INTRO: From the title I have given this sermon you might conclude that I plan to talk about personal involvement in the work of the local church. That is not what I want to do this morning. The title is suggested to me by the growing tendency of many to promote the idea that there is absolutely nothing one must do to be saved ... except to pray what has been called the sinners prayer. The idea that one is passive in the matter of his salvation is not new. But it is new among members and preachers in the Lords church. Just why this faith only idea has begun to catch on I am not sure. I would not want, in any way, to question the motives and/or sincerity of others. But I do, most assuredly, question this belief.
I. IT IS TRUE THAT GOD HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVE
A. Rom 5:6-8 - There can be no doubt about Gods initiative
1. recall Rom 3:10-12, 23 - this is the picture of the entire human race
2. sin had/has separated man from God - God did not move; man did
B. Eph 2:1-8 - Because of sin, people are dead ... dead in sins
1. but God was not content that there should be no more hope for mankind
2. so, because of His mercy, His love, His grace He moved to make reconciliation a possibility
II. BUT THERE REMAINED/REMAINS ACTION ON A SINNERS PART
A. Acts 2:40 - Save yourselves from this untoward generation
1. here is a very plain call to sinful people - save yourselves
2. there is no doubting that this is an action text relevant to unsaved folks
3. Acts 2:38 - believers are given some action items which must be completed prior to receipt of the gift of salvation - Gods gracious gift
4. there was no hint of just pray for Gods forgiveness
B. Acts 9:10,11 - For behold, he prayeth
1. this was Saul of Tarsus ... this was the man who persecuted Jesus (v. 5)
2. Acts 9:18 with Acts 22:16 - I am not certain about the subject of Pauls prayers - since he knew it was Jesus Who confronted him on the road, my guess is that this chief of sinners was very contrite, penitent
3. but, but by his own words he tells us he was still in his sins - dead
4. he had to act in his own behalf - he had to be baptized if his sins were to be remitted
C. Acts 2:41 - Now back to those people Peter told, Save yourselves
1. the action they took to save themselves is clearly noted here
2. these people were baptized ... and gladly did they make that decision and submit to this action
3. in the sequence of the text it was then they were added to the body
4. I would not want to minimize the role and power of prayer in peoples lives - but prayer is not what brings a sinner into a right relationship with God!
III. AFTER BAPTISM, THERE IS STILL ACTION RELATING TO SALVATION
A. Phil 2:12 - Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
1. this is to people who have received forgiveness initially in baptism
2. there is still no place for a passive participant - an action text!
3. v. 13 suggests that we must look to do Gods will - to please Him
B. 1 Tim 4:7,8 - Exercise thyself rather unto godliness
1. I think I understand the word exercise - it is an action word
2. how, though, would he do this? does 1 Tim 4:12,13 help us?
3. there is just no doubting that I have a very active part in my own ultimate salvation ... it may be, though, that too many in Christ people neglect this
C. Titus 3:8,14 - Be careful to maintain good works
1. to Christian people comes this admonition of action!
2. Eph 2:10 - it is not in the scope of this lesson to define all of the possible good works - but here is action required of saved people
3. any ideas that salvation is by grace alone and that once a person is saved he cannot be lost are simply not Biblical ... and if not Biblical, they are not true
CLOSE: My hope is that sincere people will look into the word of God to find what God requires of one who is seeking salvation. Yes, I encourage anyone and everyone to pray. But when God prescribes a course of action, prayer will not take the place of that course of action.
Cecil A. Hutson
30 November 2003
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)