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March 2, 2008 AM


EPH 2:4-7

INTRO: I have always been awed by the unfathomable love of God. I think of the words of John at 1 Jno 3:1. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God..." Among the things which are wonderfully set forth in this statement is the sound of John's also being awed by this love. Has mankind lived before God in such a way that this love is deserved? Oh, no. Far from that is the fact that generation after generation of human history has shown mankind to be ungrateful and rebellious. So, God has loved the unlovable! To preach of the cross of Jesus, then, one must think of the love and desire of God which are manifested in the cross, its purpose and its effect. Indeed, "what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us".

    1. In the garden of Eden
      1. love preserved human life when justice could have prevailed
      2. true, there were consequences of sin ... but not the end of all things
      3. and, note Gen 3:15 - the first word the ultimate coming of the Savior
      4. events at the garden of Eden gave first clues of God's love and desire!
    2. In the days of Noah
      1. Gen 6:5-7 - there was little "redeeming" about this time in history
      2. notice that the time was one in which "thoughts...only evil continually"
      3. surely this would be the end for humanity - and God intended to end it
      4. Gen 6:8 - "but..." - here was one righteous man in the multitude ... and God's desire and love preserved him and his family (cf. 1 Pet 3:20)
    3. In the days of Abraham
      1. Gen 12:1-3 - did Abraham comprehend? I doubt that he did
      2. in retrospect we know this was a great promise of desire and love
      3. Gal 3:8 identifies this as proclamation of the gospel fulfilled in Jesus!
      4. without doubt, God's patience had/has been tried - but He had a plan
    4. In the days of David
      1. 2 Sam 7:12-16 - no word here of Messiah, or Savior, or redemption
      2. but we need to notice some important things toward the history's future:
        1. God's mercy will not depart from the offspring of David
        2. David's "throne shall be established for ever"
      3. the point to make here? God's plan is moving forward
      4. His desire and love are not to be deterred or overturned
    5. In the days of Isaiah
      1. Isa 9:6,7 - hundreds of years have passed since the promise to David
      2. now Isaiah speaks of a coming King and kingdom in terms and descriptions which are filled with hope ... and a bit of "mystery"
      3. notice "the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" - the plan goes on
      4. God is not ploughing forward "bullheadedly" without regard for mankind's history ... He goes forward with desire and love
    6. In the days of Malachi
      1. remember that many, many years have passed from Isaiah to Malachi
      2. Mal 4:2 - God still speaks of One Who will come to bless humanity
      3. if sin is the malady (and it is), this One will come with "healing"
      4. from Eden to Malachi the theme has been the desire and love of God
    1. God could have just said so many times "enough is enough"
      1. the nature of law and absolute justice would have permitted such
      2. but this the place at which the love and mercy of which Paul wrote in Eph 2:4 enters the picture
      3. yes, sin has temporal consequences which cannot be "waived" ... but
    2. God's desire is for reconciliation
      1. yes, there will come an end to all things - 2 Pet 3:10
      2. I have no idea when it will come - but come it will
      3. in the meantime, however, reconciliation is His desire - so, 2 Pet 3:9
    3. God's love is filled with grace, mercy and forgiveness
      1. I cannot review God's history with man without knowing His desire
      2. and that history reveals that Jesus is that One of whom God spoke through His prophets for hundreds of years - Lk 1:32,33
      3. and who can forget Jno 3:16 or Rom 5:8?
    4. Still, there must be a response from each to His grace, mercy and love
      1. "universal salvation" is just not the way it is ... or, will be!
      2. the response may be called "obedient faith" (see Acts 6:7)
      3. 1 Cor 18:8 - here is a Biblical example of the response!

CLOSE: Clearly, dear friend, God desires that your be reconciled to Him. He loves you; He cares about you; He does not want you to be separated from Him for eternity. His love, however, allows you to make the choice. May I lovingly urge you to respond to His love today.

Cecil A. Hutson

02 March 2008

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)