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Re-Thinking Your Purpose

Part 3

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Read Part 2

The Condition of our Country

Several weeks we celebrated the 236th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. July 4th is regarded as the birthday of the United States of America. I recently read a speech given by the 4th President of the United States in 1837 on the 61st birthday of that Declaration. In that speech, John Quincy Adams said:

"Why is it that next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?

Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospelís dispensation?

Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the redeemerís mission upon earth?"

Many of our first spiritual and political leaders believed that God had a special purpose for America. That it would be a country whose laws and government would be based on the laws and principles of the Bible and indeed it was for over 300 years (from the pilgrims to the middle of the 20th century), and that America would help fulfill the Great Commission of reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). But, we have forsaken our purpose and our faith in America, much like the generation that came after Joshuaís generation (Judges 2:7-14), "So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. 10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; 12 and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.[c] 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel." America needs a Revival of its Christians as Paul calls for in Romans 13:11-14, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts".

In our text, we see that our Lord is implying that apart from Godís people, the world is a dark, dangerous, and decaying place. We are the only salt and the only light. No other faith system in the world has the message of grace, love, and light. No other faith system reflects the life and love of a Gracious God. No other faith system can offer the forgiveness of sins and sure hope of eternal life. Only the Faith system of the one true gospel can do that. But we can not retard the corruption or show people the truth if we are contaminated or hide our lights as we saw last week

The Contamination of the Church.

Our light can not be seen and our ability to retard corruption is ineffective, when:

  • our faith is just about going to church and we remain in the salt shaker
  • the world influences us more than we influence the world
  • the sins of the old life are still prevalent in our lives today
  • Love and unity among the brethren are not clearly demonstrated.
  • One that we did not deal much with last week, but is true and that is if we try to separate our faith from our practice; that is, what you believe must be lived out in the way you do everything you do. This is why no Christian politician can ever separate Church and State. His politics must be based on what He really believes is true. And if you believe it is true you must be of the mind set that people have to hear the truth to be saved and not spend eternity in Hell. So, today, letís look at the third part of this sermon text.

The Commitment to our Call.

This morning I want to expound on 10 things you can and must do to influence your culture as salt and shine as light for God. Jesus, our Lord, said, "Let your Light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16)

Particular Ways That You can be Salt and Light.

A. Rededicate yourself to God and His Purpose (Rom. 12:1-2) These verses remind us that God has been so very merciful and gracious to us. He saved us and forgave us when we could not save ourselves and has provided us with an incredible sure hope. But in return, He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. The most reasonable way to demonstrate our worship and gratitude to Him is to give ourselves completely to Him as a non-refundable gift Ė a living sacrifice. This means to offer Him your body, your mind, your soul, your strength as long as you live, to be used for His glory. My mouth will speak for Him; my ears will hear for Him; my arms will serve for Him; my feet will go for Him. Lord, I am completely yours. I will be set apart to you; that is, I will be holy, the way a bride or groom sets him or herself apart to the other in a marriage, or the way a soldier sets himself apart to serve his country. I will no longer live for myself or for selfish desires. I will keep myself Holy for my Lord. The text literally says it is the reasonable and logical way to worship God. I will conform my thoughts to His Word and not let the world conform me to its philosophy. It must begin here. To be salt and light, you must be intentional; as intentional as getting married or joining the military. I will serve the Lord my God with my whole life. Can you do that? Will you do that? Right now?

B. Know What You Believe and Why (2Tim. 3:14ff) To be salt and light, you must know what you believe and why you believe it. This means that you will be serious about studying your Bible and learning its doctrine. Doctrine simply means teaching. Paul has been telling Timothy, his young protťgť, how difficult life as a Christ-follower can be, therefore it is essential to stay in the Bible, study its contents, and teach sound doctrine. If you believe abortion is wrong, why is it wrong? If you believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, why is it wrong? If you believe that the only way to get to heaven is by faith in Jesus, why is it the only way? If you believe there is a hell and that it is eternal, why do you believe it? If you believe that there is no such thing as reincarnation nor is there a second chance to be saved after one dies, why do you believe that? If you believe that God created everything in 6 literal days without the process of evolution, why do you believe that? If you believe that God is a just God and He will discipline His children and be just in dealing with sin, why do you believe that? If you believe that truth is absolute and that it is the book called the Holy Bible, why do you believe that? Being salt and light will mean times of confrontation when you will have to tell others why you canít accept the worldís philosophy and why you believe otherwise. You need to know your foundation that you are resting your life on (Matt. 7:24-27)

C. Live Your Life By Faith Ė Trust and Obey (Heb. 11:6) Quite simply this is just living what you believe. Paul calls it, "adorning the doctrine of God our Savior," (Titus 2:10). Living by faith means living by the book; the book being the Bible. I will obey its commands, I will believe its truths and I will follow its examples, I will trust God even when I donít understand, and regardless of the circumstances or the consequences. Four times the Bible says that, "the Just are to live by their faith". The author of Hebrews tells us in 11:6 that, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." It means having some deep seated convictions about what you will and will not do. I will set one day apart as special and will rest and worship that day. I will serve God. Period, end of discussion. Do you trust God enough to tithe when money is tight; to pray for your enemies and feed them when they have wanted to hurt you; to trust Him when He doesnít answer your prayers the way you wanted; to follow Him when the way seems scary? You see, your world is watching to see if you really believe what you say you believe and they know that if you do, you will trust and obey God regardless of the circumstances or consequences, like Daniel and the kings meat, or his 3 friends and the fiery furnace thing (Dan. 1 and Dan 3:17-18). But if you donít live what you believe, than they readily use the H word Ė Hypocrite.

D. Learn to Pray Ė Godís way. I have listened to people pray for 40 years and I am still amazed at how few follow instructions. Our Lord taught us how to pray in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. Most of the prayers I hear are about trying to get God to do something for me, like a genie in a lamp. They are about trying to get my will done in Heaven instead of wanting to get Heavenís will done on earth which is what prayer is really supposed to do. Are we not promised that if we pray according to His will He will give us the petitions we ask for or if we pray in His name it will be done, because to pray in his name is to pray for His business and His will? Paul urges us to pray the open 3 prayer in Colossians 4:3-4; that is, "Lord open the door for me to talk to a lost person, open their hearts to hear your message, and open my mouth when you open the door." Start a most wanted list and pray for their salvation or return to Christ daily. Meet with others to pray for the lost and for your prodigals and how we can meet the needs of the poor and hurting, and how we can reach the world with the gospel. Meet at lunch once a week, or before breakfast or prayer walk with someone in your community and pray for your family and community. Oh, how I wish that Prayer meetings were more important than any other service. When Christians really believe that prayer is the way God wants to accomplish His will, we will see great things for His glory. Consider fasting once a week or once a month, as we seek God to move among our churches and seek for the lost to be saved in America. More about prayer in a moment. In a few weeks I want to ask you to join me in a 40 Days of Prayer commitment leading up to our joint prayer concert on September 23rd at Westminster Baptist Church.

E. Practice Grace, Humility, and Love ĖForgiving, Serving, (John 13:34-35; Acts 16; 1 Peter 3:15ff). Several years ago, Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman starred in the movie Evan Almighty. While it wasnít very theologically sound, it had, as Bill OíReilly would say, some talking points. One was the use of the acronym ARK, or Acts of Random Kindness. We are told in Scripture that Love is kind, and that we should be kind to one another, and to do good to those who hate us. This kindness or goodness consists of intentional acts of blessing others whether we feel like it or not, or whether we like them or not. Itís helping our neighbors with yard work or snow removal. Itís baking cookies for the faculty and staff of this school. Its writing notes of thanks to those who have served us well. We do it because it ought to be done, needs to be done, or because our Lord said to it and because He did it. He is intentionally kind and blesses even the ungodly with sunshine and rain and goodness and His intention is that His goodness will lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4). That includes choosing your words carefully so they build people up and donít cut people done. That means not slandering others, not even your enemies. The goal is for others to know that when you open your mouth good stuff will come out, and even those who hate or persecute you will want to know why you are different and you can tell them Ė Jesus has changed your life, and now your mouth, arms, legs, etc., are His. He is your hope. The same is true when you learn to forgive and even minister to your enemies, you are being salt and light and your Father is pleased. Isnít that the point of 1 Peter 2:10-12?

F. Missions of Mercy Ė serving the hurting, needy, etc (Matt. 25) We are salt and light when we identify needs in our community, country or world and then move to meet those needs. This could be as simple as gathering school supplies for needy children in Emmitsburg, to establishing a food bank for the hungry or fixing meals for a homeless shelter, or starting a Christian based drug and alcohol recovery center, or visiting a local nursing home and asking the desk who doesnít get visitors and then visiting those people to read the Bible to them and listen to them, etc. It could be working with Prison Fellowship to disciple inmates, or volunteering in a literacy program or after school program to help kids with homework. It could be servant evangelism, like buying cases of water or sodas, putting them on ice and giving them away on hot days at the super market. It could be a free car wash. There are thousands of ways to do servant evangelism as missions of mercy. You just have to do it. It could be a ministry to help single parents or divorced persons know that they will recover. Missions of mercy can be identifying a people group in Mexico, China, India, or wherever and helping them with things they can not help themselves with. Did our Lord not feed the hungry and heal the hurting and give hope to the helpless? In both Mexico and Russia, I had people ask me, why an American would want to come to their country at his own expense to help them, and I could say, "Jesus." Our Lord said in Isaiah 58, and Matthew 25 that His own are easily identifiable by their missions of mercy (cp. James 1:27).

G. Confront Your Culture Ė(Eph. 5) You can not influence your culture if you isolate yourself from it. Jesus said, "As you (God Ėthe Father) have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world," (John 17:18 and John 20:21)." We are told that we are to be in the world just not of the world. Join civic organizations; join gun or archery clubs; coach little league; play in a community league; take someone golfing, fishing, etc. and talk about spiritual things; exercise at the gym and look for opportunities to bless others with your words or deeds and even with grace to defend holiness when foul language or crude jokes arise or different beliefs are stated. I have told the story before about a man who had just come to faith in Jesus and said he would never again go to his company picnic because there was so much drinking and cussing there. I told him that unless he was tempted to drink that was exactly where he should be. Just pick up Dr. Pepper or a Pepsi and if someone asks why he isnít drinking a beer, tell him, "Jesus, changed my life." Did not Jesus go to dinner parties hosted by sinners and self righteous people (Matt. 9; Luke 7)? (story of Eric Harrah and the Penn. State football player.) Be willing to be light and salt in some dark places and confront your culture like Jesus.

H. Concern for the Lost Ė Know how to share the gospel, be with the lost (Rom. 10:14ff). Honestly, do you know what the Gospel is? Do you know how to share the gospel? Have you shared it with anyone lately? Do you know the basic theology of sin and salvation; that is, that God is absolutely Holy, and man is absolutely un-holy and therefore un-fit for heaven? Do you know that the wages (what we earn) for our sin is death (separation) from a Holy God, and there is no way to pay for our own sins in light of Godís absolute holiness, but God made a way. He provided a sinless substitute (Jesus) to die for us, so we could be forgiven, and our lives could be redeemed? And, all we have to do is receive this by faith from God. Then look for ways to share this in your home, your church, your community, and your world. You can do this through outreach ministry with your church, through the internet, through praying for divine appointments; etc.

I. Invite people to church-small groups etc. We know a lot about the life and ministry of Peter but little about his brother Andrew. However, what we do know is that he was usually bringing someone to meet Jesus (John 1:42; 12:22). 80% of our community doesnít attend any kind of religious service but researchers tell us that 80% of them would visit a church or a service if they were invited by a friend. Invite your un-churched friends to visit with you. Take them out to lunch afterwards or back to your home and ask them what they thought about the service and the sermon. That is a great opportunity to share your story (testimony) with them and to share Jesus.

J. Seek Unity Ė (Eph. 4:1-6)- Speak well of other Churches, make sure that if you distance yourself from them it is because of major issues and not minor ones. The world needs to see that we love each other before it will believe that we love them. Our Lord Jesus said that this would be our badge of identification in John 13:34-35; John 17. Services like the up-coming prayer concert are so vital to our witness.

K. Not an exhaustive list for sure, but I promise you that if you seriously take this and commit to it, this church will grow and you will make a big difference in your world as Godís salt and light. Then be prepared for the results.

II. Prepare for Battle

If you do these 10 things, I can promise you two results will happen:

A. Your Good Works and Good Words will draw opposition. This is what our Lord has just told us in vv. 10-12, and He repeats in Matt. 10:24ff; and John 15:18 ff. Do not be knave but put on the Armor of God that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6. Satan will assault you.

B. Some people will have their lives forever blessed and changed and will know and praise God because you were in their lives and they were able to see and hear the truth about Jesus because you were His salt and light.

If you will be Godís salt and light, someoneís life will be changed and God will be honored, praised, and adored because you gave yourself to Him.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman