30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
October 3, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth!" We do appreciate the privilege of coming into your home this morning as we further study the word of God. Once again, I want to encourage you to get your Bible out and be ready to turn to the Bible passages that we discuss in this morning's lesson. God is most pleased with individuals that will search the scriptures to find out if the things that are being taught are so. The Bereans of long ago did just that. In Acts 17:11 it says: "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." We learn two things concerning these Bereans. They received the word with all readiness, in other words, they were anxiously awaiting the word of the Lord and then they were ready to put it to use in their life if they could validate that it was in fact found in scripture. That is exactly what our attitude should be toward the word of God today. Once we can see that what is being taught is in fact found in scripture, then we should be moved to put those things to use in our everyday life. I trust that you are also ready and willing to study God's word this morning and are prepared to do His will.
We would like to study with you this morning the question, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" This question was asked by the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16:30. Let us analyze the question very briefly and then we will concern ourselves with the how to do it. The proper analysis of the question will eliminate a lot of the possibility of a misunderstanding in arriving at the correct answer. The first word "what" implies that there is something that is to be done. The one who says there is nothing one can do to be saved overlooks this implication in the very beginning of the question. What, yes there is something to be done. But the question is what "must" I do. Not what should I do. Or what could I do. Or what might, may or can I do. It is what must I do. Note too, the idea presented is What must "I" do. It isn't a question of what grandfather must do. It doesn't raise the question of what my parents or my brothers and sisters must do. It is, what must I do. And finally, the question is, what must I "Do"? We are not interested in something we get.There is no such thing as "getting religion." James chapter one, verse 27, tells us that religion is something we do. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Neither is it a question of what must I feel. Of course a man should, and no doubt does, feel good when he does right, but to teach that a certain good feeling is evidence of pardon is a demonstration of one's inability to think straight. A drunk man feels good. The heathen in his idolatrous worshipfeels good. If you contend that you are right just because you feel good, let me remind you that your reasoning rises not above that of the heathen who does the very same thing.
Frequently we hear some one preaching and saying, "if you ever get saved you will feel it down in your heart." Invariably they place their hand over their left breast in the mistaken idea that when the Bible talks about the heart it means the organ that pumps the blood to different parts of the body. Why friends, when the Bible speaks of the heart it isn't talking about the physical heart. The fact that people imagine that "they feel different in their left breast" is a demonstration to how far afield a man's thinking will go in matters of that kind.
Before we present the truth regarding the subject under discussion, let's notice some of the errors that are spread abroad in the religious world in connection with it. In answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved," there are those who say, "all you have to do is believe or have faith." Now friends, I want to pass over that by suggesting that it isn't so. I am going to present one passage of scripture showing that we are not saved merely by believing. In James 2:24 we have this language, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Now James says we are justified not by faith only. If you are going to continue to follow the false teachers who say you are justified by faith apart from any obedience, all I can say is, may God have mercy upon your unbelief.
Another false idea concerning salvation is the doctrine that everyone will be saved. This is a very popular doctrine because nobody wants to believe that they are going to be lost eternally. They reason this way by saying:"you know God wouldn't make a man and then destroy him." Well, notice what Matthew says in chapter seven, verses 21-23: as he quoted the Son of God, "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. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" He also states in Matthew 25:46: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment." Now we will either have to believe what Jesus said, that is that some shall be punished, or we can believe the false teachers and accept the idea that all will be saved.
There is also the false idea that there are certain ones foreordained to be saved and therefore they need not to worry about what to do. Preacher, did you say that was a false idea? Yes, for Revelation 22:17 says, "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Finally there is the devilish doctrine that a sinner, that is a child of the devil must pray for pardon, or pray for the Holy Spirit, or pray for the saving power of God to come upon him. And why do I refer to that as a devilish doctrine? Simply because you may search the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi and then search the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation and then go back and search the whole Bible again from Genesis to Revelation and you will never find where a child of the devil is told to pray to God for anything, nor will you find where a child of the devil is promised a blessing if he does pray.
One other false doctrine before we get into the answer to the question of, What Must I do to be Saved. There are some people that teach that you "get saved and then join the church of your choice." Friends, if there is a false teaching in the religious world that really pleases the devil, that's it. There is no such: thing as getting saved and then at some later time joining the New Testament church. Now I do not want to state something on this program without giving you some proof text for my answer I furnish you proof in the book of Acts, chapter two, verse 47, which says: "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." I don't believe the Bible could be any plainer than that. The Lord adds the saved to the church. How often does he do that? Daily. Well obviously he adds people to his church which is the New Testament church because the church was not established until Pentecost, in Acts, chapter two. Now just as surely as you are a member of a church which you joined, just that sure, you are not a member of the church spoken of in the New Testament. Why? Because the Bible specifically says the Lord adds people to that church. And let me tell you right now, it is almost if not altogether an insult to the Son of God for us to join a church. Look at the picture for a minute. I'm honest. I'm sincere in this matter. I want you to have the truth. Christ adds me to the church, His church if I am saved. The Bible says so. I know that is right. Then I go and join some church that some man established. Don't you see that by such action I am saying to Christ, "You didn't add me to the church of my choice. I don't want to belong to your church. I want to join this other one over here"? It's serious; my friends. Jesus was altogether right when he said, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:22-23). These people are honest people. These people actually think they are right. These people could well be some of us. We had better be sure we are right in religious matters. We can be sure. If we take our New Testament and do what it says to do, and if we will be what it says to be, then we know we will be right.
Now friends, let me ask you a personal question. If you were only what the New Testament said for you to be, would you be what you are religiously?
Can't you see that you have overstepped the bounds of the New Testament in becoming what you are? Do you know what the Bible says about people going beyond the teachings of God's word? Second John the ninth verse (there is just one chapter) tells us that, "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." The revised version says, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching hath not God."
If you have gone beyond the new testament to select a name to wear, you had better take heed lest you be found to be without God. No, you can't get saved and then join the church of your choice. You were added to the church by the Lord when you were saved and you are a member of it or else you have never been saved. Your salvation in Christ puts you into His church - not somebody else's.
But now let us consider this question, "what must I do to be saved?" I believe we can present a good common sense answer to that question. I think I can give you a tangible, understandable solution to the problem. First, I want to suggest that if one is ever saved he must hear the gospel.Obviously a man would have to hear the truth before he could know he was a sinner and before he knew he was in need of salvation. Let those who contend that there is nothing to do to be saved kindly back up and admit that one must hear the truth so he will know of his condition as a sinner. In Acts 3:22 the Apostle Peter quoting a prophecy of Moses said, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you." Yes, we will have to hear him for Moses added in Acts 3:23, "And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people."
We tell the people that the Bible says they must hear Christ. But false teachers tell the people that they do not have to do anything. Secondly, when one hears the gospel and learns that he is a sinner and that he needs a savior he becomes a believer. And one must become a believer. Hebrews 11:6 records that fact. Turn with me in your Bible to the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, verse six. There it says: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Yes friends, you must hear and you must believe if you are ever saved. I would like to impress upon you at this time that it is you that must hear and believe. God doesn't propose to do your hearing and believing for you. I am trying to refute the sectarian idea that there isn't anything you must do. I am trying to show that God expects you to do something.
After you hear the gospel and become a believer you must repent of your sins before God will forgive you. Notice now the words of the inspired apostle Paul in Acts 17:30: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." Jesus stated in Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Now if God commands all men to repent, doesn't it make sense to tell the people to repent. Doesn't that sound like a man must do something in order to be saved? Since God said repent, could one be saved without repenting? So we see, one must hear the gospel, he must believe what he hears, and he must turn away from his sins in genuine repentance.
Now, I should like to point out at this time that one may repent of his sins; that is, he might turn away from his sins and quit committing them without having the ones already committed forgiven. I think we may illustrate what we mean by suggesting that if a man gets drunk and violates the law, the fact that he becomes sorry and quits drinking doesn't remove the offense already committed. He must, in addition to quitting his drinking, go before the court and comply with its demands so as to be clear of the charge against him. In like manner, one may quit sinning against God but must in addition to that do what God says do in order to have his sins remitted. He must be baptized to "wash away his sins." (Acts 22:16) He must be baptized "for the remission of his sins." (Acts 2:38) You know Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."(Mark 16:16)
Since only believers are to be baptized, a confession of our faith is necessary so that the one baptizing will know that the candidate is a fit subject to be baptized. We have an example of that in Acts 8. Philip was teaching the Eunuch. He was preaching Christ to him. In the process of preaching Christ to him he convinced him that he ought to be baptized. But he, the Eunuch, had to confess his faith before Philip would baptize him. From Acts, chapter eight, beginning in verse 35 we read: "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him."
Thus we see friends, that the things we must do to be saved are plainly Presented in the Bible. We must hear the gospel. If we don't, we will be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23) We must believe the gospel. He that cometh to God must believe that he is. (Heb. 11:6) We must repent of our sins. God has commanded all men to do that. (Acts 17:30) We must confess our faith in Christ. (Acts 8: 37 ) One who knows the truth will not baptize us until we do confess. And finally, we must be baptized for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) Remission of sins is in Christ and we get into Christ by baptism. In Galatians 3:27 we read: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Somebody might say, Preacher, isn't baptism just a declarative act) Doesn't it just declare to the world that we are saved?" Indeed it does not. That is just one of the latest and incidentally one of the weakest efforts of the false teachers to eliminate baptism as a condition of salvation. Why, when Philip baptized the Eunuch there were none present so far as the record goes but the two. And as soon as he was baptized, Philip was caught away and the Eunuch saw him no more. The only one to whom the Eunuch was declared to be a child of God never saw him again.- Don't you see friends, there is absolutely nothing to that but-a sectarian dodge. The Bible says, "be baptized for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) Denominational preachers say, "Be baptized to declare to the world that you are a child of God." You can't believe both. They contradict each other. They are opposed to one another. In our New Testament book of Acts we find recorded there ten examples of conversion to Christ. In each and every conversion, you will notice that each individual was baptized into Christ in order to be saved. If you claim to follow the teaching of the Bible, then you will also understand that baptism is something you must do in order to comply with God's command if you hope to have salvation. Christianity is a doing religion, a religion that puts into practice those things which God asks of us. I encourage you this morning to think the matter over carefully.
If you still believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation and it is not necessary in order to have forgiveness of sins, then all I have to say is: "If it seems good to you to follow the denominational preachers follow them, but as for me and my house, we will follow the New Testament." I thank you for listening this morning and hope that you will have an honest heart and do God's will before it is everlastingly too late.
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?"