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August 19, 2007 AM

1 KI 3:6-9

INTRO: Most who have read and studied the Old Testament have a particular appreciation for this section of scripture. This is, of course, Solomon's answer to God's invitation, "Ask what I shall give thee" (1 Ki 3:5). I assume Solomon could have asked for greater wealth, or prestige, or power. That for which Solomon asked was very different from that for which many of us might have asked. He asked for an understanding heart which would permit him to discern between good and bad. Discernment has always been a serious human problem! And it remains a serious problem.

    1. Simply put: the ability to tell the difference!
      1. sweet/sour - hot/cold - safe/unsafe - rough/smooth
      2. in daily life we learn to discern in so many realms ... and do it daily
      3. we teach our children "discernment" from very early age
    2. Heb 5:14 - " discern both good and evil"
      1. beyond the "ordinary" discerning is this discernment
      2. moral and spiritual discernment is the concern of this passage
      3. but the admission of vv. 12,13 is that there are Christians who have not learned to discern in matters moral and spiritual ... the are "babes"
    3. Isa 5:20,21 - Isaiah speaks of a discernment problem
      1. in this passage discernment is perverted ... upside down
      2. either they could not tell the difference ... or they simply preferred that which they should not have preferred
      3. v. 21 suggests that these people had let pride blind them to moral and spiritual truth
    1. First, one must recognize the importance of such discernment
      1. in the Isaiah passage we noted there is the word "woe"
      2. when used in such a way in scripture, it speaks of serious consequences
      3. the issue in such discernment has everything to do with our eternal well being! for Christians to live recklessly will have a disastrous end
    2. Prayer is certainly an essential element in discernment
      1. Jas 1:5 - "...let him ask of God..."
      2. Mt 26:41 - "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation..."
      3. there are two or three very important things here - God promises wisdom to those who fervently ask for it; the watchfulness of prayer helps us discern a temptation situation; the "environment" of prayer sets the stage for discernment
    3. The presence of the word of God in our lives gives us the standard
      1. notice Isa 5:24b - discernment was perverted in absence of the word!
      2. Ps 119:11 - clearly, the indwelling word is a key element in discernment
      3. my inclination is to believe that most discernment problems are rooted in the absence of the word in a person's life - we attempt to make discernment judgments based on human wisdom, society's norms and such - failure
    4. We must examine an "activity" for "where it leads"
      1. a seemingly innocent activity may well lead to rebellion and sin
      2. Mt 12:33 -  the principle of "testing" for the outcome is most assuredly here and valid for discernment
      3. the time to examine is before engaging in an activity - once we have "tasted" it, discernment may be totally warped by "it tasted so good"
    5. Seek wise counsel
      1. moral/spiritual discernment is too important to leave to my inexperience
      2. Heb 13:7 - I have so often used this good advice so often - and, I believe, it has been helpful to the course and decisions of my life
      3. wise counsel helps me to see things more clearly - Prov 27:17
    6. Keep a humble spirit
      1. remember Isa 5:21 - pride was twisting their discernment - perverting it
      2. Col 3:12 - note "humbleness of mind, meekness"
      3. when we are corrected by the word, or by counsel, it is this humbleness of mind which becomes so important to our discernment
    1. We must decide what to do with that which we discern
      1. obviously, the hope would be that discernment leads to good decisions
      2. to know the difference between right and wrong and to choose the wrong is, by any definition, rebellion!
    2. Deut 30:19,20 - I have long appreciated the challenge of Moses' words
      1. discern between the two ... and "choose life"
      2. I implore, this morning, that each of us learn and practice discernment in moral and spiritual matters ... and decide in favor of righteousness

CLOSE: Precious friends, the choices we make here will decide our eternal destiny. If we believe in heaven and hell, it seems to me that discernment becomes not only important ... it is life and death.

Cecil A. Hutson

19 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)