INTRO: As we begin this new year together, there are some things of which I would like to speak by way of encouragement. There, are, perhaps, several reasons why such encouragement is appropriate. The bottom line is simply this. This church has been an integral part of my life for sixteen years. The members of this church are dear to me. So, I want only what is best for each of you. That means that whatever I encourage has your eternal reward in view. I simply want to help you along the road to heaven.
I. TO CAREFUL ATTENDANCE IN BIBLE CLASSES
A. Knowing the scriptures is absolutely vital
1. note Ps 119:105 without this light how can we see?
2. when do you study other than in Bible class? many likely dont do much real study - thus, the need
B. Bible classes are growing time
1. yes, growth in knowledge of scriptures
2. and growing in the one another aspect of the body - a time for giving and receiving
II. TO FAITHFUL ATTENDANCE IN WORSHIP ASSEMBLIES
A. The church comes together
1. Acts 20:7 - 1 Cor 11:17,20 - 1 Cor 14:19
2. communion (1 Cor 10:16) becomes a reality as the assembled church eats the Lords supper
3. being spasmodic reflects on ones caring about that communion - the oneness of the body
B. The church gives praise to the Lord
1. Eph 5:19 - Col 3:16 - Heb 13:15
2. what we come together to do is praise, glorify Him
3. I suggest that this is His appointed way - and if we are not careful in assembling, what is the message to the Lord?
C. The church encourages, exhorts
1. Heb 10:23-25
2. if you are not here, how can you encourage me?
3. few things give the positive support toward faithfulness as does assembling to give God glory
III. TO CAREFULNESS IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS
A. We are family - close ties, bonds grow
1. as years go by, the closeness certainly grows
2. but we can also begin to presume in relationships
3. taking for granted can lead to injured feelings ... we need to be careful in our assumptions (Gen 13:8!!)
B. Carefulness with our speech, our word is needed
1. here is where feelings, relationships often injured
2. a single passage carefully observed - Col 4:6!
3. is your speech always gracious?
IV. TO BE AWARE AND WELCOMING OF OUR VISITORS
A. New folks are often uprooted people
1. they are outsiders wanting to be wanted, needed
2. they are needing to be noticed, included quickly
3. be aware and watchful so that no one is neglected
B. Some visitors are questioning, seeking
1. especially true as people break ties to move
2. we need to let these folks know we care about them and that we want to answer their questions
3. introduce these people to others - great opportunity to arrange home Bible studies
V. TO BE ENCOURAGING, UPLIFTING
A. Dont be a rain on the parade person
1. find every opportunity to express your joy
2. accentuate the positives and help solve negatives
B. The church need to be a place of 1 Cor 13 love
1. such a place is supportive, healing
2. people - all people - need encouraging - but are you always an encourager?
CLOSE: This is a wonderful congregation of Gods people. Still, there is room for us, as individuals, to grow, to mature, to improve. Let us go on to perfection.
Cecil A. Hutson
07 January 2001
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)