INTRO: Because of my frequent references to David and his psalms, you might tend to think that the psalmist is my favorite Bible personality. And I admit having a great affection for him. And there is Moses, whose steadfast faith and humility I cannot overlook when thinking of favorites. But over many years of reading and meditation, I continue to hold Joseph to be my favorite Bible personality. Years ago I was challenged to read a series of books about Joseph by an author whose name is Thomas Mann, and although the books are fiction, they brought me to an even deeper appreciation of this man of vision, faith and action. As we prepare for vacation Bible school and considerations from his life, I would like to share just a few important lessons from Josephs life.
1. The danger of parental favoritism - Gen 37:3,4
a. parents who have more than one child find themselves confronting this
b. among children, there may well be one with whom we find ourselves particularly close ... personality, manner, deportment, achievement, etc.
c. and it is difficult not to manifest that special feeling
d. the lesson from Josephs life involved Jacob ... and Jacobs favoritism
e. Jacobs favoritism was expressed in a very dramatic way - famous coat!
f. the effect in Josephs relationships with his brothers was tragic - but such an effect would not be unexpected
2. Believing a lie does not change the truth - Gen 37:33-35
a. Jacob sincerely believed Joseph was dead ... and acted on that belief
b. but Joseph was very much alive ... on his way to Egypt
c. there is a very important spiritual truth in this illustration
d. a religious person may be totally sincere in his belief of a doctrinal error - and live his life in keeping with that belief
e. but sincere belief of error does not change the truth ... or excuse
f. Rom 10:1-3 - failing to submit to Gods righteousness will have disastrous results ... but they were sincere! (we need to study and to conform)
3. A right attitude is a blessing in all circumstances - Gen 39:3-6
a. if ever there was a potential for foot dragging, here it was - why me?
b. but Josephs attitude was one of willing service ... there were things he could not change, true
c. still, within the circumstances there were good things he could do
d. a right attitude is half the battle in an uncomfortable, bad situation
e. Col 3:22-25 - clearly, this is the instruction of the Lord - attitude
f. by contrast, a wrong attitude will only lead you into real misery!
4. Situation ethics is not Biblical - Gen 39:7-9
a. situation ethics tells us that ethical behavior is not an absolute
b. rather, ones situation determines his ethical, moral behavior
c. this view of ethics and morality simply means there are no rights and wrongs ... only responses to situations
d. Josephs situation is grave - the masters wife could become a great threat to him if he refused ... to preserve his life he should commit the sin
e. but Joseph recognized that the situation cannot change the standard!
f. 1 Jno 3:4 - there simply are no caveats here ... no ifs or buts
5. He did not compromise his spiritual integrity - Gen 41:14-16
a. Joseph stood before a man who believed he, himself, was god
b. listen: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace
c. in this pagan land, alone in his faith, Joseph did not hide, minimize or surrender his faith
d. what kind of situation could cause a compromise of spiritual integrity? a marriage, a business arrangement, a vacation (what happens in Las Vegas stays there), the company we keep, a great disappointment?
e. 2 Cor 10:3-6 - ...bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience...
f. 1 Pet 3:1,2 - compromise of spiritual integrity results in hurt, damage
6. He was a wonderful example of a forgiving spirit - Gen 50:15-21
a. I can certainly understand the anxiety of Josephs brothers
b. people often make judgments about others by their own qualities!
c. but the brothers truly did not know the nature, the spirit of Joseph
d. there are certainly opportunities for us to be hurt, to bear grudges, to be filled with resentment
e. but listen carefully to this - Jas 1:20
f. when you struggle with forgiving, remember Joseph!
CLOSE: There is so much more I would like to say ... there was his joy in his grandchildren (Gen 50:23). And there was his great faith and confidence that God would keep His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 50:24,25). That confidence is what governed his life!
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)