|Volume 21 Number 9 September 2019||
During invitations offered today, preachers often say, “Let us know if there is a way that we can help you” or “If you have a need, let us know.” How are people being informed in our assemblies about the help that can come? What needs do those in the assembly have, and what does the recipient have to do? What about the plan God has for salvation? What application do we make to those who have the need of salvation? How are people able to reason about needs versus salvation if they don’t hear what to do? Their need is salvation. In our sermons and teaching, we may take some things for granted that we feel others should know.
When I was a teenager, preachers would place on a blackboard or transparencies charts with these letters: H+B+R+C+B = Salvation. It went like this: Hear the Word (Romans 10:17), Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 8:24), Repent of sins (Acts 3:19), Confess faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son (Romans 10:9-10) and be Baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Nowadays instead, the ‘plan of salvation’ frequently has been reduced to, “Hear the Gospel and believe it,” and then, the other items in the plan may be mentioned. That is okay, provided all in our audiences understand what the Gospel is all about. Do we believe the average person knows what we are talking about? I’m not sure they do, unless we have explained it to them.
When one believes the Word, what does that involve? What is one to believe? Romans 10:17 shows that the Word of God is the only way faith comes. Is it faith in the Word of God? “Faith comes by hearing the Word.” However, is hearing the Word and believing the Word of God, the Bible, all that one is to believe in regard to one’s salvation? There are many who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, but what is there in the Bible that is so significant in regard to salvation?
A great part of God’s instructions involves belief in Christ (John 8:24). Maybe there are many who believe things about Jesus, but they do not know Him. Let me illustrate. The only way we can know about Christ is through the Word of God. There are those who do not believe in Jesus. What does belief in Jesus have to do with our salvation? Everything!
Our Lord said, “Except, or unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” It seems to me that when we offer the invitation of our Lord, we need to mention that we are to believe in Jesus as the Son of God so that we can confess our faith in Him (Romans 10:9-10). I realize that hearing the Gospel would involve truths about Jesus, but do people understand what we mean by “hearing the Gospel?” I’m sure you realize that we are to believe the Word of God and obey it, but does that adequately teach a person what one needs to do to be saved?
[Editor’s Note: I, too, have observed that for years now the plan of salvation or invitation following sermons in many of our assemblies either has been eliminated altogether or reduced to a simplicity that is ineffective in instructing anyone about how to become a Christian. Extending an invitation following a religious discourse (i.e., sermon, devotional, etc.) is a matter of human judgment—a good practice, we think. However, one might as well not put forth some sort of invitation at all if it lacks an outline of the plan salvation. An invitation is more than merely a mechanical device by which a speaker signals the end to his homily and relinquishes the attention of the congregation to another phase of worship. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
The Righteous Man
Who is a righteous man? Certainly, someone who practices what is right before God in his behavior is a righteous man (1 John 3:7). However, there is more to it. Since perfect righteousness is beyond us, there is the need to be in a state of righteousness, which comes by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 10:12-14, 38). So, the righteous man believes God and believes he is heard by God (James 5:16). He works righteousness, which means he seeks to do good and not harm toward all (Romans 13:8-14). Most of all, he understands righteousness to be the behavior God has ordained in His Word. This right-doing does not come from himself. It is obedience to the Word of God as he has learned it (Psalm 19:7-9).
Who is the righteous man? It is the Christian who admits he is a sinner before God but seeks the will of God in his life, with all his heart. Is this you?