THINGS ARENT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
INTRO: When I was in high school, I was fascinated with the great escape artist Houdini. I even wrote a term paper on the life of this unusual man. One thing I learned about the feats of Houdini and other illusionists is this. Things are not always as they seem. That is true, too, even in real life. Our maxims, or axioms, have a way of convincing us of certain realities when all the while reality is 180 degrees from what we supposed.
I. IN LIFE ...
A. Cannot judge a book by its cover
B. Cannot be sure what we see is what we get
C. Cannot always judge success/failure by scoreboard
1. or, maybe winners and losers
2. but not always success and failure
II. A PROBLEM STATED ... PSALM 73
A. Ps 73:2-12 The ungodly prosper!
1. what the psalmist saw was as it seemed
2. I especially note v.5 ... do we ever think this?
B. What was the reality?
1. Ps 73: 16-19 destined for destruction
2. point: how we see things may well not be the way things are
II. SOME PARADOXES ...
A. Mt 23:11 Greatness is in servitude!
1. we are caught up in who is the greatest ...?
2. the world puts a premium on greatness - and has little time for so called little people
3. but reality is that the way of greatness is the way of servitude ... note Lk 22:26,27 ... the person eating the banquet meal may not be the greatest!
B. Mk 8:35 To save your life you must lose it!
1. take care of #1" is the wisdom of the world
2. and, sure enough, that is about what folks do
3. but reality is the fact that one must lose his life in the Lords cause if he is to save his life
C. Mk 10:28-30 Give everything to have anything!
1. some folks would see this as a bad investment
2. and Peter wondered about it - but things arent always what they seem!
3. the return on the investment could not be equated to anything of material value
D. Mt 19:30 To be first you must be last
1. our world crowds to the first of the line
2. races are won by the first to cross the finish
3. first is very, very important to us!
4. but spiritual values are calculated in a very different way
5. the person whose humility is real and who is not always seeking his own earthly advantage will be in the real first place
E. If you choose to live a faithful Christian life ...
1. some will think your choice unwise - too many sacrifices - not enough me ...
2. and you may find yourself having some of the same thoughts the psalmist had
3. the temptation to go along will be strong ... because it will seem to be the only way
4. but we must keep remembering that things are not always what they seem!
5. Gods promises must be factored into the way we see things
CLOSE: The time will come when the apparent inequities will be corrected. But that is Gods business. We need to learn that reality may not always be the way things look ... and to have confidence in the promises He has made ... such as the last shall be first.
Cecil A. Hutson
21 March 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)