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September 16, 2007 AM

PS 34:8

INTRO: In a recent sermon presentation I mentioned that we perhaps need to "cleanse our palates" so that we can "taste and see that the Lord is good". Following that presentation, one of our fine young men mentioned to me that he, and perhaps others, would like to hear some thoughts on the subject of "cleansing the palate". In fine restaurants cleansing the palate is accomplished by the serving of sherbert between courses of the meal. I suppose that in theory this permits the tasting of the next course to be more vivid. But how does one cleanse his spiritual "palate" so that he can truly taste spiritual things? What an interesting and intriguing questions. I'll try to answer it.

    1. I acknowledge that most of us are "good" people, Christian people
      1. I have personal knowledge of the great majority of the people here
      2. do we make some mistakes? do we sin from time to time? yes
    2. Although we are probably good people, are we spiritually satisfied?
      1. this is the concern I have for myself ... and for all of us
      2. is there more available to us through Christ which we are not enjoying?
    1. I think we must ask ourselves what is most important to us
      1. immediately, we would probably respond, "Faith, family, friends, jobs.."
      2. we may list faith and family at the "top" of our priorities, but in practice from day to day is this manifested?
      3. but we must decide what is most important and pursue that
    2. I think we must determine what gets in the way of "faith and family"
      1. is it what we read? (so much fiction is filled with sin, sex, violence)
      2. is it movies we see? (PG13 is no longer "innocent" of immorality)
      3. is it games we play? (video games, sports activities, recreation)
      4. is it hobbies we enjoy? (more time than we should spend)
      5. is it a demanding job? (many of us are in such a position)
      6. is it relationships we enjoy? (with people not of like precious faith)
      7. is it uncontrolled emotions? (anger, feelings driving decisions)
      8. is it pride?
      9. is it the pursuit of pleasure? (2 Tim 3:4)
    3. I think we must decide whom we seek to please
      1. are most of us so peer conscious that we become "people pleasers"?
      2. does peer consciousness put us in compromising situations?
      3. Gal 1:10 - this is a hard decision to make because it may make us less popular ... even put us at "odds" with people near to us ... but only in deciding this can we cleanse our palates
    4. I think we must pray for wisdom
      1. I suspect that lack of prayer may cause a loss of "taste" for the spiritual
      2. but to cleanse our spiritual palates we need wisdom from above!
      3. Jas 1:4,5 - I believe that prayer opens our minds to the wisdom of God through His precious word - prayer creates an environment for spiritual taste
    5. I think we need to think about the presence of "idols" in our hearts
      1. it may be an "idol" which is diminishing our spiritual taste
      2. remember Col 3:5 - could covetousness be taking us away from God?
      3. Ezek 14:1-5 - this is frightening to me - that I could have an idol in my heart which is causing me to be estranged from the Lord
    6. I think we may need to think about repentance
      1. it may be that our loss for spiritual taste has involved neglect, sin
      2. Ezek 14:6-8 - is this strong language from God applicable to me?
      3. Ps 51:10 - renewing a right spirit begins with repentance - and a clean heart with God's forgiveness
    7. I think we may need to create an "action list"
      1. often, there is much discussion and introspection ... but too little action
      2. an action list might include a "time budget" which identifies part of the problem we have with priorities ... and which includes a personal demand for time to study, meditate and pray, for my spouse, for my children)
      3. an action list becomes a spiritual plan - a visible reminder of my spiritual desires and needs
    1. Mt 6:33 - "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.."
    2. 2 Pet 2:1,2 - "Wherefore laying aside ... "desire the sincere milk..."
    3. 2 Cor 7:1 - "...let us cleanse ourselves...perfecting holiness..."

CLOSE: I'm not sure that I have really helped us all that much. I recognize that there is no magic formula to accomplish such things. Each of us must address it as our needs dictate. And perhaps this is not a once in a lifetime need ... perhaps, as in a fine meal, our "spiritual palates" need to be cleansed periodically.

Cecil A. Hutson

16 September 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)