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December 23, 2007 AM


HEB 13:22

INTRO: The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews describes the letter as "the word of exhortation". And he has expressed this word of exhortation in the form of a letter he has written. If we think through the letter of Hebrews, we realize that "exhortation" may have a fairly broad meaning. Frankly, I have often thought of exhortation more in terms of encouragement or persuasion ... a fairly limited view of this word. The Hebrew letter, however, includes a broad spectrum of information ... most of which, of course, is about Jesus. Then, one finds some of what I might call the typical elements of exhortation ... persuasion, encouragement, advice. This morning I want us to consider the word of God as the "word of exhortation".

    1. Directions given to preachers?
      1. 1 Tim 4:13 - three specific things: reading, exhortation, doctrine
      2. 2 Tim 4:2 -preach, reprove, rebuke, exhort - joined with patience and doctrine
      3. Titus 2:15 - speak, exhort, rebuke with all authority
    2. Have preachers moved away from such things?
      1. it is difficult to be popular when exhorting, rebuking - popularity wins!
      2. attempting to teach, preach doctrinally sound lessons in order to give people the tools for making right decisions about life is losing I fear
      3. so, we resort to superficiality ... and never think in terms of "authority"
    1. Acts 2:40 - To obey the gospel
      1. he had preached to them of Christ - gave them the information needed
      2. but people need to know how to use the information given
      3. so, "And with many other words did he testify and exhort..." - in essence, he "extended the invitation"
    2. Acts 20:1,2 - Exhortation as parting words to Ephesian disciples
      1. he had lived and taught there for two years (Acts 19:9)
      2. leaving disciples whom you've taught and whom you love is not easy!
      3. but leave he must - yet, not without parting words of encouragement
    3. Titus 2:6,9 - Exhortation to faithfulness to duty
      1. there are times when "duty" becomes dreary, harsh, undesirable
      2. so, in keeping with preacher responsibility, Titus exhorted them
      3. times are when all of us need reminders to faithfulness to that entrusted to us .. or to which we are called - see Col 4:17
    1. Notice what is said at2 Tim 3:16"...for correction..."
      1. the church is to be a disciplined body
      2. Christians are to be a discipline people
      3. Eph 6:4 - "discipline and instruction of the Lord" (ESV)
    2. Titus 1:9 - Corrective exhortation by the elders
      1. the basis for this correction is obviously the "faithful word" - it must always be in keeping with "sound doctrine"
      2. "gainsayers"? - those who say against, who oppose
      3. this is not an especially pleasant thing for elders - not all gainsayers will be convinced to change course and will have no end of unpleasant things to say about elders who are caring and bold enough to attempt correction
    1. I notice in scripture that "beseech" and "exhort" are often the same word!
      1. in this word is the idea of imploring, begging with earnestness
      2. and we find times when N.T. writers are imploring disciples
      3. should we have to be begged to be the kind of people we out to be? No! But dedicated, devoted teachers & preachers are so concerned about the disciples among whom they serve ... neglect calls for imploring!
    2. Some of helpful examples...
      1. Rom 12:1 - to be, in fact, the living sacrifice -dedicated to God
      2. 1 Cor 1:10 - to unity of the body - division is harmful to the body
      3. 2 Cor 2:8,9 - to confirm love to penitent people
      4. Eph 4:1 - to walk and live in keeping with our calling as Christians
      5. 1 Thes 4:1,2 - to give more & more attention to pleasing God
      6. 1 Thes 4:9,10 - to increase in love one for another
      7. 2 Thes 2:1,2 - to be steadfast in the face of error, speculations, etc.
      8. 1 Pet 2:11 - to be pure in every aspect of life
    3. Givens? I would think so - but Heb 2:1-3
      1. neglect is far too common to human beings and creeps into discipleship
      2. when it does, we need someone to implore, to beg, to exhort us!
      3. the word of God will do this for us if we are "in the word" often

CLOSE: While the expression "word of exhortation" only appears in scripture a couple of times, it is evident that scripture is a body of exhortation ... and, yes, pleading. In what aspect of your life do you today need exhortation?

Cecil A. Hutson

23 December 2007

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)