30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

September 10, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"The Word, God's Saving Power"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie 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 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 that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour,"The Word, God's Saving Power", 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.

The wisest of the great and the greatest of the wise know nothing of heaven and how to go there except by what the Bible reveals. It is impossible for man to work out his own salvation without divine guidance. All of the talk of finding the way to heaven in the sunset, or religion in the flowers of spring, is foolishness with God. Nature only makes God manifest, the Bible reveals him. In Romans 10:17 Paul declares, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" and as further stated by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." Now, let us master the principle. If faith comes by hearing God's word, where there is no word of God, there can be no acceptable faith.

No man on this earth today knows what heaven is like. Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 12:4 that the things seen there were unlawful for man to utter. Even Robert Ingersoll, the infidel, was correct on this subject when he said in the speech over the body of his brother in Washington, "Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud and the only answer is the echo of a wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word."

What Mr. Ingersoll failed to see and what we must realize this morning if we are ever to be saved, is that God's word, and God's word alone, is the bridge of hope that spans this dark abyss. Without it and the faith it gives, man is lost here and hereafter. With the Bible and the undying trust that it can produce in the human heart, man can cry with Paul of old in 1 Corinthians 15:55, "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?" Paul further declared in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The gospel not only tells man what to do to be saved today, but it is God's power to save him. The word of God coupled with strict obedience to the same can save the beggar urchin or the merchant prince, translating them out of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son.

Listen to Apostle Peter's estimation of the worth of the word of God in salvation in 1 Peter 1:22-25, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."

In the 17th chapter of John where the Savior delivered the soul-searching prayer to the Father for his disciples, the 17th verse tells that he prayed for them to be sanctified through God's word and then added, "Thy word is Truth." All men who fail to obey the gospel will be eternally lost. This point is without controversy. An emphatic"Thus Sayeth the Lord" tells us so. Paul spoke with divine authority in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 7 and 8 on this when he said,"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." These are but a few scriptures on the importance of obeying the gospel, yet they speak out in terms bold enough to convert a million men. Consider their lessons before we go on:

1. The gospel is God's power to salvation.

2. We are born again by the word of God.

3. Christ prayed for his disciples to be sanctified through the word.

4. God will take vengeance and execute judgment on all who obey not the gospel.

It should be a matter, therefore, of paramount importance to every thinking man today to know and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. To obey the ONE gospel of the New Testament. I say one gospel for that was exactly what Paul said to the Galatian brethren Over 1900 years ago when he spoke directed by the Holy Spirit in Galatians 1: 6-12. Please open your Bible at this time to this passage of scripture and let's read it together. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."

To "make known" means to attest to in writing. Paul was willing to make known, or to guarantee, the pure gospel he preached. Needless to say, the Holy Spirit guiding his pen, approved of the idea of a certified gospel that man can read about in the New Testament. The gospel that the Holy Spirit could approve. Listen to verses eight and nine of Galatians once again, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."

The greatest preacher of us all is crying out for man to take no substitute. Only the certified will save, a perverted gospel is worthless. We know the lesson of certification in every other field. We drink certified milk, eat certified food, and wear certified clothes. What man among us would purchase property unless he could have a certified deed. Yet gullible men will accept any gospel. I present to all men who have an open mind and an open Bible, the following to be the certified gospel of the Apostles. The Gospel that any man can read from the Bible without the aid of any creed or comment of man. I know that it is the certified gospel this morning and the divine answer to the greatest question ever to confront the mind of finite man, because I can give it to you step by step from the word of God. It will only take a moment to settle to the satisfaction of all what the gospel of Christ is. In 1 Corinthians the 15th chapter, Paul tells us in just four verses, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."

There is not a Bible scholar on the face of the earth, who in the light of this passage, could make the gospel include any more or any less than the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and its accompanying responsibilities. Yet in mans part, the first step here is given, namely; that man must hear the gospel. If faith comes by hearing and faith is necessary to salvation, then hearing is necessary to salvation. Listen to what the Hebrew writer says in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 6: "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."

Only when man hears the gospel, and never before this time, is he in a position to be saved. Listen again to the words of 1 Corinthians 1:21, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." Thus, we find that God saves men by preaching. Listen to the same lesson as taught in Romans 10, verses 14 and 15, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" These scriptures abundantly certify that first of all man must hear the word of God. There can be no quibbling or argument on this step. The God of heaven declares it, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and the Apostles certify it.

Let us pass on to step number two. When man hears the word of God with an open mind or heart, it produces faith. The word of God has the ability to strike into the depths of the human heart and to convict and convince the sinner of the great need of his salvation. In Hebrews 4:12 God declared this ability for his word, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."The word opens the heart, paving the way for faith. The saviour himself, adds this all-powerful testimony when the time came for Him to give the great commission as Mark records it in Mark 16: 15-16 where He came to his disciples and said to them, "And He said to them, "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." If he that believes not shall be condemned, then faith is essential to salvation and is certified.

Let's now settle the value of belief forever with the most beloved passage in the Bible, John 3:16. There it states, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who soever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Let me say here that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of faith alone. The doctrine that man is saved by faith only is no older than the oldest protestant creed, and is wholly without a Bible basis. There is not a promised blessing in the New Testament that does not have one meeting a condition or conditions necessary to receive it. Salvation is no exception. God did His part in sending his Son to die on the cross that man might be saved, and every human being that enjoys salvation will have to comply with every condition and command if they want to enter into eternal heaven with our Lord.

The third step in things certified is repentance. On the day of pentecost when three thousand heart-pierced men cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them in Acts 2:38,"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." John the Baptizer came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 3:2). Christ declared in Luke 13:3 to a wicked generation, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." John prepared the way by preaching repentance, Christ said unless they repented they should perish, and Peter, in the first gospel sermon ever to fall on the ears of man, commanded them to repent. Of truth it has been said that Godly sorrow works repentance, and when the sinner is convicted of the guilt of sin and resolves to turn away, he can then love the things he once hated, and hate the things he once loved.

To tell you that confession with the mouth is a necessity and is a certified prerequisite to salvation we would need only to read from Romans 10 verses 9 and 10. There it says, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Add to this the words of Christ in Matthew 10:32 when he said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." and you have a Thus Sayeth the Lord for this step, confession.

And last, let us consider the step that puts us into Christ and gives us the right to be children of God--a burial by baptism in water. I know that thousands of books have been written to deny its importance, and that the rays of the rising sun have fallen upon hundreds of scholars who labored through the dark hours trying to subtract it from those steps necessary to salvation, yet God's word certifies it for all to read.
Baptism into Christ and for the remission of sins does not rest upon a single verse of scripture, although that would be enough for God's approval. It has for a basis a multitude of commands, statements, and examples. The few things said this morning, therefore, will but touch the hem of the garment. Men are to be baptized for it is necessary to salvation, yet many seem to not understand this. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, we find this reading, "who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Could any statement in God's word be any more definite or plainer than this. Christ gave the conditions of salvation in Mark 16:15-16, when He said, "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." Notice the simple declarative sentence, "He shall be saved" and now the conditional clause,"that believes and is baptized." The dawn of eternity will find God's word just as it is here. Salvation is for the man who meets the conditions. The Christ, the exhaulted head of the church certified it for ages to come when He said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."

Baptism is for, or unto, the remission of sins. In Acts 2:38 the Apostle Peter declared it so when he commanded the multitude at Pentecost, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." To add further strength to that needs no strengthening. In Acts 22:16 Paul declared that when Ananas in Damascus came to him he said, "Why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."The doctors of Divinity and the Professors of Religion say it is not so. They declare and cry aloud that baptism has no connection with sin. The issue, therefore, is not between them and me, the one delivering this message to you this morning, but it is between them and the Apostle Peter when he said that baptism was for the remission of sins, or the Apostle Paul when he said that baptism washes away sin. And to have issue with Peter and Paul is to have issue with God Himself.

Baptism is always immersion. That is what the word "baptism" means. It is from the Greek word "Bapptisma" and each of the 22 times it is found it is always the same as "to dip, to wash, to immerse." Hence, many translations of the New Testament, instead of translating the word baptism, have correctly translated it immersion. In like manner they have correctly referred to John the Baptist as "John the Immerser." Colossians 2:12 declares baptism to be an immersion or burial. The apostle Paul writes, "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." And finally, baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Listen to the words of Jesus in the great commission as recorded by Matthew in Matthew 28:18-19, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." When man is baptized for the right purpose--remission of sins, in the only manner--immersion, and in the right name-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God adds him to the church of the New Testament just as he added three thousand who were so baptized on the day of Pentecost. The same obedience that makes him a Christian only, makes him a member of the church and numbers him with the saints.

Have you let the word of God touch your heart so as to be obedient to His commands? Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins? If not, why not? I would encourage you to reflect upon your soul's condition this very hour and do what you need to do in order to ensure that you will gain heaven when this life is over.

This is Richie 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?"