THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 1-1-12

LESSON TITLE: “WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED: FAITHFULNESS UNTO DEATH”

WELCOME

Today is January 1st, 2012, so let me say Happy New Year and welcome to our program on this glorious Lord’s Day morning! As always, it is an honor to have you with us today as we give this time to God. I hope that everyone tuning in will take advantage of this time before God’s throng, so that we all may give God the glory and grow according to His will. At this time, let’s talk to our God in prayer!

(PRAYER)

Our first song of the morning reminds us of just how much we need our savior. This is especially true as we begin another new year! So, won’t you join with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “I Need Thee Every Hour?”

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

Can you believe it, today we are starting another year, 2012? And how wonderful it is to be together again this morning as we focus on the things of God. What a blessed people we are as we strive to put God first and to do those things which are according to His Will.

But what about you, what will you do with this New Year? How will 2012 turn out for you and your family? Is God first in your life today, and will He be at the end of this year?

When will man ever realize that if he will just turn to God and trust in Him, then nothing else really matters? We can do and accomplish anything in God and with His help, Philippians 4:13. I think our biggest problem as mankind is the false sense of security that comes from thinking we can do things alone. Or that we have accomplished the great things of the day, through our own abilities and greatness, without the help of anyone or anything else. This is not what the Bible teaches!

In 2 Samuel 22:31, we read, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Isn’t all of this the truth? God is perfect and has been proven to be true for thousands of years - He has stood the test of time. His Word has been seen as that which could only come from a perfect being, as something which is as perfect as its giver!

The last part of that verse also says a lot to us about why we should depend on God. Because He is our shield, and protector - to those who trust in Him. So what does this trust involve? Obviously, the ability to trust in God comes from our faith in Him, His Word and His promises. He protects us because He sees our faith in action, as we are obedient to Him through following His Will!

We also know that God not only protects, but He cares for us. In 1 Peter 5:7, we read, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Jesus cares for us and protects us, just as He promises in His Word. Finally, we can be confident that the Lord our God provides for us. Jesus himself said, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith,” Matthew 6:30? God will provide! Also, notice what Christ further stated in verse 33 of the same passage, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

As followers of God, if we put Him first and His kingdom, and if we strive to do His will as he has asked us to, then He has promised us His protection and care. Furthermore, as we have seen He will give us what we have need of, because He blesses those who follow what He says!

Are you receiving these blessings and promises from God? If not, I would ask you why not? Are you living as He asks you to, according to His will? Choose today to truly serve God and He will give you all these things we have discussed!

This morning we will be continuing our study which deals with the question, “What Must I Do To Be Saved.” Our specific lesson of the day will talk about the “Faithfulness Unto Death.” So, please stay with us and in just a few minutes I will be returning to lead this discussion from God’s Word. So for now, won’t you join in at this time as we sing our second hymn of the day, its name, “I Know Whom I Have Believed?”

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

By Ray Sullins

We’re so glad you’ve continued with us now this morning as we return to God’s Word and consider yet another important topic unto salvation.

You might recall that as we concluded last year, we were looking at those ideas really related around the question asked by the Philippian jailor in Acts chapter 16. And that question was, “What must I do to be saved?” Together what we tried to do was to go into God’s Word and to find out what it is that God said throughout the book of Acts and the New Testament that they were required to do to answer that question. Those things that we have seen was a need to believe in Jesus. Therefore after a belief, which certainly we indicate unto faith an action. We see a need to confess. We see that without confession in Romans chapter 10:9-10 that there is no opportunity to be saved for “confession is made with the mouth unto salvation.” We also see where Jesus, multiple times not only Himself spoke of “repent or perish.” But there on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2:38, Peter said to them, “Men and brethren,” or after they had asked the question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized.” There also the idea we looked at last week of baptism. All of these are essential parts of the puzzle. They are all a part of the equation that we might say even such as in Math that equals the sum. It equals what it is that we are trying to accomplish. Not because I have said it, or not because someone else has said it or not said it, but because of what God has said.

These simple truths are found in God’s Word and I know that you as well as myself have a desire to serve God and to serve Him only. So we want to do what God says. But you know what, sometimes people do those things we have spoken of up to this point. They might confess the name of Jesus based on their belief. They might be willing to repent and they might even be baptized, understanding that baptism is that figurative concept as Jesus died and rose we die to the old man and rise to the new, and then we are added by God (Acts 2:47) to His church if we have done these things. Well it seems like that sometimes people say, “Well when I’ve done that, I’m okay. No matter what else I do, I’m alright with God.”

In fact, we have many denominational concepts and teachings such as, “Once saved, always saved,” or the idea that simply if one believes by faith they are saved. Well certainly the Bible teaches us quite differently in relationship to these things. There is no such verse in the Bible that says that once a man is saved he is always saved. Because you and I know that the Bible says we are going to be judged by the Word of God based on what we do in this body. Why would it matter what we do in this body? Why would it matter what we do in the body based on the Word if really we’re saved anyway? Once we’ve done what God says, once we’ve accepted Him or whatever it is a many might say, what would the rest matter? Well the fact is it matters because God says it matters!

There’s a concept found for us then today for our lesson in Revelation chapter 2 and verse 10. At the end of that verse what he says to the church at Smyrna among those churches at Asia Minor. He said, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.” You know I know we all want that crown. We’re going to talk about that more next week, but what about this idea of being faithful unto death? Which actually there in the original means being faithful unto death or even unto the point of death until your very last breath. Giving God what He deserves! Well, are you willing to be faithful? Or are you one of those folks who says, “Well I’m a good person. I believe in God. I followed God a long time ago and it doesn’t matter what I do and it doesn’t matter whether I go to church and it doesn’t matter whether I use foul language, and it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m alright with God now. Is that really what the Bible says? Is that really what it means when it says, “Faithful unto death?” You know when we look at the situation that was taking place, the persecution when the book of Revelation was written and you begin to read there the things written to the church at Ephesus and then the church at Smyrna and then the other five churches and we see there in the church at Smyrna a really pitiful situation. It was a situation where the brethren had struggled and had great trial and hardship. But then what does he tell them? He says, “Do not fear (verse 10) any of those things which you are about to suffer for indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison and then you will be tested or have tribulation for ten days.” What is it that John, through the things Jesus is telling him is prophesying to these brethren at Smyrna? You’re about to suffer! Suffer how? Be put in prison. For how long? Ten days! And then you notice the next thing he says, “Be faithful until death.” Do you know what was going to happen to those folks at Smyrna? Not only were they going to be put in prison, but it seems clear to me that they also were going to die for their faith.

What if today, what is today, my friend, the Lord came to you and He says, “You’re going to die in ten days. You’re going to die and you will be judged in ten days.” What might that do in your life? Well it’s going to do one of two things. It’s going to motivate you to say, “Well it doesn’t matter. I’m going to have a good time because I already know God,” or it’s going to make you say, “Well, I’m going to do as good as I can. I’m going to set things in order the last ten days and I’m going to try to make sure that I am faithful.” Why? Because if I am faithful unto death then the reward is mine. Why would I waste ten days in riotous living if I knew that in ten days I could set things in order and live eternally in paradise with God? Why would I squander it by saying, “Well I’m just going to live however I want because it doesn’t matter if I’m faithful or not as long as I am a good person or love God?” Well the Bible says, “Be faithful unto death and then we will have a crown of life.”

You know Paul and Peter dealt with some of the very same ideas. If you’ll turn with me back to the letter that was written there to the Hebrews. Many believe it to be Paul as the author, but whoever it is was certainly an inspired man of God. There in chapter 6 and verse 1, do you remember what they were told? These were folks who had kind of got caught up in apathetic attitude. They were satisfied in a lot of the old things that they had always done and they had really stopped growing for Christ. You know what they were told by the Holy Spirit through the writer here? They were told that if you don’t remain faithful you are going to be lost. They were told that you are no longer babes (chapter 5 verses 12-14). You are no longer those folks who ought to be drinking milk but you ought to be dealing with solid food. And then in chapter 6, he told them, “Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” What is it that God expects of you? Growth! Maturity!

Is it not there Peter who also said that, “We are always to grow and abound in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” Are we not to grow?

There in the book of Timothy, 2 Timothy 2:15, we’re supposed to be diligent or study to show ourselves approved that we might not only know the Word of God, but rightly divide it and act upon it. You see certainly the concept of faithfulness has always been a part of God’s plan and the plan of what He desires for us to do for others.

Now what is included in faithfulness? Well there are a lot of things included in faithfulness. What about doing good to others? Do you remember there in Galatians chapter 6 and verse 10? We were actually challenged by Paul as he challenged the Galatian church to “do good unto all men.” But then he says, “Especially to those of the household of faith.”

You know in this life if we do good to God or we do good to our brethren, as Christians, what have we really done? Because we know that we are required to do such by God. But if we do good to all men, then certainly that is a part of the Will of God. That’s a part of accomplishing the Law of Christ, of showing that we are what God wants us to be.

So let me ask you the question: If I choose not to do good to all men, which is action by the way, action in character, action in word, action in deed, then can I be saved? Certainly not! Because what the Bible says here is in relationship to our attitude towards others and our actions towards others. We must be what? Faithful unto death.

What about love? We look there in the book of 1 John and throughout the book of 1 John especially in chapters 3 and 4 it talks about a lot of the things concerning love and the fact that God is love and He loved us first by giving Himself for us. But then it talks about the fact that as God loved, we should obey the commandment of God to do what? Love one another! And he says there several different things, but one of the examples I love is in chapter 4 when he says, “How can you love God whom you have not seen, but then you hate your brother who is sitting next to you, whom you have seen?” You see we’ve got to love. Do you mean to tell me you can be saved without love? Certainly not. Certainly not because God says that you must love. God says that if you love Him (John 14:15) you’re going to keep His commandments.

Another verse that I really like in relationship to our discussion is found there in Matthew chapter 5 in the great Sermon on the Mount. We recall that Jesus gave them idea after idea, lesson after lesson, teaching after teaching, commandment after commandment of what is required of one who is a believer. And don’t you find it interesting that all of them took action? Every one of them took action there again, something to do, faithfulness unto death to have the crown of life. But then we actually notice there later in that same text, chapter 5, that he calls us the light. He says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Do you mean when I do what God says I prove my love to Him? Yes! Do you mean when I do what God says and I treat others like I should including God that I am showing love? Yes! Do you mean that also indicates that I have a light and I shine as a light of God as God is light? Yes! And do you mean it also glorifies my Father when I’m getting it right and I’m faithful in relationship to the things of God? Yes! Certainly! That’s the idea! And ultimately what will it lead us to? Ultimately what the Bible says back in Revelation chapter 2 and verse 10 that by doing these things guess what happens. By doing these things, not only have we been found faithful in the end, but we receive, as we have said, the crown, the crown of life. And who wouldn’t want to wear a crown from God Almighty Himself?

James also deals somewhat with these same things. If you’ll look there in James chapter 2, he challenged his readers time and time again to understand that there was more to the Gospel, more to obedience or more to obedience than simply hearing. In fact, in chapter 1 he kept making statements over and over like in verse 22 to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. It doesn’t do any good to say, “I’ve heard about God and I’ve heard the things and I’ve done some of the things.” But he says, “Learn to be a doer, not only to talk the talk but walk the walk.” And then he actually adds the idea there in chapter 2 of the same text that those doers were more than believers because even the devils believe, even they believe in God but they are not considered as individuals who are faithful. That’s in verse 19.

So what is it that we are to understand as those who do know God, who do love God? Well as verse 26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” You mean there is something that I must do to be faithful? Yes. What are they? The works! The works of what? God! Not brethren, not my friends because they can save us, not because they can justify us because of our own goodness or greatness or abilities but because that’s my part to give to God that I might prove to Him my love so that He might continue to shower on me grace, mercy, love, compassion, protection, care, guidance, and on and on we could go.

You know in that same text it is quite interesting that Abraham is mentioned in verse 21 as the example and Abraham was said to have been that Father who was willing to take the only son of promise because God said, “This is the one,” and willing to offer him, by action prove faithfulness to God. An action! It was that very faithfulness that he knew would produce the end results of the reward of the crown. You know what I love there in Hebrews 11? Where it actually says that Abraham knew. He knew the powers of God. He knew that even if God need be, that He could raise his son from the dead if He needed to. Well you see Abraham had a faith, a faith that produced faithfulness. A faith that produced faithfulness that he understood was required unto and up to death so that when we die we might stand before God justified again, not because of our own abilities or powers, but because of our faithfulness blessed with those things that will save us in the end.

So I ask you today: Have you done what is required by God? Are you faithful to Him? Are you serving Him every day and are you giving Him your very best so that you might not only receive the reward now but that you might receive the reward of eternal life someday in Heaven?

(SONG # 3 - “I Will Sing The Wondrous Story!”)

CLOSING COMMENTS

Again, let me thank you for putting God first and choosing to give this time to Him. We invite you to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to worshiping God in His way!

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Thank God for the powerful message which is found through His Word. May we always be Faithful to what it says, that we might be found pleasing in His sight in all things! Are you fully committed to the Precepts of God?

(Program closing)