God Shines a Light in the Darkness

We Don't Have To Live In Darkness, Because Hope Is Found In The Light Of God

Dan Franklin
Jul 10, 2022    39m
No matter how hard life can be, we don't have to be stuck in darkness because hope is in the light of God. When we know the good news of the Gospel, it is our job to share the truth and trust that God will work on people's consciences as we do. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey, there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] For us as a church, and this is true not just for us, but really for every church, the dream is that more people will come to faith in Jesus. Amen? We want to see people come to faith in Jesus, that's what we're after. We're not after just being a club, although it's great to have friends and it's great to be together and it's great for us to grow in our faith and get more instruction, really, the dream, the thing that we're going for, is we want to see more people go from death to life, from judgment to adoption, we want to see more people come to faith in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:58] And this is why we love new life, we love to talk about the new life in our church family, whether it's through testimony videos sometimes, or just person-to-person, sharing about the new life that God has brought about. This is why we love baptisms. Do you guys like it when we do baptisms in here? It's so awesome. We get to not only usually hear stories of the people who are getting baptized, but we get this visual presentation for all of us of what it means to come to faith and Jesus. That day you're dipped into the water and that's your old self being dead and buried, and you're raised up out of the water to new life through the resurrected Jesus. We love that. We love sending out missionaries, long-term and short-term, to get to serve overseas and to get to spread the message of Jesus. We exist, our dream is that more people will come to faith in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:54] And in fact, I'm just going to ask you to participate, I'm going to ask for a show of hands in a minute, how many of you have at least one person that rests on your heart, that you just ache for them to come to faith in Jesus? Man, for some of you and maybe really close, it may be a family member; for others of you it's classmates, it's friends, it's coworkers, it's neighbors, there are people that we just ache, our hearts just hurt because we want them to know Jesus. And so as we get ready to walk through this passage, here's what we get to experience today, we get to experience the asking of the question, how does this happen? If this is our goal, if this is our dream, if this is what we're aching for, to see more people come to faith in Jesus, how does it actually happen? How do people come to faith in Jesus? And then the follow-up question we're going to get to look at is, how are we involved in this process? How do people come to faith in Jesus? And for all of us, how are we a part of that? How do we participate?

Dan Franklin: [00:03:04] And Paul's going to lay this out in Second Corinthians chapter 4 verses 1 through 6. Some of you may have already turned there when Emma was up here reading the Scripture, but if you haven't turned there in your Bibles or on your phones, I invite you to do that now. Paul is going to tell us, he's going to give us three pieces of instruction about how we are involved in this process, and through it to give us insight on what actually has to happen for somebody to come to faith in Jesus. And I'm not going to make you guys wait for it, I'm going to tell you the three pieces of instruction right now. The three pieces of instruction for Paul are these, he tells us, do your job, know your enemy, and hope in God. If we want to be involved in the process of God bringing new life, we're going to need to do our job, know our enemy, and hope in God.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:03] So let's start walking through this passage, and let's see how we discover this. And we start with the first piece of instruction, which is just Paul saying, Do your job. Now verse 1 is a little bit introductory in this, he says, "Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart." Now, I talked about this a little bit last week, but all through this series, this Glory and Frailty series that we're going to be in during the summer months, Paul sometimes uses the pronoun we and he doesn't always mean all Christians. He frequently means him and Timothy, who's the co-sender of this letter, and other apostles who are going around, Christian messengers. And that's what he has in mind now, he says, "Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry." And this ministry that he's talking about is the Ministry of the New Covenant, that the last couple of weeks we've highlighted. It's the idea that God has done something new, and the way that we relate to him is not by being led by the rules, but by being led by his Spirit. It's not through us trying to find a way to earn a spot in God's family, it's through Jesus purchasing our place in God's family, and it's coming to Him by faith. Paul says we have this ministry, and he wants to make clear that he understands the only reason why he gets to be a messenger for that message is because of God's mercy.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:28] The reason that we've called this series Glory and Frailty is because, throughout, every part of this series in Second Corinthians, Paul is reinforcing the idea that God shows the world his glory through the frailty of his servants. Some of you know about the Apostle Paul's background, he persecuted Christians, he threw them in prison, and he oversaw some of their executions. Paul is saying, I get to spread the message of Jesus, and do you know why? Because of God's mercy. And then he says, because we have this ministry through God's mercy, we don't lose heart. Which basically means we don't give up.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:14] Now, a quick question, when are you tempted to give up? I'll wait all day, when are you tempted to give up? Yeah, when things get difficult, when there's opposition, when there's resistance. So Paul is implying that we're going to be tempted to give up, it's not going to be a breeze, it's going to be difficult, but we don't give up, we don't lose heart. And even though Paul here is speaking specifically of apostles and Christian messengers, we all have a part in the spreading of the message of the New Covenant, we all have a part in this ministry. So even though Paul is saying we apostles, we all get to incorporate ourselves in this and say, all right, we don't lose heart either. Even when we see resistance, even when people that we're praying for are now responding to the Gospel, even when we feel laughed out of the room by somebody that we've shared the Gospel with, we do not lose heart.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:09] And then in verse two, he explains what we do, what our job is. He says, "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God." And so he actually, this verse two is sort of split into two sections. He says, here's the first thing that's part of our job, we renounce something. In other words, we say, we're going to have nothing to do with this anymore, we renounce secret and shameful ways. And what does he mean by secret and shameful ways? He tells us, he says, "We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God." We're not trying to hide things from people when we communicate the Gospel, we don't distort, we don't play down, we just look to communicate, so we've renounced any kind of deception.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:01] And then in the second half of the verse, he says, "On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God." So when he talks about commending ourselves to everyone's conscience, he says, basically, we communicate the message in a way that we are appealing to people's consciences, that they would respond to God out of conscience, and not about misunderstanding or not about manipulation, we appeal to their consciences. And I love that he said this multiple times throughout this extended section of Second Corinthians. He says, "We do this in the sight of God." Do you know what that means? God's watching. Act like God's watching because you know what? He is watching. Paul says we do this with integrity, we speak the truth plainly, and we're not trying to trick anyone.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:46] And Paul already kind of alluded to this at the end of chapter two, if you remember back to the very first week of the series. He said, "We're not like some who are peddlers of the Word of God." And peddlers isn't really a word that we use anymore, but it has to do with sort of the slick salesman. And that's what Paul is going for here, he's saying when we present the Gospel, our job is not to be slick salesmen, our job is to present the truth, plainly, appeal to people's consciences, and do with integrity before God.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:21] Now, some of you may be in sales, but whether you're in sales, don't worry, you're not in trouble, but whether you're in sales or not, we've all experienced people trying to sell things to us. And if you're a clever salesperson, when you're trying to sell something, you play up the benefits, and what do you play down? You play down the costs. Have you ever had a situation where somebody told you how much something cost, and then you got the actual bill for it? And you realize when they told me the cost, they didn't include all of these other hidden costs. We have experience with that, so Paul says we don't do that with the Gospel. We don't present the Gospel and not tell people about the hidden costs because we just want them to sign on the dotted line. He says we speak the truth plainly.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:13] So let's actually do that for a few minutes here. Let's just speak the truth plainly. We could be tempted as believers in Jesus to say, we want to present the Gospel to people where there's no mention of there being any cost. But I'm here to tell you this morning there is a cost, Jesus, our Lord, said, count the cost of following me, he wanted people to consider the costs. So let's talk a little bit about the cost because if you're not a Christian and you're thinking about coming to faith in Jesus, let's speak the truth plainly, it's going to cost you some things.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:49] Number one, it's going to cost you your pride. Because if you're going to come to faith in Jesus, you've got to humble yourself. And I don't know if you've ever noticed that the word humility is connected to the word humiliation. Coming to faith in Jesus is humbling because it means you've got to come to the point of saying, I am empty and bereft, I have no ability to save myself, I've dug myself a hole with my sin, I'm a stranger to God and I have no way back, my only hope is in Jesus, so you're going to lose your pride. It's going to cost you your pride, and that's painful.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:27] It's also going to cost you something else that's very precious to us, especially as Americans, it's going to cost you control of your life. Now, just as a quick aside, you are not currently in control of your life, you just believe that you're in control of your life. But it at least cost us the sense of saying I am independently making my own decisions. Paul says later on in verse 5 of the same passage, he says, We proclaim Jesus as Lord. Not Jesus as suggester in our life, but Jesus as the Lord, Jesus as the King, the one that we're taking instruction and direction from, the one that we're saying, you decide what I do and I'm going to trust you. And so if you really bow the knee to Jesus as Lord, you're going to suddenly find yourself in a position where you're going to say, hey, what I'm doing with my money, that wasn't my idea, that wasn't what I came up with. The fact that I'm reconsidering my career, that wasn't my idea. The fact that I'm thinking maybe I should break up with this person, that that wasn't my idea. This is Jesus' idea in how he's leading me, it's going to cost you control of your life.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:36] And it's also going to cost you something else, it's going to cost you temporary pleasures. As believers in Jesus, so right now, if you're not a believer, there are things in your life that you are enjoying and not all enjoyment is sin, but there are some sinful things that you're enjoying that first of all, you are now going to be called to wage war against, and that's difficult. And you're going to say, gosh, I kind of like those things.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:04] I'm going to I'll tell you another secret, and those of you who are believers, you know that this is true. As believers in Jesus, we still fall, we still struggle with sin. Amen? Yeah, none of us is above that, we still fall into sin. But have you noticed that there is a difference in your capability of enjoying that sin when you fall into it? This is news, I need to let everybody know, that if you become a Christian, even if you do continue to sin, God's not going to let you enjoy it the way you used to. You are going to have this person called the Holy Spirit living inside of you, convicting you. In fact, I remember the pastor of the church I grew up going to, he used to say the most miserable person in the world is not a non-Christian, it's not an atheist, it's a Christian who's in ongoing sin. You can't enjoy God, and can't enjoy the sin, because we're trying to do both. If you follow Jesus, if you put your life in Jesus' hands, it will cost you. And friends, we are not called to hide those costs.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:06] But man, you know what far outweighs the cost? Do you know what far outweighs everything that it costs us? The benefit of knowing God through Jesus Christ. We were made by God for God. And so if you're living right now in a way that you're not connected to God, you're not living the true human life that you were meant to live, you are meant to be connected to your creator, you were meant to experience the love and the grace of God through Jesus Christ. And even then, when we think about the things that we give up and the here and now, and there are things that we give up, those are temporary pleasures that we give up for eternal promises from the God of the universe. The fact that there are costs is not to say that the cost isn't worth it, but Paul says we speak the truth plainly.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:03] And do you know what I would love? I would love if there are some of you in this room, or down in the outside service today, that today is the day that you say, I am going to put my faith in Jesus. I haven't before. I'm going to do it right now. But if you're going to do it, I want you to know what you're doing, so our job is to speak the Word of God plainly. And as you're talking to your neighbors, and you're talking to your friends, and you're talking to your family members, your job is not to try to make the Gospel sound better than you think it sounds when you just tell the plain truth. Your calling is, to tell the truth, do your job, and trust that God is going to work on people's consciences as you do this. Paul says if you want to be involved in people coming to faith in Jesus, do your job, and speak the truth plainly. That's step one, that's the first instruction.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:54] The second instruction that he gives us in verses 3 and 4 is, to know your enemy. So let's look at verse 3, he says, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing." Now, all right, those of you guys who are here last week, we talked a lot about the veil. What biblical character did the veil connect us with? All right, Moses, it connected us with Moses because in the Old Testament, in Exodus chapters 33 and 34, Moses wore a veil over his face because he had met with God, his face was glowing with the glory of God, and the veil was a barrier so that the people didn't freak out when they saw Moses glowing face, it's a barrier.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:37] And Paul, now, is using the whole illustration of the veil differently. And he's talking about the idea that people who are not Christians, that they're veiled, there's a barrier keeping them from coming to faith in Jesus. And so part of what Paul is saying right here is he's just acknowledging not everybody embraces faith in Jesus. So he's saying if the Gospel is veiled, the problem is not with the Gospel, the problem is with the hearers. Now, this doesn't mean that those of us, as we're talking about the Gospel with the people around us, that we don't have a job to make sure we're being clear about it. But Paul is just saying the problem is not with the message, the problem is with the hearers, the problem is that people who are perishing are veiled.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:18] In fact, he goes on in verse 4 and doubles down on this. In Verse 4 he says, "The God of this age." Quick quiz, who's the God of this age? Yeah, it's Satan. Jesus, in John 12:31, called Satan the prince of this world. Paul, in Ephesians 2, calls him the prince of the power of the air. God is always in charge, ultimately, but there's a sense in our current world is we're waiting for the return of Jesus, Satan is holding sway, he's holding a level of dominion. And so. Jesus, he's not saying that Satan is a god on the level that we normally think of the word God, you can see its lowercase g there, which is a sign to us. He is the ruler; he's having dominion in this current age. He says the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel. And I love this, "The light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." In the Greek, it's just a whole bunch of ofs. It's the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. Jesus is the center of this story, the center of God's glory. And that's why he says He is the image of God. Jesus shows us what the invisible God is like. But Paul says the reason why people aren't responding to the Gospel is because the God of this age, Satan, has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they can't open their eyes to the Gospel. And here's what I want to make sure we get, the primary reason why people don't respond to the Gospel is not an educational problem, it's not an economic problem, it's not a governmental problem the primary reason why people don't respond to the Gospel is because of a spiritual problem, and the only solution to that spiritual problem is a spiritual solution.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:23] We talked a couple of weeks ago after Roe v Wade got overturned and had what I hope we could experience as a celebration of something that we consider an act of justice, and at the same time, just some grief and continued prayer over where our country is with abortion. And what I want to say about abortion is this, abortion is evidence of the God of this age, blinding the minds of our culture. And I want to take a moment and I want to be very clear so that everybody understands what I mean by that. When I talk about there being satanic deceptions surrounding abortion, I'm not primarily talking about the woman who goes and gets an abortion. There certainly is deception and oppression from the enemy when that happens, but I just want to say, it is not hard at all for me to understand how a woman who feels cornered and alone and desperate and poor and maybe pressured, goes and does something that she knows is wrong. I'm in fact, one of the things that is often not as reported is that a huge swath of women who go and get abortions say, I know this is wrong, but I'm desperate.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:35] A quick question, has anybody ever in here in a moment of desperation done something that you knew was wrong because it felt like your only option? We've all done that. And so I'm not saying, it's not an excuse, but I'm saying that's not where the primary satanic deception is happening in our culture. We all do things that we regret when we're in desperate circumstances. I think the satanic deception in our culture is that in the light of day when we are all sober-minded and thinking clearly and not in desperate situations, that we all look at it and say, killing our babies, we think that's okay. That is satanic deception. And we can celebrate it, some of us did, I'm not ashamed at all to say I was thankful when the decision came down. Obviously, in California, it didn't change anything for us. But we can celebrate, and we can say, all right, that's a good thing. And we can continue to advocate at the legislative level, this is not a governmental problem, this is a spiritual problem.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:33] We've experienced over the last couple of weeks some more mass shootings which just take the breath away from us when we hear about these things. And in the aftermath, we talk about guns, which is appropriate, it's appropriate for us to talk about guns and say, is there something that we can do about the guns? And then say it's appropriate for us to talk about mental health and say there's something going on with this. We as Christians should be very clear on this, talk about guns, that's fine; talk about mental health, that's fine, that is not why this is happening, this is a spiritual problem and it's only going to be solved through a spiritual solution. It doesn't mean we ignore the rest, it doesn't mean we don't advocate for things, for common grace things that are going to help us as a culture and preserve life and help people, but it means that ultimately we look at this and say the reason why we're a mess is not because we just got to get more people in school, and more people in college, and just raise people out of poverty, it's because we gave a spiritual problem and the enemy has deceived us and blinded our eyes. And that means if we're going to be part of the solution to the spiritual problem, we need to know what we're up against.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:41] And it also means that if we're going to be part of the spiritual solution, we've got to take very seriously, Paul's third instruction that he gives us in this passage in verses 5 and 6. Paul says. if you want to be a part of seeing people, come to faith in Jesus, do your job, don't try to make the Gospel sound better, set it forth plainly, do your job, know your enemy, and know what you're up against, and the third instruction is hope in God. Doesn't this seem like this should just be the one instruction in some ways? That's just it, hope in God, place your confidence in your hope in God. He says, "For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." He says, here's our message. Paul says, Believe me, my message is not the Apostle Paul. Timothy is saying, my message is not Timothy, that's not helping anyone. My message is certainly not Dan Franklin, our message is Jesus, our message is Jesus and Jesus is Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:43] Hey, quick aside, our message is not even just God in a generic way. Our core goal is not that we just want people who don't believe in God to believe in God. Now that's better, and that's a necessary step along the way. We do not simply preach a vague God, we preach specifically the God and Father of Jesus Christ, we preach Him.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:07] And look at what Paul said at the end, he says, we preach two things. We preach Jesus as Lord, and we preach ourselves as your servants. Here's, by the way, what Paul means by this, Paul doesn't mean, I'm your servant Corinthians, and so I will do whatever you want me to do. Paul's saying, I'm your servant, so you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to tell you the truth, I'm going to tell you what God says.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:29] Sometimes we hear the term servant leadership, and we think about that as parents, or we think about that as leaders in some ways. And we say, well, if I'm going to be a servant leader like Jesus, that means that I've got to always do what the people under my care want me to do. No, it doesn't, it means that you do what's most important in pointing them towards Jesus. Paul consistently wrote letters to the Corinthians that were harsh and hard to swallow. And he says, do you know why I was doing that? That's because I'm your servant.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:59] But verse 6 is the real climax of this passage. In verse 6 Paul says, "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” a made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ." In verse 4, there was a similar thing, I talked about all the of's, in verse 6, at the end he just says it again, "For our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ." Jesus is the center of the message of God's glory, and Paul and his companions, in their frailty, are proclaiming that message.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:42] But let's go back to the beginning of verse 6, Paul says, "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness." Who remembers the Bible verse where God said, let light, shine out of darkness? Some of you are picking up, and some of you might be like I know the Bible pretty well, and I'm not familiar with that quote. But you may notice, and some of you picked up on this, it's very similar to a very famous quote by God. In fact, it's very similar to the first quote that we have in the Bible from God, which was, yeah, "Let there be light." Going all the way back to Genesis chapter 1 verse 3 the third verse of the Bible, when there's darkness and nothing's been made yet that God said, let there be light. And here's what Paul is going for in this analogy, he's saying, God spoke over the darkness and created and said, "Let there be light." And he says, now God has said, let there be light in a different way. He's spoken to our dark hearts, and he said, let there be light. And that's the only way that spiritual problem gets solved.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:47] But instead of just hearing me talk about it, let's actually look to experience this for a moment. Let's look to take in the illustration that Paul is making here of darkness and light. So let's go all the way back again to Genesis chapter 1, right before verse three, where we have that first quote from God, we get this in Genesis chapter 1 verse 2, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep." Now we know who's using the Bible phone app. There was nothingness in the beginning, it was all dark and formless. And God then did what only God can do, God spoke into the darkness, into the nothingness, "And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." And God did what only God can do, he created everything. That is the power of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:56] And Paul says, now God did this another time. He did this all the way back at the beginning, but he's doing this again. And so we reach the second stage of this, where Paul says the God of this age blinded the minds of unbelievers, and we get the reminder that everything went dark. But this time it wasn't physical darkness, it was spiritual darkness. We're wandering around and we're trying to figure out what's what and we're trying to find purpose, and we keep stumbling and we keep falling, and we fall deeper into sin and deeper into estrangement and deeper into despair without God. And then God looks at our darkened hearts, not because of our goodness, but because of His goodness to us, he looks at our darkened, rebellious hearts and he says, let there be light. And the light of the Gospel shines through Jesus, the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:58] Nobody is getting new life because we suddenly have educated them or brought them out of poverty, as good as those things are. People are coming to faith in Jesus because the glory of Jesus through the cross shines through to us all. And what we're told is that when anybody turns to Jesus and puts their faith in Him, the veil is lifted, and darkness becomes light. The God who, at the beginning said, let there be light, if you're a Christian, looked at you and your darkened heart, and the only reason you're a believer in Jesus is because he said, let there be light. How powerful is this when we think about this?

Dan Franklin: [00:29:44] Now, here's the deal. First of all, we should respond to that with glorious gratitude, looking at God and saying, you didn't have to do this, I'm not a Christian because I was really smart, or I figured it out, or I got to the bottom of things, or I decide to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I am a believer in Jesus because God looked at my dark heart and fully by His grace, said, let there be light. But here's what this also means, this also means that that person that your heart aches for, that you're looking at them and you're saying, I want them to know Jesus so badly. I just want them to have faith in Jesus. I love them, I know that God wants them, and I want them to turn to Jesus. The only way they're turning to Jesus is if God looks at their darkened heart and says, let there be light.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:31] Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't look to be clear and good speakers with the Gospel, we should. But what I want you to know, is nobody was ever kept out of God's family because we weren't very good at how we shared the Gospel. Thank God for that. I've talked to people at different times, and they're burdened down, they're like, oh gosh, if I didn't say it right, or if I said it in a way that was distracting, or if they misunderstood, what a horrible thing to think about them spending eternity apart from God because I didn't quite say it the right way. Relieve yourself of that burden forever, partly with this realization, you are never saying it the right way. You are never saying it with a good enough argumentation. You can say it well, I'm not saying we don't try to say it well. What I'm saying is you saying it well doesn't shine light into their blinded hearts.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:24] I'll say something else, we as Christians, we should absolutely be looking to live authentic Christian lives, that reflect Jesus. But the main reason, despite what people might say, the main reason why people are kept out of the Kingdom of God is not because of hypocritical Christians. Now, are hypocritical Christians a problem? 100%, we should have no doubt about that. But the main reason why people are not coming to faith in Jesus is not because of hypocritical Christians. It's because they are blinded by the god of this age.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:01] Now, there might be a few of you right now, that you're hearing this and you're thinking, well, if this only happens, if God does this, I guess it doesn't even totally matter what I do because the only way they're coming to faith in Jesus is if God shines the light of the Gospel into their heart, so it doesn't really matter what I do. Here's the deal, in our remaining 8 minutes, we are not going to solve the eternal problem of free will and God's sovereignty, we're not going to do that right here. We've had other events and other teachings extended on that, if you watch that, it will be solved for you, I promise you. All right, that's good that you laughed, that's not actually going to happen, but we do delve into it more deeply.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:37] But what I want to say is this Paul is the one saying the only reason anybody comes to faith in Jesus is because God looks at their darkened heart and says, let there be light. And do you know what Paul spent his entire life doing, spreading the Gospel wherever he could go, being used up for this? Paul didn't look at this and say, well, if it's got to be God who shines a light, it doesn't matter what I do. Paul said, since God is the one who can shine the light into any darkened heart, I'm going to go around telling everybody. Because God is more than capable of saying to somebody's darkened heart, let there be light. We don't look at this with discouragement, we look at this with hope. And our hope is not that we're going to have good enough answers. Our hope is not even that our lives are going to be reflective enough about the Gospel to get people into the family of God. Jesus lived perfectly and spoke perfectly, and he didn't have a perfect conversion record. What we need is to do our job with hope in God, to know what we're up against with hope in God, and then to prayerfully, desperately seek God in prayer. because the great God of love is the only one who can bring light into a darkened heart.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:59] I said it before, but this last one, this last instruction, hope in God. This is everything. Your hope, your confidence that one day you are going to be further along, putting to death your sin and living in a closer relationship with Jesus, your hope in that is hope in God, who said he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. And those people that you're desperately praying for and longing for, what I want you to know is that God loves those people more than you love those people. And your hope for their future is based not in your speaking ability, but in the ability and the love of the God who shines light into darkness.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:42] Here's what I want us to do right now. I asked the question at the beginning, how many of us have at least one person on our hearts that we ache to see them come to faith in Jesus? We're going to look to do something about that right now, and what we're going to look to do about that is to hope in God and turn to him. So we're going to take a minute right now, and I'm going to ask you, you can go ahead and bow your heads, we're going to do this quietly. After this is done, I. I will have a benediction for us and we'll close the service. But we just want to take time right now, in hope in God, and I want to ask you to pray specifically for the person that God has placed on your heart or the people that God has placed on your heart. And pray for yourself and the opportunities that God will give you, and for courage, and pray that God in his deep grace will say to that person's heart, let there be light.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:29] Father, we come before you with our burdens. Thank you, that you promise us that when we bring our cares and our burdens to you, that you carry those for us. Somebody's eternal destiny, that's too much for us, that's too much for us to carry, and so thank you that you have not asked us to carry that burden. Father, we come to you with our family members, we come to you with the husbands and the wives, the sons and the daughters, the brothers and the sisters, the moms and the dads, the coworkers, the neighbors, the cousins, the classmates, the lifelong friends, father that our hearts just break over them still being in darkness and not having the light of the Gospel of Jesus. Father, we pray that you give us boldness, we pray that you give us strength, we pray that you call us with your boldness to speak up and that you give us the wisdom to know when we have spoken up, and it's time not to nag. We pray that you'd lead us by your spirit, with your wisdom, and Father, we pray that in your deep grace you shine the light of the glory of Christ into the hearts of people who are lost without you. We pray that you strengthen us as our hope is in you, the only reason we're growing, the only reason we're changing, the only reason we're experiencing transformation is because you and your grace continue to speak to our darkened hearts and say, let there be light. Lead us to hope in you in all that we do, and to with humility and plainness, do the job that you've called us to do. We pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:14] And let me just ask you to stand as I get ready to close our service. I want to say this just real briefly before I read a final passage just to close our service. We're going to have some people on either side of the stage afterward. I mention this, do you know what I'd love more than anything else is for there to be some people here today that are saying, I have not yet turned to Jesus today, I'm turning to Jesus. And if you do, you're following that invitation to hope in God, not to hope in your own goodness, but to hope in the God who sent his son to die for all of our sins.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:50] But if all of us think of the job that God called us to do, and I'm going to read as our benediction the last two verses of chapter five of this same letter, which, by the way, will be the last two verses we go over in this series. Second Corinthians 5 verses 20 and 21, "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Amen? Amen. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848