30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
September 12, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" We certainly appreciate the privilege of coming into your home this morning to further study the word of God. We are concerning ourselves, at present, with the proper divisions of the bible. We noted on this program last week that the bible was divided, not only into two testaments, but also into three periods of time known as dispensations. We suggested that there was first of all the Patriarchal Dispensation. We called attention to the fact that God blessed all those who obeyed him during this dispensation and that he punished all those who did not obey him. We mentioned Noah as one who lived during that period of time and as one who was blessed of God. We showed that Noah was saved by faith. It was pointed out however that Noah showed his faith by his works and it was clearly seen that without his works he would not have been saved. Hence the bible says, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house..." (Heb. 11:7) Yes friends, it was by faith; yet he moved and prepared an ark. And so throughout the twenty-five hundred years of the Patriarchal Dispensation when God blessed the people because of their faith, it was always after the faith was expressed in some sort of action.
Last week at this time, we also discussed the Jewish Dispensation. We told you that it began when the law was given at Mount Sinai. We noted that it lasted for fifteen hundred years. We observed that God blessed the obedient and punished the disobedient in the Jewish age even as he did in the Patriarchal Dispensation. We told you, just at the close of our broadcast last week, that Christ lived and died under the old law in the Jewish Dispensation. It was made clear at that time that the death of Christ actually ended the old law and brought to a close the Jewish age, or dispensation. These things were nailed to the cross by the death of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote:"having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Col. 2:14). Again, I want to encourage all of you in the listening audience this morning to have your Bible ready and turn to the Bible passages that I make mention of this morning. I want you to do this because it is important for you to see that what I am teaching is found in God's Word. What I may say to you this morning has no value to your soul unless it can be verified by the Bible. Let God's Word, the Bible lead you to salvation.
Before turning to the Christian Dispensation, the age in which we now live, I should like to note a few things the Lord did while here upon the earth while he lived. It is common knowledge that Christ, during the time he lived here on earth, healed the sick, cast out devils, and raised the dead. Surely, I need not point out that people today cannot do these things. Since people today cannot heal the sick, cast out devils and raise the dead, if we are sick we cannot expect to be made well miraculously. If we are possessed with devils, we may not expect to have them miraculously cast out. If our friends have died, we may not expect them to be raised up to life again. Friends, there is no injustice in this. There is no respect of persons in this. We are simply not living in the Jewish Age where Christ lived and where he saw fit to do those things. We are not living in the life time of the Son of God here on this earth. No doubt if he were here in person, he would do the same things for us.
Christ did many other things while he was walking here among men. In Mark the second chapter verses one to ten, we find him healing a palsied man and forgiving his sins. In Luke the twenty-third chapter and verse forty-three, we see him, even in the agony of death, forgiving a penitent thief and promising him a place in Paradise. Notice the words of Christ as He said: "....Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." And so, Jesus did many wonderful works from the time he was born of the Virgin Mary until he was crucified upon the cross thus taking out of the way the old testament as a guide and bringing to an end the Jewish Dispensation.
After the Son of God was crucified, died, and buried, he arose triumphant over the grave. He came forth conqueror over death, hell and the grave. In doing this, my friends, Jesus of Nazareth was obedient unto his heavenly Father, and by his suffering he "became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:9) Remember now, in the Patriarchal Dispensation God saved those who were obedient and punished those who were disobedient. And in the Jewish Dispensation God saved those who were obedient and punished those who were disobedient. Even so, in this Christian Dispensation, Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. He will punish those who do not obey. Turn now in your Bible to the book of 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 9. Notice what the inspired apostle Paul wrote concerning our necessity to obey Christ. "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power," (2 Thes. 1:7-9) Now since Christ will save the obedient (Heb. 5:9) and since he will punish the disobedient (2 Thes. 1:9) why should it be thought a thing incredible that we gospel preachers should urge upon the people a strict obedience unto every command of Christ? Why should our teaching be despised and rejected since we teach only that man should obey his Lord? I tell you, my friends, the man who promises salvation without obedience is the one who comes in sheep's clothing. Notice what Jesus warned about in Matthew 7:15-20: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." The man who teaches salvation without obedience is the one who teaches salvation by a dead faith. "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (Jas. 2:20) In James 2:17 the writer says, "Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone."
After Jesus arose from the dead he made several appearances unto his people. He told them many things during these meetings. He upbraided some for lack of faith and hardness of heart and blessed some who were faithful. Just before his ascension back to the Father, Jesus talked with his disciples concerning the eternal salvation of man. As Matthew records it, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Co ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19-20). This commission binds the teaching of God's word upon God's people and binds baptism upon those being taught. No doubt the Holy Spirit which guided the new testament writers in their work, knew the question of the importance of baptism would eventually come up, so Mark was instructed to write, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16).
Thus the plan of salvation in this Christian Age is clearly announced. The plan of salvation is simply the plan that God has now determined that will save man from his sins and allow him to have an eternal home in heaven. How is this accomplished? First the word of God is to be preached. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1 Cor. 1:21) Second, the word of God is to be believed. Notice the words of the Hebrew writer: "but 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." (Heb. 11:6) Third, there must be a turning away from sins. "I tell you nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3) and also Acts 17:30 which says: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent" Finally, there must be baptism in the name of Christ for the remission of sins. In Peter's gospel sermon on Pentecost he told all those that were gathered there what they needed to do in order to be forgiven of their sins. In Acts 2:38 we read: "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." We also read that Saul was told to wash away his sins. When was this accomplished, before or after baptism. Notice the words of Acts 22:16: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." This is the plan of salvation for the Christian Dispensation. It was first spoken by the Lord just before his ascension, and was put into operation by Peter and the other Apostles on the day of Pentecost. Of the thousands that heard the gospel that day, three thousand believed what they heard. They repented and were baptized. When they were baptized, it is said of them that they were " added unto them" that is they were added to the church. Now notice the teaching from Acts 2:40-47:"And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." We notice from Verse 47 an important truth. It is the Lord that does the adding. Every case of conversion recorded in the new testament followed this same plan. In the weeks to come, the Lord willing, I shall discuss some of the cases of conversion on this program. Let me insist now that from the time Peter stood up to speak on the day of Pentecost until John sealed up the New Testament with the last "amen" in Revelation twenty-two, no one was saved without hearing the word of God, believing it, and being baptized. Now I would like to encourage anyone out there this morning that might not agree, to take your New Testament in hand and beginning with the death of Christ, when the New Testament became effective, show me one who became a Christian without hearing the word, believing it, and being baptized. If there is anyone in the New Testament that was said to have been saved after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ without being baptized, I will review that case on this program. On the other hand, my friends, if no case of conversion without baptism can be shown since the Day of Pentecost, will you not honestly and sincerely review your own case of conversion lest haply you be found to be without the salvation which is promised to those who obey? Remember our reading earlier in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 7-9. You may also recall that Jesus said:"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matt 7:21). What is the Father's Will? Matthew 17:5 says: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
I am aware of the fact that there are several objections to baptism as a condition of salvation. None of these objections would carry any weight, if people regarded the word of God. But since people are not much concerned about the word of God and since they have written out creeds and disciplines, manuals and catechisms to govern and guide them in matters of religion, people are able to make headway with this "do nothing and be saved" idea.
Some one wants to argue that they can be saved without baptism because the thief on the cross was saved without baptism. Friends, if it were true that one could be saved without baptism just because the thief was saved without baptism, would it not also be true that one could have his sins forgiven without faith since the palsied man in Mark chapter 2 had his sins forgiven without faith? But now let's compare our case with that of the thief on the cross. He lived during the lifetime of Christ here on earth. We do not. He lived under the Old Testament during the Jewish Dispensation. We live under the New Testament in the Christian Dispensation. He was a thief. We are not thieves. He lived before Christ shed his blood for the remission of sins. We live after Christ shed his blood. He lived before Christ said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." We live after Christ made that statement. He lived before Christ said, "Go teach all nations, baptizing them." We live after Christ said teach and baptize the people. He lived before Peter said, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." We live after that statement was made. He lived before it was possible to be baptized into the death of Christ. We live in an age when it is not only possible to be baptized into his death, but required for us to do so in order for us to have salvation. Notice what Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-6: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
No friends, it matters not what you may have heard on the subject of salvation by faith. If you haven't "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you," you are not yet free from sin. (Rom. 6:17) You must hear the sayings of the Son of God and do them in order to be wise and build upon a rock. (Matt. 7: 24) Can't those who study the Bible to any profit see that when we do all God has told us to do and trust Him for the blessings promised, that we are simply manifesting a faith in him? Can't those who study the Bible to any profit see that when we do what God has told us to do that we are not working our own righteousness but rather the righteousness of God? Remember, the Psalmist said in Psalms 119:172 that all the commandments of God were righteousness and that Peter said "he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him." (Acts 10:35).
It's not a popular doctrine that tells people that they must do certain things in order to be saved, but the fact remains that Jesus is the author of salvation to all them that obey, (Heb. 5:9) and that he will take vengeance upon them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of Christ. (2 Thes. 1:8-9). I encourage you to read the story of Naaman (2 Kings 5), an Old Testament character who was told to dip in the Jordan River 7 times to have his leprosy cleansed. At first, he did not want to keep the command of the Lord, and as long as he refused to dip in the Jordan River, his leprosy remained. It was not until after he dipped the 7 times in the Jordan River that his leprosy was cleansed. Again, here is a Bible example of one not receiving the blessings of God until AFTER obedience. Are you honestly willing to take the chance that God will accept you into heaven without the proper obedience to His word? God has let you and I make the choice. Our soul's eternal destiny depends upon the choice we make.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"