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May 20, 2007 AM

1 THES 5:21,22

INTRO: I have a deep concern ... a concern of genuine love and care about dear Christian friends. My concern is centered in "identity". As Christians, do we really know who we are? Do we really care to know who we are? Is it possible that we are much like the Corinthians to whom the apostle Paul had to say, "I...could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal ... for ye are yet carnal?" (1 Cor 3:1,3). My concern has grown out of what seems to be a desire for some of us to live just as close to the world as we can ... even, perhaps, crossing back and forth between worldliness and holiness. I hope you will attribute my thoughts to an old man who is just "out of touch" with the way things really are ... but will take them as genuine, thoughtful concern.

    1. "Steer clear of evil in any form"
      1. do we have a problem defining "evil"?
      2. do we prefer to create broad areas of "indifference" and permissiveness?
      3. are we unable or unwilling to apply Biblical principles to activities in order to discern whether or not they are "evil"?
    2. "Abstain...""Steer clear..."
      1. "abstain" means "don't do it" ... period!
      2. "steer clear" means "give it a wide berth" - stay way away
      3. are we, though, following this God given imperative?
    1. Why do we defend questionable conduct, activities, behavior?
      1. I recognize that we do not want to be engaged in judging others
      2. but I'm not thinking about specific people - conduct, activities
      3. 1 Thes 5:21 - we are called to make judgments of this kind
      4. why, though, do we feel compelled to defend conduct, activities which are at best, highly questionable ... at worst, definitively sin?
      5. are we seeking to justify our own behavior? are we seeking to justify the behavior of others?
    2. Should we not want to be as far from the "questionable" as possible?
      1. 1 Thes 4:7 (Phillips) - "The calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity..."
      2. if we desire to be close to "questionable", there is danger of "catching it"
      3. closeness to the "questionable" tends to convince us it's not questionable
      4. there can be no danger in choosing to distance ourselves from it
      5. 1 Pet 4:4 suggests "distancing" - not I'll just go along but will not participate ... 2 Cor 6:17 is an excellent rule - "...come out from among them, and be ye separate..."
    3. What attitude is suggested by wanting to "live" near the  "questionable"?
      1. does it suggest an attitude of carelessness about our influence?
      2. does it suggest an attitude of indifference about holy living?
      3. does it suggest an attitude of rebellion?
      4. Phil 4:8 - "...of good report..." - things well spoken of!
      5. question: will my indifference or defense of "questionable" moral, ethical or spiritual actions, practices enhance my own holiness?
    4. Why do I look for "loopholes" & "exceptions" in what God has revealed?
      1. can I not be content with what is safe and "unquestionable"?
      2. do I, like Eve, think God may have withheld something I'd enjoy?
      3. am I just unwilling to take "stands" which may put me at odds with people whom I love?
      4. certainly, we must study God's word carefully for its truth for human lives
      5. God only wants that which is best for us - and has given us direction which is only beneficial to us
  3. CONSIDER JAS 1:21
    1. "...receive with meekness..."
      1. with humility I must receive His word
      2. I do not have to understand all of the "whys" of what He has directed
      3. but I need His word "richly" in my life if I am to be truly holy
    2. "Wherefore lay apart..."
      1. in the N.T. this laying aside of a carnal mind and activity is repeated often
      2. I cannot continue to have a carnal mind desirous of carnal behavior and be under the influence of the implanted word ... it just does not work that way!
      3. so, Eph 4:24 - "And that ye put on the new man..."


CLOSE: It is my hope that we may be provoked to think about these things as we live day to day. I assure you that the questions I have posed in these few thoughts have challenged my own thinking. I just want to help all of us to be holy people whom God will be glad to call His own (Heb 11:16).

Cecil A. Hutson

20 May 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)