***** Sermons *****
CONTENTS (Latest addition to oldest): Am I Good Enough To Get To Heaven? / WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO THE LOCAL CHURCH?
/ How Does God View Authority? / Church Discipline / A Christian's Reflection
Am I Good Enough To Get Into Heaven?
The short answer to our title's query is "No!". None of us are good enough to get into Heaven. We can see this just from a rendering of Mk 10:18:
Mk 10:18 =  And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
So, this being the case, shall we take the sarcastic advice of Paul in 1Cor 15:32 and "eat, drink, and be merry - for tomorrow we die"?
Many people are just like this. We have all heard sayings like: "You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto you can", "He who dies with the most toys win", "Life is short, play hard", "Survival of the fittest", etc.
But no, I think most everyone here today believes, or at least hopes for, some sort of reward after this life. A poll of common Americans puts the number at about 80% or more that believe in some sort of life after death. And again, I think most people here today believe in God and believe in His holy word the Bible. But unfortunately, I think some of us still worry if we are good enough to make it to Heaven.
I want to focus in on 4 main questions this morning:
1) Why don't "good" people go to Heaven?
2) Why did God make us this way?
3) What are our options?
4) How can I know that I am going to Heaven?
Why don't "good" people go to Heaven?
Again, the short answer is that there are no "good" people!
Now we know the word "good" can be, and is, used in many different forms. But in it's highest form it means the complete absence of evil. From the Bible we learn that only God is good in this degree:
Deut 32:4 =  He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
Rms 3:23 =  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
God is "good" in its highest form - "perfect good" if you will. God is "holy". He is the embodiment and origin of true goodness. This level of goodness cannot be achieved by mortal man.
1Cor 15:50 =  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Words such as good, holy, glorious, righteous, and incorruptible, in their truest form, cannot be applied to man.
Ecc 7:20 = For [there is] not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Rms 3:23 =  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rms 3:9-11 =  What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Is 64:6 =  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
OK, so as all of these verses imply, we have a problem. We are corruptible and thus we are barred from heaven. So no, no one is good enough to get into heaven.
Hear the words of Jehovah in Isa 59:2 =  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Do you think you are good enough to stand in the presence of God Almighty? The Holy One of Israel? The judge of the living and the dead?
Rev 20:11-15 =  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
On what grounds shall a person declare themselves "good enough" to stand in God's presence? Dare any of us claim that we never sinned?
1Jhn 2:15 =  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
If you have never broken, and have fulfilled every one of God's commands, then please raise your hand and let's meet after services, for you are a liar according to 1Jhn 1:8.
1Jhn 1:8 = If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
So what shall we do? I thought He loved us? This brings me to question #2:
Why has God made us this way?
Why indeed! First, let's think of the choices God had.
1) Not even bother with the whole mankind idea. (Lord is Omniscient - He knew)
2) Make us good and perfect without choice (i.e. robots, or like faithful dogs)
3) Make us with the ability to make choices.
The answer of course is #3. Here is found the epitome of true love. Love is a choice - not
something that can be forced. We have choices in this life. Remember the cry of Joshua in Josh 24:14&15?
 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
True love is personified by the choices and actions we take in dealing with the object of our love. If we love God, we will trust in Him and do as He says. We can take Him at His word, thereby showing our faith in Him, or not take Him at His word and thereby reveal our unfaithfulness.
Deut 13:3 = Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for
the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul.
Psm 66:10 =  For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
The choices one makes reveals the heart.
Prv 16:4-6 =  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.  Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.  By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
So, if it is all about choices, what are the choices we can make? Hence question #3:
What are our options?
Simplicity is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, it seems to be difficult for humankind to grasp. This is especially true in the realm of religion where we like to complicate matters by thinking and reasoning TOO much. God tends to keep things pretty simple.
Rms 8:13 =  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
This takes us right back to 1Cor 15:50. The flesh produces corruption. Only in the Spirit will we find incorruption. Only in the Spirit will we make it into Heaven. Our options lie in our understanding our fleshly side versus our spiritual side. The Bible talks of crucifying the flesh, or, our serving the flesh (Gal 2:20 & Rms 8:13). When everything is broken down to it�s basic elements, these are our only choices. So this demands the question - how do we know we have made the right choice? Our question #4 then should answer this question of the ages:
How Can I Know That I Am Going To Heaven?
I always liked the little nugget: "Some people say we can't "know" anything for sure. Ask that person if they are sure of that!"
YES! We KNOW there is 2 sides to the coin. Two choices.
Rms 6:23 =  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Life or death.
John says we CAN know which side of the coin we are on. I call the book of 1st John the book of "know" - K,N,O,W,. In the book of 1John, I count approximately 16 appearances of the word "know" in the same context as here in chapter 5:
1Jhn 5:11-13 =  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in
his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know
that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
One thing I would like to clarify here for later is the close relationship between belief and faith in the scriptures:
BELIEVE = pisteuo (pist -yoo'-o) to have faith, entrust, commit to
FAITH = pistis (pis'-tis) belief, credence, conviction, reliance on
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ by committing yourself to the Son of God as your Lord and Savior, then you are a believer, and you are going to Heaven!
NOTE: 1) He must be your Lord:
Lk 6:46 =  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
And 2) He must be your Savior:
Acts 4:12 =  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
God WANTS you saved. God seals you and guarantees your salvation. Let's look at the following verses:
2Pet 3:9 =  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Eph 1:13-14 =  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the
praise of his glory.
Rms 8: 38-39 =  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These verses are very enlightening and comforting. God IS on our side. He loves us (remember Jhn 3:16? - don't take it lightly!). He is not some wild eyed old man sitting on His thrown in the clouds waiting to strike you with a lightening bolt the minute you mess up!
Psm 103:8-14 =  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after
our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth,
so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
There is only one thing that can blow the whole deal - the word "if". Although there is no
power on earth or in Heaven that can remove us from the salvation we enjoy in Christ, we
ourselves are quite capable!
Col 1:21-23 =  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked
works, yet now hath he reconciled  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy
and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  If ye continue in the faith grounded and
settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was
preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Here I want to balance out the mind sets of �once saved always saved� and what I call �eggshell salvation�. We fight so hard against the false teaching of �once saved always saved� that I think we lose sight of the grace of God. We become a people who are walking on eggshells, afraid we are breaking a rule or committing a sin and in danger of losing our salvation with every step.
We find ourselves wondering if we are good enough to get to Heaven.
Can we fall from grace? Yes, I think we all know the Bible teaches that very clearly.
Do we pop in and out of grace like a Jack In The Box ? I think not. The Old Testament shows the longsuffering of God with His people. Falling away is a process. It is a hardening of the heart. If we remain humble, KNOWING we can never be good enough to get to Heaven, we depend on God instead of ourselves.
Lk 18:9-14 =  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were
righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee,
and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee,
that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast
twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would
not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to
me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for
every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Isa 57:15 =  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I
dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the
spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
One with such an attitude understands grace and what Paul means in
Rms 6:14-18 =  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but
under grace.  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God
forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to
whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that
form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the
servants of righteousness.
Ask yourself - are you a servant of sin? Or of righteousness? Are you at sin�s beck and call? Do you pursue a life of sin? Or, do you fight against sin in your life? Do you strive to do good and follow the Lord�s commands? Therein lies the difference. Who you serve in an ongoing capacity. There is a war between your fleshly side and your spiritual side. Keep your heart on the spiritual side, and with the blood of Christ - you will come out a winner!
1Jhn 1:6-9 =  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do
not the truth:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with
another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I hope these words have been edifying to your soul.
#) Just remember you will never be good enough in and of yourself to gain Heaven.
#) God has made you a spirit being with the power of choice.
#) He has set before us clear choices, and He desires us to make the choice of loving Him.
#) God has given us His word which guides us, and let us know of His desire for us to be saved, and yes to even know we are saved.
Earlier I touched on belief and faith being closely related. Many of you here today understand these things and have obeyed the gospel thereby being added to the Lord�s church. But without a clear understanding of these words, many have been mislead into thinking they are saved. They understand belief to be more of conscience decision or feeling rather than an outward response or commitment. Let�s view a couple of scriptures and see the difference as God would have us see it:
Jhn 12:42 =  Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the
Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  For they loved
the praise of men more than the praise of God.
1Jhn 5:3 =  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
2Jhn 6 =  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
2Jhn 9 =  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
Rms 10:17 =  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Jms 1:21-22 =  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive
with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the
word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
With these thoughts in mind, please turn in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 6 and let us consider these words in verses 3-6:
Rms 6:3-6 =  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized
into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was
raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness
of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin
might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Do you see that by being baptized (immersed) we are sowing ourselves to the Spirit. We are dying to self and choosing not to serve sin. We are being planted - dying if you will - and being raised spiritually incorruptible. This is a prelude to what happens at our physical death.
1Cor 15:22 =  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Cor 15:36 =  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened (made alive), except it die:
1Cor 15:42-50 =  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in
incorruption:  It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in
power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there
is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last
Adam was made a quickening spirit.  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that
which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the
second man is the Lord from heaven.  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and
as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the
earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
If you are not baptized into Christ, you will be sown in your corruptible state in the end and will be denied access to Heaven. Your seed will be planted but it will produce nothing fit for God. COME - put off the old man - the corruptible self, and put on Christ in baptism. He will make it possible for you to serve righteousness now and put on the new spiritual body in
the end. One that is fit for Heaven!
Mike Sullivan 11/26/2006
WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO THE LOCAL CHURCH?
READ: Eph 3:14- 4:3
The word �church�. A simple word, and like many biblical words today, we find it over used, misused, and terribly misunderstood. I pray today we can all come to a more reverent appreciation for what the church really is.
I believe if we can wrap our brains around the concept of all of what the term �church of Christ� encompasses, we will recommit ourselves to her well being.
We will begin with what the church is, but then I want to bring it down to the local level. All institutions are only as strong as their understructure or working components. Political movements are only as good as their �grass roots� workers. Nations rise and fall on the health of the family. God�s church is only as strong and as effective as the local congregations.
A clearer understanding begins to take shape when we look at the Greek word �ekklesia� which is translated �church� in the bible. It�s general meaning can best be summed up in the thought of the �called out� or �an assembly�, a group of people that has been summoned for a purpose.
It�s specific meaning when used in the context of �church� like in �the church of God� (Acts 20:28) is �the called out of God�. This concept alone is worthy of much study and meditation.
Paul illustrates it well for the Corinthian church in:
2Cor 6:14-18  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Peter also describes it well with a few yet powerful words in:
1Pet 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
It is plain to see that the church is called out from the world. Like oil and water will not mix, so it should be with Christians and unbelievers.
Jhn 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
1Jhn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
These are life and death statements dear brethren. We must not be seduced by societies lax attitude towards sin and sinful activities. Do you scoff at sermons on modesty? On dancing? On social drinking? On a cappella singing? Scoff at your own risk - for God
will be found true even though all men become liars (Rms 3:4).
Lets look at some verses that define what the church is made of:
Acts 2:38 - 42, 46-47  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 11:26 = and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the church (ekklesia), and taught much people, and
that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Acts 20:28 = Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you
bishops, to feed the church (ekklesia) of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
We can clearly see from these verses that the church is made up of people. God�s people, who by pledging themselves in submission to God through repentance and immersion in water, have been born again and added to the Lord�s Kingdom. She is a theocracy - she is a kingdom with a King and laws. She has nothing to do with buildings or man made institutions. She bows neither to political nor societal pressures. She ( that being each and every saved person) was bought from Satan with a terrible price, the King�s own blood!
With these thoughts in mind, lets read 1Pet 2:9-10 =
1Pet 2:9-10 9] But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10] who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Are there benefits to citizenship in this kingdom?
Verily! Verily! It is so!
A quick review of just Ephesians Chapters 1 & 2 should present quite the benefit package to even the most critical of seekers!
Review with me if you would the following verses in Ephesians:
Vs 1-3 = # The right to be called saints & faithful in Christ
Vs 4-7 = # EVERY spiritual blessing is made available / # chosen by God even before the world was created / # made holy and acceptable without blame / # adopted by God / # receive redemption - forgiveness of sins
Vs 9 & 10 = # Having the mystery revealed - that �mystery� being the reconciliation of all people to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Eph 3:3-6, 1Pet 1:10-12).
Vs 11-14 = # Fit to receive an eternal inheritance / # claimed, identified, and protected by the Holy Spirit of God
Vs 17-23 = # Wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, hope / # Christ - the son of God who died and was raised from the dead on our behalf - is our King!
Vs 1-10 READ = # Born again / # resurrected from sin and Satan�s clutches / # able to receive the exceeding riches of His grace / # created (poiema - poy� ay mah) for good works. Literally we are God�s fabric produced in Christ!
And Vs 11-22 = # Citizens of the Israel of God - His chosen people (Gal 6:16) / # part of the household of God (His family) / # part of a holy temple, that is to say - a dwelling place of God!
Also a quick look at Eph3: 3-6 as it ties into Eph1: 9&10 above =
 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when
ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known
unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles
should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
# fellow heirs of the promise (i.e. eternal life!).
Having so many benefits, are there responsibilities as citizens of the Kingdom?
Verily! Verily! It is so!
#God�s word, as well as common sense, tells us that the first responsibility as a citizen in a kingdom is to obey the King! Listen to Heb 5:9 in talking about Christ our King =
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
#Second, we must obey the King�s leaders. Again, lest us look in Hebrews to
Heb 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
To disregard these verses is to be in rebellion against God! Will any kingdom put up with rebels? Of course not.
# Third, we must carry out our mission:
Eph 3:10-11 10] to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church
to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11] according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord
This verse coupled with Mth28:19-20 gives us our primary �marching orders� of seeking and saving the lost.
# Fourth, we must love one another. This is plainly stated in John 13:35 / 15:17, Rms 13:8, 1Thes 4:9, 1Pet 1:22, 1Jhn 3:11,23 / 4:7,11-12, 2Jhn 1:5. Though plainly stated, I think we would ALL agree that this is easier said than done! Here is where I think many of us fall short and even have a misunderstanding of this perplexing concept. I believe this is where the church receives her greatest damage. People fight, and even leave their brethren over the littlest issues (are there any big issues when we compare them to Jesus, the church, and the grace of God?).
Let us consider some verses that define this issue very clearly, but so rub against our pride and flesh we are more incline to ignore them than apply them to our lives:
Rms 12:9-21 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. 20But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1Pet 3:8-12 8Finally, [be] ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded: 9not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile: 11And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil.
See also Math 20:26-28 / Philippians 2:1-4, 14-15 / 1Pet 5:5
What does all of this have to do with the title of this lesson - which you probably have forgotten by now? The title was � WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO THE LOCAL CHURCH?� I believe it all comes down to a favorite saying of mine - �Get over it!� If we really understand and love the church, we will be a lot less quick to judge each other and have our hurt feelings take precedence over peace and unity among the brethren. Remember when Paul was persecuting the church in Acts chapter 9 and Jesus confronted him saying �Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?�. You can not separate Jesus from His church. When we talk trash about another Christian, or the congregation in general, we are talking trash about Jesus! That is truly a sobering thought. We, each and every one of us, are the church. The body of Christ. Members of a kingdom under a King. Let us reverence her by applying the grace that we have been so richly blessed with by God to each other. It should be over some pretty severe doctrinal issues if we ever sever our relationship with the congregation we are identified with. God expects us to be members of a local congregation, especially one with elders (Acts 20:28 / 1Thes 5:11-14 / Titus 1:5 / Heb 10:24-29 / Heb 13:17). This is why disfellowship is such a drastic procedure. There is a severing of a part of the body. Whether you do it to yourself, or have it done by the church, it is still spiritually fatal! Please do not take your church membership lightly. There is nothing light or trivial about it.
Mike Sullivan - Fall of 2006
HOW DOES GOD VIEW AUTHORITY?
Outline By Mike Sullivan
1) He views his own authority as absolute
A) He is the Creator
a) Gen 1:1 / Rev 4:11
B) He is all powerful
a) Rev 19:6 / Psm 66:7 / Rms 4:17
2) He views his authority as unquestionable
A) We exalt ourselves above God when we question his authority
a) Isa 29:16 / Rms 9:20-21
b) Discuss Job, especially Chpts 38 - 41. Read Job 42:1-6,10
3) He delegates his authority to others (empowers them as His representatives)
A) The Patriarchs
a) God spoke to, and through, the Patriarchs (Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc.)
a) Ex 4:16 (God speaking to Moses of Aaron) / Num 12:1-9
b) Moses delegated to others as God delegated to him: Deut 1:10-17
C) Judges / Kings / Rulers
a) Ex 22:28 / 1Sam 24:1-22, 26:1-25 / Acts 23:4-5
D) His Son
a) Mth 28:17-18 / Jhn 17:1-5
b) Jesus delegated to others as God delegated to Him: Mth 16:19 (keys = authority. See Rev 1:18) / 1Cor 2:12-13 / 2Pet 3:1-2
4) God views the Bible as the culmination of His authority (His law) for man.
A) Jesus� work and words were God�s final revelation
a) Heb 1:1-2 / Jhn 1:17
B) The Holy Spirit, working in and through the Apostles, brought to fruition all of Jesus� teachings.
a) Jhn 14:26, 16:13-14 / 1Thes 2:13 / 2Pet 3:14-16
C) We will be held accountable for how we live our lives in response to the Bible.
a) Jhn 17 (whole chapter) / Jhn 12:48 / Rev 20:12
As per the Bible, How Does God Expect Man To View Authority
1) With a submissive attitude and the utmost respect.
A) All authority is God given.
a) Jer 27:5 / Dan 2:21 / Rms 13:1-2 / Again mention David & Saul in 1Sam 24 & 26
B) The exception would be when the authority is in direct violation of God�s laws.
a) Acts 5:29
C) The Bible shows us who we should submit to:
a) Each other - Eph 5:21
b) Children to parents - Eph 6:1-3 / Col 3:20
c) Women to men (in worship) - 1Tim 2:8-14
d) Wives to husbands - Eph 5:22-24 / 1Pet 3:1-7 (Husbands have a responsibility to their wives, not as far as submission, but respect.)
e) Citizens to civil authorities - Rms 13:1-2 / 1Pet 2:13-17
f) Slaves to masters (employee to employer) - Eph 6:5-9 / Titus 2:9-10 / 1Pet 2:18
g) Young people to older people - 1Pet 5:5 / 1Tim 5:1-2
h) The church to their elders - Heb 13:17
i) All to God - Jms 4:7-10
2) In humility and faith
A) Apply the ultimate duck oil (let things roll off like water on a duck)
a) 1Peter 2:18-23
#) God has the right to ALL authority as the Creator of all things.
#) God delegates His authority as He sees fit.
#) God has produced His final authoritative proclamation through Christ and his apostles in the New Testament.
#) We must apply (obey) those teachings completely to be pleasing to God.
By Mike Sullivan 12-12-2004
OUR MAIN TEXT = Heb 12:5-11 (Page 107 pew Bible)
DISCIPLINE. Just the mere mention of the word conjures up many negative images and thoughts in our minds. My hope in this lesson is to help us to receive such a word from a biblical aspect. The Bible shows forth this word in a positive light. Discipline and love seem to go hand in hand in God�s word. Take for instance the following verses:
Prv 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
1Cor 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Note verses 6, 9 &10 from our main text = Heb 12:5-11:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; Vs.6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Vs. 9 & 10 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Rev 3:19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Can you imagine (and today I don�t think we have to imagine very hard) a family where there is no
discipline? A school? A government?
No, no organization of any kind will exist for very long without discipline.
What makes discipline within the church different?
� The consequences of not disciplining are of an eternal nature!
Rms 2:5-11 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Who "will render to each one according to his deeds": Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
What makes discipline within the church so controversial?
� The world has a wrong view of love (An �I�m OK, You�re OK� attitude).
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men�.
What makes discipline within the church so hard to rally around with congregational unity?
� There is too much of the world in the church.
Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Jms 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
� I submit to you that the overall disciplinary problem in the church is a lack of faith.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We are so wrapped up in the flesh and physical things that we cannot comprehend the spiritual things.
If we see someone, or know someone, that is physically going to injure themselves, whether ignorantly or on purpose, we will do everything within our power to help that person. We may know someone taking illegal drugs, or drinking themselves to death, and we would think nothing of warning them and offering our help in anyway we can, even at the cost of offending them. We pray and worry fervently over someone who is physically sick, yet do not think twice of their spiritual condition because they are �good people�.
We need to change our thinking church - it is askew.
We need to be a spiritually minded people.
READ along with me Rms 8:5-8 (Page 1004 in your Pew Bible)
Rms 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The spiritually minded will be appalled by sin. They will not be content with a �pretty good� attitude. Any sin is too much sin (Gal 5:9, 1Cor 5:6-8). They will realize that our greatest enemies and battles are in the spiritual realm.
Evil contends for the hearts and minds of any and all who are willing to be deceived. Think on this though dear church: Anyone outside of Christ is already the Devil�s, he doesn�t need to expend any energy on them (and that number is unfortunately a majority of the world�s population). That leaves him and his agents free to focus on those who have committed themselves to Christ.
If we have faith in God, then we will have faith in his word (Rms 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God). Faith will lead us to believe Eph 6:10-18, and, to apply it to our lives like our souls depended on it!
PLEASE TURN WITH ME TO:
Eph 6:10-18 (Page 1041) 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--
These are mere words to the carnal person (1Cor 2:13-14). But to those with a spiritual mind set, they are words of eternal wisdom, a �creed� if you will, for spiritual survival. Note the following high points of these passages:
� Vs 10 = strong in the Lord
� Vs 11 = stand against the wiles of the devil (wiles = trickery, cunningness)
� Vs 12 = we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness
� Vs 13 = take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand (Note �whole�, not �some of�, the armor of God!)
� Vs 14 -18 = to stand you need ALL of the following: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God, prayer, watchfulness, and perseverance
It takes discipline of the highest order to reach and maintain a useful role in the Lord�s army:
2Tim 2:3-4 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
In a physical war, one of the most fundamental principles is discipline, discipline, discipline. When there is a breakdown in discipline, lives are lost. Battles and wars are lost due to a lack of discipline.
Of how much more importance is the need for victory in the spiritual realm than the physical?
I would like to look at 3 kinds of discipline needed to accomplish victory.
But first, let�s note that spiritual discipline begins at baptism. When a person is scripturally baptized, they are a new person (2Cor 5:17), a babe in Christ (1Pet 2:2). As such, and just like a physical new born needs to grow in mind and body, so the newly baptized need to grow in the spirit.
1Pet 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
At first we are fed the word to strengthen us and begin our growth process. As we learn and grow, we are taught (or �disciplined�) in the ways of Christ (Mth 28:20).
As we continue to grow, we need to start walking and experiencing our spiritual life. Just as the toddler walks a little wobbly and starts learning �yes�, �no�, �hot�, and then the ways of the world, so we need to continue to grow in God�s word and apply it to our lives. Listen to Hebrews 5:13-14:
Heb 5:13-14 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
And 2Pet 3:16-18:
2Pet 3:16-18 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
In our Christian walk, we must apply, and be willing to submit to discipline in the following 3 areas:
READ WITH ME 1Cor 9:24-27 (Page 1018 in pew Bible):
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Think also on:
1Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
2Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
Self-discipline is a personal resolve to do better in order to reach a specific goal. As Paul used the allegory of Olympic runners in training and pushing themselves to do their best, he reminds us of how much more we should push ourselves for the crown of righteousness (2Tim 4:8). If we fail to finish the race, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
2) Reciprocal Discipline
Rms 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
To admonish is to �put in mind�, �caution�, or �warn�. This would come into play when our own self discipline is failing or non existent. You would talk to me, or I would talk to you, concerning some sort of sin or less than edifying conduct in our lives. I would watch out for you, and you would watch out for me, hence the word �reciprocal�. We even admonish one and other when we sing in the church assemblies (Col 3:16). We can get a good picture of this concept in the following verses:
Mtt 18:15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Please turn with me to James 5:19-20 in your Bibles (Pg 1075).
Jms 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Please, please, notice that these verses are not just good suggestions. These are Biblical truths! Each and every faithful, baptized believer is accountable in regards to these verses. It is not just for the Elders, Deacons, or the Preacher to be involved in discipline. If you see a brother or sister in the Lord sinning, you MUST approach and admonish them, in love, and for the good of their soul.
James 5:19-20 leaves no doubt to the seriousness of what we are dealing with here. If any believer strays from the truth, there are considered in sin, and their soul is marked for Gehenna, the lake of fire (Rev 20:14-15).
The sad part is that if we all imparted self-discipline on ourselves correctly, there would never be a need for any other steps in the disciplinary process! Which the third step is:
3) Congregational discipline
Just as we each have an individual responsibility in helping our brothers and sisters in Christ remain faithful, we also have a congregational role to fulfill. Turn with me now to Heb 10:24-27 (Pg 1068)
Heb 10:24-27 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
�Consider� here in Vs. 24 is from a Greek word which means �to observe fully�. �Stir up� here is rendered �provoke� in the King James. The Greek lends itself to the idea of �urging on�. So we are to assemble, observe each other, urge each other on, and help each other to live the Christian life in love and good works.
Mtt 18:15-17 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
We see all the steps concerning a personal sin represented here. Self-discipline failed in the offending brother sinning, and then again by his not recognizing that sin. Reciprocal discipline failed in that the erring brother did not receive the admonishment from the offended brother, or, even a couple of his other brothers. It then becomes a matter of Congregational discipline as the church has to recognize the erring, and most importantly, unrepentant brother as one who is outside of Christ, for in his disobedience and hardness of heart, he surely is a child of the Devil (Mtt 12:30, Rms 6:16).
1Cor 5:4-5 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Although this all sounds quite sever and extreme to our fleshly side, please note the lofty and loving goal which should speak to our spiritual side; "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ".
I have hardly touched "the hem of the garment" in today��s lesson on church discipline. Much more could be said, but I believe this lesson was a good place to start. If we would all apply self-discipline and reciprocal discipline in our lives, and fully realize the spiritual ramifications when we don��t, what a difference it would make in our congregation.
I would ask you to take with you one last thought and the lesson will be yours:
Let us remember these two ultimate goals which should be in the forefront of our minds when we think of church discipline:
Discipline is with the purpose of restoring a lost soul to a blessed and saved state before God.
Discipline is to maintain the purity of the Lord��s church (the bride of Christ) for the glory of God and the protection of it��s members.
And now, an admonishment:
At the end of every lesson, we here at the S.V. church offer an invitation to any member who has a spiritual need to come forth for prayer and/or repentance. The same invitation is extended to any unsaved person who wishes to come forth and obey the gospel. This should be an important time for each one of us to reflect on the lesson presented, God�s word, and whether or not we need to respond to the invitation.
The invitation should not be treated as an announcement that the lesson is finally over and I can close my Bible and �scooch� around �cause the invitation is for someone else, not me. Think about the person who might have been touched by the lesson and is considering going forward. They have a vested interest in what the speaker is saying during the invitation. But just imagine as they try to listen, everyone around them is shutting their bibles, putting pens away, picking up songbooks, and basically not showing any interest in the invitation at all. Please, try to always treat the invitation as the Lord�s invitation to all of us. It truly is a gift and opportunity for any and all to respond to Heaven�s call.
So what about it? Have you been neglecting your role in the disciplinary process? Have you had the wrong attitude when you read or hear about church discipline? Or, have you even been reborn through the waters of baptism? Now is the time. Today is the day of repentance and salvation. Whatever your need is, please do not hesitate and come forward as we sing # __________.
A CHRISTIANS REFLECTION
By Mike Sullivan 2001
As part of the Spiritual Concerns Committee, I struggle with understanding how anyone, who has obeyed the Gospel, can treat it lightly or even go on and fall away from the Lord�s church.
I was putting together a letter for someone whom I was concerned about and realized it would be a wonderful basis for a lesson. I�ve called it �A Christians Reflection�.
For those of us who are member�s of the Lord�s Church, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves these 6 questions every now and again:
1st WHY WAS I BAPTIZED?
Most of us probably studied with someone who showed us the Lord�s plan of salvation. We might have thought we were saved, nice and cozy in our denominational �faith only� world, but then some meddling person started prodding us to see what the Bible actually teaches, instead of what men teach.
We read versus such as:
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1Pe 3:at the end of vs20 - 21 - - - wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21) The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
We read them over and over, along with so many other verses, wondering how we, or millions of others, could be so blind to the mode and necessity of baptism. So we submitted to what we so obviously saw as God�s will and were baptized into Christ by being immersed into a body of water - just like the Bible says.
2nd WHAT DID MY BAPTISM DO?
This, in and of itself, could be a sermon of immense importance. However, I believe we can answer our question satisfactorily in just a few minutes of time, with just a few scriptures and comments. Let�s start by looking at:
Rms 6:3-6: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
These verses really expose what takes place in Christian baptism. We see how we died and participated in the Lord�s death and burial. We see how we were then raised up a new creature - born again! Our old sinner self was crucified, destroyed that we should not serve sin.
Another convicting verse is:
Gal 3:26-27: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
We put on Christ at the moment of our baptism. We applied his cleansing blood and were made righteous by wearing his righteousness.
Turn with me to Mat 22:1-13.
1) And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2) The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3) And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4) Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and [my] fatlings [are] killed, and all things [are] ready: come unto the marriage. 5) But they made light of [it], and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6) And the remnant took his servants, and entreated [them] spitefully, and slew [them]. 7) But when the king heard [thereof], he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8) Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9) Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10) So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11) And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12) And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13) Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Do you see the connection? Do you see the importance?
Our baptism added us to God�s church:
Acts 2:41,47: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
47)Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Our baptism added us to Jesus� kingdom:
Col 1:13-14: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Through baptism, we went from darkness, a place of no hope, into the light, a place of eternal hope, the everlasting kingdom of Christ. Why would you want to be anywhere else? Read these versus again slowly - let them sink in.
3rd WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF ME?
God has been so merciful to us, does he expect anything from us?
Many say NO.
Many say once saved always saved.
Many say requirements and works frustrate God�s grace.
Many say this and that, but not so the Bible. God�s word says we must DO many things.
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
What�s that Lord? We must do something?
BE THOU FAITHFUL! What does this mean? Turn with me to 1Sam 2:35: And I will raise me up a faithful priest, [that] shall do according to [that] which [is] in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
The dictionary says of faithfulness: trusted, reliable, true.
Through our baptism, we have made a covenant, a promise if you will, to be true to God. To be true to God is to obey him!
Jhn 14:15: If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Heb 5:9: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
See also Mth 7:21-23.
So we see we must remain faithful. Even when times are hard - hold on!
What else is expected of us? Let�s look at:
Heb 3:12-14: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13) But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
I want to look at three key thoughts here. �Take heed�, �exhort�, and �hold stedfast�.
Take heed is to �beware�, �be on guard�, or �earnestly contemplate�.
We must constantly be on guard against apostatizing.
�Departing� here in verse 12 comes from the Greek word that we get our word apostasy from. If we drop our guard and become complacent in our commitment to Christ, then it stands to reason a heart of unbelief will develop in us that will eventually lead to a hardening of the heart, and a falling away from our faith.
In vs 13 the Hebrews writer gives us a tool to work with in our quest to be on guard, and that is to exhort one another.
To �exhort� is to encourage and strengthen. Note the timetable of DAILY. This is serious business, as today is, but tomorrow may never be.
In verse 14 we see the smallest word in the world, �if�. Why is it the smallest? Because millions of people cannot see it in the Bible.
If = conditions. And conditions scare people. People tend to shy away from things they are scared of.
This verse in and of itself should be enough to convince people that we must DO something to be saved. Here, it is a matter of holding on to the beginning of our confidence. What is that confidence? It is trusting in the promises of God. It is �faith in the operation of God� Col 2:12.
Belief that is of a saving nature, and saving faith, are the doing of God�s will. Doing God�s will is faithfulness. We must be faithful unto death.
This is all reenforced and expounded upon in:
Heb 10:22-27: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
I want to draw your attention to verse 25. If you love God, if you want to be saved, if you want to be faithful, if you want to go to heaven, but you forsake the assembling of the church, would you mind telling me how you can justify that in light of these verses from God�s word? Remember one day you will be judged by these words (Jhn 12:48)!
Be faithful - Take heed - Exhort - Hold fast!!!
4th WHAT IS THE COST OF SALVATION?
It cost God his only begotten son (Jhn 3:16).
It cost Jesus horrendous suffering and then his very life (Mth 27:35-46).
It costs us everything:
Lk 9:23: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
The ultimate sign of servitude and submission was the cross of Christ. Jesus called himself The Son of Man. This is a reference to his being the Messiah, but, I also think it denotes his position as a servant of man.
He also was the Son of God. And as the perfect son he submitted to the Father�s will and became the ultimate sacrifice.
Serving man, serving God, Jesus bore the sins of all men and satisfied the justice of his Father when he died on the cross.
As we evaluate the cost of salvation, we see here in LK 9:23 that we are to do no less. We must deny self and then go on to serve man and God.
Seeing this then let us consider this next verse:
Lk 9:62: And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Picture yourself in control of a plough, horse drawn or tractor powered doesn�t matter, your field is very long but you do have some trees at each end. Once you start plowing, you need to keep focused on a tree, or some other landmark, as a goal to make for or else you will get off course and you will have a very funny looking field when you are done.
Once we are committed to Christ, we must not look back. We must keep our eyes on him to reach our goal (Heb 12:2).
Some followers of Christ commented in the book of John on some hard sayings of Jesus. One such hard saying which many tend to ignore today is found in:
Mth 10:34-39: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36) And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37) He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth
son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
One cost of following Christ, is the severing of relationships. If you have to choose between any person, regardless of who that person is, and following Jesus, you must choose Jesus.
This short parable of Christ says it nicely:
Mth 13:45-46: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
5TH HOW DO I KNOW I AM ON THE RIGHT PATH?
To know something for certain is to have something to check against or to compare to. Many religious folk claim they know they are saved by the way they feel, or because of some �religious experience�. Some even base their salvation on how there life is going and how God has blessed them in material things.
The one and only standard is the Bible.
Jhn 8:32: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Jhn 17:17: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
1Peter 1:23-25: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24) For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25) But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Therein do I put my trust. The word of God is all we need (2Tim 3:16-17). Paul stated in Gal 1:8-9 that even if an angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel - we are not to listen!
There is absolutely, positively, no other revelation needed, or to be given, than that which has all ready been given in the Bible.
Beware you do not follow Man!
Mth 15:8-9: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mth 15:13-14: But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14) Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Acts 5:29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
A powerful verse concerning this is:
2Jhn 1:9-11: Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10) If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11) For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
To abide, is to stay, continue in, or remain. Doctrine here is the complete teachings of Christ. Are you continuing in the complete teachings of Christ? If so, then you know you are on the right path.
We CAN know we are saved. Turn with me to 1Jhn 2:3-6
3) And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5) But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6) He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
6th WHAT CAN I LOOK FORWARD TO?
* You have been scripturally baptized - understanding it�s necessity and function.
* You have done your best to submit to God�s will and live your life accordingly.
* You have counted the cost and pressed on faithfully.
So what can we expect? What can we look forward to? PROMISES!
We have the promises of God. These differ from the promises of man. Man breaks promises. We all have. God does not. God never has.
1Cor 1:9: God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Titus 1:2: In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
Remember Rev 2:10 Where Jesus talks about being faithful unto death and we will receive a crown of life? That�s a promise!
Let�s also look at:
Rev 3:5: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
That�s a promise!
Notice how this ties in nicely with the wedding garment we talked about earlier in the parable of the marriage feast in Math 22.
So as we wind this lesson down, let us consider 2 more verses:
1Cor 10:12: Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
2Pet 1:10: Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
I implore you to take this lesson to heart. We must constantly be on guard against falling away. Nothing in this universe can separate us from God except ourselves. Truly we can be our own worst enemy.
Are you right with God. Right now, right this minute, do you know, nothing doubting, that if you died right now that you would go to heaven? If you answered no, then we extend the invitation to you now to come forward as we stand and sing. mail at rentalstop.net