INTRO: What a wonderful new year's day this must have been. Following hundreds of years of life and bondage in Egypt and a year of trekking from Egypt to Sinai and the constructing of the tabernacle, on new year's day of the second year (Ex 40:17) the tabernacle was raised! I mention this event simply to highlight the significance of the first day of the new year. The Jewish calendar had begun with preparations for the exodus and the first passover ... and the death of all the firstborn in Egypt (Ex 12:1,2). The new year has, I suppose, held significance to human beings as long as calendars have been in existence. We have just celebrated the beginning of a new year, and I would like to propose some things for us as we begin this new year.
I. LET US COMMIT TO PERSONAL SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A. Many of us would recall 2 Tim 3:16,17
1. there is that word "perfect"
2. it most assuredly does not speak of sinlessness
3. the word refers to a completing, a finishing, maturing
B. There is, in the New Testament, emphasis on maturing, growing in Christ
1. 1 Thes 3:8-10 - an apostolic concern? perfecting faith
2. he acknowledged that something was lacking in their faith - I do not pretend to know the specific thing(s) to which he referred
3. but they needed to "go on unto perfection" (Heb 6:1)
C. Spiritual immaturity can become a "soul fatal" problem
1. are you really growing in spiritual maturity?
2. are you letting this world be too much with you - is your faith growing?
3. a name in a church directory, sitting in a church building (even frequently) are no guarantees of spiritual maturity
II. LET US COMMIT TO STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS
A. Relationships are "living things"
1. therefore, they need to be nurtured, maintained
2. notice Eph 5:28,29 - two words here: "nourisheth and cherisheth"
3. a valued relationship must be nourished!!!!!
B. Each of us is engaged, party to, a number of relationships
1. spousal, familial, spiritual, friendship, job related, etc.
2. each of these relationships is important to us ... some are indispensable to us
3. Rom 16:3,4ff - he was always aware, appreciative of relationships
C. What do our relationships need?
1. have we maintained these relationships properly? have we neglected them in an "all about me" disposition?
2. is attentiveness needed? is forgiveness needed? is time needed?
3. think about your significant relationships - and questions self about them
III. LET US COMMIT TO MOVING PAST FAILURES, DISAPPOINTMENTS
A. I suspect that all of us experienced some of these in the past year
1. some might well be of our own making - others, beyond our control
2. in either case, there were emotions aroused - feelings of anger, hurt, bewilderment ... perhaps even of guilt
3. will we let these things come along with us into the new year?
B. Life needs to be moving ahead ... Heb 11:13,14,16
1. I like the mental picture of the pilgrims moving ahead with life
2. did they experience difficulties, problems, disappointments? yes!
3. but somehow they moved on toward a "better country"
C. Perhaps this is all about deciding what is really most important to us
1. is heaven the most important thing to you? to me?
2. if so, I need the confidence of Heb 13:5,6
3. is it all about me? or, is it all about the Lord?
IV. LET US COMMIT TO A GREATER LOVE
A. I. Jno 4:7 - "Beloved, let us love one another..."
1. the love of which John writes is not an emotion ... it is a choice
2. while I very much enjoy the emotion of love, I know that the emotion is very fickle ... and too much emphasized
3. we need to go back to 1 Cor 13 and review the nature of this love
B. Each of us may express this love in different ways
1. but we must not let anything get in the way of it!
2. so, it cannot be all about me ... how can I help you have a better day?
3. 1 Jno 4:12 - is His love maturing in us?
CLOSE: I have no idea what this new year will bring you and me. But I know I have a great deal to do with what this year becomes to me ... and I daily need to remind myself of that fact.
Cecil A. Hutson
07 January 2007
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)