Being a Christian Will Not Save You
by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Jude 1-10
I. Why did you become a Christian?
A. For most of us, we desired the promise - Ephesians 1:13-14
B. We wanted forgiveness of our sins, but more importantly, we want to go home.
C. Sadly, few actually make it - Matthew 7:13-14
D. Paul sought heaven, but he realized it wasn’t yet his - Philippians 3:7-14
1. A grave danger to anyone is thinking you’ve made it before you reached your destination - I Corinthians 10:12
2. A person who thinks it is in the bag becomes lax. He doesn’t put the effort in.
a. I remembered my last semester in college. I graduated in December, but I managed to land a job in October.
b. Do you know how hard it was doing my studies those last two months?
c. Why should I kill myself for an “A”? I can take it easy and I’ll still pass. The job is in the bag.
d. Yet, I just couldn’t let myself down. The habit was too entrenched.
E. Paul warned the Corinthians in the same manner - I Corinthians 9:24-27
F. Think about the Israelites - Jude 5
1. How many people left Egypt?
2. Numbers 1:45-47 says 603,500 non-infirmed men above the age of 20, not counting any from the tribe of Levi came out of Egyptian bondage.
3. How many of this original number entered the promise land?
4. Numbers 32:11-13 only two! Yet were these people not saved? Didn’t God rescue them?
G. Paul expands on this theme by drawing a parallel between the Israelites and Christians.
II. Christians are saved, just like the Israelites - I Corinthians 10:1-4
A. Paul likens the Israelites salvation from the corruption and bondage of Egypt to the baptism of a Christian
1. Baptism frees us from the bondage of sin - Romans 6:3-7
2. Yet, despite that baptism, the Israelites still died in the wilderness!
3. Why? Because baptism will not keep you saved.
B. Paul likens their reception of manna and water to the spiritual food and drink that each Christian partakes.
1. John 6:53-58 - We have to partake of Christ, symbolized in the partaking of the Lord’s supper
2. I Corinthians 11:23-26
3. Too often, Christians convince themselves that as long as they come an partake of the Lord’s Supper once a week, then they will reach the promised land of heaven.
4. It is true that we cannot reach heaven without partaking. But it is not true that partaking will guarantee your entrance.
5. The Israelites partook of God’s food and they didn’t make it to the promise land.
C. The Israelites even had Christ on their side
1. We often mention Philippians 4:13
2. Yet their access to Christ did not allow them to reach heaven!
D. Despite all their advantages - I Corinthians 10:5
1. Sometimes we deceive ourselves and think we have a greater advantage. We won’t slip back into sin!
2. But the Israelites did with the very things many of us rely upon.
3. Hebrews 3:12-4:1
III. Why did they die?
A. Paul’s illustrations are not in time order, but I would like to rearrange them in the order they occurred.
B. Idolatry - I Corinthians 10:7
1. It was only a few months after being freed from Egypt that the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai to receive God’s laws for them
2. After the terrifying experience of hearing God, Himself, speak the ten commandments, the people asked Moses to speak to God for them
3. Moses climbed Mt. Sinai twice, coming down once to warn the people not to get curious and thereby come to harm - Exodus 19:18-20
4. Moses came down again, told the people what God required, and then wrote it all down for them - Exodus 24:3-5
5. He then returned to the mountain to receive further instruction and to get a copy of the laws on tablets of stone - Exodus 24:12, 15-18
a. I want you to see that the people had God’s law in their possession
b. They had a constant visual reminder of God’s presence on the mountain above them
6. Yet a problem arose because Moses was gone for a month and a half (40 days) - Exodus 32:1, 7-9
7. The problem was they were impatient.
a. Did they not know that God was nearby?
b. Did they not just agree to the terms of God’s covenant?
8. The result - Exodus 32:25-28
a. Three thousand died that day.
b. But can you imagine the anguish of the Levis?
(1) This was not a war against strangers.
(2) God required them to kill their relatives, friends, and neighbors – people they knew!
(3) What a terrible thing to ask of anyone, but what a terrible thing sin is in the sight of God.
9. Why did Paul mention this particular sin?
a. The Corinthians had corrupted the Lord’s Supper - I Corinthians 11:17-22
b. They were impatient - I Corinthians 11:28-34
10. It continues today.
a. People look and say, “We are not bringing enough people in!” So they offer incentives of food – after service dinners, coffee and doughnuts
b. People want more from their churches, so they build gyms, offer weight-loss clinics, and concerts.
c. Is it not because they are impatient with God’s method? - I Corinthians 1:21
d. When people begin to think they can improve on God’s plan, they will turn to entertainment. They mistake that what pleases them will please God - Galatians 1:10
e. And so many are lost. It forced brethren to stand against brethren. Churches divided. I know of families that have been ripped apart because some followed the lure of “fun.” It wasn’t any easier for them than the Levites.
C. Lusting after evil - I Corinthians 10:6
1. Right after leaving Sinai - Numbers 10:11-13
2. The people began to complain - Numbers 11:4-6
a. Ever since they left the land of Egypt, God has been supplying the people all the food that they need
b. It has been about two years now that they have had manna. Manna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You wanted a snack? Well there’s manna.
c. But they had become bored with the lack of variety. They wanted meat and vegetables. They wanted some spice to their food.
3. Have you ever heard people complain that services are too boring. We do the same basic things each week - we sing, we pray, we partake of the Lord’s supper, and then, “Oh no, not again!” Jeff gets up to deliver a lesson.
a. People want something more to spice up the services
b. So you have hand-clapping, candlelight services, choirs, instrumental music, mood lighting. The list is endless of the innovations people seek in their desire for something “different.”
4. The Corinthians were innovating: women speaking in service, demonstrative tongue speaking, etc. - I Corinthians 14
5. God gave the people what they wanted - Numbers 11:31-34
a. He struck them down while they satisfied their greed.
6. There are a lot of congregations running after innovations. Nothing will stop them. And they too die in their greed. - Galatians 1:6-8
D. Grumbling against punishment - I Corinthians 10:10
1. After Israel was repulsed from Canaan because they did not believe God could give them the land, they were sentenced to wander 40 years in the wilderness.
2. This was too much for some, and a rebellion was staged - Numbers 16:1-3
a. Moses opposed them - Numbers 16:4-7
b. God was ready to destroy the whole people, but Moses and Aaron interceded - Numbers 16:18-22
c. God gave everyone an opportunity to chose whether to stand with Korah or not
d. Moses pronounced judgement - Numbers 16:28-35
e. That settle the problem, right? Hmmm
3. Numbers 16:41 - The very next day!
a. Moses is blamed for killing God’s people!
b. Again God says, “that’s it, I’m wiping them out.” - Numbers 16:44-45
c. Again Moses and Aaron interceded for the people
d. A plague broke out among the people. Moses told Aaron to quickly bring an censor of incense to make atonement. Now Aaron is not a spring chicken. He is an 86-year-old man nearing the end of his life. - Numbers 16:46-49
e. Aaron was willing to put his life on the line. He stood before the Lord’s plague. All for a people who had just accused him and his brother of killing God’s people. Even so, 14,700 people died – not counting those who died the day before in the rebellion.
4. Why did Paul select this story?
a. The book of I Corinthians contains many harsh rebukes to the Corinthians.
b. Paul told them to withdraw from a wayward brother. He knew the nature of man.
c. Instead of seeing that this man is dead in his sins, they would blame the messenger of the bad news. “It is your fault that he is not in the church anymore. You drove him out!”
5. It happens all the time. When someone sins and men are bold enough to say it cannot be tolerated; after the sinners are removed, there will be people who will turn against those doing the Lord’s command and blame them for dividing the church and driving Christians away from the church.
a. You know I can’t think of a time when this hasn’t happened. I’ve been blamed a number of times for a false teacher’s leaving the church. I suspect it will continue to the end of my life, as it is human nature.
b. It is never the sinner’s fault, it is the fault of those who oppose sin.
c. Many die because they will not oppose sin and so they do not reach heaven.
d. Those who stand should take note of Moses and Aaron. It was their intervention that save those who could be saved.
E. Trying God with Complaints - I Corinthians 10:9
1. After the death of Aaron, the people began the final leg of their journey to the promise land. The 40 years of wandering has come to an end. The long wait is over and the goal is in sight – or is it? - Numbers 21:4-6
2. These are people who have wandered 40 years because they had rebelled against God. In all that time God has cared for them.
a. But they became impatient. Things were not progressing as they thought they should
b. They began to complain about God and their leader – the very ones that brought them out of bondage
c. This time the people apologized - Numbers 21:7
d. But God required humility for healing - Numbers 21:8-9
3. Why this did Paul chose this event?
a. There were people among the Corinthians complaining about Paul, the apostles, and the preachers - I Corinthians 4:1-8
(1) “God is not being fair in the distribution of spiritual gifts”
(2) “Why do men like Paul get to make all the rules?”
4. There are always those who want to make changes to God’s kingdom
a. They get annoyed when they are rebuked, so they turn on those they perceive as the roadblock to their “improvements.”
b. I get it regularly. When I solidly prove that something violates God’s word, the typical response is “who made you a preacher?”
c. Jude 10 - People revile what they cannot understand
d. They do not realize that the very “improvements” lead to their destruction.
F. Sexual Immorality - I Corinthians 10:8
1. The people had survived the long years in the wilderness. They were right on the boarder of the promised land.
2. But even so close, they lost sight of their goal - Numbers 25:1-3
3. God demanded that the leaders involved in this sin be purged in broad daylight - Numbers 25:4-5
a. Meanwhile a terrible plague raged through Israel striking down people.
b. In the midst of this terrible chaos and grief, a man brings a Midianite woman into his tent right in front of those crying to the Lord God - Numbers 25:6
(1) It was obvious what they intended to do.
(2) Phinehas looks up from his tearful prayers and sees this outrage. He stood up right there, picked up a spear, and followed the couple into their tent - Numbers 25:6-9
(3) This wasn’t just an average middle class couple - Numbers 25:14-15
c. 24,000 died by the plague - 8 times the number that died in falling of the twin towers. That is not counting the leaders slain.
4. Why did Paul mention this particular sin?
a. The Corinthians had accepted a man committing fornication in their midst - I Corinthians 5:1-2
5. It continues today
a. We have people making excuses for married couples who are in an adulterous relationship
b. There is a congregation nearby that has dismissed its preacher because he spoke on why divorce is wrong because the elders did not want it mentioned.
c. A brother told me that their preacher in a liberal congregation in the western part of Nebraska was dismissed because he spoke on the dangers of drinking and dancing. My brother was dismissed from a conservative congregation, in part, for insisting that drinking was wrong.
d. As Paul warned - I Corinthians 6:9-11
(1) You left these sins behind. You were freed from their bondage
(2) And people are saying, “Here put the chains back on me!”
6. Yet think on this: These people were on the very doorsteps of the promise land and they did not make it!
IV. Truly we must be impressed that salvation is not assured to any.
A. The lack is not on God’s part. God can and does save, of this we can have full assurance. - Hebrews 6:4-12
B. But men sin. Men turn against their savior. - I Peter 4:17-19
C. You cannot coast into heaven. You cannot reach heaven no matter how you behave. Israel teaches us this - I Corinthians 10:11-12
[Borrowed from Dan Peters]