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This Little Light of Mine

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 12:00 am

This Little Light of Mine

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 11, 2022 12:00 am

In Romans 10:15 the Apostle Paul asks the rhetorical question, “How will people hear the Gospel unless we tell them?” They won’t. So let’s tell them. 

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I think part of the problem with the American church today is we're paralyzed at the thought of being unpopular. The world may say we're irrelevant. In fact, they'd probably scratch their heads and wonder, what are you doing in there?

But that doesn't matter. We're here to gather, to fellowship, to pray, to give, to encourage, and then to go out there into the world. And they may view our gospel as irrelevant, but we do not get our message from the world. We get our message from the Word. It is the Word of Christ. It is the Scripture. We go back to the Scripture.

We deliver the truth of Scripture. One of the barriers in sharing our faith is concern over how it'll be perceived. If you knew for certain that you could share the gospel and the listener would respond in faith, would you do it?

I think most of us would, but we don't have that guarantee. Instead, we might be laughed at or mocked. Our message might be rejected, and we might be rejected personally. That makes sharing the gospel more difficult, but we need to do it.

Today, Stephen Davey is continuing through his series entitled, How to Get to Heaven from Earth. The message you're going to hear right now is called, This Little Light of Mine. Romans 10, let's start again with verse 13.

Follow along as I read. For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they've not believed? How shall they believe in him whom they've not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things. However, they did not all heed the glad tidings, for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report?

So then faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. In a recently published book on the subject of church impacting culture, Dr. James White made some interesting analogies to the business of the world and the forgotten business of the church. He writes, in the late 1800s, no business matched the financial dominance of the railroad. Trains dominated the transportation industry of the United States, moving both people and goods throughout the country. But then a new discovery came along, the automobile. And incredibly, the leaders of the railroad industry did not take advantage of their unique position and wealth to literally buy up and own this new development. Instead, the automotive revolution happened all around them and they missed it.

Why? Because they thought they were in the train business. They forgot they were in the business of transportation. Another author made a similar but more contemporary example of the same thing when he said, and I read it recently, and I quote, he said, if Sports Illustrated magazine understood it was in the sports information business and not simply in the sports publishing business, we would today be watching the Sports Illustrated channel instead of ESPN.

I could only wonder if heads rolled somewhere when they realized what they had missed. Well, what is the business of the church? I read of one gentleman whose organization surveyed members of churches in America, nearly 1,000 churches, and they asked these church members the same singular question. And it was this question. What is the mission of your church?

The results were disheartening but revealing. 90% of the church members said a number of different things that were easily categorized under this heading, and I quote, the church exists to take care of my families and my needs. In other words, nine out of ten church members said the church existed for them. It's all about us. Only one out of ten said the church existed to do something in some way related to winning the world to Christ.

Let me give you one more analogy from this one particular book by James White that draws on debt I just read to you. He makes this word picture. He says if the goal of the church was to make automobiles, then the average church member is evidently satisfied with nothing more than a maintenance program for existing cars in which windshields are washed, fluids are checked, and tire pressure is monitored. Simply put, the goal of making cars is replaced with maintaining cars and polishing them for the showroom floor. What did Jesus Christ say our mission was?

He said to his disciples, all authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go and make what? Make disciples. Make automobiles, in a sense.

Not just maintain them, not just wash them, not just polish them, but make them. How do you do that? Through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said go. So we go. The mission is one simple verb, as it were. In fact, you study this text in Romans 10 and you go to the passages in Matthew chapter 28 and others, Acts chapter 1, and we're told very little about how. We're just told what.

Go. And as every generation changes and the methods change and from culture to culture impacting effective methods change, the message remains and we have been told, instead of how, basically been told what. I got a note from a guy who, in fact, he came to see me after one of the services last Lord's Day, and he said, you know, God, I was so encouraged for you to talk about just doing whatever we can to get the message. He says I'm sort of leading this Internet chat group made up of former members of my fraternity in college, and I am just really excited about delivering the gospel in any way that I can.

Right now we're debating this particular social issue, and do you have any help or any thoughts about what I could put on the Internet? But there's a guy who has taken that verb and embraced it in his particular way. Ladies and gentlemen, has it ever occurred to you that not one verse in the New Testament ever commanded an unbeliever to go to church?

Not one. The Bible never commands an unbeliever to go to church, as if it's there that you'll hear the gospel, there that you'll make your decision. The Bible tells the believer to go to the world with the gospel, and they believe many times out there, and then they come and enjoy worshiping their Lord with us in here. With great passion, the apostle Paul is reminding the church and challenging them to embrace the responsibility of going.

If he says they don't know of him, they can't believe in him, and they can't know unless they hear about him, and they'll never hear unless somebody goes, and behind the ones that go, somebody's sending or training or subsidizing or praying or whatever. And going can be anything. It can be going across the living room floor to an unbelieving family member.

It could be going across the street or going across the hallway. It's simply those of us who are taking this verb and accepting it as ours, and you discover in this text the response of the unbeliever, believing and calling, the responsibility the believer is speaking and sending. Now, Paul goes further, and so let's go a little further here in verse 15. He says, For just as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things. Now, the Greek word for gospel is translated there that I just read, good news. It could be rendered glad tidings. Sharing the good news is called euangelizomai. It comes from the gospel, the Greek word for gospel, which is euangelion. We transliterate that for the English reader, so we talk about euangelism or evangelism. Evangelism is simply telling the good news. It's somebody saying to somebody else, hey, I've got some news.

Would you like to hear it? It is the gospel. And Paul here is quoting Isaiah when he says, How beautiful are the feet of those who basically evangelize their world. The context of Isaiah's original text is a context of delivering the news to Israel, telling them that their bondage in Babylon is over, and the messengers that came and told Israel, Look, you're no longer enslaved to the kingdom of Babylon. You're free. Paul uses that and applies it to the church related to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We frankly say, Hey, world, guess what? You don't have to be enslaved to the kingdom of darkness. You can be free, set free by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's interesting as I track this particular word in the New Testament and more than I can share with you, but it wasn't surprising to me to find that word used by the angel who came to announce that Jesus Christ was born. He said to the shepherds in Luke Chapter two, For behold, I bring you good news.

That's the same word. I bring you good news of great joy for today in the city of David is born for you, a savior who is Christ the Lord. For today in the city of David is born for you.

In my Bible, I've circled the word you and I've written my name in the margin for today is born for you, Stephen, in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord. So at the birth of the savior, that word appears. It's interesting to me that at the birth of the church later in the book of Acts, that word is used. The apostle Peter preaches the very first sermon as this new dispensation called Grace is announced. And this new thing called the church is about to be created is about to be birthed. Peter says, And we declare unto you glad tidings, same Greek word, how that the promise which was made into the fathers, God fulfilling that promise by raising Jesus from the dead. So that word is used at the birth of the savior and at the birth of the church. And it's not any surprise to me that Paul would use that word here in verse 15 to talk about the activity of every believer who has come to life by means of the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ.

The mission of the church is very simple. We deliver the good news to our world. It's up to God to bring about spiritual life. We're just the messenger boys and girls. We're just part of this divine postal system, delivering the mail from God to the world and saying, you want me to read it for you or do you want to read it? Would you like me to hear you talk about it?

It's the best news I've ever heard. I'll never forget early in our ministry here, you know, preachers don't get out a lot. You know that. So what we have to do is witness to people who come to the office, you know, to work on stuff. So I look for opportunities like that over the years have had opportunities to share the gospel. I remember the very first time I tried this lady came in to work on one of our machines, photocopy machines. And so I engaged her in conversation while she was working. She couldn't get anywhere else and neither could I. So I thought, well, here she is. So I found out she was very religious, went to church every weekend, did everything good she could possibly do, hoping to get into heaven. And while she repaired that machine, I was sitting there and I shared the gospel with her that only God was good enough to inhabit heaven and his son, the Lord Jesus, who lived a perfect life. And he basically bought the ticket for you and it's free.

If you'd like it, you can ask him for it. And I'll never forget. She put down a tool that she was using and buried her face in her hands and began to weep. I didn't particularly know why.

And finally, I heard her saying through her sobbing with tears of joy. I can't believe it's free. I can't believe it's free. Do you know most people out there don't know it's free? They've had religion crammed down their throats ever since they went to the nursery.

They think they're going to work their way in that maybe they'll be good enough. Do you know the gospel? And it is free. You might think, well, everyone would know that.

Oh, no, it's revolutionary truth if you're just willing to share it. I got an email from our singles pastor, Brad Harbaugh, who emailed me a few weeks ago. He said a single lady came to our church yesterday in her early 40s and asked to see the singles pastor. She wanted a tour of the building. She'd moved into town, was looking for church and so wanted a tour.

And Brad shared with me and our staff that it was at the end of the day and he had some other things he needed to do, but he accepted this impromptu assignment and so met her and began to take her on a tour of our facility. And while he was doing that, of course, he, being a true shepherd, is asking her questions about her relationship with God. And through the course of that question and answer time, as he's showing her the building, realizes she doesn't know Jesus Christ, has never heard the gospel. And so at the end of the tour, he sat down with her and shared with her the simple claims of Jesus Christ. She eagerly prayed to receive Christ. She's now in our Sunday school. I haven't met her yet. She might be in here and maybe you're sitting next to her. She came to life.

And then she told Brad, she said something very interesting and tragic. She said, you know, I have in searching for a church. This is the fifth church I have been given a tour of. And you're the first one that asked me about God in my life. There's no inspection like the inspection by an unbelieving world in the life of somebody who said, I follow Jesus Christ. We don't outgrow the need for somebody to confront us with. I can't believe you buy into that stuff. We never outgrow the need for inspection, for people to know who we are and who we represent. So all of that is a benefit to those who will simply embrace this verb, this responsibility and go and tell so that they can hear and they can believe you never outgrow the need to tell. I read this past week about Jeff who was 12 years old.

Maybe you can identify it with this. He and his best friend were playing baseball and they broke a window. You ever been there? So they ran, ran a couple of houses away and no one had seen what had happened except Jeff's seven year old brother. They went over to him and offered him a piece of candy not to tell.

You been there? And he said, no, I don't want the candy. They put their heads together and then they went back to him and they said, well, look, we'll give you our new baseball bat. And the little boy said, nope, I don't want that either. Then they began to get a little panic stricken. Well, look, we'll give you our baseball batting gloves.

No, I don't want those. We'll give you our gloves. They were pleading now with him. Well, finally they said, what do you want? And he said, I want to tell. The joy of tattling.

I mean, I want that. I had a brother like that. Michael Green made the observation that the gospel spread in the first century simply because people shared the gospel like it was gossip. I've got to tell you this. You've got to hear this. Paul said, those of you who love to tell, I want you to know you have beautiful feet. Now, the reward for those who tell is not just all positive.

There's also a painful part of this reward. Look at verse 16. However, they did not all heed the report, did they? For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report? Now, the immediate context of this is the Israelite who is refusing to believe the Messiah. This particular phrase is taken out of Isaiah chapter 53. That great chapter, the chapter that describes our Lord, the Messiah is a suffering lamb.

You know how it describes him. And Isaiah begins it by saying, oh, but Lord, everybody's not going to believe this. They're not all going to buy into it.

You know the pain of that. Maybe you're witnessing to an unbelieving parent, a mother or father. Maybe it's a son or a daughter. Maybe it's a relative.

Maybe it's a neighbor. Maybe it's somebody and you share the Gospel with them and they look you in the eye and they say, no, and you feel it deeply. There is a fellowshipping with the sufferings of Christ that comes from those who reject the Gospel. Paul applies that same pain to the church. You deliver the Gospel wherever you live, wherever you work, wherever you play, and you feel the pain of those who reject the Gospel. You might think, well, maybe I'm not doing a good enough job.

Maybe I'm not articulate enough or clever enough, or maybe I don't have all of it together. May I encourage you that this very same phrase from Isaiah 53 that Paul uses as well, Lord who has believed our report is used at the end of a message from our Lord himself in John chapter 12, the Lord Jesus preaches a sermon and at the end of his sermon, the text says, and they did not believe so that the word of Isaiah might be fulfilled. Oh Lord, who has believed our report? Same phrase used by Paul. And it was Jesus Christ himself who was preaching. It was Jesus Christ himself who was offering the Gospel. They did not believe. Take heart from that. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and Jerusalem rejected him. So the messenger, the church, the believer is to have beautiful feet, but also a burdened heart.

And I frankly think this is the tougher part of it. Every Christian including myself would love to have the commendation of God, you have beautiful feet, but I'm not sure I want to pursue the compassion of God and have this negative burden of a broken heart. We might say to God, oh God, give me beautiful feet, but I don't want a burdened heart. You know, we've all heard of William Carey, the father of modern missions. I quote little excerpts from his life periodically.

He's talking about a man with beautiful feet. He was a poor self-taught shoemaker, so poor he was hardly able to adequately care for his family, his children, his wife. When they set sail for India on the way there, one of his children, his youngest child died. Upon arriving soon after that, his oldest child ran away. Year after year after year after year after year, not one person trusted Christ.

I'd love to have William Carey's feet. I'm not sure I could handle his heart. For those who will enlist in this divine postal service of delivering the message in whatever ways you can, you notice Paul does not give you a list of methods. He doesn't say how, he just says what. And that's how he summarizes as he comes to the conclusion of this particular thought. Verse 17 in the Greek construction is a conclusion. You could read it so then or consequently or as a result or now in light of all of that, faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. Now, I don't want to bore you, but there is, you know, quite a debate among those who write about the Word and study the grammar as to whether or not this is an objective genitive, which means this is the word about Christ or a subjective genitive, meaning this is the word that literally Christ speaks. You see, when you speak about Christ, Christ is speaking through you, whether it's objective or subjective. When you speak about him, he is speaking through you. In fact, Jesus Christ told his disciples that very thing as he sent them out on their first commission. He said, listen, when that audience listens to you preach, they are listening to me. And when they reject you, they are rejecting me.

And that is to encourage everybody who wants to have beautiful feet. You go and you deliver the message, you deliver the gospel, you live with people you love, you play, you work and along the way you deliver parts and maybe all of it. And if they listen to you, Jesus says they are listening to me. If they reject you, they are rejecting me. Don't stop.

Don't stop. Continue to share the mail from God, which is the Word of Christ. And according to the Apostle Paul, it is the foundation of genuine faith.

And may I say that we ought to expect rejection. I think part of the problem with the American church today is we're paralyzed at the thought of being unpopular, as if God wanted us to be popular, as if somehow that was our mission. And the unpardonable sin in the evangelical church today is being irrelevant. Listen, ladies and gentlemen, our relevancy is related to our mission. The world may say we're irrelevant. In fact, they probably scratch their heads and wonder, what are you doing in there?

But that doesn't matter. We're here to gather, to fellowship, to pray, to give, to train, to encourage, and then to go out there into the world. And they may view our gospel as irrelevant, but we do not get our message from the world. We get our message from the Word. It is the Word of Christ. It is the scripture. We go back to the scripture.

We deliver the truth of scripture. The world in China would say of the believing church, you are irrelevant. They would say that in growing numbers in Russia. They would say that in the Sudan.

You're irrelevant. But is that the opinion of God? I fear the church is losing the goodness of the gospel because they've lost the subject of the gospel, the scriptures who point us to Jesus Christ. I read the interview of a pastor recently. He graduated with me in the same graduating class at seminary. He now leads a church of more than 12,000 people. He was giving his preaching schedule in the interview, telling what they did on Sunday mornings as a church and study. And he said that 10 weeks out of the year, we devote our Sunday mornings to Bible exposition.

Now, just let that sink in. 10 weeks, we cover some section of scripture or book of the Bible. The other 42 weeks are devoted to felt needs, topical issues ranging from relationships to finances, from stress reduction to anger management.

He's relevant. Now, all of that's well and good. And the Bible may very well address that as we live and learn. But imagine, 42 weeks on the human condition, which is basically the subject of the contemporary church, the human condition. While the primacy of the word and the explanation of the word of God is, according to Paul, which is the foundation of true faith, is lost. You see, our gospel in this church and in this generation can lose its goodness if the subject of our message no longer is the word of Christ, but us.

Let's talk about us. We're pawning off on a lost society, a Christianity that we promise will work. Why, as Erwin Lutzer was telling us some weeks ago when he came here, he was talking about the fact that our culture has shifted from truth to pragmatism. We no longer ask, is something true?

We ask, does it work? That is the message of the church. So we must communicate to people that Christianity works. And so Christianity now has inspired diets.

There are biblical diets. Christianity will increase your finances. Christianity will resolve your relational issues. Christianity will enhance your self-esteem. It will promote your career.

It will even help you unlock secrets of physical beauty and health. Christianity works. Tell that, my friend, to a Christian girl who was arrested I read of a few weeks ago and put in jail overnight where she was beaten by soldiers who mocked her faith. Did Christianity enhance her physical beauty?

No, we've Americanized it because it seems to fit well within suburbia. Tell that to a couple from our church who recently left to go to Budapest to teach kids. They emptied their savings accounts in order to go. Did Christianity increase their finances?

No, it called for it all. You tell that to a student I talked to recently who received a failing grade for writing a paper in science class from a Christian worldview and he failed it. Did Christianity help his GPA? Tell that to a businessman who refused a lie and he lost his job or to a woman who refused the advances of her co-workers and had her career grind to a halt. I've heard their testimonies. Did Christianity advance their career?

No, it stopped it. Tell that to a young man who recently became a Christian and now he told me his father mocks him. Did Christianity resolve his relationships or bring a sword of division? See, we have created a new gospel where the subject is us and it serves us and 9 out of 10 people believe the church is all about us. Wash my windshield, change my oil, fill my tires with air, where we are called together ladies and gentlemen and our mission remains the same in the 21st century as it was in the first century.

Go, deliver the mail. And those of you who do, God says I want you to know you have beautiful feet for doing so no matter what the world might say. I hope this lesson has spurred you on toward that end today. You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart, the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. We have a resource that might help you as you share the gospel with others called God's Wisdom for Your Heart. One of the easiest things to do is install the Wisdom International app to your phone. This resource is right on the home screen so you can bring it up and talk through it with someone. It's also on our website at wisdomonline.org forward slash gospel. We hope it helps you fulfill your mission of sharing the gospel with others. We'll continue this series on our next broadcast of Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 13:27:20 / 2022-12-22 13:37:47 / 10

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