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December 16, 2007 AM

2 COR 5:18-21

INTRO: Among the descriptive expressions of the word of God one finds in scripture, one or two are particularly attractive to me (I am thinking in view of my humanity, of course). One of those is found in the text I have read for our thoughts this morning ... "the word of reconciliation". We all live in a variety of relationships. Some of them are very close and intimate. Others are a bit more distant ... yet, important to us. And we all know that relationships can be fragile and difficult. We all know that relationships take effort if they are to be sustained, and not infrequently sustaining relationships will require some sacrifice. What happens, though, when a relationship is hurt and broken? We may just prefer for the relationship to remain in that condition. But, more than likely, we would like for there to be a reconciliation.

    1. Gen 3:8 - "...hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God..."
      1. prior to this time Adam had an intimate communion with God
      2. although we are told little about it, the intimacy was doubtless there
      3. now, however, the relationship has changed...they are hiding from God
      4. what happened? the answer in one word: SIN
      5. they are estranged from the Lord because of sin
    2. Isa 59:1-1-3 - "...your iniquities have and your God..."
      1. notice Jer 5:23-25 - "...a revolting and rebellious heart..."
      2. sin continues to be the problem in the relationship
      3. but notice that it is man who breaks the relationship because of his rebellious spirit (often the cause of broken human relationships)
      4. Rom 3:9,10,23 - this estrangement occurs when sin enters our lives - see Rom 5:12
      5. so, our first reality here is our estrangement from God because of sin
    1. In this case, the value of our relationship with God
      1. doubtless, some do not consider this a critical, valuable relationship
      2. no matter His initiatives they simply are not interested, concerned
      3. they may not believe; they may find material attractions of greater importance; they may find sinful pursuits to be preeminently pleasurable
      4. this world has truly become their home
    2. That simply amazes me - fellowship with the Father is invaluable
      1. yes, I understand that sin did break the fellowship - but why leave it so?
      2. Jer 5:22 - relationship with, reverence for Him Who decrees the boundaries of the oceans? or, the pleasures of sin (estrangement) for season?
      3. Lk 12:4,5 - how can we ignore a relationship with Him Who controls our eternal destiny?
      4. somehow we must come to understand the void without this relationship
    1. There is no doubt of God's desire in this regard
      1. Jno 3:16 - a willingness, because of love, to offer invaluable sacrifice
      2. 2 Cor 5:21 - God made the death of Jesus become our sin offering
      3. I have no doubt that God wants reconciliation with us
      4. notice 1 Pet 1:18-20 - God planned for this before time began!!!!
    2. The question is of your desire to be reconciled
      1. no matter how badly He wants it, without your desire it cannot happen
      2. and your desire must be both intellectual and emotional - 2 Cor 7:10
      3. desire and decision? yes - but growing out of sorrow for breaking the relationship with the choice to sin
      4. only this sorrow can appreciate the value of reconciliation deeply
    1. The invitation of God to be reconciled
      1. 2 Thes 2:13,14 - "...he called you by out gospel..."
      2. Rev 22:17 - "...whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely"
      3. Mt 11:28 - "Come unto me..."
      4. this invitation from the Father, from the Son, from the Spirit is found throughout the New Testament ... the word of reconciliation
    2. The means of reconciliation
      1. 2 Cor 5:17 - the question, then, is how does one come into Christ?
      2. Gal 3:26,27 - the answer, believing people are baptized into Him
      3. the point of reconciliation is the new life one is granted in baptism
      4. baptism is a profound meeting place - the sinner meets the gracious God in the atoning death of Jesus ... but for there to be reconciliation there must be this meeting!

CLOSE: Few things are more touching than a true reconciliation. There is really nothing more touching, more meaningful, more valuable, more needed than reconciliation with the loving Father.

Cecil A. Hutson

16 December 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)