INTRO: We have all sorts of tests for measuring things. We have tests which measure physical health. We have tests which measure intellectual health. We have tests which measure emotional health. We have tests which measure relationship health. But we have not been given a test which measures spiritual health ... at least, not in the form of a an organized examination. While all of those other tests have their place and are important to us, spiritual health should be our most critical concern. Not infrequently, I find myself thinking about my own spiritual health. Am I growing? Am I making progress? Am I more materially minded, or more spiritually minded? May I be so bold as to suggest some things could help you determine things about your spirituality?
I. I SPEND CONSIDERABLE TIME IN:
A. Private, personal prayer
1. I'm not referring to mealtime prayers - bed time prayers
2. I'm thinking here of prayer that is personal communion with God
3. it is not trite to remind of 1 Thes 5:17
B. Reading & studying the scriptures
1. yes, I see the hand of God all around me in His creation
2. but we cannot hear the voice of God apart from the scriptures
3. Jno 5:39 - this is the admonition of Jesus
C. Can we be spiritual people with a deficiency in these things?
II. I TRULY LOOK FORWARD TO AND ENJOY THE LORD'S DAY
A. Because I love to be in the assembly to worship God on that day
1. God has richly blessed my life - it is my joy to praise Him in worship
2. (or, is it just possible that we're having trouble counting our blessings?)
3. Rev 1:10 - are we "in the spirit on the Lord's day"? or, do thoughts of a day off, football games, etc. crowd out spiritual thoughts?
B. Because I am thrilled to contemplate Jesus' atoning death ... for me
1. the songs, the prayers, the lesson are all so meaningful and edifying
2. but to think each week of the sacrifice ... and to know that eating and drinking are communion with the body and blood of Jesus - incomparable
3. Acts 2:42 - have I become negligent of such things?
C. Can we be spiritual people without the joy of the Lord's day? Is the observance of the Lord's day a response of duty or love?
III. WHEN I MUST CHOOSE...
A. Between spiritual & worldly activities, I invariably choose the "spiritual" ones
1. in today's world we confront these choices so frequently
2. and how we choose will tell a lot about our spiritual health!
3. frankly, I worry that our young people must make these choices - often without having good parental examples in doing so
B. Ps 122:1 suggests the kind of spirit which should exist in our choices
1. I'm glad when it's time for VBS - for Camp Bandina - for the mission trips - for our gospel meetings - for studies with people out of Christ
2. really? how do we decide when confronted with these choices?
3. yes, I must live in this world and I must be involved in an occupation, in recreation, in relationships ... but do I ever use them for excuses not to engage in those spiritually strengthening things?
C. Can we be spiritual people while giving priority to unspiritual activities?
IV. I REALLY DO BELIEVE IN...
A. Jesus, the Son of God and my Savior - the Bible as the word of God
B. The church as truly the body of Christ - heaven and hell
C. If we really believe in these things (and others), our lives will be daily influenced by these beliefs - our choices governed by them (Col 3:1-3)
D. Or, is the truth of the matter that I just give lip service to those beliefs?
E. Can we be spiritual people without a deep, influencing conviction?
V. I ENJOY COMPANY OF CHRISTIANS OVER THAT OF THE WORLDLY
A. A "disclaimer" - we assuredly have friends, relationships outside of Christ
1. otherwise, we would not be influencing others toward the gospel
2. in honesty, I am privileged to have dear friends who are not in Christ
3. and I have sought to influence them in study and conviction
B. But do you cultivate and find true pleasure in Christian friendships?
1. there is truth in "one is known by the company he keeps"
2. for me, some Christian friends are closer than some of my family
3. Phil 4:1 - do we have this depth of relationships in Christ?
CLOSE: One last thought. I really do enjoy conversations about the Bible, the church, the Lord's work. Or, not? Is the Lord your life ... or just a compartment of it? We tend to become like that which we love. What are you becoming?
Cecil A. Hutson
04 June 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)