glimpses of hope, I see movement in their heart (babysteps).

    One topic I would love for you to approach one day Frank is the following: How to have genuine fellowship and love unconditionally unsaved friends/family without beeing unequally yoked at the one hand, and without being judgemental at the other. The theological answer is of course “I cannot do it, but Christ can since he lives in me”, but a few practical advices would of course also be helpful :) as well as a healthy discussion in this forum.

  5. Hardik Modi says

    Awesome. Thanks! I was a Hindu before I believed in Christ, but my family hasn’t believed on Him yet. I pray for them, and “it’s God business to save them, not mine.” :) He’ll do it.

    • Olga says

      My family was spiritualist/voodoo from the islands though I also have Jewish blood, I was the first to come into the fold of Christ and they all laughed or thought it was a passing thing. Then my family members came one after the other like dominoes but it took years. Some have brought many more to Jesus. My father (prayed 12 years for him) could not read at all but miraculously started reading the Bible and has by God’s grace brought many souls in his spiritual train. My brother (15 years a heroine addict while I prayed for his life and soul) dropped the addiction in a moment when he was converted and is now a man of God. Lost some but I pray for the stragglers, never stop praying especially for the children you raise in the Lord who stray. While there is life there is hope.

  6. B. Alan Keener says

    The Lord has lead me to pray Eph. 1:18 for one of my daughters who is currently in rebellion but came to Christ as a child. My hope is in God’s faithfulness and His great love and that someday my daughter will indeed return to God’s path for her life.

    • Debora Waddell says

      Mr. Keener, your story has encouraged me at this time in my life. I have 3 daughters who are currently on the run from God.My middle daughter had some problems, and her life just turned upside down, and as a result she turned her back completely on God even to the point of saying that God doesn’t exist and God heaven and hell are nothing more than fairy tales. She want talk to me about God or salvation, but it encourages me to know that I am not alone in these troubled times, and that others are also experiencing these ongoing attacks of the devil. I too, believe my daughter will come back to Christ, and that God will turn her life around and put her feet back on solid ground spiritually and physically. Thank you again and I pray that you will continue to hold on a I also hold on for my children.

  7. Vinny says

    Thanks frank ! I am glad you promoted this again since like Dave I jumped to convulsions by “leader and Pastor” words :-O lazy reader
    I am a prime candidate for this but don’t read much of the standard christian fare so how can I tell what books they summarize ?

  8. William Otis says

    Hey brother , thanks for the encouragement. It is also good to hear from others who have experienced the Lords perfect timing.

  9. DaveW. says

    Hi Frank, I was taken slightly aback by the advertisement included in today’s post. In light of your posts (one that comes to mind is The Myth Of Leadership) and Jon Zens’ new book, 58 to 0, which portrays Christian leadership almost as a form of rebellion against the Spirit, why a system promoting leadership training would be promoted?
    Granted, I haven’t read the material, and hopefully I’m not prejudging, but, in light of Jesus’ saying “you are not to be called Leaders”, what’s the point of figuring out how to become better Leaders when that is the work of Jesus’ cross?
    Please tell me if I’m missing something here.
    Love in Him, Dave W.

    • says

      Dave: You are judging. And your judgments are inaccurate and don’t follow.

      Read this carefully: http://frankviola.org/2014/01/22/booksummaries and you’ll see what you’re missing. And I don’t see any “system for leadership training” being promoted … only a service to help Christians – who are ALL leaders – to read more books. The founder just mentioned that some people were using the service for their leadership trainings. That’s all.

      • Dustin Lilleskov says

        This was quite a jarring tone shift. Dave W. seemed to carefully phrase himself, and – as you have even taught- he asked questions instead of making statements and judgments. Then, responding to his concerns, you write directly, without preface, “You are judging.” Without offering evidence or explanation, these “judgments” are immediately stated to be inaccurate, not following the logic of the original post/promotion. I understand a concise response if you’re pressed for time and want to be clear for every reader who might have the same questions/assumptions, but why treat others in a short manner if they have approached you in a spirit of good will? Perhaps this issue mostly has to do with the difficulty of tone in online communication. Yet I think Dave W. deserved better, even if his perceptions needed to be clarified.

        • says

          Dustin and Dave. I apologize to Dave if I came off anything less than gracious. I was pressed for time and online communication is horrible for expressing tone. Nevertheless, I’m sure if I could have written a more gracious reply if I took more time to do it. Thanks Dustin for pointing this out, bro.

          • Dustin Lilleskov says

            I really respect that you made a gracious response to this. I didn’t think negatively of you originally, in fact the reason this comment caught my attention is because I believe that you have done a great job of teaching how to treat others- even online- with love. So I questioned, “Is Frank reacting angrily here? Do I have that right?” That you took the time to speak to this and clarify it says a lot. Thanks then, for the encouragement.

  10. Elizabeth McEwen says

    Thank you! This was indeed encouraging. I am adding these verses to those below which I embrace every day when praying for my family members, and especially my son. We know it is the will of God for all men to be saved. And we know that when we pray according to God’s will, He hears us.

    I Tim 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    I John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

  11. says

    I think there are many mysteries. My brother committed suicide while shaking his fist at God. Our family constantly tried to influence him to seek Christ in his life, to no avail. Our hope is that maybe he did before his last insane moment alive. We will not know until we are there with Jesus Christ. Most of my family have rejected salvation through Jesus Christ and I have lost hope they ever will.

    My prayer is that they will make peace with God before the end of their days. However, I have not experienced the outcome you speak about so positively in your Blog today.

    • says

      Thomas. So sorry to hear this. But the outcome sometimes comes at the moment of a person’s death as C.S. Lewis pointed out. We just don’t know what is happening in a person’s heart before they take their last breathe. We remain faithful to pray; it’s God’s business to save. That’s not our business. This post just illustrates that even Jesus Himself didn’t see His own flesh and blood converted in the last days of His ministry. But they came to believe on Him later . . .

      • Robin Aker Jakobsen says

        Even though we have no way to now for certain, this (if true), might be encouraging to many:

        “The last words of the late, much-lauded and much-quoted Steve Jobs have been revealed almost a month after the Apple co-founder died at the age of 56.

        Jobs, who once memorably described death as “very likely the single best invention of life”, departed this world with a lingering look at his family and the simple, if mysterious, observation: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

        Details of his final moments came from his sister Mona Simpson, who has allowed the New York Times to publish the eulogy she delivered at his memorial service on 16 October. In it, she explains how she rushed to Jobs’s bedside after he asked her to come to see him as soon as possible.

        “His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us,” she writes.

        When she arrived, she found Jobs surrounded by his family – “he looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze,” – and managing to hang on to consciousness she said.

        However, he began to deteriorate. “His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before. This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.”

        After making it through one final night, wrote Simpson, her brother began to slip away. “His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude. He seemed to be climbing.

        “But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

        “Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

        “Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

        “Steve’s final words were: ‘Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.’”

        Simpson, a novelist and English professor, also used the eulogy to pay tribute to some of her late brother’s beliefs – and idiosyncrasies.

        “Novelty was not Steve’s highest value,” she writes. “Beauty was. For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.”

        What happened in his heart the last days/weeks/hours and minuttes before he died? We simply do not know – but this is certainly interesting (if indeed it is true).

        This was copied from the Guardian however.

    • John says

      Thomas:

      Life is terribly sad sometimes…is it not?

      And yet … it’s all Predestined. Even a tortuous Cross, brother.

  12. Keith Fife says

    Thanks for the encouragement Frank. I have children that I know one day will follow in the footsteps of Jesus’ brothers!

  13. says

    And His brother James became a prominent leader in the early church (Acts 12:17; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9), wrote a letter that was incorporated into the NT (He calls himself a servant of Jesus, as did his other brother Jude!). Likewise His brother Jude wrote the letter Jude. We do not know more about His other two brothers, Joseph and Simon, or his sisters (see Matt. 13:55), but it seems as if the family came through in obedience and response to His resurrection. Wonderful!

  14. AnnJ says

    Thank you, Frank for your encouraging words. Many of us have been made to feel pressured to preach to our unsaved family members. I, being one of ten and have had four members pass. My remaining family members are unsaved, however, those who had passed had mighty encounters with the Lord & with out my preaching at them. It’s amazing to watch God bring salvation to His children.

  15. Jo says

    Thank you so much for this article. I am seriously praying for our youngest son who is still walking his own way although he knows God has a plan for his life. It is very important to me that he submits his life to Jesus but I trust that in time he will…

    • Nancy Burke says

      Reading this was so encouraging to me ! I want so to see all of my loved ones in heaven. Rips at my heart to see my children going the other direction for so long… I will never give up. (Never.) I always say, All of my children have been taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of my children. Bless each of you who shared. Graciously, Nancy

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