Sunday, March 26, 2017
 

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon God's Exceptions ]

GOD'S EXCEPTONS
Lonnie Branam
2 Peter 3:9

2 Peter 3:9 says God, “Is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God desires that the entire human race know of His good intentions. The undeserved favor and kindness of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people. No one is excluded however bad and hopeless one's condition may seem to be. God is not a respecter of persons in the matter of the eternal happiness your soul. You belong to God by right of creation and redemption, and because you are His property He cares for you. Before the existence of the earth, before anyone lived upon it, God had designed that in His eternal purpose, one person in the Godhead would make a visit to the earth, become flesh and dwell among us in a human body. That purpose brought Jesus of Nazareth into existence, being part God and part man. It was His design that His only begotten Son would be delivered up to die as a sin offering for all mankind, and arise from the dead on the third day and return to heaven, from when He came. . This Divine Being came to earth to prepare earth people to live forever among the angels of heaven. God offers the entire human race an eternal existence in heaven, becoming a united family of angelic beings and redeemed human beings. In view of these astonishing facts, no one can doubt the love and kindness of God for the human race. Nevertheless, God has laid down certain exceptions to this offer which cannot and will not be overlooked. There are six divine exceptions to this offer to live in heaven, which will not be ignored either in this life or in the life to come. They hold true for now and for all eternity. The human race will be judged by these exceptions, and our failure to comply with them will destroy God's attempt to give us a life in heaven that will never end

Exception number one is, “Except you are converted.” In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Old King James version renders this verse, “Except you be converted..” This means that without conversion, one cannot become a member of the Lord's church which He purchased with His own blood. In the word of God, the Church of Christ and the kingdom of heaven are spoken of interchangeably. Christ's church is His kingdom and vice versa. If one wants to become a member of God's called-out people in the world, which is the true meaning of the word, Church,” one must be teachable like children, and be converted. We must be converted before access to this domain is possible. All should listen carefully who have not met this exception. The first concept then

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is teachability. Christ said, “All must be taught of God.” Surprisingly, you can present God's wonderful plan of salvation to people, and many will stand in doubt and say, “I don't know that I can believe that.” The word convert means to turn, turn away from our past sinful life and turn to Christ and His way of life. It means to turn our life around from going in a wrong direction to going in the way that will lead us to heaven. Jesus said that in reality there are but two roads that can be traveled in life. One leads to eternal life, and the other leads to eternal destruction. Conversion means to turn our lives in the direction of heaven. Except we are willing to change our way of living, we cannot be saved.

The second exception is, except we apply the death of Christ to our soul, we cannot go to heaven. Jesus expressed it like this, “Except you eat the flesh of the of mn and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” What an odd statement! Jesus was not advocating cannibalism in this exception. This is a metaphor and is not to be taken literally, but . is an exception to all of us. In some sense we must eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood. The meaning is clarified in John 6:51 where Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Jesus was speaking metaphorically of His death on the cross and its vital importance to mankind. His flesh suffered horribly by the crucifixion, and His life's blood was shed on the cross. If the human race will receive e it, the suffering imposed on the body Christ by crucifixion was God's way of punishing the entire human race for all its rebellion and disobedience to God. However, all members of the human race who do not accept Christ's substitutionary punishment, as our representative, will have suffer their punishment individually, at the day of Judgment. To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to appropriate or assimilate the benefits of Christ's death to our soul. . When you assimilate something you take it in. To take the body and blood of Christ into your mind and heart by faith is to eat His death. It is to accept His death for the purposes God intended. God sent Him to die for each one of us.

How then do we go about eating His flesh and drinking His blood by faith? The blood of Christ is assimilated into your life in the obedient act of baptism(immersion), when it is preceded by a public confession of Christ as God's divine Son, when you make a sincere determination to forsake you past sinful life, and when you submit yourself to the teachings of Christ. Romans 6:3,4 says, “Do you not know that as many of us as were


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baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him through baptism into death.” The baptism in this passage is water baptism(I Peter 3:21). You cannot have eternal life except you assimilate Christ's death and His blood.

The third exception is, except you are born again, you cannot become a Christian and go to heaven. Jesus s aid, “Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven”(John 3:5). God has committed Himself by this statement. Unless this exception is observed, God will not save us.. Don't question or doubt this statement of Jesus. This exception has special meaning to all people who are not Christians. This exception has been binding ever since the Christian religion began in 33 A.D. The popular method of salvation as heard on television and as taught in much of the religious world is simply to accept Jesus in your heart as the Savior of the world, and that makes you a Christian. and an heir of heaven. To believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world is well and good, but that will not make anyone a Christian. Many believe in Christ who never become Christians. The “faith only” theory of salvation ignores God's exceptions in the plan of salvation. Jesus clearly said, “Except you are born of water and the Spirit. you cannot enter into the kingdom of God..” One is born of the Holy Spirit when He brings us to a change of understanding about Christ, a change of affection, and a change of the will to serve Christ. To be born of water is to be immersed into the death of Christ by a burial in water, and then come forth from the water as a new born child emerges from a mother's womb. The new birth is not complete until after baptism. Preachers and people in the religious world who do not believe that baptism is essential to salvation have no way to explain this exception, clearly stated by Christ. . One noted preacher said that to be born of water refers to a pregnant woman when her water breaks and her child is born. What possible connection could that have with becoming a Christian? . What a ridiculous perversion of the words of Christ!. There is a natural birth and there is a spiritual birth. The new birth of water and the Spirit is a spiritual birth. Water in this passage refers to immersion in water at the time of conversion and symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The true meaning of born of water is expressed by Peter in his first gospel sermon. When thousands of Jews in Jerusalem asked Peter what they had to do to be forgiven for their involvement in the crucifixion of Christ, he said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in t he name of Jesus Christ for the remission(forgiveness) of sins”(Acts 2:38). This is one of God's exceptions. Absolutely no one should ignore this exception.


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The fourth exception of God is, except you sincerely strive to live as Christ directs, you cannot win the crown of eternal life. Paul expressed it like this in Timothy 2:5, “If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” The Old King James version reads, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding.” By way of a figure of speech, Paul was speaking to Christians about winning the crown of eternal life in the Christian race for heaven. . The passage refers to the athletic games of the first century. We know them today as the Olympic games. This exception means that if we expect to win the crown of eternal life, we must run for it with all our might. In other words, “Run to win.” But he warns that in those races, one had to compete according to the rule book. . If they violated any of the rules, they were disqualified.

It is precisely the same in the Christian religion. There is a particular place to begin the Christian life, and there is a particular way that Christians must live. We must live by the laws of Christ, and we do that by keeping the teachings and rules Christ has laid down for the living of the Christian life. The place to begin is faith in Christ, repentance which turns the life around, and baptism in water, the last obedient act before God forgives us of all sins from the time of childhood. This is one of the of Christ in the race for eternal life. The New Testament is our Rule Book. Study the rules well. Christians cannot become Christians anyway they please or live any way they please. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In basketball, you are allowed five disqualifications or fouls. But after five, you are thrown out of the game. The fact you are a good player makes no difference. Out you go. Paul was talking about the Christian religion and contending lawfully, according to the teachings of Christ in the New Testament.. The rules for eternal life are found in the 27 books of the New Testament. Christians cannot have their own religion or make their own rules.
The fifth divine exception is expressed by Jesus in Matthew 5:20, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.“ What a surprising statement! This exception refers not to becoming a Christian or entering into the church, but entering into heaven at the end of the race. After our conversion to Christ, this exception says our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the ancient Pharisees. They were the most religious people in the days when Jesus lived. They were strict on some things but loose on others.

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They kept parts of the Bible and ignored parts of it. Jesus said to them, “You pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone”(Matthew 23:23). They were strict on little things and loose on more important things. They majored on the minor and minored on the major. Christians must live better than the Pharisees lived. We must simply lead a good life by doing all of God's will to the best of our ability. Let us deny ungodliness and live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.

The final exception in God's word is found in John 15:4. Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you , except you abide in Me..” This exception is that unless Christians depend on Christ and derive daily strength from Him, they cannot live a life that is acceptable to God. God expects Christians to show the beautiful fruits of the Christian life. This can be done only by following closely to Christ, our teacher and example. We must be devout followers of Christ and permit Him to direct our lives. As a grape branch depends on its close attachment to the vine, so the individual Christian must live close to Christ day by day. The fruits of the Christian life are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control(Galatians 5:22,23). This is God's reward in saving us. God is glorified by the beautiful lives of Christians. Christians do not have all these beautiful characteristics to perfection, but we should make every effort to see that these beautiful traits exist in our character so some degree. Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding.

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