30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
March 19, 2000
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, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine yet another truth of God's word. 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 almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "Will Our Honesty and Sincerity Save Us?", 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. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). 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). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God. Today, we are going to answer the question "Will Our Honesty and Sincerity Save Us?"
Again, I hope and pray that each one who listens is seriously considering the things which are being said from week to week. We have stated this so much, but how important it is that each one of us realize that one day we shall all stand before the Judgment Bar of Heaven and render an accounting for all that we are doing day by day. Also, we shall be judged by the Words spoken by our Lord and His inspired Apostles. We can read in the book of Revelation 20:12 the following:"And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." Friends, I shall be there and you shall be there. How important and serious it is that we make preparation to meet our God in Judgment. If I were dealing with politics, economics, the weather, or any one of a hundred other subjects, it would matter little whether you were listening or not. But the truth of the matter is, we are dealing with our eternal destiny, and it behooves us all to realize the importance of these times spent together in the study of the Word of God.
I can't begin to tell you how often I have heard the expression in the world today that as long as a person is honest and sincere they shall be saved. As a result I can't help but be persuaded that many in the world believe this. They think just as long as a person is honest, it makes no difference what he or she believes or does as far as doctrine is concerned, the Lord will save them. But is this so? Will honesty save a soul? Surely, I am not suggesting that one can be dishonest and be saved. But, the question is, is being honest and sincere all that is needful for a person to be right in God's sight?
In answer to this question, I present you a number of examples in the Word of God, asking in each case, was their honesty enough? Did their honesty bring about their salvation? As I bring these to your attention, I want to remind you that it does not benefit you to just listen to these examples and make no application. It will only benefit you if you will listen to these examples and make personal application to your life. If you see something in your life that needs to change, then make the change. If you feel that you "honestly" need to change, but don't do it, then you have answered the question yourself concerning "Will Our Honesty Save Us?"
Our first passage is taken from Romans 10:1-3, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." Here in this passage the apostle Paul is discussing the Jews during his day. These Jews were very zealous, but their zeal was not according to knowledge. They thought that they were right in God's sight. They no doubt were honest, but Paul offers a prayer for them that they might be saved. Can a person be zealous, yet be lost? Evidently so. They had a zeal for God. But, their zeal was not according to knowledge. It was not in harmony with the revealed Word of God.
Now let us make some application to what Paul was saying. Many people today are much like this. Many are not willing to submit to the authority of God's Word. They are often very honest. Most are very sincere. But, they simply have not allowed the Word of God to be their guiding principle in this life. They have come up with their own desires, their own will. And they shall have the same problem of pleasing the Lord as did those Jews who, though zealous, would not submit to the righteousness of God. The Psalmist tells us that the commandments of God are righteousness. Thus, one not submitting to the righteousness of God is simply refusing to obey the commands of God. Friends, I want to remind you here that many people today feel good about themselves, are inwardly honest concerning God, but it is based upon traditions of a religious doctrine. In other words, "That's the way we have always done it." These people are not able to prove by the Bible, going to the appropriate book, chapter, and verse to find the answer to what they are doing. These people are zealous, these people are honest, but not according to the true word of God.
In 2 Samuel 6, we read of an incident where the Ark of the Covenant was being brought back to Jerusalem. It had been captured by the enemies of God's people, but was being returned to Jerusalem. They placed the Ark upon a new cart and began the journey home. In the 6th verse we read, "And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God." Do you not believe that this man, Uzzah, was very honest and sincere when he attempted to keep the ark of the covenant from falling upon the ground? Who would want to see the ark fall upon the ground, and perhaps be broken or damaged? That seems like such a noble deed. And yet, the Lord smote him and he died. Why did he die? Because Jehovah had warned them not to touch the ark. That warning if found in Numbers 4:15. As is usually the case, one sin leads to another. The first mistake that they had made was by putting the ark on a cart. They had been commanded to use staves or poles to carry the ark. But as is usually the case, man seeks to improve upon the Lord's way of doing things; so, rather than carry the ark on the shoulders of four men, they made this new cart and to carry the ark. When the oxen stumbled, and it seemed as if the Ark was about to tumble off onto the ground, Uzzah sought to keep it from falling. And he fell dead on the spot. Why? Was not Uzzah honest? Was he not sincere? It seems obvious to me that he was very sincere and honest. He loved the Lord and did not want anything to happen to anything that belonged to the Lord. But he broke a commandment of the Lord. Friends, again, how many times have we seen honest and sincere people who love the Lord, that are faithful to the Lord in their church attendance and yet still practice things in which the Lord our God has never authorized.
Some things are practiced week in and week out without ever knowing why they're practiced. At least they can't go to the Bible to find their practice. But they reason; "mom and dad did it this way", or "that's the only way I've seen it done." This may be true, and you may be honest about it, but that honesty alone won't save you until you are honestly doing all things in accordance with the teachings of God. Jesus said: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Therefore, we learn from this man Uzzah of long ago that when one breaks God's commandments, they must suffer the consequences, no matter how honest or sincere they may be. Again, it matters not how honest and sincere a person may be, if one disobeys the commandments of the Lord, they shall face the consequences in the judgment. Mankind cannot disobey God and escape His wrath.
In Acts 3:17, we read, "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers." To what does Peter have reference when he accused the Jews of doing something in ignorance? He had just accused them of crucifying the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The Jews had called upon the Romans to kill Christ, and so they did. Here Peter states that they did it in ignorance. They thought they were doing the will of Jehovah. Were they honest? It appears that they were very honest and sincere in what they did because Peter said they did it in ignorance. They honestly thought Jesus to be an impostor and a blasphemer. They were wrong. He indeed was and is the Son of God; God in the flesh. So, the Jews called for his death and Peter states that they did so in ignorance. Yet, their honesty and sincerity did not excuse them of being guilty of crucifying the Son of God.
So it is today. There are those who would reject the doctrine of Christ, all the while being very honest and sincere in their own religious beliefs. One may think they are being loyal to Christ but unless one is willing to submit to the commands of Jesus, He says that those individuals are not his friends and that they really don't love Him (John 15:14; 14:15). 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." Jesus wants us to DO His will and therefore we can see that being honest and sincere does not excuse one from the consequences of their deeds. We will not be able to say in the Judgment, "But, Lord I was very honest in what I was doing."
The fact that being honest and sincere alone does not save us can be seen in the very life of the great apostle Paul. In Acts 23:1, we read a statement from the apostle Paul which says:, "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." Paul states that all that he had done in his past life was done in good conscience. Yet, when we first read of this man, what was he doing? He was putting Christians in prison and consenting to their deaths. We read of this in Acts chapters 7 and 8. He was persecuting those who believed in Christ, even participating in the stoning of Stephen. Was he being honest and sincere in what he was doing? He said his conscience was clear. Did having a good conscience excuse him from the sin of killing God's children? Absolutely not! Though forgiven by the Lord, Paul's memories of those vile deeds haunted him the rest of his life. Let's read for a moment from the pen of the apostle Paul as he described his former conduct to young Timothy. Please open your Bible to 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 12-14: "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." Paul became a very faithful servant of Christ Jesus, but his earlier life found him as a blasphemer, a persecutor and an insolent man, yet he said he did these things ignorantly in unbelief. When he was doing these things he was honestly thinking he was doing the right thing. He was sincere in all that he was doing. However, though he was honest and sincere, doing all things in good conscience, yet he was still very wrong.
And so today. People may be honest and sincere in what they are doing. But, unless that which they are doing can be found in the Book of God, they are wrong. Do you have book, chapter, and verse for all that you do in religion? If not, why continue doing wrong? Why not change and do right? At least the apostle Paul, upon finding out what he must do in order to be pleasing to God, turned and began a new life of service to God, in full obedience to Him. Friends, can that be said of you? Do you have the courage upon finding out that you are wrong in a given matter, be willing to change and do what is right? These Bible examples are written for our learning. We need to learn from all of the Bible characters so that we can insure that we are following God's direction, not man's.
In Acts chapter 10, verse 2, we read of a man by the name of Cornelius. He is identified as a "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always." Here was a devout man, one who worshiped God, one who feared God, one who prayed to God always. Was he a saved person. No, because the angel told him to "Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved." (Acts 11:13-14) No doubt the majority of people today would look upon the man and say, "There is a saved man. Just look at him. He is devout, he worships God, he fears God, he prays to God, he gives much money to those in need, surely he is a saved man." But heaven's message is that he was a lost person and he needed to hear the message of salvation taught by the apostle Peter. This man was not pleasing unto Jehovah, even though he was honest and sincere in what he was doing.
Once again, this illustrates the fact that a person might be a very good person, a very honest person, a very devout person; yet, not be right in God's eyes. You see, honesty and sincerity is not the criteria whereby the Lord judges mankind. Must we be honest. Indeed we must. We are not suggesting that a person can be dishonest and still please the Lord. But, honesty alone or by itself will not save, no more than faith alone will save. It takes an honest heart. But it also takes an obedient heart. One that will do the commandments of the Lord.
Once again listen to the words of Jesus from Matthew 7:21-23: "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!" You would think that if a person cried out Lord, Lord, he or she would be all right. But the Lord and Savior said not so. You must do the will of My Father. You must obey the commandments of Jehovah. Honesty and sincerity, though necessary, are not sufficient unto one's salvation.
One might ask, "What then will save?" Paul answered that question in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Friends, in order for us to be saved we must do what God has asked us to do in order to be saved. The gospel of Christ gives us what we need to know in order to be saved. First, we must hear the word of God to gain faith in what we are to do (Rom 10:17). Then we must believe in Jesus Christ because we learn that he will reward all that believe Him and diligently seek to do His will (Heb 11:6). Then we must repent, confess Christ, and be baptized in order to have our sins forgiven. Peter writes: "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." You, my friend, must hear and obey the gospel of Christ Jesus. The Good news of salvation. To those who cried out, "What shall we do?" on Pentecost, should be everyone's cry today. The response that Peter gave them is the same response that he would give today because "All scripture is given by inspiration of God."
Jesus had charged the apostles 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." And that is exactly what Peter told those who had cried out, "What shall we do?" It is the same instruction which must be obeyed today. Must we be honest and sincere? Indeed we must. But one's honesty and sincerity will cause him or her to turn from sins, that's repentance, and be baptized for (unto) the remission of sins. What is then given? The gift that the Holy Spirit bestows, salvation from past sins with the hope of heaven when this life is over.
James tells us, "receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls"(James 1:21). Would you be saved? If so, you must respond to that Word, the gospel, God's power to save. Every honest and sincere person, that really wants to keep the commandments of God will do only that which God has authorized them to do. Thank you so much for listening this morning. I want to invite you to listen again next week here on WAVE 1450 to discover "What Is Truth?"
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?"