daily biblical sermons


Christ gives us the light of the gospel not only for ourselves, but to preach it to others too
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Thursday, Third Week of the Year, January 30, 2020
2 Samuel 7:18-19, 24-29, Psalm 131, Mark 4:21-25


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on the stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light’” (Mark 4:21-22).

 

 

Christ gives us light, the light of the gospel. Through the gospel we receive the gift of justification and salvation from our sins, whereby our guilt is removed and the subsequent depression caused by guilt for our sins is lifted from us, and in its place God reckons to us his own righteousness so that we shine with the righteousness of God himself (Romans 4:5). This is what the gospel does to us, when we hear it and receive it with faith and sincerely repent of our sins and abandon them.

 

 

Why does God give us this light of the gospel, which is not something that a person can discover or figure out for himself by his own intelligence or observations of the world around him, for the gospel is a revelation from God given through his Son Jesus Christ to those who put their faith in him? Jesus gives us this light of the gospel, as he tells us today, so that we may not only enjoy it ourselves, but so that we might also share it with others to illuminate them too, for this light cannot be obtained by peoples on their own who have had no contact with Christ or the Christian faith.

 

 

It is a great error, and one that is spreading in our own day like a deadly cancer these past couple of years within the Catholic Church, that it is a very bad thing to ever try to convince anyone of the truth of Christianity or to try to convert them to Christianity. This is a boldfaced lie. It is a manifestly absurd false teaching, completely alien to New Testament Christianity. We must counter this false teaching by preaching what Christ himself has taught us in today’s gospel, namely that we are not to put our light under a basket or under a bed, but on a stand to illuminate the whole house, which is the whole world.

 

 

It is not enough just to live our Christian life ourselves and hope that somehow non-Christians will be attracted to our faith by seeing us. Christianity can only be adequately communicated by using words, that is, by preaching the good news of salvation that God has now made available in his Son Jesus Christ. And our preaching must explain to others how this salvation can come about for us, namely through putting our faith in Christ as the Savior of the world, whose atoning death on the cross for our sins suffered our penalty for our sins for us, so that when we put our faith in him and sincerely repent and abandon our sins, his suffering and death on the cross will be credited by God to our personal account as paying our debt of suffering and death that we have with God because of our sins. The result of our act of faith in Christ and his gospel is that we go forth justified by God, that is, declared and thereby made righteous in his sight, not with a righteousness that we ourselves earned by our law keeping and good works, for we were ungodly sinners, but rather through God reckoning to us his own righteousness as a gift by our faith in Christ (Romans 4:5).

 

 

Christianity is, therefore, a missionary religion by nature. We are given this light of Christ to be illuminated with and cleansed and transformed by in order to be made righteous, and then we are to shine and illuminate others, but this requires not only that we stand and shine passively, but that we communicate this good news to others in words, because “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

 

 

To benefit from the salvation that God has given us in his Son we must call upon him with faith. “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15 NRSV). “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

 

 

In other words, once we have received this light and have been transformed by it, we must share it with others by our good example and our words, and these are not just any words about any topic, but words that express the gospel, the good news of how God saves us through his Son Jesus Christ, when we put our faith in him. Once we proclaim this gospel message in words, if those that hear (or read) our preaching make an act of faith in what we have preached and genuinely confess and abandon their sins, they also will be justified, that is, declared and thereby made righteous, illuminated by the light of Christ, and their guilt will be lifted and their depression caused by their sins will be taken from them, and instead they will shine with God’s own righteousness; and the punishment for their sins will have been already suffered for them by Christ on the cross, which will be credited to their account as though they themselves had suffered it for their sins, and so they will be exonerated and absolved, and God will drop his case against them, and they will be free to go in the peace, love, and joy of the Lord.

 

 

This is putting the lamp on a stand, not under a bed or a basket. If we do not explicitly explain to other people the gospel, but only enjoy the light of the gospel ourselves, have we not put the light of Christ under a basket or under a bed?

 

 

This light of Christ may have originally come to us in a hidden and secret way in the depths of our heart, but “there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light” (Mark 4:22). Even though Jesus’ teachings were explained privately to his disciples, for the crowds could not yet understand them, these teachings were intended to be later revealed and manifested to everyone, for Jesus said, “What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27).

 

 

This is our mission as Christians. This is the mission of the Church. Our mission is not just to passively live the faith ourselves and presume that others will be attracted to us without ever knowing what we believe or what the mystery of the gospel is and so will come and knock on our door and ask to be baptized. The mission of the Church is something far more active if we take it in its New Testament sense, for it is this, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The mission of the Church is: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

 

If you are going to make disciples of all nations, you are going to have to work to convert them and to convince them of the truth of Christianity, and you are going to have to explain it in detail in words in your sermons and in your conversations. How else can you teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded us, and how else can you make them disciples?

 

 

And when we preach the gospel to the whole creation, what are we to preach? Our own ideas? Care of the environment? Climate change? Are we to preach their own non-Christian indigenous religions to them? We may mention some of all of the above, but this is not the heart and core of what we are to preach, for what we are to preach is the gospel.

 

 

And what is the gospel? It is the good news of how God saves us by sending his Son to the world incarnate as a man to teach us how to live and to take our sins upon himself and suffer and die to atone for them, to make reparation for them so that when we put our faith in him God will see that our sins have already been atoned for and that full reparation has already been made for them and that they have already been fully punished in Christ’s flesh on the cross (Romans 8:3-4), and so God will declare us ungodly sinners righteous, thereby making us righteous, and he will reckon to us his own righteousness, and so we will shine with the righteousness of God himself and begin to grow daily in holiness (sanctification) by following his teachings and his normative biblically revealed moral law.

 

 

This is the gospel, and we are to preach this gospel and live in accord with God’s normative biblically revealed moral law. If we preach immorality, if we falsely tell people that there is no need for everybody to repent of their sins if that’s too hard for them in their difficult life situation and that God will be quite pleased if they just do whatever they want to do, because that’s what he wants them to do and so they will be doing his will – if we preach this way, we are not doing what God wants us to do, for we are neither preaching the gospel as it is found in the New Testament nor are we giving good instruction or example on how to live.

 

 

“Religious light is not given to a man for himself alone, but for the benefit of others. We are to try to spread and diffuse our knowledge. We are to display to others the precious treasure that we have found; and persuade them to seek it for themselves. We are to tell them of the good news that we have heard, and endeavor to make them believe and value it themselves” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900, emphasis added).

 

 

“Neighbors ought to tell neighbors, if they have found an unfailing remedy in time of plague. Christians ought to tell others that they have found medicine for their souls, if they see them ignorant, and dying for lack of it” (JC Ryle).

 

 

“The apostles were ordained, to receive the gospel, not for themselves only, but for the good of others, to communicate it to them. All Christians, as they have received the gift, must minister the same” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714, emphasis in the original).

 

 

“He gave you His Son that you may give the gospel to others, and you stultify His purpose in your salvation unless you become ministers of His grace and manifesters his of His light” (Alexander McLaren, 1826-1910).

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