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April 15, 2007 AM

1 THES 5:21,22

INTRO: As I confront the issues of the day, I recognize that the apostle Paul gave to me incredibly good advice in the text I have read. And I keep in mind, too, that this is the advice of inspiration, of the Holy Spirit. As I have grown through the various stages and years of my life, I have had to mentally come to grips with questions of morality and ethics. In some instances I have had to carefully examine long held beliefs. Such examinations are not always easy or pleasant. Occasionally, they raise more questions than they answer. Still, such things must be examined honestly and with a heart willing to be instructed. Over the years, I have developed the habit of beginning studies or dealing with thorny subjects by asking a series of questions. In matters in which I have serious concerns these questions help me reach sound, scriptural conclusions.

    1. This is the sort of answer which makes issues easy for me
      1. those "thou shalt not" passages just leave no room for doubt
      2. and these are the sort of answers I think most of us would like to find
    2. Are there such passages in the New Testament?
      1. consider: Rom 1:26-32, 1 Cor 6:9,10, Gal 5:19-21, Eph 5:3-7, Col 3:5-9, 1 Thes 4:3, 1 Tim 1:9,10, etc.
      2. clearly, such passages reveal prohibitions of moral/ethical misbehavior
    1. Can I bring glory to God in this activity? 
      1. the passage which comes to mind is1 Cor 10:31
      2. the glory of God must be our consideration in all that we do
    2. My purpose as a Christian is to glorify God in all of life
      1. 1 Cor 6:19,20 - so many decisions are made selfishly ... wrong!
      2. somehow we much come to a maturity which takes God into consideration in every decision, choice, activity
    1. Such potential for personal harm is in so many of today's moral choices
      1. 2 Cor 6:17,18 - "...and touch not the unclean thing..."
      2. separation from some things, activities is the appropriate action
    2. "Oh, but I'm strong enough to deal with the potential harm"
      1. when I hear this, I wonder if this person understands that he is God's
      2. when I hear this, I am very much afraid it comes from immaturity
    1. "Influence" is a very, very important consideration
      1. Acts 4:13 - "they took knowledge of them...they had been with Jesus"
      2. having been with Jesus, it was critical they did not besmirch that fact with behavior which could damage their credibility
    2. An example of bad influence - Gal 2:11-13
      1. Peter made a bad decision - and it affected a great many others
      2. good influence? 1 Pet 3:1,2 - note "without the word"  - everywhere I go people, who know I'm a Christian, watch my behavior ... and among Christians, I have an awesome responsibility to make right, good choices for their sakes
    1. What is the "reputation" of this thing?
      1. if it is known to have problematic results for people, it is not good!
      2. Mt 7:20 - a principle well worth our attention, consideration
    2. Phil 4:8 - "whatsoever things are of good report"
      1. I humbly submit to you that this single passage profoundly governs
      2. if something has a questionable reputation, it must be avoided!
    1. This was a serious consideration for the apostle Paul
      1. he had to deal with a great many things which were "lawful"
      2. the problem, however, was how these "lawful" things were viewed by other Christians
    2. 1 Cor 6:12 - A great principle of Christian behavior (1 Cor 10:23)
      1. if there is danger of harm to another by my engaging in this (although it may be lawful as far as God is concerned), I will not engage in it
      2. notice the last part of the verse ... are we so determined to go ahead no matter the consequences to us or others, that we have become a slave to it? …are we that self-centered (1 Cor 10:33)

CLOSE: And one final question I try always to ask is this. Will this honor the "golden rule" (Mt 7:12)? If there is any question about whether or not it will, I choose to abstain. You see, my life is intertwined with those of so many others ... as is yours. See Rom 13:10. So, I come back to our lesson text as the overarching consideration in all questionable matters!

Cecil A. Hutson

15 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)