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December 23, 2007 PM

MK 9:43-50

INTRO: I have a strong suspicion that the words of Jesus in our text were more than a little shocking to His disciples. In fact, they may sound very extreme even to us. There are times, though, when we need to be shocked out of our lethargy, our comfort, our indifference. The events of 9/11 were to the present generation as shocking as the attack on Pearl Harbor was to that of my parents. It has amazed me how quickly the horror of 9/11 has been dulled to the extent that the majority of people in our country seem to have lapsed into a state of false security which ignores reality. The shock did not last very long. But here is Jesus needing to shock people into the reality of hell and the awfulness of it. There is an expression in Amos 6:1 - "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion..." It is a reference to a false sense of security. Does it describe us?

    1. "Enter into life...enter into the kingdom of God"
      1. the can be no doubt Jesus is referring to eternal life in heaven
      2. there is, of course, a sense in which we are "alive" and "in the kingdom" in the present ... in our physical existence
      3. Col 2:12,13 - people dead in sins are granted new life when baptized
      4. Col 1:13,14 - people redeemed by Jesus' blood are in His kingdom
      5. but it is clear that Jesus is thinking of eternal destinies in our text
      6. this goal should be our aim no matter the temporal cost
    2. "If thy hand...thy foot...thine eye offend thee"
      1. parts of the body which are visible and valued highly by all
      2. but parts of the body which could be involved in sinful activity
      3. the reaching hand to take that not mine; the walking foot to take me to a place I should not be; the seeing eye which introduces to my brain so much which can become sin
      4. if this body part becomes involved in sin, "cut it off..."pluck it out"
      5. dramatic language designed to make a vivid contrast!
      6. if such drastic action is necessary to keep from sinning, it is better to enter into heaven lame and blind than the alternative!
    3. " go into hell...cast into hell"
      1. Isa 66:23,24 - Jesus clearly quotes from Isaiah here
      2. hell - Gehenna - probably taken from the Valley of Hinnom (a ravine just south of Jerusalem)
      3. 2 Chron 28:3 (of Ahaz) - 2 Chron 33:6 (of Manasseh)
      4. 2 Ki 23:10 - Josiah declared it a defile place, unclean, off limits
      5. it became a place the city's refuse, garbage was dumped ... corpses of executed criminals and others were thrown there ... fire burned constantly, worms bred on the flesh and filth ... the stench was most unpleasant
      6. such is the picture of hell!
    4. "It is better for thee..."
      1. it is better to be "maimed...halt...with one eye" in this life
      2. Mt 16:26 - the questions are certainly relevant to our text
      3. but the world is most assuredly precious to us ... absorbing us
      4. it may be difficult for us to conceive of "better" in view of what we have
      5. to have to give up something here and now to guarantee there and then?
      6. no matter the "price" to you, heaven is worth it ... and hell is not worth any here and now pleasure or privilege
    1. "For everyone shall be salted with fire..."
      1. salt preserves - fire destroys ... "for" joins to what has just been said
      2. the "everyone" must apply to those entering hell
      3. use of the two thoughts enforces the face of eternal punishment - preserved to suffer eternally
    2. "Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt"
      1. Lev 2:13 - "...with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt"
      2. of those who willingly pay any price to enter life - Rom 12:1
      3. choosing a life of purity - the only life (sacrifice) which pleases God
    3. "Salt is good: but..."
      1. the life of a disciple is a life which flavors for the better his surroundings
      2. Mt 5:13 gives a fuller thought here
      3. not only, then, does a disciple refrain from evil, but he actively influences for good
    4. "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another"
      1. purity, purity, purity! the great demand of disciples is for purity
      2. purity of life, purity of motive, purity of purpose, etc.
      3. this takes away the problem mentioned in 9:34!

CLOSE: So, to you and me is this great challenge. Be willing to lay aside anything, any relationship which could keep you from heaven. Live a life that is pure and which flavors everyone around you. Rom 6:23.

Cecil A. Hutson

23 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)