INTRO: In recent weeks I have had occasion to hear people saying, in effect, It really does not matter what you believe. On a couple of occasions I have heard that sentiment in the words of people who are members of the Lords church ... and have been for some considerable time. Of course, the religious world has long held to the belief that as long as a person is sincere about his religion it does not matter what he believes. Because such ideas may be invading our own thinking, I believe it is important for me to explore this idea in a public way ... and to help all of us to understand that it really does matter what one believes.
I. SOME EVERY DAY SITUATIONS?
A. I thought the earth was flat, but it is round
B. I thought the gun was not loaded, but it was
C. I thought it was a king snake, but it was a coral snake
D. I thought no one was listening, but they were
E. I thought no one would ever find out, but they did
F. A hard lesson for some: it does matter what you believe
II. BIBLICAL EXAMPLES
A. Gen 3:4-6 - Eve believed Satans lie
1. but God had plainly said, ...of the tree...thou shalt not eat of it
2. Gen 3:16-19 - no matter her sincerity, here was the consequence
3. she learned, too late, that it does matter what you believe
B. Gen 37:32-35 - Jacob believed Joseph was dead
1. the fact is that Joseph was very much alive
2. but what Jacob believed affected him adversely almost the rest of his life
3. even believing a lie will affect our attitudes, our behavior, our future
C. Job 4:7-9 - Jobs friends believed that bad things happen to bad people
1. they sought to convince Job he had sinned - they were convinced of it
2. Lk 13:1-5 - Jesus exploded that myth!
3. but Jobs friends sincerely believed this myth and pounded Job with it
D. 1 Ki 13:17-19 - The young prophet believed the old prophets lie
1. I have no doubt of the young prophets sincerity in his belief of the lie
2. but the Lord had plainly given directions - so, vv. 20-22
3. the young mans mistake? failing to confirm with the word of the Lord what the old prophet said! note Acts 17:11,12
E. 2 Ki 5:10-12 - Naaman believed Syrian rivers were better than the Jordan
1. his belief could well have resulted in his remaining a leper for life!
2. fortunately, he had some wise servants - vv. 13,14
3. two very important points here? (a) mans beliefs, no matter how sincere, cannot replace the word of God, (b) only when Gods directions are followed carefully will the blessing be received!
F. Mt 16:13-15 - It mattered what the disciples believed about Jesus
1. when asked, they responded with the common beliefs of the day
2. but notice v. 15 - Jesus wanted to know what they believed
3. so, v. 16 - here was the belief that was truth, that mattered!
G. Acts 23:1 - It mattered what Saul of Tarsus believed about Jesus
1. 1 Tim 1:13 with Acts 22:4 - he believed he was doing right!
2. his belief of error led him to do all sorts of things which were wrong
3. the wonderful conclusion of the story is that when he was confronted with the truth he repented, he obeyed the gospel, he changed course
III. SO, MY FRIENDS, IT DOES MATTER WHAT YOU BELIEVE
A. We must seek reliable information
1. a failure here will inevitably lead to sincere belief in error
2. and belief in the error will affect lifes choices, decisions, directions
B. And the reliable information in moral and spiritual matters is the Bible
1. to know the truth will require time and effort on your part
2. Jno 5:39 - Search the scriptures...
C. You may discover uncomfortable things
1. if what you believe and what scripture reveals are different, discomfort!
2. but if you follow the lead of Saul of Tarsus and change, discomfort is resolved and blessings follow!
CLOSE: I humbly and sincerely ask that you examine your beliefs. Or, as 2 Cor 5 puts it, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith... If there is the need to change, be courageous ... make the changes.
Cecil A. Hutson
June 5, 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)