INTRO: How many times have you and I said, I wish I could be _______? We might fill the blank with words like, loving, kinder, forgiving, patient, self-controlled, etc. The problem with wishes is that they too often lay as shiny coins at the bottom of some mythical wishing well. Making the wish simply changes nothing ...except perhaps to relieve our own guilt or feelings of responsibility. Perhaps a look at a practical progression of thoughts will move us along.
I. I WISH!
A. Often a thought indicating shortcoming
1. we look at ourselves; we compare ourselves; we see needs in ourselves
2. and we wish we could be different
3. (obviously, there are some things which cannot be changed ... I wish could be irrelevant)
B. And some short comings do need attention, thought
1. Ps 119:59 with Lam 3:40 (Hag 1:5)
2. this realization can be healthy, helpful
3. but it takes more than a dime in a wishing well
II. I OUGHT!
A. Oughts and shoulds are certainly part of life
1. similar in some ways to, I wish
2. yet, perhaps a stronger sense of need
3. oughts have a way of staying with us longer than wish
B. Ought often brings us into a real choice situation
1. Neh 5:9
2. 1 Thes 4:1
3. being aware of moral, spiritual oughts brings upon us the weight of responsibility
III. I CAN!
A. Realizing that wishes, oughts are possibilities
1. the needed amendments are not pipe dreams
2. they are not beyond me ... I have the capability (will is another thing)
3. Phil 4:3 I can ...
B. Can sets us toward positive thinking
1. we begin to think the mountain is not insurmountable
2. again, will may still keep us from climbing
3. but can takes us beyond the wishing well into the realm of reality
IV. I WILL!
A. The point of decision
1. to this point one thinks on his ways
2. now, a person has got to decide whether or not his wish, his ought goes to actual change
3. can is no longer the problem - but how much does he want the change, the improvement
B. Is this the point of failure for many
1. Mt 19:21,22 - he had a great wish which was well within his ability ... but the will was not there
2. the I will can lead to discomfort, to cost!
3. our habits, our ruts are just so easy, so comfortable
V. I AM!
A. Reflection upon the changed person
1. this realization implies that action was taken
2. Ps 119:59b and turned
3. Ezek 18:28 ... considereth, and turneth
B. Yes, there is satisfaction, contentment
1. not smug pride which thinks perfection arrived
2. but the peace which comes knowing there is real improvement compatible with Gods desire
3. could this be akin to Acts 8:39?
CLOSE: The progression is so practical. But in progression is progress - from wish to reality. We must be able to get beyond I will to I am. Do you need to make some wished for improvements, changes?
Cecil A. Hutson
11 February 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)