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March 18, 2007 AM

ISA 29:14,15

INTRO: Years ago there was a television game show called "I've Got A Secret".  As best I can recall, a panel of celebrities had to guess which one of three people actually had the "secret". "It's a secret," we might whisper to one of our children about a gift purchased for a spouse or child. "Can you keep a secret?" we might ask a person to whom we want to divulge some juicy tidbit of information. The people in the text I read thought they were keeping bad behavior secret from God. So naive were they that they thought in their hearts, "Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?" But v. 13 tells us something very important about these people (and such people as they). They "have removed their heart far from me". What secrets do you have? Are you keeping behavior secret from others without realizing (or caring) that God already knows your secret?

    1. At work I often use profanity - but I'd never use it around you
    2. I enjoy pornography - but I'd never show it to you
    3. I play the lottery - but I'd never tell you about it
    4. I often drink alcoholic drinks - but I wouldn't where you could see me
    5. I am having an extramarital affair - but I'm very careful not to be caught
    6. I often cheat on my exams - but everyone else does, too
    7. I enjoy a good, smutty joke occasionally - but I would not tell you one
    8. Is there some secret behavior you really do not want discovered?
    9. Acts 5:1-5 - Ananias had a secret
      1. the secret? Represented gift to be total price received for a "possession"
      2. text clearly indicates he was keeping this secret from other people
      3. but notice v. 4 - he could not keep the secret from God!
      4. he might have "fooled' other people indefinitely - but not God
    1. Note 1 Cor 4:5 - "...the hidden things of darkness..."
      1. Eph 5:11,12 - shameful things are done in secret
      2. why do people, in some settings, cast aside knowledge and conviction?
      3. I recall something fromRom 1:32 - even knowing the judgment of God, people still do shameful things under cover of darkness, secrecy
    2. Just thinking about the "why"...
      1. could it be they are really very worldly people - not led by the Spirit?
      2. could it be the approval of peers is more valuable than that of God?
      3. could it be they do not want to deal with ridicule or make explanations?
      4. could it be that what Jesus said about willing spirits and weak flesh is their malady (Mt 26:41)?
      5. could it be there is a "need" to impress others? (little Jack Horner syndrome)
      6. could it be some just think those things to be "smart", "in", "cool", etc?
      7. could it be there is no fear of God and His judgment?
    1. Do we think God really cannot see into our "secrets"?
      1. Eccl 12:14 - "...with every secret thing..."
      2. Acts 1:24 - "...which knowest the hearts of all men..."
      3. it is possible to "hide" some secret from people for a long while
      4. but it is impossible to "hide" a secret from God for even a second
    2. Do we think our secret behavior will not harm us?
      1. Gal 6:7,8 - yes, we may be thinking of "eternal" here, but there is most assuredly a sense of immediate consequences here
      2. Prov 1:28-31 - clearly, behavior that is outside the counsel of God will have unpleasant consequences
      3. Rom 1:27 - "...receiving in themselves..."
      4. involvement in behavior that is morally or spiritually questionable, no matter how secret, will have its consequences in our lives
    3. Is your secret behavior contributing to your holiness?
      1. my guess is that most "secret behavior" is kept secret because it's "bad"
      2. does such behavior as the things I mentioned earlier enhance holiness?
      3. and the answer is obviously, "No" - it works against holiness
      4. so, in behaving in morally/spiritually questionable ways we are making a choice not to be holy people

CLOSE: Return with me to Isa 29:13-15. When we begin to engage in those things which are unseemly and think no one is seeing, we need to remember that God says of such people they "they have removed their heart far from me". Look into your life ... are there things there you'd be ashamed to have known openly? Are those things signaling that you are moving away from the Lord?

Cecil A. Hutson

18 March 2007

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)