And Christ Will Shine On You
June 9, 2019
It is interesting how pretty much everyone in the world experiences the same thing at the beginning of each and every day. We all wake up from our sleep. And there are so many ways to do it.
The most popular way to wake up from our sleep is to get help from alarms on our phones or clocks on our nightstands. Another popular way is to wake up to the sound of screaming kids or neighborhood lawn mowers or construction work outside. On good days, you might wake up to the smell of breakfast or coffee in the kitchen. On not-so-good days, you might wake up to a phone call from your boss or to a sudden and urgent need to go to the bathroom.
But perhaps the best way to wake up in the morning is to have no alarm or noise, no people or pressure, but rather just the light of the sun. Just letting natural light from the window softly shine on you and gently hit all the bioengineering in your eyes to get your brain and body all timed and readied for a new day.
God’s Word describes the salvation of sinners as a shining of the light of Christ upon the dead who are asleep. It says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” What a beautiful declaration of salvation. What a wonderful description of sinners who are woken up from the sleep of spiritual death. We were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). But God resurrected us and made us alive in Christ (2:4-6). Jesus shined on us, and we woke up.
This is the best way and the only way to wake up in the dark night of spiritual death. Not by the noise of human effort or people power. Not of your own doing. Not a result of works so that you may boast. But rather just the light of the Son. Just having the bright morning star of heaven lovingly shine on you and graciously replace your heart of stone with a heart of flesh to get you all timed and readied for the Day of the Lord. For some of us, this shining was immediate and dramatic, like the turning on of a light switch. For others of us, this shining was gradual and ordinary, like the brightening of a sunrise. But for all of us, we have Jesus. Jesus has shone his light upon us who were once dead sinners. And now we who look to him who are radiant, and our faces shall never be ashamed (Psalm 34:5).
This is a crucial starting point for how we are to relate to people who do not believe in Jesus. There are people all around us who have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. They are sexually immoral, impure, covetous and idolatrous. They are full of filthiness and foolish talk and crude joking. They are sons of disobedience who deserve the wrath of God. They are sinners. They are darkness.
And this is how we are to relate to them. We are to take no part in the unfruitful and shameful works of darkness. And we are to expose them. In other words, we are to be holy. And we are to shine the light of Christ upon them.
Believers and non-believers are different. We who are in Christ have no spiritual fellowship with people who are not. No spiritual fellowship, no partnership, no communion. We who are in Christ hate sin and do not find it pleasureable. We think that sin is absolutely terrible. There is enmity between us and them. We are not on the same team. We are not even playing the same game.
But this does not mean that we are to avoid non-believers at all cost. Instead, we are to expose who they are and what they do. We are to expose them to the light of Christ - to his shining and perfect law, to his dazzling gospel, to his brilliant knowledge and truth, to his irresistible grace and glowing call for repentance and faith.
More specifically, we are to put a spotlight on what sin is and show just how terrible it is. We are to turn on the light switch to uncover the vanity of sin and how false idols always over-promise and under-deliver. We are to pierce the darkness with knowledge of the consequences of sin and the reality of eternal death and hell. We are to light our lamps and declare the gospel of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection and ascension. All of this is exposure. This is exposure to the light of the salvation of Jesus Christ. And this is what we are supposed to do… for them. For those who are darkness and asleep. For those who are dead in their sins.
And we need to do all of this without falling in the very darkness that we are trying to pierce and dispel. Wouldn’t it be sad if you tried to help someone out of a deep and dark pit but ended up falling into it yourself? Wouldn’t it be sad if you tried to influence non-believers and bring the light of Christ to them but ended up being influenced by them and swallowed up in their darkness?
This is what the Lord wants us to be aware of here in today’s text. We are not to take part in the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, we are to expose them. We are not here to join in the sins of non-believers. We are here to expose them. Therefore do not sin. Do not sin when you have an important job to do. Your business is holy and royal. You are a child of light. It would be most ironic and senseless and sad for a child of light to walk in darkness.
Dear brother, dear sister, let me remind you that at one time you were darkness. But now you are light in the Lord. God put someone in your life when you were in darkness asleep and dead in your sins. Perhaps it was a youth pastor at a retreat. Or your mom or dad. Or a friend from school. Whoever it was, God put that person in your life so that you would wake up and be exposed to the light of the gospel of Jesus. The only reason why you are saved is because Christ shined on you. Therefore be brave and be motivated to share the gospel with others. Exposing darkness and sin is the most loving thing you can do for non-believers. Some will reject and rage against us. But others will wake up and repent and believe in the Lord. So remember that they are worth it. And remember that you were worth it too.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 60:1). “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (Isaiah 9:2). And believe what our Lord said in John 5:24-25. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
This is the best. When evangelism is on your mind, there’s a good chance that sin is not. And I guess that is why so many believers who have gone on a mission trip are most happy when they are on the mission field.
I remember going on a bunch of mission trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We did the usual: vacation bible school, skits and songs. We performed skits and songs. We handed out candies and cleaned up trash. We built and fixed things. We played with children.
And on every trip, we devoted one night to showing a movie for everyone in the village. We would show the movie The Chronicles of Narnia. It was so cool to have everyone sit on the ground and watch a movie on a makeshift screen from a white bedsheet… all under a dark but starry sky.
But best part of the night came after the movie. With the help of a microphone and a native translator next to me, with illustrations from the movie and a flashlight put to some scribbled words on my pocket notebook, I would share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the crowd before they went home. And I must say that in all the years of doing ministry as a pastor, it was one of the best experiences ever. It was exciting and such a blessing to be used by the Lord to shine his light upon those who are in darkness asleep. Upon those who are dead in their sins.
Dear Highland, let us think deeply and carefully about evangelism and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the last several years, our church has not focused much on evangelism. But that was an intentional choice. Our session, our senior pastor and elders wanted to get back to the basics and they spent the last several years making sure that the foundation of our church would be solid for the long-term future. God has been faithful to us, and that work, that chapter in the history of our church, is soon coming to an end. This means that we are to look forward now to evangelism. We need to officially prepare to shine the light of Christ in a world of darkness and death.
Please begin to pray for our church. Please ask the Lord for wisdom and courage and opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus with others. I spent a little bit of time working with the social media folks in our history team. I look forward now to spending a little bit of time with the folks in our evangelism team. And if you have a desire to take part in officially thinking about and planning for evangelism on behalf of our church and G5, then volunteer and join the evangelism team now. It’s going to be a great year ahead of us.
One day, the Lord Jesus will return in power and in glory. Death will be swallowed up in victory. There will be no more sin and suffering. And if he returns after our lifetimes, then we who are in him will experience the same thing at the beginning of the new heavens and new earth. We will all wake up from our sleep.
You will be changed. The trumpet will sound. And you will be raised imperishable. And all the new and imperishable bioengineering in your resurrection eyes will be hit with someone you have never seen before but always knew. You will see the Son, the bright morning star who says, “I am the light of the world.” For it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Praise the Lord! May you look forward to being all timed and readied for that day, for the Day of the Lord.