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June 4, 2006 PM

PROV 17:17 

INTRO: Our theme for Vacation Bible School this year is "A Friend Loves At All Times". While we may not realize it, "friendship" is a subject both taught and exemplified in the Bible. There was God's declaration that Abraham was His friend. There was the noble friendship of David and Jonathan. There was Jesus' friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. There was the friendship of Paul and Timothy. Doubtless to say, there are many relationships noted in scripture which qualify for the definition of "friendship". This evening I do not plan to examine Biblical examples of friendship. What I want to do is explore the theme with this question. What is it that most of us seek in friendship?

1. "Constancy" would be high on my list of answers

a. we would like to have lasting friendships

b. we would like to know that a friend today will be a friend tomorrow

c. the truth? not all friendships will be "life long" - age, distance, circumstance

d. we are fortunate to have a few "lifetime" friendships

e. these are especially meaningful if they are "in Christ" friendships!

f. Prov 27:10 - friendships are "too sacred far" to be forsaken (Prov 18:24)

2. "Consistency" is another of those qualities on my list of answers

a. by this I am referring to something that pretty much always the same

b. a friendship will have its "ebbs and flows"

c. but don't we like to know there will not be emotional outbursts? instability?

d. I realize that from day to day we may be in different circumstances - we may find ourselves in turmoil - job related, family related, decision related?

e. it is so important not to let these things cause us to attack our friends

f. Prov 17:17 - this, I believe, is something we want to know in friendship

3. "Loyalty" is something I value highly in friendship

a. "fickle friendship" is hardly real friendship - all of us have experienced it

b. "I'll be your friend until someone better, more important comes along"

c. and it hurts when you realize that you have been "used" ... and cast away

d. loyalty can be costly - but there are few worthwhile things that are not

e. "loyalty" does not mean that we have a right to expect all of another person's time, attention, etc. - some mistake that for loyalty

f. 1 Sam 20:30-32 - I always turn here for the example of loyalty in friendship

4. "Openness" & "counsel" are important in friendship

a. not having to feel I am having to always walk on eggshells - relaxed

b. not having to pretend or to be someone or something I am not

c. just being able to be open and comfortable in a friendship

d. that, then, permits a friend's counsel ... even correction

e. some friends will tell you what you want to hear - but real friends will tell you what you need to hear (in a loving and concerned way)

f. Prov 27:9 and Prov 27:17 - at the moment of counsel from a friend we may not always understand, agree ... but it's in the quiet of reflection that we can see our friend's point and the value of what has been offered

5. "Companionship" is most assuredly desired in friendship

a. I would guess friendship without companionship could hardly exist

b. lack of companionship certainly tends to change the friendship

c. the interactions of kindred spirits - conversations, activities and such

d. companionship with no ulterior motives, no tensions, no pressures is one of the wonderful "pluses" in deep friendship

e. one other element I'd suggest is important here - 2 Pet 1:1

f. 2 Tim 4:21a - words which speak to me of needed companionship of a friend of long and full years

6. And I would certainly think of the "enjoyment" of friendship

a. "enjoyment" does not necessarily mean always "fun and games"

b. it is that intangible "something" which gives life to the relationship

c. there is the anticipation of communication, of communion ... knowing that one will be refreshed, edified therein

d. I am so fortunate to have friends in many places ... while separated, I have the wonderful memories of enjoyment ... when together, I appreciate and enjoy each moment, each word, each conversation ... joy!

CLOSE: Give to your friendships. Invest in your friendships. Value your friendships. And never, never abuse your friendships.

Cecil A. Hutson

06 June 4

God's Plan of Salvation

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 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 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 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)

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!

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)