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April 6, 2008 AM



MT 21:1-6

INTRO: The time is now very short. Jesus has been on the way to Jerusalem and the cross. The time had come for Him to "be received up" (Lk 9:51). The gospel records give us a very good glimpse into this time which I will call "near the cross". Of course, John's gospel provides us with information not included in the synoptic gospels, and this critical information adds to our treasury of knowledge of these last few days of our Lord before the crucifixion. Each of the gospel records indicates that these last days were filled with events and teaching. As I read them, I have the impression that the Lord is very aware that time is short and that there is so much He needed to leave with the apostles.  As I continue to think of preaching the cross, I want to take just a brief look at Jesus near the cross.

    1. Mt 21:8-11 - "Hosanna to the son of David"
      1. at this season there were multitudes of people in/around Jerusalem
      2. some have suggested well over 2 million people crowded the city
      3. the drama of this occasion, then, could hardly have been greater
    2. As I look at this "drama"...
      1. Jesus came riding on a donkey - claim to be King - Zech 9:9
      2. "hosanna" - "save now" - unwitting acknowledgment? - Ps 118:25
      3. palm branches, branches, clothes, etc. - symbols of honor, joy, victory, respect - Rev 7:9
    3. But there was an important question - Mt 21:10
      1. "Who is this?"
      2. the immediate answer? Mt 21:11 - "Jesus the prophet of Nazareth..."
      3. Acts 2:22-24,36 - here is the real answer - they crucified the Messiah!
    1. Mt 23:37,38 - "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate"
      1. I note that He refers to it as your house - not God's house
      2. so corrupt, rebellious had Judaism become that God deserted it!
      3. Lk 19:41-44 - the apostasy of God's people is cause for weeping!
    2. Mt 24:1,2 - Jerusalem's destruction prophesied
      1. thence, begins a section of scripture giving rise to great speculation
      2. premillennialists have used this section to advance wild ideas about the Lord's return ... signs of the times, etc.
      3. but of the end of time He says: Mt 24:36
    1. Mt 24:42-46 - "Watch...for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come"
      1. clearly, Jesus teaches the absolute need for constant faithfulness
      2. notice v. 48 - the problem of growing complacent is a real one
      3. Jesus will return to herald the judgment - but there'll be no signs of it
    2. The foolish virgins, the talents, the great judgment scene
      1. Mt 25 gives us a vivid "look" at the judgment
      2. preparation, responsibility, service to others are great themes here
      3. all of this, it seems to me, is critical "last minute" information from the Lord Who will soon return to His place in heaven
    1. Mt 26:6-13 - "...she did it for my burial"
      1. Jno 12:3 identifies this woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus
      2. such acts as this do not have much meaning to our modern minds
      3. but it was clearly the act of one who cared much for the Lord - we too seldom realize that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were dear friends of Jesus
    2. Jesus refers to His death ... and burial
      1. did these words make an impression on the disciples?
      2. not sure they did - but Mt 26:13 - this was an act to be remembered
      3. in this passage is the lesson that some opportunities will come only once - take the opportunity of service in that knowledge
    1. Lk 22:2-6 - "And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money"
      1. the scribes and Pharisees want Jesus dead - but they feared the people
      2. Mt 21:45,46 - it was necessary, then, for them to find some way to take Jesus when He was apart from the multitude
      3. so, the deal Judas made involved "the absence of the multitude"
    2. The big question ... why?
      1. all sorts of speculation is offered ... and written (some, sound credible)
      2. but note Lk 22:3 - the bottom line answer is Judas surrendered to Satan
      3. here is one of the most valuable contemporary lessons surrounding Judas - when Satan is in control of us, we may do the most heinous things - so, 1 Pet 5:9

CLOSE: Oh, there is so much more we could say near the cross. Those last days are days needing our careful attention. There were friends who loved Him. There were enemies who hated Him. Which are you?

Cecil A. Hutson

06 April 2008

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)