Program Air Date - 1-13-02



Thank you for joining us this morning for the Living Word Program. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator.

Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer. (Prayer)

How fortunate we are in this life to be called Christians and to know of the many great promises God has made to His followers. Our first song today deals with this very idea - how that we as Christians are able to stand on God promises to be found pleasing in His sight. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Standing on the Promises!"

(SONG # 1)


How many times have we said something we regretted? When was the last time you said something you wish you could take back? Words are so very important! However we often throw words around and say things that really aren't worth repeating.

Hear the words of the wise man Solomon in Proverbs 25:11, there we read, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver." You see, good words can do so much good and can accomplish so much, because they encourage and edify the hearer. In fact, notice what Paul said to the church at Ephesus, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29. There we find it again, our communication should only benefit those who hear it. Making them better people, encouraging them to be more Christ-like. Also notice that the idea of undeserved favor is mentioned in this verse. We say that which is good and right, no matter who we are talking to - whether they deserve it or not!

There is a final reason why our words are so important. Read with me the words of Jesus found in Matthew 12:37, there He said, "37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Also look back in verse 36, where He said, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." There you have it, our words are of the utmost important because by them we will be judged in the last day. Either found justified before our God for the good we say, or condemned by God because we have misused our words.

Think about our fruits this morning. Isn't that how people know what we are all about. Again back to our text in Matthew 12, back in verse 35, Jesus prefaced these prior comments by saying, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things." As we stated in the beginning, People will either know we are of God or not by what we do and say. Again, not forgetting that our words will either prove us acceptable before God or condemned? Are you using the proper type of communication in your daily life - that which is to the glory of God?

This morning we will again consider a lesson from our series on the Lord's Church. Our specific topic today deals with, "entrance into the Lord's Church." So please stay with us through our next song and in a few minutes I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "An Empty Mansion."


Speaker: Ray Sullins

This morning we want to begin our story with looking at the Bible and thinking back to the time when Jesus Christ Himself was there on the earth and we remember that after He had been here for some time that man in many ways turned against Him. For the most part it seems that the people of His father, the Israelites, who turned against Him and for the most part did not believe that He really was the son of God or were they willing to follow Him. We know that finally after His death that He ascended there to be at the right hand of His father in heaven. And we know that even today He waits there until that second coming, that day of judgment.

Then in Acts chapter 2 we see the day of Pentecost again which is clearly seen. The day of Pentecost when the church began, the church that was prophesied about in the Old Testament and the church that Jesus spoke about Himself there in Matthew chapter 16, verses 16 through 18. And as we look there at the day of Pentecost, we see that those who were present, Peter and the others, began to preach the first gospel sermon it seems, the gospel sermon that is in relationship to the death of Christ and how that because of that great death, there would be a new kingdom, a new savior, a new situation that those who followed God would have to adhere to in order to be truly and properly acceptable in His sight, no longer under the old ways, the old law, but rather under those things that pertain to Christ.

There in Acts chapter 2 and verses 36 and 37, we read the following words, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made the same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart." Here we see these individuals had just been found guilty of crucifying the very savior that they had waited on, the very king that they knew was coming to set up a kingdom, although they many times misunderstood the concept of the spiritualness of the kingdom of God. But here again, they had been found guilty and because of this they were pricked. They were cut in the hearts and they were hurt deep inside knowing what they had done was contrary to the will of God because they had taken the Father's own son that had been sent as a special offering, a special gift from the Father. Imagine the guilt that they must have felt, the sense really of loss that they must have felt by turning on God Himself to crucify His only given son.

Then in verse 37, a great turnaround, a great encouragement, a great and exciting statement really is made in the form of a question. As we see there that they began to cry out and say, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Here we see that their hearts were pricked. They were sighing. They were sorrowful. And they begged to know the answer to the question, "What must we do to be saved?"

Now as we continue to look throughout the New Testament, we find this to be the same case because our lesson topic this morning is the entrance into the kingdom of God. This is not just something that you and I are interested in today because we want to follow God, but it's something that you and I see that even in New Testament times they were very interested in to again know what they had to do to be saved. We find it in places such as Mark 10 and verse 26 where there Jesus' disciples actually said, "Who then can be saved?" In reference to the story about the rich man.

In Luke chapter 3 and verse 10, there the people asked, "What shall we do?" as John preached to them, again wondering what they should do to repent and to find salvation.

In Acts chapter 9 and verse 6, it was the apostle Paul who at that time was Saul, who actually asked the Lord, "What will you have me to do?" if you remember there and then the Lord told him to go into Damascus to find out from Ananias what he should do.

The Phillippian jailer in Acts 16 and verse 30, there asked a similar question by saying, "What must I do to be saved?" There clearly again asking in all of these cases, in all of these situations "what must I do to be saved?" How do I enter the church? How do I enter the kingdom of God? You see, they pleaded with Him to know again the same answer to the question that today you and I wondered from the beginning. Even if we are Christians today or even those who might claim to be Christians, then we feel that we have done something to become a child of God. There was something that we had to accomplish or achieve in order to be a follower of God.

Then you might say, "Well, why do we need the answer to this question?" Well, I think we all know the reason for that. Because of sin. We all are sinners. The only way to be brought back to the Father is by the reconciliation brought through Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood. We are lost without Him.

In Matthew 25, we find there the story about how that we are to help others. But when we talk there about the concept of helping others that we are helping Christ. We find that finally in verse 46 that it tells us there, "And those will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." The story is given there that those who do not do according to the will of God will be thrown into torment, into Hell and Hell is real according to scripture.

But the great news is that heaven is real also. Because we are in God, in Christ and striving to do His will after entering the church, the kingdom of God, that again we see clearly here the concept that eternal life is ours as His child. We don't have to be sinners but we are brought out of sin. "We are translated from darkness into the kingdom of His dear son which is full of marvelous light," Colossians 1 and verse 13.

So yes, we must be a part of that kingdom. We must be a part of that church which our Lord and savior Jesus Christ established.

The first scripture we want to look at this morning as far as turning to will be in Acts chapter 4, verses 10 through 12. Notice with me what it said here as it says, "Let it be known to you all and to all the people of Israel that by the name Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead by Him, this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which they rejected by you builders but has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other name for there is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Here again, that same answer to the question, "How must I be saved?" Well, it has to do with Jesus Christ. It has to do with that chief cornerstone. It has to do with the ability to hear, understand and acknowledge that Jesus and His name as He came to the earth is where salvation is found. In fact, verse 12 there said, "Salvation is found in no other name." "There's nothing else given by men," it says here. And I like the way that's put "by which someone might be saved." I want you to hear that carefully because today in the religious world, we have many religions and many denominations that claim "here's the path that you must follow." But the fact is this verse tells us that "the only path is the path of Jesus and there's no other way among men that we can find salvation other than through Jesus Christ."

How do I know Jesus will? Well I know that by going to His word, the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "all scripture is given to us so that we might be completely and thoroughly furnished." So that we might know everything that God intends for us to know, all things pertaining to life and godliness have been given to us as followers, as those who want to follow Him so that we can know His will.

So then we again beg the question, we ask "What is it we must do to be saved?" The fact is the Bible shows us that there are many things that an individual would do in order that he would be put into Christ or in order that he would put on Christ. There are many steps if you will. There are many throngs that he had to go through, many hurdles that had to be jumped over in order that an individual again might be able to be known to be a child of God. There were certain achievements that he had to make. Again, where do we find these things? We find them in the word of God.

Well obviously the first thing that we must do as followers of God and understanding what we must do to be saved is that we must hear God's word. How can we respond to something we've never heard? How can we be expected to be a follower of God or to be one who is obedient to the will of God if we have never heard anything about God? Well, the fact is that we know that in Romans 10:17 that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." When we hear the word of God, that's how we develop a belief, a faith to know Him. So certainly we see that hearing the word is important. In fact, further on Paul said in Romans chapter 10 and verse 14, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in Him, in whom they have not heard?" The fact here again is how can you believe without hearing? Well the fact is you can't believe in something that you've never heard about and that you don't know about. So we have to hear in order to again believe. So at some point, at some stage, we either have to get the word of God and read it for ourselves or someone has to approach us and come to us and tell us about that cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and then we can begin through hearing to develop that belief, or that faith.

That leads us really to the next thing, belief, the necessity that belief is required again in order that one respond into this salvation to put on Christ again. If we look at several verses we find in Hebrews 11 and verse 6 that "without faith, it is impossible to please God." So faith again is a requirement, an initial requirement to prove to God that we are worthy to enter His church, to enter His kingdom. We find this in the great commission also in Mark 16:15-16 we find that "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved." Here the concept of he that believes shall what? Shall be saved. Even if you take away the concept that there that is mentioned 'baptism'. It says "he that believes shall be saved." You see again, the concept that belief is required unto what? Unto salvation. We'll get to baptism in just a moment in our discussion, also. It says "he that does not believe, or he that does not obey, shall be what? Condemned," in the same verse. James goes on to tell us in James chapter 2 that really that faith, that belief is proven through our actions, through our works. In Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, we find that every example of faith there, every example of belief, was proven to God and those around through what? Through what they did. Through the actions in their lives. In other words, people could see that these individuals were followers of God as well as God Himself being able to see that truly faith without works is dead. We must have the ability to show forth God in us in everything that we do again to get into the church, to get into the family of God.

Again, how can we believe without hearing? Certainly we have to hear. Again, how can we believe and know a God and really respond until we study, until we again read the word, until we have the opportunity to really be taught as many examples are again given to us in the New Testament?

What about repentance? Repentance is another very important fact that we must consider in salvation because Jesus said in Luke 13:3, "Except ye repent, ye will all likewise perish." If we don't repent, Jesus said we perish. We will not have the benefits, the rewards that which will come our way. In fact, we also have the idea of repentance mentioned to us there the day the church began in Acts chapter 2 and verse 38 as he said there in response to the question, "What must we do to be saved?" He said, "Repent and be baptized." There again, repentance. That concept of a godly sorrow as Paul told us in the book of Corinthians. That concept that we somehow are moved to understand that we are sinners and only God can wash away those sins and give us a cleansing again through His blood. So repentance is required, saying, "Yes, I'm a sinner but I'm going to turn to be like Christ living every day as a Christian." So repentance is required.

What about confession? Confession is another important step. We find that several places confession is again seen as not only an example but also seen in the concept that is given to us such as scripture that actually says confession is required. In Romans 10 and verses 9 and 10, it tells us there that "confession is made with the mouth unto salvation." So again the idea that we are saved by confessing unto salvation. "And whoever there confesses me before men, I will also confess before my heavenly Father," there in Matthew 10 verses 32 and 33. So again, if we want to be confessed before our Father in heaven by the Lord, we must confess Him also with our mouths, again unto salvation. We see that concept given there very clearly.

I might also give you an illustration here as I might say living in Springfield, I want to go to Memphis. On the way to Memphis, I might actually ask someone, "How do I get there? What must I do to get to Memphis?" Well, if I were to ask in Springfield, somebody might say, "Well you might need to go through Jonesboro and you might go through West Plains." There will be several steps along the way you will go through in order to get to that final destination. Well, becoming a child of God is very, very similar because it depends on where I am along the way and when I ask. I may have already heard and believed some of the word, but maybe I haven't repented and confessed the name of Jesus. Maybe I'm a little bit further along in my understanding, but I have to know all those things that are required, that are seen there in scripture to know what it takes to get where? To the end that equals salvation.

Well, one of those things that I need to bring to your attention also, that most of the religious world seems to have a problem with, at least unto salvation, is the concept again of baptism. You see, we all believe the concept that yes, you've got to believe, you've got to repent, you've got to confess, but what about baptism? Well in Galatians chapter 3 and verse 27, Paul very clearly said, "For as many of you have been baptized in Christ have put Him on." If you want to put on Christ and be a Christian, it says here that baptism is what? Is necessary. Again in Matthew 28:19, it says, "Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Mark 16 that we looked a moment ago, verses 15 and 16, said again the need to "repent and be baptized." 1 Peter 3, verse 21 tells us that the like figure whereunto baptism does also now save us." There again the concept again, baptism is involved in salvation. Will baptism save us by itself? Certainly not. Will repentance save us by itself? Certainly not. What about confession? If I simply confess, will that save me? Certainly not. It takes all of these things along the way, added together, because our belief is culminated with our mouths by saying, "Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and because of that belief I acknowledge that I am a sinner and I must repent and turn from that sin in my life and now I want to be washed in baptism through the blood of Jesus Christ that is found there in that watery grave, buried as Christ was buried to rise a new creature as He rose from the grave," there in Romans chapter 6 verses 1 through 6. But the job's not over there because once then we have been put into Christ as we have seen through these different steps, we must remain faithful. Revelation 2:10, "Remain faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life." " crown of life is ours," James said in James 1 and verse 12, "if we endure temptation and we live for God until the end."

I challenge you to go to the book of Acts to look at all the examples of conversions that are found there. In Acts chapter 2, the day of Pentecost. In Acts chapter 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch. In Acts chapter 9, Paul's conversion. In Acts chapter 16, the Phillippian jailer. In Acts 10, Cornelius as he became a convert unto the Lord. Then again, on and on we could go mentioning examples. Look at what they did to become children of God. They were willing to confess their belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God. They were willing to repent and turn from sin. And yes, in every case in the book of Acts, they always were baptized to put on Christ. And why? To wash away their sins. You see, that's exactly what Ananias told Paul in Acts 22 and verse 16, "Arise and be baptized." "Why Ananias?" He said, "To wash away your sins."

Won't you wash away your sins this morning because of your faith? Because of your belief, that you now confess that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Won't you be willing to repent and be buried with your Lord and Savior? Why? So that He might add you to His church as we find in Acts chapter 2 and verse 47. Don't you want to be a Christian? Don't you want to be a child of God?

(SONG # 3 - "Anywhere With Jesus!")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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May we all look to God's Word for all the answers we need in relationship to becoming His followers and doing His will. Only in the Bible can we find what it truly takes to become a Child of His. Have you done what He asks?
(Program closing)