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April 8, 2007 AM

EPH 5:1-7

INTRO: In the movies "Pirates Of The Carribean" Captain Jack Sparrow had something which seemed always to come into the stories but which was, for all of its importance to the stories, not especially dominant. For all of us children who have seen the movies and enjoyed them we would recall Captain Sparrow's amazing compass. But his compass was not like those we use ... or that a typical mariner might use. His compass did not point "north" ... it pointed to that which he desired or that for which he was seeking. It certainly could not be used for navigation in strange, dangerous, uncharted waters! There is another sort of compass to which some refer from time to time. It is the "moral compass" - that standard (or lack thereof) to which people subscribe in the making of moral and ethical decisions. .

    1. It always points "north"
      1. that is the comforting fact about a compass
      2. it is not "wishy washy" in deciding the direction it will point
    2. So, it is a dependable tool in navigating, in giving direction
      1. several people might argue about "which way is north" - opinions
      2. but one says, "I have a compass" - the compass ends the argument ... now, one or more might not like the direction the compass gives ... but it is still "north"
    1. Points in the direction of the moment
      1. the circumstances of the moment determine the choice, the behavior
      2. no thought given to standards, to consequences ... just to the moment
    2. Points in the direction of desire
      1. "desire" is a strong motivation for behavior - good or bad
      2. but "what I want" too often becomes the overriding factor in choices
    3. Points in the direction of societal norms
      1. one accepts, with question, what is acceptable in today's society
      2. societal norms do not consider unchanging standard - change often
    4. Points in multiple directions
      1. these are very confused folks - have no determined standard
      2. their choices are often governed by the company they are keeping
    5. Points in the direction of scripture
      1. they seek a dependable, unchanging "north" for their lives
      2. they accept that this may mean they seem a bit "odd" to others
      3. they put what is right by God's definition ahead of all others
    1. That's true - so, we must do some "homework"
      1. I know very well we'd prefer to have everything laid out in nice lists
      2. Jno 5:39 and Acts 17:11 - that word "search" may be negative to us
      3. but with a bit of genuine caring & effort we will find many answers to our questions about moral & ethical behavior
    2. Some things re: moral/ethical behavior are certainly clear, explicit
      1. ill: Rom 1:26-32, 1 Cor 6:9,10, Gal 5:19-21, Col 3:5-9
      2. but these "lists" are not exhaustive (Gal 5:21"and such like")
      3. we must consider, for example, Rom 8:7 - the carnal mind which permits a permissiveness toward questionable things
    3. There are, too, our questions about things without neat lists & answers
      1. how does one then make moral judgments? there is not an explicit "thou shalt not" to guide me - dilemma, perplexity, frustration? yes, perhaps
      2. so, do we just do things in ignorance rather than to become scripturally informed? are we happy in our ignorance?
      3. do we just decide that it's not that significant...and let indifference decide
    4. I would hope that we are dissatisfied with just letting society decide for us
      1. that dissatisfaction should send us to the scriptures for principles to undergird decisions
      2. if there are good people who refrain from certain behaviors/activities, should I not, then, be cautious, careful about going ahead with something for which I can't find that neatly cataloged answer?
      3. a guiding principle in my life has been 1 Thes 5:21,22
        1. the challenge is to test all things - open hearts, honesty, diligence
        2. that which is questionable I simply choose to leave alone
        3. that which has even the taint of moral/ethical question I leave alone
        4. has my life been poorer because of the choices I have made based on such thinking? absolutely not — nor will yours

CLOSE: My moral compass must not be ineffective by my indifference or desire to be like everyone else. It takes some courage to live by such a code of behavior. But I want nothing to endanger my certainty of a home in heaven.

Cecil A. Hutson

08 April 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)