30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
December 5, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. I have no way of really knowing how many may be listening to these 30 minutes of God's word presented each Sunday morning at this time here on WAVG radio, but it is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things religiously that are pleasing to our most holy God. As we discuss "The Law of God" this morning, I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you and not mine. It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "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" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Of all the things that could be labeled upon a man, I certainly don't want to be labeled as a false prophet or teacher. I want you to be able to see for yourself that what I am saying that we need to do religiously is found in the Bible. Anything that we are taught by any man should be able to be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in our Bible. If I or anyone cannot do that, then they deserve the label "false teacher." Friends, please have your Bible ready and let's study together another truth of God. Today, we will be looking at the fact that God did have and does have a law that all of man must follow in order to obtain salvation.
How often have men expressed the following statement: "Man is not saved by law: he is saved by grace and therefore what man does has nothing to do with his salvation." Have you ever heard someone say that? Perhaps you have even voiced that opinion at one time in your life. The idea is, if man had to do something to be saved, it is "by law" and not of "grace"; it is by "works" and not by "faith." But, my dear friends, this is the wrong conception of both "law" and "works." One who so states that conviction, does not understand how the "grace of God" saves man, neither does that one understand how "salvation by grace through faith" (as stated in Ephesians 2:8, 9) is bestowed upon man. No man can be saved by "law" or "works" separate and apart from the "grace of God." Likewise, no man is saved by "grace" or through "faith" apart from "obedience unto God." The "grace of God" bestows upon man the blessings of God, "through faith," when that "faith obeys the commands of God." What we must all learn is, when God gives a law, or a command, it must be obeyed. Just because man has to obey God, does not mean it is NOT by "grace through faith." The grace of God has provided the remedy which man could not provide, and the "faith" on man's part appropriates the blessings provided by that "grace," by obeying the Savior's orders or commands. It has always been so in every age of God's dealings with mankind. All men everywhere MUST obey God!
In Second Kings, chapter five, we find the story of a man named Naaman. Naaman was captain of the host of the king of Syria. But, Naaman also was a leper. In verse two of 2 Kings 5, we read,"Syria had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife." This girl said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy." When Naaman told this to the king, the king of Syria sent Naaman to the king of Israel, with gold and silver and a letter of introduction from the king of Syria.
But, the king of Israel could not heal Naaman of leprosy. In fact he got very upset at the fact that the king of Syria would send a man to him thinking that he could actually heal him. In like manner, too many people today in search of salvation are going to the wrong source for their information. Man must come to God's Word, the Bible. It and it alone is the revealed will of God to man.
Elisha, the prophet of God, heard of the events and sent to the king of Israel and said to him, "Let him (Naaman) come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." The scriptures tell us "Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha." The prophet sent his servant out to tell Naaman what to do. He said, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean." This enraged Naaman. The Bible said he was wroth. He was angry, mad. God's commands had made him angry. Why? Because things did not happen like he thought it should happen or would be. Listen to what Naaman says: "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy."
You see, he had it all figured out. When God's law did not meet with his approval, he turned away in anger. Is it possible that this same thing happens today when God's plan of salvation does not suit man's way of thinking? My friends, God has a law, God said, through the prophet, "Go wash seven times in the Jordan River." As Naaman turned back toward his homeland, mad at God's prophet, he said, "Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. He evidently thought the "water" would cleanse him. But not so. It was God's grace, unmerited favor that would heal him; but, it would not heal him until Naaman obeyed "God's law" and did what the prophet told him to do. Notice, Naaman did not misunderstand what the prophet told him to do. He just did not accept it as necessary. Anytime man's thinking contradicts God's law, serious things happen.
It was then that Naaman's servant said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" The servant was wiser than his master. How often today men want to do some great thing to please the Lord. All the while ignoring the simple commands of the gospel of Jesus Christ.. Naaman had come there a leper. No power of his own could cure him. Unless he obeyed the voice of the prophet of God, he would return a leper to die. He had God's remedy and was mad at the prophet of God for giving it to him? All because it was not like HE THOUGHT it should be. Now friends, you think about that for a moment. Does that not sound all too familiar today? Many get mad at the messenger because they don't like the message being delivered - even if it is God's message. But Naaman finally accepted this wise advice from his servant So he reversed his steps, went to the Jordan and dipped himself seven times beneath the water.
Now here is a question for you to ponder: Why did Naaman go and wash these seven times in the Jordan River? It was because he suddenly trusted the words of the prophet of God. Was he healed the moment he TRUSTED God's promises?. Oh no! He was not healed until he obeyed the words of the prophet and dipped seven times. If God's grace always blesses without law or commands, he should have been cured the moment his faith trusted the promise of God to heal him. This man washed once, twice, six times, and yet was a leper. May I ask you, Why this? Here is a faith obeying; a faith trusting; and yet he is not cured. The answer is very clear: "God had a law." That law said, "Dip seven times." And not until that law was obeyed would the grace of God heal his leprosy. My friends, none in this listening audience can successfully deny this. He dips the "seventh" time and his "flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child," (verse 14).
Now here is another question: Did Naaman trust in the "water" to heal him? Listen closely to his own words, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel." He did not turn to the water and praise the water. He knew where the power was, and he knew WHY that power healed him. It was only when he surrendered his own will to the will of God that he was cleansed. He knew it was God's grace that had healed him. He also understood that GOD HAD A LAW. Naaman was not cleansed until he obeyed that law. God's grace works through His laws, His commandments. Now turn in your Bible with me to 1 John, chapter two, verses 3-5. Notice what the inspired writer says here: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him."
Suppose on his way to the Jordan he had met a man who told him that all he had to do was just "believe," "trust God" for the cure. If you have to "wash in the Jordan River" you will be trusting the water; it will not be by the grace of God. Suppose another would have said to him, "You are to wash because you are already healed"; just to show the world you are already cured. What do you think would have happened to Naaman? Do you think he would have been healed? You well know he would not have been healed. God had a law and that law commanded Naaman to go and"wash, or dip, seven times IN the Jordan River and you shall be clean." It was only after he obeyed the law of God that he was cleansed. There was no special power in the water, the power was in God. But Naaman was cured only when he was willing to DO and then DID what the prophet of God commanded of him.
Now stay with me now as we tie this Old Testament story that was written for our learning into the New Testament teaching for us today. When we come to the New Testament we read in Romans 3:27 that God has a law. The apostle Paul calls it "a law of faith." It is through this law that "God's grace through faith," is able to bless us with salvation.
What has the Lord said to sinful mankind? Has Christ offered salvation? And if so, what has He said? Has God given a law with respect to man's salvation from sin? I hear Christ Jesus stating in Mark 16:15-16, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." What is God's "law of faith" here for the salvation of man? Did you hear? "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" Man often reacts to this command in the same manner that Naaman reacted to God's command to dip seven times in the Jordan River. Man has his own ideas about how God ought to save him. And more often than not, man's ideas run contradictory to the Lord's commands. Notice that Christ placed between the "sinner" and his "salvation" the command to be baptized. Just as he placed "dip seven times" between Naaman and his cleansing. Here also, God has a law. A law that the sinner must respect and obey. In Acts 2:38, the apostle Peter states,"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Here again we find God's law stated for the pardon of sinners. This law includes "baptism for the remission of sins." Not because sins have already been forgiven. Not to demonstrate to the world that one's sins have been forgiven, but in order to have sins forgiven.
Jesus says, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" But, man comes along and says, "Now I think, the water cannot save you." "If you have to be baptized in order to be saved you will be trusting your own works to save you." What if the sinner believes this? Do you think God's grace will save him any more that it would have cleansed Naaman, had he not obeyed the command to dip seven times?
Yes, my dear friends in the radio audience this morning, GOD HAS A LAW of salvation. In that Law man must believe God. Hebrews 11:6 says: "Without faith it is impossible to please him."Man must repent of his sins. Acts 17:30 says: "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." Man must be baptized as we plainly saw in Mark 16:16. This is God's law. It must be obeyed. We have the right to choose to obey or not obey the law of God, which means DOING what God says. But, my friends, if you choose to be pleasing to God, to do the law of God, you have no right to choose how or which law. You must choose to do what the Lord commands in the way that He commanded it be done.
Won't you do as Naaman finally did? Won't you do what has been commanded by the Lord? The Lord will bless you when you do. You will then become the recipient of the grace of God. You will then be saved by grace through faith. When was Naaman cleansed? When he dipped seven times. When is man saved? When he/she is baptized for the remission of sins. Isn't that what Jesus Christ promised?
At this time I would like to transition to another point along these same lines to drive home the importance of understanding that God has a law and it is binding on all of us today. In our Bible we can see in John the 9th chapter the story of the man "born blind." Jesus "anointed his eyes with clay" (verse 6) and told him to "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam." The book says, "He went his way therefore, and WASHED, and came away SEEING." Now the enemies of Christ sought to discredit this miracle, just as many attempt to do today. They called Christ a sinner. The blind man said, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I know not; ONE THING I DO KNOW, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." Once again friends, here is another plain, easy to be understood example, with reference to God's dealings with man: "Whereas I was blind, now I see." What was God's law here? A very simple command, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." Isn't that simple? The man went, washed, and received his sight. Why? Because God had a law. Here, the grace of God was bestowed upon this man who was born blind. There was something done for this blind man that he could not do for himself. Sight was restored, by the grace of God. Someone might say, "Could not Christ have just healed him, maybe touch his eyes, or just said, 'receive thy sight'." Who would deny that the Son of God could have done it that way if He had so decided. But, the fact remains, that is not the way the Lord healed him. "God had a law." "Go and wash, and you shall see." Who would deny that it was the Lord who healed him? It was grace bestowed upon the blind man, yet, it was bestowed upon him when he met the conditions stated by the Lord.
What made him go to the pool and to wash? It was his faith, his trust, his reliance upon the one who so commanded him to go. Suppose the blind man would have said, "That's silly, why the washing, why the pool of Siloam?" "Why not just do it this other way?" You see, that is the way mankind reasons today with reference to the commands of the Lord. So often today, man wants to do the will of God when it does not conflict with their own preconceived ideas of how it should be done. So what we have today in matters of religion is man wanting to do it in his or her own way, and only that which they want to do. Unless we are willing to do all things commanded of the Lord we will not be saved.
We find over in Acts chapter ten that Cornelius had the right attitude. When the apostle Peter came into his house, Cornelius said, "So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God" (Acts 10:33). And that, my friends, must be my attitude and your attitude if we really want to be pleasing to Jehovah God.
But lets take another look of the example of the blind man in John 9. Blindness is a type of our being lost. In Acts 26:18, we have the words of the apostle Paul as he gives an account of his conversion. He states that the Lord appeared unto him, and sent him to the Gentiles, "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me." Hence, the receiving of the blind man's sight would be a type of our receiving our salvation. But, between his "blindness" and his "sight" there was "water."
Now here is yet another question: Did the water heal him? Oh, no, my friends. It was Jesus that healed him. Did he trust in the water? Oh, no, his confidence was in this man called Jesus. But, the fact remains, the man could not see until he went to the pool of Siloam and washed therein. You see, God had a law. That law said, "Go and wash." The man went and washed and Christ healed him. That is how grace works. When man obeys the laws of God, the Lord keeps His promises.
Suppose someone had come along and saw this blind man struggling on his way toward the pool of Siloam, with mud in his eyes. He might ask, where are you going and why? Upon receiving an explanation, the comment might have been made, "Don't you know there is no power in the water;" or, "You don't have to do anything, just believe and your sight will be given." And then, suppose this blind man would have accepted this advice. Do you think he would have been healed? To ask the question is to answer it. You well know, the blindness would have remained. When did the man see? When he washed, not before. Surely, it took faith and confidence on his part. But, it also took obedience. God had a law and he had to obey it. I hope that you can see this morning that man has to have help to misunderstand this important lesson.
In Acts 22:16, as Paul was relating his conversion, he said that the preacher Ananias, came to him and said, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name." Is there any connection to baptism and the washing away of sins? This inspired man seemed to think that there was. Paul, at that time called Saul, was a believer; he had seen the risen Lord who had appeared to him on the road that led from Jerusalem to Damascus. He had spent three days praying. So here we have a man that had seen the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ; who had followed his advice to go into the city and there it would be told him what to do; had been praying for three days; hearing a preacher to tell him to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins. Here was a penitent, praying, believer, who was yet in his sins. You see, Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." And that is exactly what Saul desired. Yes, God had a law for Saul. Saul had to obey that law. And when he did, the Lord forgave him as he has promised. That is salvation by grace.
Earlier in this lesson I mentioned Cornelius as having the proper attitude. He desired to hear all things commanded of the Lord. (Acts 10:33). Peter concluded his lesson to Cornelius and his kinsmen and near friends by Commanding them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:48). Why do you think that Peter commanded Cornelius to be baptized? Could it possibly be because He remembered the words of Christ, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
It is rather interesting that in every example in the book of Acts of those who became children of God, that they were baptized in water for the remission of their sins. No doubt the reason for this is that "baptism for the remission of sins" is included in the Law of God. Truly, God has a law. And each person who reaches the age of responsibility must obey that law if they want to please the Lord.
So friends, do you believe that Christ Jesus is the Son of God? Have you repented of the sins which you have committed? Have you confessed your faith in Christ? Have you been baptized for the remission of sins? If you have not done these things, we urge you to look into the Word of God and determine what the Lord has commanded of you to become His child. After all, this is God's law.
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?"