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October 5, 2008 PM

MK 12:41-44

INTRO: Some years ago I visited a coin shop in San Antonio. I am not a coin collector, but I curious about a great many things. I had read Mark's account of the widow's mite for years, but I had never seen one of the coins to which Jesus referred. So, I asked the owner of the shop if he had a widow's mite. To answer my question he reached into a cabinet and took from it a very small coin. It was, he told me, a coin of the sort described in the gospel of Mark. I thought I might purchase the little coin, but it is obviously worth much more now than it was in Jesus' day! It was enough that I had finally seen the coin. There are some worthwhile lessons in this little incident enshrined in scripture.

    1. Jesus has had several tense encounters with "enemies"
      1. each incident was designed to "catch him in his words" (12:13)
      2. the storm clouds are gathering around Him - the "end" is near
      3. so, for a quiet moment Jesus sits "over against the treasury" (12:41)
    2. Between Court of Gentiles & Court of Women was the Gate Beautiful
      1. in the Court of the Women were thirteen "collection boxes" ("trumpets")
      2. each was devoted to some special need of the temple
      3. into these people cast their contributions  - and Jesus "beheld" (12:41b)
    1. "...many that were rich cast in much..." (Mk12:41c)
      1. perhaps it is worthwhile to mention the He knew (knows) their giving
      2. were they making some "show" of their offering? (Mt 6:1,2)
      3. some do flaunt their wealth and use it as "leverage"
    2. "...a certain poor widow...threw in two mites..." (Mk 12:42)
      1. so, we now see the contrast between "much" and "little"
      2. the human perspective might tend to think the "much" more significant
      3. that is certainly the contemporary view of things - memorials to "much"
    1. "Much" and "little" do not depend on amounts
      1. "...this poor widow hath cast more in..." (Mk 12:43)
      2. certainly not in terms of the amount of her contribution
      3. but Jesus memorialized the "little" - her contribution amounted to little
    2. Jesus did not criticize the "giving" of the wealthy
      1. but they probably did not miss, practically speaking, what they gave
      2. this poor widow "cast in all that she had" (Mk 12:44)
      3. a widow in Jesus' time was in a pathetic situation - livelihood would be difficult at best - and she gave all she had on that day!
    1. God is not indifferent to our giving
      1. may go to extremes to assure the right hand knows not what the left does
      2. but God most assuredly takes note of our giving
      3. Mal 3:8 - we contribute in full sight of our Lord!
    2. Our giving is a reflection of our love for God and His work
      1. we must remember that God knows the motives of our actions
      2. true, the many were giving their contributions - I know not their motives - but this widow most assuredly gave from a heart of love
      3. 2 Cor 8:8,24 - We tend to give expensively to one we love
    3. God judges our giving based on what one has
      1. notice 2 Cor 8:2 - out of poverty they still gave surprisingly
      2. this principle was at work in the situation of the poor widow
      3. 2 Cor 8:12 - both the quantity and quality of our giving are of concern
    4. Genuine willingness is a key to the quality of our giving
      1. 1 Cor 8:12a sets out a very important truth
      2. knowing the nature of the Pharisees and Sadducees and what the Lord said about them, I suspect their offerings were badly motivated
      3. how willing are we to give that we could spend on ourselves? - the poor  widow was apparently very willing
    5. Trusting in God is certainly an underpinning of acceptable giving
      1. this widow could legitimately have kept one mite for herself - but, no!
      2. she was in the temple to worship ... evidently a true worshiper - to give all  her living she must have trusted that God would provide
      3. 2 Cor 9:8 - willing, cheerful, sacrificial giving is possible only in trust!

CLOSE: After experiencing tense, badly motivated encounters, this must have been very refreshing to the Lord. This poor widow's giving sets a very high standard for us ... for people who live affluently. Do we come near meeting that standard?

Cecil A. Hutson

05 October 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)