1 PET 1:22-25
INTRO: In our sermon study last Lord's day morning, I affirmed that the word of God is the unchanging standard by which ethical and moral behavior is measured and determined. As I was preaching that lesson, it occurred to me that there are many people who would agree with that statement at first glance but who, in fact, are seeking to change the standard! There are even those in the Lord's church who are proposing viewpoints which change the standard. But how does one change an unchanging standard? It does not require an outright, frontal attack such as atheists might make. It is a much more subtle process than that. And because it is so subtle, it is all the more dangerous.
I. LET ME BEGIN BY AFFIRMING...
A. The word of God is an unchanging standard
B. The word of God is a reliable pattern for matters ethical, moral & spiritual
II. BUT THERE ARE THOSE SEEKING TO CHANGE THE PATTERN - HOW?
A. By declaring many of the early narratives to be Jewish legend
1. this immediately casts doubt on the reliability of the scriptures
2. Mt 19:4 - Mt 12:39,40 - Jesus cited as factual information about the creation and Jonah and his being in the belly of the great fish
B. By referring to the "many" contradictions, etc. one finds in scripture
1. how can a book filled with such errors, contradictions be reliable?
2. in fact, most of the so-called contradictions are resolved with careful study and the few "errors" are the mistakes of copyists and none has any bearing on the message of truth
C. By declaring that Jesus really did not say all those "words in red"
1. the small group called "Jesus Seminar" has arbitrarily made this charge
2. because they are supposed to be scholars and because their claims appeal to news media types, they have gotten attention - but their claims are arbitrary and have no critical or historical foundation!
D. By declaring the epistles to be love letters - not authoritative commands
1. does that mean they're sentimental, emotional ... but not directive?
2. 1 Cor 14:37 - the epistles give frequent directives in imperative mode - they are not suggestions ... they are commandments
E. By declaring the epistles are secondary to the gospels
1. the letters have less weight, importance, authority than the 4 gospels
2. 2 Tim 3:16,17 - 2 Pet 15,16 - it is the Holy Spirit Who revealed the gospels and the epistles - who am I to decide that anything revealed by the Holy Spirit is of secondary importance
F. By declaring that there is a "core gospel"
1. so, certain "core" things are of greater importance than other things
2. but who decides which things should be in the "core"? once again, we are confronted with the arbitrary decisions of men who have an agenda!
G. By declaring the N. T. was written against the background of 1st century
1. thus, we must look for meaning beyond that is written in scripture - not what did he say, but what did he mean to say
2. while it is true the N.T. was revealed, written in the 1st century, the great truths and doctrines revealed therein are not "time sensitive" and are foundational to belief and practice in any age! - 2 Tim 2:2
H. By declaring that words have the meanings a reader assigns to them
1. so, truth would truly be "in the eye of the beholder"
2. but words do have meanings more "objectively assigned" than by one who chooses to give them meanings based on personal biases - 2 Tim 1:13
I. By declaring a 2000 year old document cannot address today's life
1. simply put, the Bible is declared to be out of date and out of touch
2. however, the ethical, moral and spiritual truths and issues addressed in scripture are a fresh and up to date as "today" - the environment may change with time, but people's needs, society's needs and truth do not change!
III. SO, WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
A. We must place our trust and confidence in the scriptures
1. that will mean refusing to listen to the many "voices" of confusion
2. that will mean becoming the target of sarcasm, ridicule
3. that will mean, however, always having a certain standard to guide
B. It amounts to this...
1. choosing between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God!
2. 1 Cor 2:4,5 - I choose for my faith to rest in the power & wisdom of God
3. yes, I will have to study; yes, I will have to make some hard choices; yes, I will likely be called a "legalist"; yes, I will not be considered "in crowd" material
4. but I will know which direction is north and south and east and west ... because the word of God is my compass
CLOSE: I can assure you that efforts to change the standard are all around us ... and will be ongoing. But as for me and my house, we choose the faith resting upon the revealed, understandable word of God.
Cecil A. Hutson
12 February 2006
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)