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December 21, 2008 PM

2 COR 13:11

INTRO: What does one say at the end of over a score of years of teaching and preaching in a community and among people so well known? Endings are hard. Endings are not particularly pleasant. But "endings" are a part of life and a part of human experience. Today's sermons mark the end of my preaching here as the "full time" preacher. Knowing this Sunday would come, I have tried to think what best to say. With what do I leave you? And I could most assuredly not improve on what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in the text I am about to read ... 1 Cor 13:11. At first gland, the English language here seems "innocent" enough. However, this is a very strong admonition to a church for which he has considerable affection.

    1. He had worked among them for some time
      1. Acts 18:11 
      2. these were people he knew well ... and knew personally
    2. He genuinely cared for and about them
      1. notice 2 Cor 11:28 - "..the care of all the churches"
      2. I'm not certain we understand this passion for the body of Christ!
    1. This word may simply be overlooked as a usual admonition to maturity
      1. and most assuredly the idea of maturing in Christ is everywhere in N.T.
      2. Eph 4:15 - "..grow up into him in all things.."
      3. few admonitions could be more important than that of growing in Him
    2. But the word used here is not the usual word for "maturing"
      1. it has in the idea of mending that which is broken!
      2. notice v. 9 - same word, same idea
      3. there were things in the Corinthian church which needed mending
    3. Are there things among us here which need mending? fixing?
      1. in matters of doctrine I am satisfied that we are a sound church
      2. in matters of Christian behavior, however, there may well be some things needing personal attention - mending
      3. 1 Pet 3:8 - it is one thing to talk about love, but it is something else again to consistently manifest it
    1. Here is another word which in English may not convey the impact of it
      1. when we think of "comfort", we tend to think of physical ease or solace
      2. we have make reference to "comfort foods" and such
      3. and certainly this is a valid use of the word
    2. But the word in the text has the idea of "be exhorted" or "be admonished"
      1. notice Rom 15:4 - "comfort" here is exhortation, counsel, admonition
      2. are we receiving, accepting, acting on exhortation of the word?
      3. are we listening, but not hearing? are we better than the Pharisees whose ears were "dull of hearing" (Mt 13:15)
    1. "Unity" in more than name remains integral in Paul's thinking
      1. he had begun his first letter with the fact of division among them
      2. 1 Cor 1:10,11
      3. as one reads this letter he realizes disunity was caused by: personalities, personal conflicts, immorality, doctrinal issues, pride, immaturity
    2. "Unity" can be a truly evasive thing
      1. personal agendas, cliques, disputes, gossip, selfish interests, etc.
      2. losing sight of the cross invariably leads to a loss of unity - as it did in Corinth
      3. Phil 1:27 - an apostolic admonition we need to hear and heed!
    1. The world is filled with "noise"
      1. and one of the loudest noises is that of conflict
      2. so, we hear so much about "conflict resolution" these days
    2. But the noise of "conflict" can also be heard within the church
      1. it is heard in criticisms, gossip, demeaning, ugly character assassination
      2. it is a harsh world in which we must live ... the church should be an oasis of peace in that world ... but is it? (so, 2 Cor 11:5)

CLOSE: My fervent prayer is that the "God of love and peace shall be with you" . As I have said to you before, I do not know what my future holds, but I know Who holds the future!

Cecil A. Hutson

28 December 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)