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March 21, 2004 AM

PROV 31:10-20

INTRO: If you read through our lesson text for this study, you will notice that there are several references to the noble womans hands. It is entirely possible that we take our hands for granted. We have them. We use them. We may even abuse them at times. But there they are ... at the ends of our arms ... hands. In scripture there are literally hundreds of references to hands. Often those references are to the hands of God. But there are some occasions in which those references are to the hands of people ... people like us. And it is interesting to notice some of those references for the practical lessons they have for Christian people. For example:

1. There are ministering hands - Acts 20:34

a. the apostle is referring to his use of his own hands to meet his needs

b. but he also refers to them that were with me - his hands served others

c. Acts 18:3 - with his hands, then, he produced income to minister

d. think of your hands as a medium of serving others - Acts 9:39

2. There are working hands - Eph 4:28 & 1 Thes 4:11,12

a. thoughts here are similar to those of ministering hands

b. but we need to see working hands as very much Gods intention

c. this is the means by which He intended for us to supply our material needs - working ... a lazy mentality or a welfare mentality God does not condone

d. Prov 21:25 - for his hands refuse to labor - the refusal of the hands, however, speaks of the decision of the brain!

3. There are holy hands - 1 Tim 2:8

a. how would you define or describe holy hands?

b. perhaps we would begin by thinking of hands dedicated to Gods service

c. but would we need to go further to think of a pure heart dedicated to God?

d. holy hands is a truly beautiful expression descriptive of the person who is truly set apart to the Masters use - 2 Tim 2:19-21

4. There are discouraged hands - Heb 12:12

a. the older I become, the more I am aware of discouragement

b. I see so many people coping (or trying to do so) with discouragement

c. as a younger man, I suppose I thought people could just bull their way through life - sheer strength (physical and of the will) was what one needed

d. the truth is, there are so many things beyond and our of our control ... which have the potential to discourage - so, Gal 6:2

5. There are hands which need cleansing - Jas 4:8

a. obviously, James was not referring to physical cleansing

b. notice that he joins purifying the heart with cleansing of the hands

c. the hands are so often the instruments of the heart ... doing its bidding

d. so, as we have already noted, cleansed hands (holy hands) must refer to the sort of person we are ... to our continued cleansing as we life lives of penitence and devotion

6. There are unwashed hands - Mk 7:1-5

a. well, we wash our hands before we eat - so, whats happening here?

b. was Jesus advocated poor hygiene?

c. listen further: Mk 7:6-9 ... hand washing was a man made ceremony with religious overtones - a human invention to be rigidly practiced

d. it was part of the body of traditional religion practiced by the Pharisees - while they ignored explicit ordinances and commandments of God

e. even further: Mk 7:18-23 - note that Jesus explains that which enters the mouth does not enter the heart of a man ... but out of the heart come those things which defile ... which affect ones holiness!

7. There are washed, but irresponsible, hands - Mt 27:24

a. we use the expression, I wash my hands of this

b. well, Pilate washed his hands in the matter of what would happen to Jesus - but simply washing his hands of the matter did not relieve him of responsibility!

c. he, and we, try to relieve our conscience of guilt by playing these games - but when we are in the position of responsibility, of stewardship, washing our hands of the matter is a great personal failure

d. in life we must accept, confront our responsibilities in Christ and the consequences of our decisions and actions

CLOSE: And there are wicked hands - Acts 2:23. The happy ending of that story is that not even the most wicked hands could defeat Gods purpose ... and Christ arose! Are your hands dedicated to His service? Has your heart been purified by His blood? Are your hands holy?

Cecil A. Hutson

21 March 2004

God's Plan of Salvation

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 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 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 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)

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!

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)