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August 5, 2007 AM

1 COR 11:2 

INTRO: Over the years of my preaching life, I have preached of the unity for which Jesus prayed in Jno 17:21. His words are familiar: "That they all may be one..." I have devoted myself to the belief that the restoration of New Testament Christianity is possible in the 20th and 21st centuries. In virtually of the home Bible studies in which I have been engaged I have stressed the idea that we can be Christians exactly like those of whom we can read in the New Testament and that the church described in the pages of the New Testament is a possibility no matter the century. Still, religious division exists in what is called "Christendom". And there is the reality of division even among churches of Christ ... and the reality is growing more evident every day. So...

    1. Absolutely, yes!
      1. Jesus did not pray for the impossible
      2. God does not ask the impossible of us
      3. so, we must start from the belief that agreement really is possible
    2. Consider these scripture references
      1. 1 Cor 1:10 - "...and that there be no divisions among you..."
      2. 1 Cor 4:17 - " I teach everywhere in every church"
      3. 1 Cor 11:2 - "...and keep the ordinances , as I delivered them to you"
      4. Phil 4:9 - "those things, which ye have...learned, and"
      5. 2 Thes 2:15 - "...hold the traditions which ye have been taught..."
      6. 2Tim 1:13 - "hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me"
      7. Jude 1:3 - "...earnestly contend for the faith...once delivered..."
      8. there is no doubt that the admonition of scripture is, "Agree"
    1. How people view the authority of the scriptures
      1. if people question the authority of scriptures, no basis for agreement
      2. without sound regard for authority of scriptures, anything goes
      3. 1 Cor 14:37 - "...the commandments of the Lord" - if what the writers of the N.T. wrote are the commandments of the Lord, one cannot rationally argue against the authority of the scriptures (cf. Mt 28:18)
    2. Ignorance of the scriptures
      1. ignorance of scripture permits an "I'm o.k., you're o.k. philosophy"
      2. in ignorance people can fall into all sorts of systems, beliefs
      3. Rom 10:1-3 - ignorance of God's revealed will resulted in religion which was "not according to knowledge"
    3. A preference for feelings before facts
      1. emotions, feelings have a way of making facts inconsequential
      2. "But I feel....," is the beginning of a person's acceptance of, comfort with a course that may not be at all factual - but facts are "cold and hard" - feelings are "warm and fuzzy" ... much preferred by many, many people
      3. Heb 2:1-3 - the revealed word of God, not emotions and feelings, is the basis for agreement - it is objective; it is clear; it is practicable
    4. Entrenched biases and prejudices
      1. prejudice will reject truth ... that is a fact demonstrated in life daily
      2. prejudiced folks may be very sincere - still, prejudice usually rejects truth
      3. Acts 19:33,34 - prejudice had no used for gospel truth
    5. Indifference
      1. "indifference" often undergirds ignorance – "who cares?"
      2. "indifference" breeds in an environment lacking urgency and interest in knowing ... "indifference" has its slogans ("It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere" - "We're all on different roads leading to the same place"
      3. 2 Cor 5:11 - there is a decided lack of "terror of the Lord"
    1. Some apparently think just being in Christ is all that is necessary
      1. anything else would be a matter of "indifference" - not salvation issue
      2. certainly, being in Christ is essential - there is no salvation out of Christ
      3. Eph 1:3 - all spiritual blessings are in Christ
    2. But true unity still depends on human response to the revealed word
      1. 1 Cor 1:10-15 - they were in Christ ... but they were very divided!
      2. and that division was soul endangering - this letter is, in the main, written to address soul endangering division among "in Christ" people
      3. Mt 28:19,20 - it is not enough to just baptize people into Christ ... they must then be taught the revealed word and conform to it!

CLOSE: Do I believe true unity among people in Christ is possible? Yes, I do. However, I recognize the problem areas which are a constant threat to that unity. And, at the risk of being soundly criticized, I will further say the all too often preachers have contributed to the divisions which even now are occurring in the body of Christ.

Cecil A. Hutson

5 August 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)