1 THES 4:1-3 (PHILLIPS)
INTRO: I often read from various translations of the Bible. This exercise can provide very useful information in my personal study. Some time ago I was reading in my J. B. Phillips translation of the New Testament. I came across these words in 1 Thes 4:3 ... "God's plan is to make you holy..." People often comment to me that they wonder just what God's plan is for them. I'm sure that they have reference to such things as marriage, occupation, mission and such. But here is the inspired answer to that question. God's plan for you is to make you holy! When you think about it, this divine plan will have a tremendous impact on all aspects of your life. Education, marriage, occupation, recreation and such will all be dramatically affected by your submitting to God's plan to make you holy!
I. THE PLAN BEGINS...
A. This has, in fact, always been God's plan for humanity
1. 1 Pet 1:15-21 - note that the plan for holiness began before creation
2. Gen 3:15 - generally considered the first prophecy of Jesus' mission
3. what doors will be opened to me? I don't know - but I do know that from before time's beginning God planned for me to be holy
B. The plan begins for each individual when He comes into Christ
1. I suppose we could call this the "actuation" of God's plan
2. 2 Cor 5:17 - "...if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature..."
3. Gal 3:26,27 tells us exactly when and where one comes into Christ for his new beginning
II. SO, WHAT BEGAN MUST THEN BE CONTINUED
A. The new creature must develop and mature
1. Heb 6:1a - "...let us go on unto perfection..."
2. the writer's concern? - Heb 5:12 ... no spiritual development!
3. 2 Cor 7:1 - "...perfecting holiness...."
4. Phil 3:13,14 - he acknowledges that there is more to do in his growth
B. Well begun is not all done!
1. how often have I seen new Christians so excited, so exuberant
2. yet, later to hear of them that they have not grown, or have fallen away
3. Col 1:21-23 - notice that the condition of v. 22 is in v. 23 - "...if..."
4. God's plan to make you holy will be an ongoing process - if it does not continue, we will be, at best, stunted in growth ... at worst, return to the "wild"
III. THE ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE
A. Begin well ... zealously pursue the prize... win the crown!
1. 2 Tim 4:7,8 - this is the victor's crown
2. but look at the promise here - it's for all who have submitted to God's plan
3. v. 7 gives us a look at how the objective is to be attained
B. Keep this in mind ... heaven will not be for the unholy!!!
1. and I am very sure there will many surprised folks on the day of judgment
2. Mt 7:21-23 certainly suggests this
3. so, the wise course is to submit to God's plan to make us holy!
IV. GOD'S PLAN, AND YOU?
A. Nothing will happen without your consent and participation
1. your holiness is at once a work of God and a work of each person
2. so, your being holy and receiving the crown is not automatic
3. Rev 22:17 - God has graciously supplied -but you must make a decision
4. that decision involves belief, repentance and baptism into Christ
B. Then, your participation is the total commitment of the whole life
1. note 2 Cor 6:17,18 & 7:1 - holiness will require separation, separateness
2. and this is something so many find so difficult - leaving the old habits, the old haunts, the old associates
3. further, it becomes the "downfall" for too many well intentioned Christians
4. remember, though, that heaven is only for the holy
CLOSE: "Let him have His way with thee...His power can make you what you ought to be...." Great words from a great hymn. But His power can only make what you ought to be if you let Him have His own way with you and your life. So, you have a decision to make. Decide in favor of your soul, my friends.
Cecil A. Hutson
19 November 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)