Let There Be Light: Living My Story in the Light of My Savior [sermon 3/4]

 

Sermon Notes:

[Walk out with a lamp.] For the last few week’s we’ve been in a series of sermons called, “Let There Be Light.” Our primary focus has been to understand what it means that Jesus is the light of life that has come into the world.

What does that mean? If Christ is the light, then shouldn’t Christians be little lamps or reflection points of Christ in the world? But are we? If I interviewed your family and friends, would the first thing they mention be that you love Christ and reflect Him in all areas of your life?

[Nonbeliever]: I get it—if you don’t believe that Jesus is God, then you are not concerned about reflecting Jesus. You’re probably just concerned about being a good. And while we can be a good person, there is no such thing as a good enough person to earn salvation or to get back in the “light” with God. Darkness lurks in all our hearts—brokenness drives us to do what we shouldn’t be someone less than God desires for us.

[Young believer]: If you do believe in Christ, but are looking to find out how exactly he affects all the areas of your life, your seeking has a reward—God said, if you seek me, you will find me. Living our faith in Christ means we daily strive to let His light shine in all areas of our life.

[Mature believer]: If you have been walking with the Lord for years—even decades—and you would consider yourself a mature believer, my challenge to you has been to return to the joy of your salvation. Paul said, when recounting the Gospel for first century believers, “It is good for me and beneficial for you…” We should preach the good news of Jesus Christ to our hearts every single day.

So, no matter where you are in your faith journey, the passage we are going to look at today has something for you. Let’s pray and ask God to guide us, as He always does.

(Struct) So We are going to continue our series on John chapter one. Today, I want to show you the example of a man who got what it means to be a true reflector for the light of the world. Not everyone embraces the source of light—which will leave you with a decision: Will you and have you fully embraced the light of life? If so, what evidence of that decision exists in your life?  I have entitled today’s message, “Living My Story in the Light of My Savior.” My hope is to help you be crystal clear about who Jesus in and how your life reflects Him.

Let me be clear what this message is not: Today, I am not going to give you a “Work harder/try harder” type message. Many preachers given those types of messages and I am sure I’ve given “Work harder, try harder…” type messages more than I want to admit. I’m not going to do that today.

Rather, I want to give you a message of grace. It is my desire that you will be so convinced of Christ’s presence in your life that you’ll want nothing more than to ensure that who He is, and all His greatness, is shining through your every move.

Let me remind you what we’ve talked about so far in this series:

In the first week, we talked about the fact that Jesus makes God’s unapproachable glory accessible in our life. If it were not for God’s love, combined with His sovereignty, to send Jesus to save humans, we would have no hope of knowing God. Jesus was God with flesh on; making the glory of God tangible and accessible through the His death.

In the second week, as we started our study on John 1, we identified that Jesus is our true source of security.  We spend time unpacking perhaps the most theological power-packed verses to understand that Jesus is God—John 1:1-5. When we believe that Jesus is God, we don’t only have security eternally, but in the storms and struggles of life as well.

If you are taking notes on bulletin or in the YouVersion app, and write this down: Only God is the source of life. Most people who believe there is a God see God as the creator of life; this is a simple point. But where we often lose people is in the fact that Jesus is God who gives the light of life. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” To view Jesus as anything less than God, and therefore the creator of the world, undervalues Him.

There are many people and religions who will tell you that Jesus is not God. They will say He is like God or has the attributes of a god but He is not God. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God. They will tell you they believe in Jesus and that he existed and was real, but not that he was God.

I was sitting with my neighbors a few weeks ago and they were laughing about the fact that the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our cul-de-sac and never knocked on my door. They skipped my house. Two of the neighbors said, “Yeah, we were watch with anticipation to see if they would come to your house…yeah, go to the pastor’s house… go! … and they didn’t go!” I know I am on the “do not visit list” for the JW’s. There was a time when I was getting visited almost weekly. They would bring by all the new recruits and I was a boot camp for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That was until they started telling me that they didn’t know how to answer my questions, so the door knocking stopped. Now when I see them I chase them down—please, come to my house!

Let me be clear: I love the people that are Jehovah’s witnesses, I just don’t love the lies they believe or tell about Jesus and God’s word.

Here’s your first tip when talking with a Jehovah’s Witness Use a correct translation of the Bible—and it won’t be the one they are carrying with them. They use a version of the Bible called the “New World Translation.” They have literally mistranslated the Bible in some many places to make it read the way they want to believe.

For example, related to John 1 (look at it with me on page 886), they will have translated “God” (“Theos” in the Greek) as two different words. But it is not two different words—same word. They make that verse say, In the beginning the word was, and the word was with God and the word was a god.” That’s just a bad translation.

John Feinburg, a brilliant theologian and linguist from Trinity seminary, by where I used to live in Illinois, said, “I can assure you that the rendering which the Jehovah’s Witnesses give John 1:1 is not held by any reputable Greek scholar.”

Let me get technical for a minute—the way they justify their translation to say that Jesus was a god and not the God is by pointing out that there is an article before the first theos and not before the second.

The article is ho so they say that when an article is before the first article, it is pointing to a person, whereas, in the second case, it is only pointing to a quality of a person. So, they say that Jesus just had the qualities of a God and that he was not truly God. Truth be told, we see the use of these with and without an article all throughout the Old Testament. Then they say, “Well, if he was with God then he was not God… you can’t be with someone and be that person at the same time.” That is just bad reasoning.

When you real understand that word “With” (pros) it is communicating that there was an unbroken, unhindered intimate fellowship and communion with Jesus and the Father. He is said to be with God and at the same time, same verse, He is said to be God. This merely means that they are distinct, but not disconnected by some hieratical org. chart. The Word, is one of the distinct persons of the Godhead, yet entirely God himself.

If you don’t get that Jesus is God when you read the Gospel of John, you will miss the entire point. Skeptics are welcome—but you need to need to be looking for the divinity of Christ to be proven in these pages. If Jesus is not seen as God, then the Bible is nothing more than a meaningless, inapplicable religious book. Yet, when you see Jesus as God, the statements within the Old and New Testament—about things that have come and things that will come—have more meaning. Christianity is about following a religion, but it is being in a relationship with a person—Jesus Christ, who is God.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The writer of this Gospel, John, had a lot to say to help you understand the divine nature of Christ. So do the people He captured within His pages. Let’s read about one of them now, look at verse 6 through 8 with me:

[6] THERE WAS A MAN SENT FROM GOD, WHOSE NAME WAS JOHN. [7] HE CAME AS A WITNESS, TO BEAR WITNESS ABOUT THE LIGHT, THAT ALL MIGHT BELIEVE THROUGH HIM. [8] HE WAS NOT THE LIGHT, BUT CAME TO BEAR WITNESS ABOUT THE LIGHT.

I summarized this verse to say that the light of Christ proceeded the source. Jesus Christ is the source of the light of life, yet before that source was revealed, John was sent from God. Notice that this was not an accidental placement; no coincidence but pure calling. John came at God’s discretion to bear witness about the light. He was called by God to fulfill a specific purpose—bear witness SO THAT all might believe through him. The placement of the words is important— (1) sent from God, (2) to be a witness, (3) so that all may believe (4) through him (not in him).

Like John, we are not the source of life, but we come to give witness to the light. We merely reflect it. Jesus is the true light and only one who can help us see our way to God.

Yet our gracious God involves us in His divine will to show the light of Christ to the world. It is God’s plan that the Light be reflected in those who are called by Him.

The word witness in this passage indicates that John’s role was to simply be a reflector of Christ’s light. We are never to present ourselves as the light, but to reflect the light to others. It is not only true that John the baptizer came before Christ and that is why I say the light of Christ often proceeds the source. This is true in so our lives today.

Think about it—If you came to Christ later in life, I would guess that you can remember a time or two when the light of Christ started casting a shadow on your life, far before you were a Christian. Perhaps it was your grandmother that continued to be faithful to talk about Jesus to you, even though your parents didn’t believe. Maybe you had a Christian friend who said some things that showed you that Christ was real, far before you believed it. Most of us didn’t believe in Jesus as our Savior the very first time we heard about Him. God designed that the light precedes the source. We share the gospel in expectation of a person accepting when we share it, but that is up to the Holy Spirit.

Daniel Cousins, a gifted evangelist, tells the story of a being at a conference and hearing the speaker say, and I quote, “It takes eighteen times for a man to hear the Gospel before he can make a decision.” Daniel said he followed him and thanked him for his remarks as said, “Whenever I [share the gospel] I presume that it is the nineteenth and it’s time for a decision.” 

The light may proceed the source through your life, but that requires you to be diligent to be a witness in word and action. It also means that you carry with you the same kind of urgency John the Baptizer had. Think about John the Baptizer for a minute. He was:

  • A Witness sent. The passage says that he was God commissioned Him for one of the coolest jobs in the whole Bible—to be a forerunner to Jesus Christ.
  • Witness aimed. His aim was that all might believe. Why was a witness even needed for Jesus? Wasn’t Christ enough that he didn’t need a witness?
    • When the sun is shining, who needs to be told it is out? The Blind. God would not allow for His son to not be announced; when He was born, the angels proclaimed Him. John appeared on God’s mission, bidding the world to accept Christ.
    • Like the best of preachers, he had one goal: look at Christ. Don’t look at me, but look at another. Not testifying about me, but “Preaching Christ” (1 cor 1:23)
    • Can I be honest with you for a second—My goal is not to get you to like me as a preacher; I only care what you think of Christ. Some of you are so kind with your words about my preaching, and I am grateful, but I just want you to love Christ. That is all I long for. There are others who may not like my preaching, and (guess what) I’m okay with that too. I just want you to love Christ. We can’t care about what people think about us as we bear witness to Christ—we must only care if the see Christ or not.
  • Witness proven. In the end, this was true for John and we can rest assured that it is true for us. As John proclaimed Christ, he was finally proven correct, not crazy, that the Messiah was coming. The goodness of God was given through Christ and proved John’s words of witness to be true. His life preached and proved true.

When a life is lived in the Light of Christ, it will reflect it to all those around. It will be proven by God verifying in the hearts of those who hear and see Jesus. You may wonder, does it matter if people know I believe in Jesus? Can’t my faith be own internal faith? If you have true saving faith in Jesus, it will be impossible for you to keep it “internal” and “personal.” Rather, it will be displayed externally and lived out publically. The good news of Jesus was never meant to be a great secret. Not for John; not for us. Jesus, the source, came. Keep reading v. 9-11:

[9] THE TRUE LIGHT, WHICH GIVES LIGHT TO EVERYONE, WAS COMING INTO THE WORLD. [10] HE WAS IN THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD WAS MADE THROUGH HIM, YET THE WORLD DID NOT KNOW HIM. [11] HE CAME TO HIS OWN, AND HIS OWN PEOPLE DID NOT RECEIVE HIM.

The very one who made the world was now in it. How was He received? The did not know Him (tragic). Even more tragic and pathetic, “he came to his own and they did not know him”—this is primarily speaking of the Jews (Israel) God’s chosen people.

Write this down: The source of light was revealed and rejected. Why didn’t God do this? [Act as if you are taking the lamp and leaving…]. God could have easily just walked away. We do that, right! When we are rejected, we walk. That’s what we do. NOT OUR GOD. A.W. Pink described the fact Christ stayed like this: What blessed subjection to the father’s will, and what wondrous love for sinners, that he remained on earth [despite the rejection] in order that he might later die the death of the Cross.

He stayed. He stayed. He was revealed and then rejected. And he stayed. The entire Old Testament pointed to His coming. He was fulfilling prophecies right and left, yet they refused to see what was so blatantly obvious. Before you are too quick to criticize Jews, then or now, let me point out to you that we do the same thing all the time to God.

How often does God send us the best plan and we say, no, that can’t be it… that is not what I was expecting. Or I think there is a better way. What a sad reaction to God’s best. We (and they) reject Christ because of the darkness in our hearts. We are sinful, selfish people. Jeremiah says our hearts are so dark and so desperately wicked, “Who can know them?” So when the Light of Christ comes, the dark mind and heart reject it.

God doesn’t say, well, let me just fade down the light or maybe I should be more grayscale and not so blatantly light. No, 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” He takes that light and He allows it to shine in our hearts to call us to believe. Then, the perspective on our life changes and…

We will value Christ above all [earthly things]. We are reborn, given new life. This new birth changes us. It rearranges our motives, desires and attitudes. It also changes our family tree, spiritually speaking. When we become a Christian we’re grafted into God’s family tree. We are now inheritors of His genology. Look at v 12 & 13:

[12] BUT TO ALL WHO DID RECEIVE HIM, WHO BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, HE GAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD, [13] WHO WERE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD.

We will look at this deeper when we are in chapter 3 of John, but suffice it to say, those who embrace the source of Light are embraced by God. Friend, you will not hear anything better today than that line I just said. Listen, if you have faith and embrace Jesus Christ, or perhaps you already have, then you will be or are embraced by a loving, caring, never changing, always forgiving, constantly providing God. The very Creator of the universe knows you. There is nothing greater that can happen to you than to be owned and loved by God. Your greatest dream is feeble compared to being born of God.

This is what I want you to get today: A life lived in the Light of Christ will experience God’s perspective and purpose for our story. I am convinced that our perspective on life changes when we realized we’ve been embraced by God. The suffering we experience is seen with a different perspective—God’s plan is greater; His results are different and His timing (though not ours) is perfect. Also, like John the baptizer, we realize that our purpose is to call attention to the true source of life.

2016-12-22T10:17:16+00:00