1 KI 4:32,33
INTRO: I confess to having enjoy my English courses in both high school and university. And the literature portions of those courses were particularly enjoyable. I like poetry. I like short stories. I like the classics. I did not like, however, Beowulf. But thats another story. I have noticed that many of the great writers took themes from nature. It seems to me that they were acute observers of our natural surroundings. Just so did the Lord use His natural surroundings for great lessons. It was He Who reminded us to consider the lilies of the field... (Mt 6:28). The author of the book of Proverbs also spoke of the natural world. His references to various creatures with the point of illustrating important lessons are sprinkled through the book. Lets continue with some thoughts we began last Lords day evening.
1. The snake and the deceitfulness of strong drink - 23:31,32
a. the use of alcoholic beverages for Christians has been oft debated
b. to be very honest, I truly do not understand why anyone, Christian or not, would want to take the many risks involved with the use of this substance
c. the Bible, in both Testaments, does address this subject
d. this text describes the use as subtle and deceitful as an adder, a snake
e. among Gods creatures, few are as beautifully marked as snakes - some are brightly colored (and small) - how could anything so pretty be so deadly?
f. the ultimate end of the use of alcoholic beverages has a bite ... often a deadly bite- as the context suggests (note v. 35 - addiction?)
2. The bird and crossing bridges before we get to them - 26:2
a. the curse causeless shall not come - ah, but it was on my mind!
b. the bird, the swallow, soar and fly overhead ... but never come to rest on us
c. yes, our imaginations can picture the very worst, most unpleasant things which might take place
d. but so very often those things just never happen ... the never light on us
e. may I read Ps 112:1-7? notice especially v. 7
f. am I guilty of crossing bridges? yes - and I am frequently coming back to this issue explicit in v. 7 - trusting in the Lord - see also Jer 17:7,8
3. The dog and failing to learn from our mistakes - 26:11,12
a. as you recall, Peter uses this very illustration at 2 Pet 2:22
b. while the illustration is certainly graphic, not pretty, the point is well made
c. we might thing the dogs behavior is a bit crude, disgusting, etc.
d. but repeating moral/spiritual errors is not less disgusting - a fools behavior
e. it is so important that we learn from our errors ... and that we do not repeat
f. Acts 26:20 - I often think of this word do - repentance requires the habitual practice of those things indicative of change ... of true penitence
4. The lion and the confidence of the righteous - 28:1
a. few things are more precious in life than confidence
b. that is the thrust of the text here - sinners will live their lives in uncertainty
c. the sort of uncertainty will depend on the sin, of course
d. but righteous people can face each day with the boldness of a lion!
e. the Lord is indeed their shepherd - note Ps 27:3 and 56:4
f. its great to arise in the morning knowing that I have no fear of being discovered for a lie I have told, for something I have stolen, for some behavior of which I would be ashamed, etc.
5. The horseleach and discontent - 30:15
a. I dont know how many of you may have encountered a leach
b. if you remember the motion picture African Queen, you may remember that Humphrey Bogart got into leaches when he had to enter the river to pull the boat
c. the text notes they cry, Give, give - never are they satisfied
d. and the text goes on to note other things which are never full ... never satisfied
e. we are most assuredly part of a culture that insists on more - no matter what we have, there is always more to be wanted, more to be had
f. I am not certain I know how to teach, to encourage contentment - could belief in and practice of Acts 20:35 help us?
g. if we learned to be content with what we have (1 Tim 6:8), we would (a) have much more to give to the Lord and His work, (b) have plenty to take care of lifes surprises and (c) have much more to put aside for our retirement, etc.
CLOSE: I have always enjoyed Prov 30:24-28 ... and perhaps you will remember the sermon I preached using this text. But I love to think of the little conies ... feeble, but the make their houses in the rocks. So, Ps 31:1-3. Are we as wise as the little rodents?
Cecil A. Hutson
February 20, 2005
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)