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Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, "It's the scourge of God."

The day is over, you are driving home. You tune in your radio.You hear a story about a little village in India where some villagers have died suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It's not influenza, but three or four fellows are dead, and it's kind of interesting. They're sending some doctors over there to investigate it.

You don't think much about it, but on Sunday, coming home from church, you hear another radio spot. Only they say it's not three villagers, it's 30,000 villagers in the back hills of this particular area of India, and it's on TV that night. CNN runs a little blurb; people are heading there from the disease center in Atlanta because this disease strain has never been seen before.

By Monday morning when you get up, it's the lead story. For it's not just India; it's Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and before you know it, you're hearing this story everywhere and they have coined it now as "the mystery flu". The President has made some comment that he and everyone are praying and hoping that all will go well over there. But everyone is wondering, "How are we going to contain it?" That's when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe. He is closing their borders. No flights from India, Pakistan, or any of the countries where this thing has been seen.

That night you are watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman is translated from a French news program into English: "There's a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu." It has come to Europe. Panic strikes.

As best they can tell, once you get it, you have it for a week and you don't know it. Then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms. Then you die. Britain closes it's borders, but it's too late. South Hampton, Liverpool, North Hampton, and it's Tuesday morning when the President of the United States makes the following announcement: "Due to a national security risk, all flights to and from Europe and Asia have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I'm sorry. They cannot come back until we find a cure for this thing.”

Within four days our nation has been plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are selling little masks for your face. People are talking about what if it comes to this country, and preachers on Tuesday are saying, "It's the scourge of God."

It's Wednesday night and you are at a church prayer meeting when somebody runs in from the parking lot and says, "Turn on a radio, turn on a radio." While the church listens to a little transistor radio with a microphone stuck up to it, the announcement is made, "Two women are lying in a Long Island hospital dying from the mystery flu."

Within hours it seems, this thing just sweeps across the country. People are working around the clock trying to find an antidote. Nothing is working. California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It's as though it's just sweeping in from the borders. Then, all of a sudden the news comes out. The code has been broken. A cure can be found. A vaccine can be made. It's going to take the blood of somebody who hasn't been infected, and so, sure enough, all through the Midwest, through all those channels of emergency broadcasting, everyone is asked to do one simple thing: "Go to your downtown hospital and have your blood tested. That's all we ask of you. When you hear the sirens go off in your neighborhood, please make your way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospitals."

Sure enough, when you and your family get down there late on that Friday night, there is a long line, and they've got nurses and doctors coming out and pricking fingers and taking blood and putting labels on it. Your wife and your kids are out there, and they take your blood and say, "Wait here in the parking lot and if we call your name, you can be dismissed and go home."

You stand around scared with your neighbors, wondering what in the world is going on, and that this is the end of the world. Suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital screaming. He's yelling a name and waving a clipboard. What? He yells it again! And your son tugs on your jacket and says, "Daddy, that's me!"

Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. "Wait a minute, hold it!" And they say, "It's okay, his blood is clean. His blood is pure. We want to make sure he doesn't have the disease. We think he has got the right type."

Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another some are even laughing. It's the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week, and an old doctor walks up to you and says, "Thank you, sir. Your son's blood type is perfect. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the vaccine."

As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your wife aside and says, "May we see you for a moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need. . . we need you to sign a consent form." You begin to sign and then you see that the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty. "H-h-h-how many pints?" And that is when the old doctor's
smile fades and he says, "We had no idea it would be a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"

"But, but..."

"You don't understand. We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We - we need it all - we need it all!"

"But can't you give him a transfusion?" "If we had clean blood we would. Can you sign? Would you sign?" In numb silence you do.

Then they say, "Would you like to have a moment with him before we begin?" Can you walk back to that room where he sits on a table saying, "Daddy? Mommy? What's going on?" Can you take his hands and say, "Son, your Mommy and I love you, and we would never ever let anything happen to you that didn't just have to be. Do you understand that?"

And when that old doctor comes back in and says, "I'm sorry, we've - we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." Can you leave? Can you walk out while he is saying, "Dad? Mom? Dad? Why - why have you forsaken me?"

And then next week, when they have the ceremony to honor your son, and some folks sleep through it, and some folks don't even come because they go to the lake, and some folks come with a pretentious smile and just pretend to care; would you want to jump up and say, "MY SON DIED! DON'T YOU CARE?"

Is that what God is saying? "MY SON DIED. DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I CARE?"

Father, seeing it from your eyes breaks our hearts. Maybe now we begin to comprehend the great love you have for us...

1.- WE MUST BELIEVE IN GOD!

"Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him" Hebrews 11:6 .

  1. First, we must believe that God is -- that he exists. The universe is one of the best sources of evidence in proof of such. "For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity" Romans 1:20.
    1. Two broad solutions are offered for the origin of our universe: naturalism/materialism [usually identified as evolution] and creationism. In the previous verse, creationism is specified as the correct answer [see also: {bible 9}Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Psalms 19:1-3; Psalms 33:6-9; Isaiah 45:18;Jeremiah 27:5].
    2. By a study of the universe and a logical search for its origin, you and I can know that God exists, that he is powerful and that he is divine. Without this intellectual acceptance, it is impossible to please him.
  2. Second, we must believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek after him. -- Where is he? Who is he? What is he like? What does he want? Without some kind of revelation, we have no answer. 1 Corinthians 2:10.
    1. That's where the Bible comes in. For "all scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2 Tim. 3:16. By turning to "the implanted word, which is able to save...souls" James 1:21, we learn about God and the life he requires of us.
    2. Now, let's assume that you and I both accept the existence of a divine being based on the existence, the size and the intricate design of our universe. Let' s also assume that we accept the Bible as his divinely inspired revelation.
    3. That being true, let's turn to his revelation to see why we have to seek him and what we must do to have a relationship with him. Let's turn to the Bible to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven and live with him.
2 - WE MUST ACCEPT PERSONAL GUILT

"Let no man say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted of God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man. But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death." James 1:13-15.

  1. First, the above passage teaches us that temptation and sin are personal. -- NOTE: "each man is tempted...by his own lust, and enticed." If we are not careful, our own desires seduce and lure us away from God! When that happens, we are guilty of giving birth to sin in our lives.
    1. That makes sin something we must take personal responsibility for. We are not made to sin, forced to sin, or "blind-sided" by sin. In the final analysis, sin is invited into our lives when we yield to some personal desire that is out of harmony with God's revealed will. The guilt is something we must shoulder as individuals.
  2. Second, the above passage teaches us that sin reaps bitter consequences. -- The word used was "death."
    1. After his creating man, there was only one thing God told man not to do...only one negative command: "Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" Genesis 2:16,17. But man disobeyed (Genesis 3:1-19) and, thus, "through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin" Romans 5:12. Did you see the word "death"?
    2. Since that day, "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23. "All." That includes you and me. AND NOTE: "all have sinned." We are not born with sin in some kind of depraved condition. We do not inherit sin. We sin. We choose to transgress and cross the lines God has drawn (1 John 3:4). When we do, we invite some awfully dark consequences into our lives. Consequences such as:
      1. The plight of "separation" from God: "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sin has hid his face from you" Isaiah 59:1,2.
      2. The prospect of eternal "damnation": "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23); that is "the lake of fire and brimstone; which is the second death" Revelation 21:8.
  3. Now, let's assume that you and I, based on our belief in God and the Bible as his word, accept our status of guilt in sin. Let's also assume that we want that status changed from guilt to spiritual innocence; "godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation" 2 Corinthians 7:10.
  4. That being true, let's turn to the Bible to see what we must do to be cleansed of our guilt. Let's turn to the Bible and continue to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven.
3 - WE MUST DEPEND ON THE GIFT AND GUIDANCE OF GOD'S GRACE

"God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved)...that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works that no man should glory" Ephesians 2:4-9.

  1. First, the above passage teaches us that we are saved by grace. -- Did you happen to see the three elements that make up God's grace? They are (a) mercy, (b) love, and (c) kindness. In our escape from the darkness of sin and its consequences, all three are involved.
    1. Salvation is possible because God is merciful and has feelings for man. -- In fact, God "is longsuffering...not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Indeed, "your heavenly Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).
    2. Salvation is possible because God is loving. -- How many times have we heard it, read it, quoted it: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16; cf. Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9,10)? The entire ministry of Jesus is the product of God's love, his grace (cf. Hebrews 2:9).
    3. Salvation is also possible because God is kind and concerned about doing what man needed to have done. -- In fact, this kindness is one of the things that can motivate us to make the necessary changes needed for salvation (Romans 2:4).
      1. Mercy...Love...Kindness! That's grace. That's what made salvation possible and available. No one served as God's counselor, advising him to save man (Romans 11:33,34). No one put God in debt, forcing him to save man (Romans 11:35). He provided man a way of escape from the darkness of sin and its consequences because he is a God of grace. What a thought!
  2. Second, the above passage teaches us that we are saved by faith. -- From the example of Abraham, we learn that faith is accepting God at his word and submitting to his guidance. "Looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness" Romans 5:20-22.
    1. This "accepting God at his word" is the kind of faith we are also to possess in that we are to "walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham" (Romans 4:12). And what kind of faith did Abraham have? When he accepted God at his word, his faith was obedient. He submitted to the guidance of God because he accepted God at his word (Hebrews 11:8).
    2. Now, let's put it together. We are saved by grace in that God's mercy, love and kindness made it possible. At the same time, we are saved by faith in that we accept God at his word, yield to his guidance -- as did Abraham -- and do what he has commanded. So, to escape the guilt of sin and its dark consequences, we must rely on the grace and guidance of God.

Now, let's assume that you and I believe in God, accept the Bible as His word and humbly accept the guilt of our sinful status. We're in sin, separated from God, damned to perdition and we want to do something about that. Let's also assume that we have gratefully turned to the grace of God for help and are willing to accept him at his word, submissively yielding to his commands with an obedient faith.

That being true, let's continue to turn through the Bible to see what God would have us to do to be cleansed of our guilt. Again, let's continue to turn through the Bible to see what we must do if we really want to go to heaven.

4. WE MUST RESPOND TO THE SPECIFIC COMMANDS OF JESUS

Remember, Jesus is "unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation" Hebrews 5:9.

  1. The Savior of whom? Those "that obey him." If we want to go to heaven, we must -- out of an obedient faith -- give in to his commands. And what commands does he attach to our being freed from the guilt of sin?
    1. First, our obedient faith must believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God: "Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). -- On one occasion a woman of Samaria said to Jesus, "I know the Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ)." Jesus' response? "I that speak unto the am he" (John 4:25,26). So, if you and I want to go to heaven, we must believe that Jesus is "He," the Christ, the Messiah. See also: John 3:16-18; Acts 16:30; 1 John 5:1-3,11-13.
    2. Second, our obedient faith must repent of the past: "Except ye repent, ye shall all...perish" (Luke 13:3,5). -- To repent, as evidenced by the men of Nineveh, is to turn from evil (Matthew 12:41; see, Jonah 3:10). So, if you and I want to go to heaven, we must stop doing what is wrong and start doing what is right. We must turn from evil. See also: Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 26:18-20; 2 Peter 3:9.
    3. Third, our obedient faith must confess Jesus: "Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32,33). -- The word translated "confess" means to say the same thing as another. If we want to go to heaven, we must say what Jesus said about himself, we must say what God said about Jesus, we must confess our faith in his being the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. See also: Romans 10:9,10; 1 Timothy 6:12; cf. Acts 8:35-37.
    4. Fourth, our obedient faith must submit to baptism for the remission of sins: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). -- Further study will prove this baptism to be an immersion (Romans 6:3,4) in water (Acts 8:35-39) for the purpose of taking away one's sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). If I want to go to heaven, I must be baptized; that is, immersed in water for the purpose of having my sins taken away See also: Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 10:48; 1 Cor. 12:13; Galatians 3:26,27; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Peter 3:21.
  2. Now, again, let's put it all together. Out of his mercy, love and kindness, God sent Jesus to die for our sins (cf. Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 20:28; 26:28; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:20). In response to such a gracious gift, you and I are commanded to possess a faith that accepts God at his words and yields to his commands. We, thus, yield to the command to:
  1. Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, the Son of God.
  2. Repent of our sins in a deliberate choice to turn from evil in our lives.
  3. Confess our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.
  4. Be baptized, immersed in water to have our sins taken away.
5. WE MUST LIVE A NEW LIFE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

"For hereunto were he called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow in his steps" 1 Peter 2:21.

  1. We must never put a period where God has placed a comma. Becoming a New Testament Christian via the active grace of God coupled with our obedient faith [an obedience of faith, repentance, confession and baptism for the remission of sins] is only the beginning of an abundant life.
  2. After becoming a Christian, we are blessed with the challenge to think like Jesus (Philippians 2:5) and become as much like him as possible. "What would Jesus do?" "How would Jesus respond?" "What would Jesus think? What would he say? What would he decide?"
  3. Using the New Testament as our standard for day to day living, knowing that he will judge us in keeping with the same (John 12:48), we are to use him as our great example and echo the words of Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me" ! Galatians 2:20

Before we can respond to God we must realize our lost spiritual condition:

Isaiah 59:2 - your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.
1 John 3:4 - Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Since we are sinners we must realize that we cannot earn our salvation:

Ephesians 2:7-8 - that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

In order to be saved we must respond to God's offer of grace and mercy. We must believe in God and in Christ Jesus through hearing his gospel:

Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Romans 10:17 - So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

James 2:20-24 - But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.

We must repent:

 

Luke 13:3 - I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

Acts 17:30 - The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

We must confess the name of Christ before men:

 

Matthew 10:32 - Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.

Romans 10:9 - because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:

Be baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins:

 

Mark 16:15-16 - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

Acts 2:37-38 - Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 3:26-27 - For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

1 Peter 3:20-21 - that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

Once inside Christ, live a life of faithful, loving, obedience to Christ:

 

Revelation 2:10 - Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

If you have not obeyed the gospel, why not do so today?

Acts 22:16 - And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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New Bern Church of Christ
1340 South Glenburnie Road
New Bern, NC 28561

Phone (252) 249-2629

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