INTRO: As I grow older, there is a corresponding growth in my desire to know everything I can about God. As a younger man, perhaps my interest in God was more academic than it was personal. That is not to say that I was not interested in what God had done in and through Jesus ... or, that I was not interested in preaching and teaching the grand message of the gospel. But the desire to know God on more than an intellectual level may not have been as present then as it is now. Perhaps, too, I missed out on wonderful opportunities to instill in others this desire since I was more academic than personal. This morning I want to take a few precious minutes to talk about "Desiring To Know God".
I. IS THIS DESIRE ONE THAT IS COMMON TO HUMANITY?
A. "Religion" is nearly as old as humanity
1. in Gen 1 & 2 there is apparently "communion"
2. but in Gen 4 there is the first notice of "religion" - altar, sacrifice, etc.
3. every ancient culture conceived of a deity of some sort - and worshiped
4. Acts 17:22,23 - the Greeks were very religious
B. Today's proliferation of religions is evidence of the fact of this desire
1. I am not for a moment commending such a proliferation of religions
2. but I cannot help but wonder if it is not proof of this inborn desire
3. I do wonder if it does not also suggest that people seek to know God on their own terms ... to be religious without the "burdens" of sacrifice, obedience
4. but the point I want to make here is that of desire - uninformed and imperfect as it may be
II. THE DESIRE SUGGESTS ESTRANGEMENT FROM GOD
A. "Religion" means "to tie back" - to bind again
1. the very word suggests, then, estrangement to be overcome
2. what happened to bring Gen 4 into necessity?
3. the bond had been broken - communion interrupted
4. so, "religion" sought to overcome the estrangement - to bind again
B. The cause of the estrangement?
1. Isa 59:1,2 - "...your iniquities have separated between you and your God"
2. Rom 3:23 & 5:12 - "...for that all have sinned"
3.although many, many people may not realize or understand this, it is nevertheless true
4. it was true at the beginning, and it is true now - sin causes estrangement
C. 2 Cor 5:18-20 - Notice here the emphasis on "reconciliation"
1. reconciliation most assuredly speaks of estrangement
2. in this case, it is clear that it is people who are estranged from God!
3. and the great religious feelings within us speak of desire to return
4. this is, indeed, the desire of the Father
III. HOW DOES ONE RETURN TO THE FATHER?
A. There is no consistent answer/pattern in the many religions of the world
1. one writer called this inconsistency a "sad track record" of religion
2. why the inconsistency? because the answer has originated in/with man
3. to mask this people have claimed there are many roads leading to God
B. The only hope for an answer is within God's own revelation to us
1. so, 2 Cor 5:19 - "...the word of reconciliation"
2. 1 Pet 1:17-25 - notice here that people are able to call God Father because of their obeying the truth revealed in the word of God, the gospel!
3. desiring to know God is not a possibility outside of the revealed word!
C. Jno 14:6 - Jesus is the only way to God
1. His death, burial and resurrection make the way to God possible
2. His death is the only atonement for sins which clears the way to God
3. His resurrection is the great miracle which confirms He is the only way
D. Jno 6:63 - His message is both good news and instruction
1. good news that the estrangement can be overcome - desire fulfilled
2. instruction in the way in which we must go in order to be reconciled
3. is our desire serious enough to make us abandon the religions of the world, attractive as they may be, in order truly know God as Father?
E. Rom 6:3–6 with Rom 6:17,18
1. freedom from sin, thus, restoration, comes in obeying form of doctrine
2. what is the pattern to be obeyed? baptism into his death to be raised as He was
3. the was and is the only way to restored fellowship with God - Rom 6:22
CLOSE: If you desire to be in fellowship with God, the only way is through Jesus Christ. And the way through Jesus Christ is through belief in Him and obedience to that form of doctrine picturing His death, burial and resurrection ... baptism.
Cecil A. Hutson
20 August 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)