We greet you in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is good to meet again with a small number of the brethren. May the Lord help us not to get into a rut of staying at home and listening to the service there when one could receive a blessing by being present.
It is alarming when we look around us. There is shortage of water and there is a shortage of power (which is not unusual in South Africa). People suffer from hunger and they steal because they must survive. However, Jesus never gives us permission to steal and sin. We must learn to trust God. We thank God for Rev Stegen who has taught us to use that which we have. Use the land that you have and grow vegetables. Reuse your bath water to water your plants. We cannot live by always just asking, but we should live by doing something with our hands. You can provide for yourself and your neighbour. Politicians are out to make sure they are provided for. They are not interested in what concerns you. They will do whatever is in their best interest so therefore do not depend on government assistance, use your hands to do what you can do. Local government elections are due to take place shortly and may the Lord help us to have wisdom and discernment to vote for people who will do their duty, not fill their own pockets. We must pray for our leaders and ask the Lord for leaders who will be responsible and not look after their own interests. Pray for our country. Pray that the government will lead us in a God-fearing manner. God’s love teaches us to put the interests of others before our own. It is in man’s nature to always look after himself first and if things go well with him, he does not care about the rest.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ]16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:14-21
This text is a complete and challenging sermon. There are several questions that arise concerning God’s love in this text. Why did God love the world so much? What did God see in the world that caused Him to love it? What draws God to the world? What good is there that causes God to love the world? What is in man that draws God to man? Man has turned his back on God and disappointed Him. Look at your own life even this morning - is there anything you have done that has disappointed God - your thoughts, deeds, words? From the time you woke up there may have only been complaints – you are unhappy with your wife or your children and when you come to the service you are irritated. You always point a finger at others but never at yourself.
When God created the world and all that was in it, He said that it was good. He created man after His own image. Man was the crown of God’s creation and he was placed in the Garden of Eden - a beautiful place. God had pleasure in man. God did not create the world and allow it to continue, no, He regularly visited man in the cool of the day. Look at man today? Where is the one loved of God? Does God still visit him before man rests? Is he still in paradise? No. People increased and sin increased. Adam was expelled out of paradise where God had initially had pleasure in placing him. Man was created in God’s image, but this creation grieved God. Man disappointed God. It is terrible what man gets up to.
God, however, could not forget man. God considered what salvation He could bring about which would rescue man. How could He reconcile man and God? Do you see God’s love and care for us? Do you see how much God desires to have fellowship with us and that we can be there where He desires us to be. God wants to reconcile a person to Him so that the person can have fellowship with God.
When God looked down on earth, He said that He would annihilate man and only one man found favour in God’s sight. Brethren, God will punish sin. Do not live in sin and think that things will go well and work out fine. The wages of sin is death. The outcome of sin is death. If you are living in sin and remain there, you must realise that God will visit you concerning that sin and you will not go unpunished. Some people are proud of the fact that they do not believe. Some think that they are real men because they do not care about God, christianity or faith. Remember this: you are being preserved for the day of judgement where you will be judged for your sin. You are in unbelief because of your own heart. The Light entered the world 2000 years ago, so you know what to do. If you live in your sin, you will perish in your darkness. If you allow Satan to deceive you into sinning, you will be condemned because of it.
When the sons and daughters of God sinned, God did not remain silent. The only one who was righteous was Noah and God made a means for Noah to survive the flood. God gives us time today. He goes through much effort to rescue a person from the evil generation. God wants to protect His people, even though Satan aims to destroy them. God tries to bring about their escape. Jesus looks after His children. He will not leave them in darkness with no place to go to. Do you doubt God’s love and care in your life? There is nothing amiss with His love and care, but it is you who have gone astray. God who is love and powerful, sees how He can provide a way of escape for His beloved. Has your hope ended? Have you become discouraged? If that is the case, you are in darkness, you are lost. God will not enter the darkness; you must come out of that to the Lord where there is light. You are enslaved to sin, you are in bondage, you are unsure whether to go forwards or backwards, you are lost. Some people cry about their porn addiction saying, ‘I do wicked things and I do not know how to find freedom.’ ‘I try to leave alcohol, but I cannot, I am a slave. Before I sleep, I have to have my bottle.’ You are sinning because your heart is sinful and evil before God. Your heart deceives you; it tells you that you are a failure, it tells you to give it all up, you will not come right. You are harming yourself by believing this.
Noah was a man who, with his family, feared God. God said that they would not perish like all the others. Some enter sin because they are influenced by others and they follow their example. You are a child of God, you chose the Lord, you know what it means to walk with God. When God delivered you from the bondage of sin, you experienced the wonder of serving God. (If you are a believer because your parents are Christians, I have pity for you because you have not got the real thing. You must possess the faith as your own, it must become yours. You are grateful to your parents, but you must make the faith your own.) God found Noah and wanted to save him. He gave him work to do at an appointed time. God said He should build an ark. Noah was told to use a specific type of wood. Some of the materials were not easily available. This is where many people fail. When they are told what to do and how to do it, they want to do it their own way. The plan has been developed and the blue print is there, you must simply follow the instructions. But people like to do things their own way. ‘It is too long’, they say, ‘there is a shortcut.’ ‘As long as my final answer is the same, it is fine.’ Do you think you know better than God? Is your way better than His? God gave Noah the dimensions and the type of wood. Noah had to do what God told him and Noah did exactly what he was told. He obeyed God implicitly. There was close fellowship between him and God.
Because there is bickering and no cooperation among some brethren, it takes weeks to do a small task. Why? There is disunity between you, your colleagues, and your boss. You are told to do one thing and you do another and all you say is ‘Sorry,’ - which you think will fix everything. So much harm is caused because a person does not follow instructions. Noah did exactly as God instructed and it took time. When He had completed the ark, God wanted to enter into a covenant with Noah. Then Noah was told to allow animals in and specific numbers. God then said that Noah and his family could enter the ark. Noah had to obey God in that. These circumstances ought to make us think: God only found one man and his family. Had everyone else left God? Does God see us today as people who do not obey? Does God see us as a Noah who obeys Him, or does He see stubborn, obstinate people who do their own thing? Does God see Pharisees and Sadducees? Does He see obedient believers? We can deceive one another but God sees much more than that, He sees what we really are like.
What does God see in man that He loves us so much? There is nothing in us that He takes pleasure in but He follows us relentlessly. As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert, we must also be lifted up. Young people, the Son of man must be lifted up in your life. You must meet with the Lord so that you can live. Girls, you need to meet with Jesus so that you can be numbered amongst those who receive eternal life. He will be uplifted by those who give themselves to Him. Have you surrendered to Jesus Christ? Are there other things that rule your mind? Blessed is the one who has given his life to Christ and there is no looking back. Have you given your life to Jesus? Some say they have, but it is not complete surrender because there are places in their heart where they hide things. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 This is something that must happen within you, in your life. You will not enter heaven because of your parents. You need to receive this into your own life. You must take ownership of the faith. If you have not yet believed, give yourself this gift of faith and salvation. He who believes in the Son of God has life within him.
The sun provides light during the day so that we can see. At night we must use Eskom power. The power must be conducted to the place where there should be light. To have light there must be a source of energy behind it. There are various types of globes, some are dim, and others are bright because they have different energy ratings which will determine how bright it is. A globe requires an energy source to shine. There is a life that brings the light. There is life behind the light we see.
Faith can be seen in the lives of people and it is clear when a person lives for the Lord. The apostle Paul says in the last days many will have the appearance of godliness but deny the power. (2 Tim 3:5) They will look like children of God, they walk, talk and dress like children of God but inside they are worldly. There is no life inside that shines out the light of Jesus. Do you have this life? Does it radiate from you? If not, what prevents it? Jesus said, 6 …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matt 5:16 If we meet with the Lord Jesus, we meet the power that enables us to shine like stars. There should be power in our lives which changes the lives of people. We should not only speak about it, but it must be seen in our lives. Where is your light? Some people walk in darkness all because you are in darkness. What kind of light radiates from us as a congregation? A person’s response to a rebuke reveals this light. If you do not know how to humble yourself and bow, you have not even begun with this life. If the power of the gospel has reached our lives, we will be meek and lowly, and a wife can submit to her husband. If we walk as children of the light as the Bible says, we will respect and submit to one another. Children, the Bible teaches us how to honour our parents. It is good to be guided by God. You will experience God leading you in every new situation and giving you the power to overcome. If you do not overcome, it may be because of something small where you have failed to submit or show respect. God asks how He can bless a person who is disobedient. Sometimes we want God to use us in a great way but we fail in the small things. We must be faithful in the small things.
We are living in the last days. Has God’s love grown cold? We are living in a time when many people are forsaking the faith. How close is your fellowship with God? There cannot be fellowship as long as there is sin. Remove the sin which separates you from God and you will experience the light shining through your life. Turn your back on the true gospel and you will believe the lie. You will make up your own truths. Such people have the form of godliness but deny the power.
The gospel has taught us that if God rebukes you, accept it and God will raise you up. Where does this gospel come from that people fight for themselves? ‘You cannot tell me!’ Such a gospel is utter darkness. But through this gospel we learn daily. We are in God’s school and we ask Him to teach us how to live. If you do not want that, what do you really want? If you do not want God’s reprimand, what do you want? God does not force anyone. It is up to you. If you accept it from the Lord then His name is praised. If you submit to God and His word, God will uplift you. The gospel of stubbornness and pig-headedness is not the true gospel. Our own rights end, we submit to God and die to self. We say, ‘Let Your will be done.’ Rights and my rights are a worldly language. In the true gospel, all that matters are God’s rights. God’s will must be done in our lives as it is done in heaven. God’s will must be done perfectly and completely.
Jesus says, ‘Give me all or nothing. Surrender all or nothing at all.’ Are you still holding onto something? Give it to Jesus, surrender to the Lord afresh, to do what God wants you to do, not your will but God’s. Cry out and ask the Lord to send revival to your life. Say to Him, ‘For a long time I have been doing my own thing, but now I want to submit to You so that You might rule over me.’ This will enable God to work through His power in us.
Conclusion Nico Bosman
For those who are committed, these words are as sweet as honey. For those who have accepted Christ’s offer, these are sweet words. How bitter these words must be if we crave after the world, if we crave after our own will. What does this do to you? The Lord has spoken clearly. It is sad if a person does not accept it. It is terrible if someone had the light but goes back to darkness. It is worse when a person goes 90% of the way, but not the last bit. May the Lord give us understanding.
In the passage before today’s text, Jesus said to Nicodemus that he should understand because he is a teacher. The Lord gives us everything and we should understand. May the Lord give us understanding of His words so that we can follow Him. If we have the light, we have direction. Without it, we do not have direction. It is not that we will know the future, no, we have direction. If you are unsure about where or what, maybe you have missed the light. A car uses headlights at night so that the driver knows where to go. May we understand and have direction. We have been blessed by your words and what the Lord revealed to you.