INTRO: There are times, I suppose, when we might selfishly long to die. And its true that death for a Christian is no loss ... rather, it is gain. But death comes in due time and should not really be available at our bidding. The fact of the matter is that God may have more work for us to do. It saddens me to hear people express feelings of uselessness. I wonder if that extremity means they have sought all of the possibilities, all of the opportunities ... is there really no use in their living? Here is Paul with a certain desire to depart and be with Christ. But he is a truly responsible person who realizes that he has much work to do and that realization overcomes the desire.
I. CONFIDENT HE WOULD LIVE (1:25a)
A. Has heretofore expressed some questions about this
1. perhaps wanted to cover all possibilities (1:20)
2. perhaps his humanity overcame at times (1:8)
3. but he apparently really expected to be freed (was)
B. There are advantages in living positively (1 Pet 3:10,11)
1. in the first place it is healthier!
2. then, it makes us more productive as we expect good and positive things
3. and it helps us to accept those things we may not be able to change with the feeling and knowledge, Ive done my utmost ... he would live to work
II. PAULS WORK INVOLVED THEIR JOY OF FAITH SUGGESTS:
A. Joy in truth discovered
1. one can be comfortable and secure in error
2. but to discover truth is the cause for real joy
3. Jno 17:17 these people had discovered that truth ... superstition, uncertainties - fostered by ignorance - were no more (1 Thes 1:6)
B. Joy in sins remitted
1. I think always of the Ethiopian ... Acts 8:39
2. I wonder if we stress as we should this aspect of conversion sins are forgiven! note 2 Cor 5:17
3. Acts 16:30 the question the Philippians asked ... and note Acts 16:33,34!
C. Joy of certainty for life coming from the word
1. daily living has its perplexities, its questions
2. but for people in Christ - depending on the word - answers are more and more available ... and certain
3. thus, Phil 1:9 in knowledge ... why? see next verse
D. Joy in assurances which see us through difficulties
1. my number one assurance Heb 13:5,6
2. we cannot predict outcome of any day or dilemma but the outcome becomes acceptable in knowing that He helps us through
3. Phil 4:13 he had certainly had experiences with this
E. Joy in associations with brethren
1. note this touching scene: Acts 20:36-38
2. there was a bond of joy in associations together a bond threatened now! the natural feeling ... sorrow
3. with all of our imperfections should we not still make the communion of the church our world?
F. Joy in uncomplicated living in Christ
1. Eph 4:31,32 all of the dissipating, debilitating aspects of things noted in v.31 are replaced by the positive uncomplicated, strengthening things of v.32
2. living sinfully, living with Satan as Master is hard!
3. Prov 1:28-33 note especially the contrast of v.31 with v.33 (no civil wars within ... thus, joy!)
III. BUT HIS WORK ALSO INVOLVED THEIR PROGRESS OF FAITH
A. Joy of faith depends on progress of faith
1. without a growing faith discipleship will not be a source of joy
2. indeed, one will find himself divided in loyalties and interests - this is something of that civil war within us we mentioned earlier
3. points of growth: love, obedience, fruit, etc.
B. How would Paul assist their progress of faith?
1. certainly by further teaching (as with this letter)
2. by encouraging them through trials (1:28)
3. by his own example (3:17)
CLOSE: Each of us has work to do in Christ ... the work of teaching, of encouraging, of inspiring, of exemplifying. And each of us - no matter how old, how tired, how tried, must feel and respond to that responsibility.
Cecil A. Hutson
23 January 2000
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)