29 Nov 2015
Matthew 5:14-16 #Gospellightshine Pastor Jason Lim 29 November 2015 You are not saved to sour, but saved to shine! You are specially chosen to declare the excellencies of God. Discover how you can shine God's light in a world in darkness. May God use us for His glory! Slides Audio **Right Click to Do
You are not saved to sour, but saved to shine!
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A very good morning, if you are here today for the first time, you've chosen a fantastic week to join us. This is our 28th anniversary today and we are thankful for how God has led Gospel Light Christian Church for all these 28 years. So today, it will be a rather special service, in a sense the sermon will be a little bit shorter, our singing is already a little bit shorter, the sermon will be a little bit shorter because I want to share with you about the dreams in Punggol. This is what the Lord is leading us into the future, in year 29 and beyond, we are going to minister in a very specific locality. I believe this is God's call and on this day, I think it is appropriate for us to look in advance what will take place in a year's time.
Time stamp in audio 0:00:51.0.
So today, let's look at our 28th anniversary together as a church. I was reminded recently about a photo that was taken some 20 over years ago. You might immediately recognized Pastor Vic, when his hair was full and white err not white, full and black. This is sister Yuit Keen, I don't think she has changed a lot at all. Of course, this is sister Joy, this is Jinky, one of our ladies now back in the Philippines and of course this young man who looks the same today is myself.
I've been in this church for more than 20 years. When I saw this photo, I am reminded of how God has used Gospel Light to lead me to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. It is through the ministry of Gospel Light, that I came to know the Lord. It is where I am growing and this is where I am serving. So today, 28th anniversary means a time for thanksgiving for myself and I believe for many of you, your lives have been changed, has been changed and I think this is cause for us to reflect and to give thanks.
At the very same time, on this 28th anniversary, we are to be reminded, we have a great task ahead, to shine the light of the Gospel to many more people, particularly in the land of Punggol. And so today, let's be reminded of what it means to be a Gospelighter. What does it mean to have Gospel Light shine. The Words of Jesus Christ are fundamental to our understanding and to our endeavors in Punggol. He said to us,
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and
give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and glorify and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Time stamp in audio 0:02:51.4.
This I think, really encapsulates what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and what it means to be a Gospelighter.
1. You are Distinct
Some very simple thoughts for your thinking today. Number one in this text, I believe God and Jesus is saying to you and I, we are distinct, we are special, we are different. See, when Jesus says, you are the light of the world, He's saying that the world by and large, is in darkness, because the world does not know God, the world does not have a life-changing relationship through Jesus, the world is in darkness with regards to the Word, to the Scriptures, to the principles of the Bible. They are ignorant of God's Person and His Ways, and we were like this, until the mercy of God came to our lives.
But the world is in darkness and therefore they are reeling in pain, in sin, their lives are broken, their families are broken, they do not know what they are here really for, they're in darkness, but you are different. You are the light, you've been rescued from darkness to live in God's marvelous light, not because you are good, not because you are better than others, but simply because God's grace came to you and your life has now been changed, because of God's grace, He has given you a new heart, you have now new appetites, you have new values and ambitions and goals, your character is changing. Jesus is being seen in you. You are the light of the world, because God has chosen you and graced you.
In fact, in the original Greek, it's even more emphatic, it really should be translated, you alone are the light of the world. There are lots of very intelligent, successful, powerful, well-educated people in this world but the Words of Jesus, is saying only my disciples, are the light of the world, only they know the real meaning of life, to know God and His Word. So you are distinct.
I like to encourage you, on this anniversary day to give thanks to God's grace. Can you imagine if you still had not known Jesus, what your life would have been like? But now that you've known Jesus, what your future is going to be like, what a tremendous blessing and privilege for those who are following Jesus Christ.
Time stamp in audio 0:05:27.6.
2. You are Deployed
But secondly, this text reminds us not only are we to be grateful, we are to be mindful of the reality that there is a wonderful mission and task ahead of us. Jesus in these words, I believe are saying to us is saying to us, you are deployed. In other words, He has placed you where you are for a purpose. You see, God could have easily saved us and then brought us all to heaven straight away, no need to stay here on earth, so many sins, so many struggles. But He left us here because there is a mission, there is a task and He has deployed us. He says that nobody lights a lamp to hide it but to shine.
So he says, let your light shine before others. God's will for you is that your life will be a light giving source, that you'll shine before others, that they may know your God, who is in heaven. You are placed, you are deployed, you are situated exactly where God wants you to be. In your office, in Shenton Way, in your school, in Pasir Ris. God has placed you right where you are in that neighborhood where you live, He has placed you there, He has deployed you there to shine.
That's why, Peter echoes that same thought.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim
the excellencies of him who called you
out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
But you are a chosen race, God has chosen you. You are a royal priesthood, you are both heirs and coheirs with Christ, you are priests. You, you can come to God, you are holy nation, a set apart people, a people for His own possession. Why? So that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into this marvelous light. So why did God save you? One of the reasons, so that you are placed right where you are to continue to proclaim His excellencies and to shine the light of the Gospel.
So, he says you are placed where you are. I suppose that's taken from the imagery of a lamp that is lit. He places you there in your schools, in your offices to shine. And Jesus also uses another imagery of a city set on a hill. Now this I suppose, would refer to a collective gathering of people shining in the city. So the first one, maybe more on an individual basis, probably the second one is more about a collective basis, congregational basis, team basis.
And I think the church we all now, we are individuals, yes but together we are a body, the Bible speaks and together we all presenting our bodies, a living sacrifice. We together are to show the excellencies of Him who called us. So as a church, you and I together, we are to shine the light of the Gospel, wherever God places us. You know during the prayer service we had three months ago, now, it's in August, how time flies. I shared with the church about four models a church can have with regards to their relationship with the city.
Time stamp in audio 0:08:56.4.
First of all, there can be this model, a church in the city. So the church, you and I, we stay in the city. But that is all we have, with regards to relationship with the city. We are just there, but we are isolated from the city, we are not concerned what goes on out there, what goes on out there does not come into what goes on here. So we are just co-existing, but there is no interaction.
A second model is a church against the city. Now we are in a city, but we are always militantly fighting the world, meaning fighting the people of the world. We have this superiority complex that says they are bad, we are good, they are wrong, we are right and we are always hammering it that way, the church against the city. This is also to be avoided.
But thirdly, and other dangerous model is a church of the city, meaning the church, you and I we are no different from the people outside the church. We are the same as people in the world, our values are the same, our ambitions are the same, we live the same way, we live the same lifestyle and there is no discernible distinction. Now of course, that is not God's will. So I believe the only biblical model, is that the church must be for the city.
It means we are in the city, but we are engaged with the city, but we are not against them as if we fight them. Neither are we going to mimic ourselves after them. But we as a distinct people, like light, we shine in the darkness, like salt, we exert its influence in the rotting world, we are there to bless. This is something we learned when we went through the book of Daniel isn't it? Daniel was called to Babylon and he remembered, I believe, what Jeremiah had said, God through Jeremiah said
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you
into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Israel, when you are delivered to another foreign land, don't fight it, don't mimic it, but seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf, pray to God for them, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare. In other words, a church for the city.
God is calling us as a church, to Singapore, of course, but specifically to Punggol and that's where we need to let our light shine. This church collectively must shine the light of the Gospel where God has called us. You say pastor, how to shine. I know how to shine, we need to preach, we need to teach, we need to save, we need to give the Gospel and I absolutely agree. We must speak, we must teach. Otherwise, how will they know our Father who is in heaven. So we need to tell them about God, we need to tell them about Jesus. We need to preach, that's for sure.
But the emphasis of Jesus is not so much the Word, as it is your works. So often, churches today are only concerned about proclamation. It is important, but do you know the life and the service and the good works are necessary, in the call that God has given to us. Salt exerts its influence without making a sound, light, likewise. Now don't get me wrong, I think there is a balance. We need to preach, because without the preaching of the Gospel, no one is going to get saved. But emphasis here, which we all so often neglect this, works and we need to let our work so shine before men.
Time stamp in audio 0:12:45.7.
I want to say this, when we go to Punggol, we must not think that when we go to Punggol, ministry to take place within the four walls of Punggol. There will be, but we need to get the works out there, people need to see. Someone said this very wisely, he said, the world cannot see what we do in our services. We are always waiting for people to come, for people to come, for people to come but the world won't come in, until you are willing to shine out there. We may have great doctrines, great preaching, great music, great singing, wonderful church, loving one another here, but until they see us serve out there, they are not able to witness all that is going on within the four walls.
Well we are going to go to Punggol and it is a brand-new adventure for us. Our church has never been in a specific locality to focus ministry in a specific locality. We have been a national church, in a sense, people come from all corners of Singapore. But in a year's time, I believe God is going to call us into a very specific locality and there, we need to focus on letting our light so shine.
So we wanted to learn, how do you do this? I mean we have never gone this way, so can we learn something? Yes, we could, so we visited a church. Some of us, we visited a church called Living Sanctuary Brethren Church and you might know them because they were the other church that went in for the bid, for the land for Punggol. And it's an interesting church, because when we spoke, they shared with us that originally they were not in Hougang, they were at Pasir Panjang. Pasir Panjang is right in the south of Singapore, Hougang is in the Northeast part of Singapore. Like us, some 19, 20 years ago they got a piece of land and so the church was geared up to move to Hougang to serve the residents in Hougang. And the pastor had one very simple assumption or actually one fear, his fear is this deep embarrassment that they are going build a big building that sits 1,000 over people but he has only 100 plus, 200 members. That was the church size then, 100 plus, 200, so he is scared that when the service starts, it is just 200 and then there is a huge empty building, but he also had this wise assumption. He says, I think there will be many people who will come. But they are likely to be Christians. Our assumption is that there will be no unbeliever who will just walk into church.
He challenged us, he says, why does an unsaved person want to walk into your church, just because you have a building there. So he says, the key is not to wait for people to come. The key is for us to get out to the people and so the 100 plus, 200 people began to even before they moved in, began to build relationships with the community. They knocked on the doors from block to block, house to house and number one, to apologize for the mess and the inconveniences caused by all the construction, two, to welcome them and to let them know that there is a church and then on specific occasions, they went out to bless the residents, they gave things like calendars, umbrellas. During Moon Cake Festival, Mid Autumn Festival, they brought moon cakes to them, Chinese New Year, they brought oranges and and they gave to the little children Ang Pows. They started programs to help the poor, the children in Hougang, the depressed neighborhoods, they began to pray for that town and slowly but surely, they began to build relationships with the people.
They were so successful that I read about this lady called Mala, she is a Hindu and there was a time where she has been visited by Living Century brethren people already and she was saying that there was this Jehovah's witness who came to visit their family and was doing Bible studies with her, until such a point, she said don't bother to come anymore, if I'm going to change my religion from Hindu to anything else, I will change the Living Century Brethren Church because they've been visiting me and serving and giving us, and I've seen their love.
Then, there was this other lady, who said, "Don't come anymore because if you come anymore, I've got to shift house already, I couldn't withstand the positive, effective impact of what you guys are doing, I'm scared I will convert to your faith". Now when Living Sanctuary did that, they did not go to blast the Gospel. They knew that many of them probably have had a lot of Christian contact and there is that certain kind of immunity, but they were there in the beginning to do good works, just to build relationships, just to bless them.
So for 18 months, no sharing of the Gospel, but it is said that on, at the end of 18 months, they conducted and held an evangelistic service, they had four services that one day, the neighborhood came because they have been building relationships and on that single day, they had 200 professions of faith. Why, I guess they preached, but before they preached, they had good works, they had their light shining before others.
Time stamp in audio 0:18:15.6.
This church is amazing, 100, 200 people, but over the course of time, 50 families, 50 families, from wherever they are, shifted now to live in Hougang today. They believed God has called them to Punggol, now, not Punggol, sorry, God has called them to Hougang, say Punggol, Punggol all the time. Now the church today, numbers 2,000 or so, but there is the deep conviction, God wants them to shine their light in Hougang. In fact the pastor was joking with me and said, if you all don't want to go Punggol, tell me, I'll take over your land very readily. My friends, we are here, blessed by God, given this new life, but not just for ourselves, but for others, we are deployed, we are there to serve, we are there to give.
Last week Dr Tan Lai Yong, he said in, in one of the talks we had,
"The church is the only organization that exists for the benefits of its non-members",
Interesting, we are not here for ourselves. Let me say this, I don't stay near Punggol and many of you don't stay near Punggol. Now we go Punggol, not for our convenience. Yes, we are going to have a nice building, we are going to have better facilities, but is that why we go Punggol? No, I believe God has called us as a church, to shine the light of the Gospel to the residents there, to the people there and we are there for them, and the reason why we are willing to do that, happy to do that, is because Jesus left heaven for you and for me.
So this is why, Jesus says you are the light, let your light so shine. Let your light shine before others, not just your pastor's light, not just your full-time workers' light, your light, shine in your office, shine in your schools, shine in your home, but together collectively, let us also shine in Punggol. I'm scared, I am concerned that we as a church can get flabby and passive you know church is nice, nice hall, nice services and all we begin to think about is ourselves. But the Bible doesn't allow that. God doesn't want that, He wants us to be actively, being a blessing.
So, let's not be passive, let's ask God to give us a new mindset, a new mind frame that we will be participative, that we all would shine that little light we have, but collectively, would be like a city set on a hill. And let's not build the brand name of Gospel Light. I really think this is so subtle and dangerous. We can be there to build a brand name for our church, but that's not what God wants. This is what we aim for, this is what we must pray that we shoot for, that in all that we do, people will give glory to God, our Father.
My friends, today I want to challenge you, as a church without a doubt, God has called us to Punggol. If not you, then who, if not here, then where and if not now, then when? Would you consider this for yourself, what is God saying to you, let me end with this necessary point.
I think we can all be very excited about the plans, I will share this with you in part two, alright after this sermon, I will be sharing with you some of the plans that will be hopefully revealed in due course, and we all can be so excited and busy about doing things, that we forget that what is most important is our being with God.
3. You are Dependent.
So I want to caution in this third point that you, not only are distinct and deployed, you are dependent. You are dependent on Christ. If we are not walking with Christ, then all the activity would just be a flurry of activity, but there will be no real effectiveness. There will be no real advancement of the kingdom. You see, Jesus reminds us, I am the light of the world.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world...”
(John 8:12 ESV)
You say, wow, this is so confusing. He said in Matthew 5, you are the light, now He says I am the light. No the answer is obvious, we are in the light only as far as He is in us. I will shine only in as much as I'm walking in communion with Him. It is like the sun and the moon, Jesus is the sun and we are like the moon. Our light is a reflected light, a derived light but not the original light. So, the apostle Paul tells us,
for at one time you were darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:8 ESV)
You are light in the Lord and therefore you are to walk as children of light. It is from the Lord. So I want to say, that if we are to be truly effectively serving and being a blessing in Punggol, it cannot run away from your lives. Now this is the hardest part, because it's probably easier to get you guys to do something, than it is for us to be something, to be Christ-like, to be walking with Jesus.
Time stamp in audio 0:24:01.0.
"We focus on what God wants us to do,
and forget the kind of people God wants us to be."
But this is so important. Francis Chan says, We focus on what God wants us to do and forget the kind of people, God wants us to be.
Sorry my people, is in my short form, we forget the kind of people, God wants us to be. You say Pastor, I want to prepare for Punggol, what is the best thing to do. I say, without regret, even if you don't do anything else, focus on being a better disciple of Jesus, draw near to God in your personal relationship with Him, that is the most important thing.
“The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God.”
The supreme beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God, Pascal said so.
And someone said,
“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society. This change, this living out of the Gospel is only possible if we are walking with Jesus. Another metaphor Jesus used that I find appropriate, here is how he says,
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me
you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 ESV)
Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If you are not walking with Jesus, we may look like we are doing something, but He tells us, apart from Me, you can do nothing. You say what is Punggol about, what is our 29, 30 year anniversary about. I say it is a reminder for us to live in communion with Jesus. You say what is this anniversary service about, wah, what great plans are you going to give us. I say to you, I'm calling you to discipleship to Jesus once again.
It is not so much of our commission as it is our communion. Take care of your roots and God will take care of your fruit. Assign does not come after, it comes only after you are aligned and I think it is so important for us to be right in our being, before we go about our doing. Or as Gospel Light, we would say here, Know, Grow, Go, you are dependent. And I pray our church will be a dependent church.
Time stamp in audio 0:26:33.5.
It's easy, I think if we go there and numbers start to grow another 500, 1,000, 2,000 people join us, we get puffed up in our heads and we think, we have done it. No, we have not done it. It's God and let's humbly cling on to Him. Let's be faithful, faithful to His Word, faithful to His cause, let's do things the right way, not compromising because without Him, we can do nothing. All the results that are seen are at the end of the day, might be proven to be wood, hay, stubble if we have not been abiding.
But let me say this as an encouragement, you are the light of the world is a tremendously encouraging statement, because light always conquers darkness, it is always victorious. Go to a very, very, very dark room and all you need is some light and it will light up the whole place, light always conquers darkness. Punggol is a land, is a people that many of them I believe are living in darkness, but we will always succeed in shining the light, always.
You say pastor, are you sure everyone will come to Jesus, everyone will become a Christian. No, I'm not saying that, I don't think everyone will become a Christian, there. I hope many, but certainly I don't think every. Then how do you say you are successful.
Time stamp in audio 0:28:05.2.
Now, look at this verse,
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
so that when they speak against you as evildoers,
they may see your good deeds and
glorify God on the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:12 ESV)
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles, honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God, on the day of visitation. You know something, I think about glorifying God, God is glorified in the salvation of souls, absolutely, but God is also glorified on the day of judgment. You say how? Well, if His church, we all, we have been faithfully showing the light of the Gospel, good deeds, showering them with encouragement and help and mercy and justice, and if they still refuse to receive and during their days, they speak against the church, as evildoers. Well, on the day of judgment when God judges them, He is glorified.
I say to you, our focus today is not to determine how many get saved, that is not for us to determine, salvation is of the Lord, but what we can focus on is to be a blessing and the more we shine, the more we are confident God will be glorified, one way or the other.
Now, by all means, help people come to Christ, that is most important but let us not think that we have failed, if people do not come to know Christ, if we had been faithfully shining the Gospel Light. I want to say also, as a church, I believe our goal in Punggol is not to grow big, I say that again, I believe our goal in Punggol is not to grow big.
Now, I'm not against numbers and we rejoice when one more person comes to faith in Jesus Christ and another one and another one because every soul is precious and every soul that is saved, brings glory to God. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is important for many people to come to Christ. But that is not our ultimate goal, because our goal must not be in numbers. I believe our goal is to be a blessing, not big, but blessing and if we go to Punggol to be a blessing, maybe God in His mercy will use us to bring many to come to Christ. But our focus is to go there and to serve, come what may. And I think if we have that mindset, God will use us.
But if we are only thinking and obsessed about numbers, numbers, numbers then maybe we would start to compromise, then maybe we will start to worship another God called numbers or status or success apart from God.
So Gospeliters, let us all go,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, these are collective terms. Yes, shine in your individual capacities, but together there is a distinct and unique calling for Gospel Light today.
If you are part of this church, I believe God has called you to Punggol to shine together with the rest of us.
I pray this anniversary will be one where this church begins to change, begins to grow, begins to put our hands to the plough, and most of all begins to follow Jesus in intimate discipleship. You are the light of the world, let's bow for a word of prayer together.
Jesus was that Light, that came into the world and in many ways, the world rejected Him. John tells us, when Light came to the world, the world comprehended it not, did not understand, did not receive, did not embrace the Light. But that Light began to grow, there are some who have been chosen to believe and follow and that trail of light that began some 2,000 years ago have come right now to the shores of Singapore, to many of you gathered in this room, but this trail of light, we pray will set a whole town ablaze in Punggol because God has called us there.
You say why, because Jesus has told us to go and make disciples, to go and let our good works shine before others and so I ask you this morning, if not you, then who, if not here, then where, if not now, then when. Maybe God is speaking to you today, about your discipleship to Jesus, about how you, you got to get out of that comfortable chair you been sitting on and get serving, get your hands dirty.
Maybe God is calling you and saying hey, I want you to live in Punggol, for you to stay there, live there. This is not the dream for your pastor or your leaders, this is for you too and maybe God is saying that to you, I do not know, certainly, we're not a church that wants to orchestrate a mass migration of our residences. But it is about the heart, it is about what God is saying. So I like to give you this time. Just think, just pray, just reflect, what will you do, what will you do.
Father, I thank You this morning, thanking You for Your leadership of this church, leadership of my life and leadership of all our lives. God, we are thankful that You have led us to Punggol, it is clear and I pray that each one of us would discern that call in a personal individual way, that we may know for sure for ourselves, not just because we are told but for ourselves. You have called us together, to shine the Gospel Light therein. Father, I pray You begin to work in hearts. I pray that You will lead us as a church. There is so many things, we can't even get our heads around. But Lord, every step of the way we want to put our hand in Yours and say use us and build Your church. Father, I pray more than anything else that we will get right back to discipleship to Christ, that we will not neglect the most fundamental of all, our abiding relationship with Him. So if there be sin in our lives, this morning, if there be rebellion in our hearts, would You, dear God, melt it away by Your love, cause us to repent and return. Renew our souls, renew our spirits, that we may walk with You. May a Christlike spirit everywhere be found, wherever Your people go. Father, bless Your church, bless all our friends gathered here today, they may be living in darkness today but there is marvelous light in Jesus, Your Son, help them see, remove that blindness, may they come into that Light today too, we pray all these things now in Jesus Name, Amen.
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