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October 14, 2007 AM

MT 7:12

INTRO: I recently drove across the state of Louisiana. I was shocked to see every little town with its casino. At breakfast one morning in Montgomery, Alabama Joyce and I listened to two couples discussing the pros and cons of the slot machines in Biloxi, Mississippi. Poker playing is now called a "sport" by the national media. Few states do not have a state sponsored lottery. The giant "power ball" lotteries gain national news attention. Office "pools" which bet on the outcomes of sporting events are part of today's accepted landscape. The amount of money involved in gambling in our Country is in the billions of dollars.  Like so many of the moral and ethical questions of our day, gambling is cast in the light of the glamorous, the exciting, the fashionable. Why, then, in the face of all of this do I choose not to gamble?

    1. What is the "fruit" of gambling?
      1. Mt 7:15-20 - v. 20 is a principle to use in determining validity, usefulness
      2. varieties of studies/publications indicate gambling is addictive, preys on people with lower incomes, dramatically affects teens, often leads to dysfunctional family relationships and abuse, offers false hope
      3. should we, then, think of 1 Thes 5:21,22?
      4. by virtually any legitimate measure, gambling fails the "fruit test"
    2. Does gambling violate the "golden rule"?
      1. Mt 7:12 - someone always loses in gambling - you must want them to lose their possessions - is that, though, a valid expression of the golden rule?
      2. is there a sense in which gambling is covetousness? desiring another's
      3. Ex 20:17 - "...nor anything that is thy neighbours"
      4. gambling certainly fails the "golden rule test"
    3. Does gambling strengthen me against temptation
      1. Jas 1:13-15 - "...drawn away of his own lust..."
      2. 1 Cor 10:23 - does gambling edify, build me spiritually? or, does it place me in a situation in which I'm exposed to lust, to selfishness, to covetousness?
      3. the very basis of gambling places one in a temptation situation!
      4. gambling fails the "lead me not into temptation test"
    4. Does gambling represent good stewardship of possessions?
      1. Ps 50:10 - all that we have belongs to God and is from God
      2. 1 Chron 29:14 - all that we have is "Thine alone, a trust, O Lord ..."
      3. Lk 16:10-12 - Jesus taught faithful stewardship of our money as a test of our being entrusted with "true riches" - to risk possessions on the whim of pure chance, the turn of a card, the roll of the dice, etc. is not good stewardship
      4. gambling certainly fails the "stewardship test"
    5. Does gambling have a good report?
      1. Phil 4:8 - "...whatsoever things are ... of good report" - here the consideration is not of people, but of "things"
      2. it is an activity known to be addictive, wasteful, harmful to families, etc.
      3. it is an activity in which most of us do not want the preacher, the elders to participate - why? it does not have a good report, reputation - we don't want our spiritual leaders involved in such things
      4. gambling fails the "good reputation test"
    6. Does gambling compromise my influence for good?
      1. many, many people, even out of Christ, consider gambling to be sin
      2. if they know I'm engaged in gambling, how will I be able to approach them with the gospel? - if they know I am gambling, will they choose to engage in it and possibly be overwhelmed by it?
      3. 1 Cor 10:31,32 - how are we to give none offence? how are we to keep from leading another into sin? answer: (1) by learning to do everything to God's glory, (2) by not having my own interests always uppermost in mind, (3) by seeking the well being of others, (4) by desiring to do that which will work to the saving of others
      4. Acts 6:3 - men of excellent reputation - we must ask ourselves, "What is the basis for an excellent reputation?"
      5. gambling fails the "influence for good test"
    1. There is certainly more which could be said
      1. but such thoughts as these, in accumulation, are powerfully persuasive
      2. how much more would I need to convince me of my choice here?
    2. With an activity's failing so many such tests...
      1. I can only conclude that it is wholly inconsistent with Christian living
      2. I must, then, take into consideration the scriptural advice of I. Thes 5:21,22 and act thereupon

CLOSE: The pervasiveness of it, the social acceptance of it, the addictiveness of it are just some of the reasons why I believe gambling is one of the great and deceptive evils of our time. I beg your consideration of these things.

Cecil A. Hutson

14 October 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)