INTRO: There is no doubt that this life brings to us a vast array of experiences. Many of them come by reason, simply, of our humanity. We are here on this earth and subject to the same triumphs or problems as everyone else. Yet, for a Christian a whole new realm of experiences opens because of an entirely new relationship and perspective. Vastly more experiences - some with joy, some with sorrow, are found in the lives of committed, convicted Christians. We find, at times, ourselves enmeshed in what looks like impossible situations because we are Christians. So easily we lose hope in them. Yet, here is one amazing verse which literally oozes with confidence!
I. DO WE TRY TO GO IT ALONE IN LIFE?
A. Cannot our failures of conviction be right here?
1. human resources are indeed great, extensive
2. but we reach limits to our resources in some of lifes greatest crises!
3. solutions, explanations escape us yet, we so often continue to blunder through (and too often fail) drawing only on our strength, our knowledge, our vision
B. I have often wondered about Peters failures
1. Mt 14:28-30 failed when he looked away from Christ
2. Mt 26:69-74a failed when he isolated himself from God and put himself in secular company
3. Gal 2:11,12 failed when purely human fears overcame
4. I think he understood fully what he wrote in 1 Pet 5:7-9 ... and
2 Pet 1:10,11 indicates how much he had learned how far he had come in success through dependence
II. NOW, LOOK AT WHAT PAUL SAYS HERE
A. There is a positive spirit
1. we are often defeated by our own pessimism!
2. once we give ground to a negative spirit, the effect becomes cumulative, pervasive and contagious
3. who, more than Christians, should have positive spirit?
4. listen: Rom 8:28,31 ... Heb 13:5,6 ... Gal 2:20
5. Mt 17:20 aside from any other considerations, the positive spirit must prevail in triumphant Christians
B. There is acknowledgment of lifes realities
1. everything is not roses - 2 Tim 3:12
2. in no way have we been promised immunity from trouble, harm, trial, difficulty
3. I think some really feel that there is something magical about becoming a Christian which means that everything will just straighten out and be smooth sailing ... not so!
4. certainly, Paul could attest to this his real trials began when he obeyed the gospel
5. realities? family and friends desert him; physical pain; physical want; jail and death ... it is in all of this that the confidence he had sustains him! 2Cor 12:10
C. There is a power source
1. strengtheneth empowers is the meaning
2. 1 Tim 1:12 and 2 Tim 4:17 Lord was his power source!
3. perhaps so much of his life is recorded to demonstrate how he time and again experienced the Lords power in becoming an overcomer ... a victor
4. yes, he used all of his faculties, resources as indeed should we our minds, our strengths, our hands, etc.
5. but when he came to extremes wherein his resources simply could not prevail, he had the Lord
D. How does the Lord strengthen us for keeping on?
1. Lk 22:32 Jesus prayed for him (comment)
2. His word, His example, His grace (by which we have been saved), His promises, His cause ... and more
3. but perhaps the real answer is ... through our unswerving faith and total commitment (1 Pet 1:5)
4. at times I feel the how is really unimportant - it is my belief and confidence in the promise that is vital
CLOSE: Day by day I am learning the hard lesson that some things are really beyond my control. And it is a bit humbling to realize that I must be dependent ... on others, on the Lord. Yet, our success truly comes through confident dependence.
Cecil A. Hutson
26 November 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)