The Light Of The World Is Christ – Sermon – Isaiah 58 & 2 Cor 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
The Light Of The World by Bro.Leon Stewart Sr. of Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church.
1986 Annual Campmeeting in Perry, GA.
When you sing that, you just realize how insignificant you possibly could be when given about 15 to 20 minutes with your own voice and your own words. But the love of God is the greatest thing that mankind has ever known, ever encountered…and I don’t believe we can exist on this planet together without the love of God. I just believe too many things would set in. Well, I’m glad to be here tonight. I feel a little bit like there are many others who could have gone a better job than this, but I do want to serve the Lord, I always have. And I thank the Lord for what He has done for me.
There’s a song we have here. It says, “The whole world is lost in the darkness of sin. The light of the world is Jesus. The light of the world is Jesus. Like sunlight at noon day, his glory shone in. The light of the world is Jesus”. We know that in a very small way. We know that in our own particular experience, that the light of our life, the very light of our life is Jesus.
But I think maybe it may go beyond that. I think maybe it may reach further. Like we were singing about the love of God, it goes beyond the highest star. It’s past our comprehension. It’s beyond our imagination. It’s beyond our experiences that we have here. It reaches a long ways and in another very real way, I think that a case can be made that in this world that we’re living, in ages gone by, in the history of our country, we live in a great land. We really live in a great country.
I think it goes beyond that, that we could still say that the light of the world is Jesus. I thank the Lord for what we know about life because of what we know about the man, Jesus. And I could think that you could go a long ways back, you could go way back into Moses’ day and realize that before Moses was taken up on the mountain those people didn’t have very much guide to go by. They never had much to look to. They never had a written word. They never had a book. They never had the Law of Commandments that God gave to Moses and there was lots of things going on that should not be, a lot of injustices among men.
Started way back at the very beginning with Cain and Abel and when he rose up and slew his brother. And that’s one lesson we learn there. He says, “Am I my brother’s keeper”. I think the circumstances that prevail to bring that about came from the Lord and that is an enlightening thing. It is an enlightening thing when we understand that truly we are our brother’s keeper.
No man liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself. But when Moses went up on that mountain and God gave him those Ten Commandments, written with the finger of God while he was risking his life and the earth was quaking and the mountain was on fire and he said,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And “Thou shalt not kill.” And “Thou shalt not steal. Deuteronomy 5:6-21
That was a light onto those people. It was a light and the light of the world is Jesus.
The light of the world today is the things we know from our Lord. And I think it’s enlightening today to go back and read it. Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother. And I say today, in this generation we live in today when children become adolescents and they begin to rebel and they fail to honor their father and their mother, their life is thrown in the darkness. It’s an enlightening thing what God gave Moses on that mountain in that day.
The Prophets began to prophesy of it. Things were not always like they should be. The people of God were cast in bondage and many times life was hard and they had little hope and they had little to look to. And then a prophet of the Lord would come down and he’d begin to prophesy of the days that should come. In that day it shall be like this and in that day it shall be like this, and those prophecies that they were given was a light to those people.
The light of the world is Jesus. It always was. It always shall be. The light of your life, the light with which you serve the Lord, with which you raise your family, with which you have relationships one with another, the light of the world is Jesus. And I thank the Lord for it.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God,John 1:1
and I’d like to ask our folks to pray. The preaching of the word of the Lord is a rather serious thing. I never want to try to use this place as a place to make somebody laugh.
The same was in the beginning with God, all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made,John 1:2-6
even in the physical world that we live in.
When the earth was without form and void and when darkness covered the face of the deep, God said,
Let there be light: and there was light. Gen. 1:3
And He put a greater light in the sky to rule by day and a lesser light he put in the sky to rule by night, Gen. 1:16
and they are there today by an everlasting ordinance. He’s never had to make a correction. They never got off course. They were there from the beginning of…God put them there. The light of the world that we live in the day is from the Lord. Don’t you believe it?
We have no light without the Lord.
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. John 1:4-9
He was not that light, John the Baptist was not that light. Abraham was not that light. Moses was not that light. Elijah was not that light.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. John 1:8-9
The light that you have today comes from the Lord. That was the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
You know, in those old days when…let me say it this way. When I was in school I didn’t have sense enough to realize I should be using that time usefully. That came a little later, unfortunately. There are things that we learn in school, historical things, that the schools are not permitted to teach in their truest sense because it might be offensive to someone of another faith. They’re not permitted to put the emphasis of what the Lord did in those things that happened historically for fear that that would be offensive to others.
We’re not under that bondage tonight and if I get in too deep of water you all help me out. But I believe that there are many many very significant things that have happened in the history of this world that has brought us to where we are in our understanding and the light that we have today. People in previous generations that we did not know, we could not know… Just because we don’t know someone doesn’t make them good or bad or indifferent. It doesn’t have really any significance whatsoever. I believe that God has always had a people. I don’t know that I could prove that with scripture, I just believe that. I just believe that God has always had a people.
We know, basically, the lineage that came from the very beginning when God created the world and then it fell, and Noah came along and found grace in the eyes of the Lord. And then the Lord called Abraham and gave him the covenants. Then we know how that all came about and his sons grew up and he had a mighty nation. They went down in the Egypt were sold in the bondage. Moses was raised up, brought them out. We know that coming all down to Christ.
We have Biblical records of that. We know that and then we know the Gospel that our Lord preached.
He told them that, I am the light of the world. John 8:12 , John 12:46
He told them that no man cometh to the Father but by me. John 14:6
He told them things that Abraham did not tell them.
He told them that you must be born again.John 3:3
He told them that I am the living water. John 7:38
If any man thirst, let him come.John 7:37
He told them that no man cometh to the Father but by me. John 14:6
He told them that, I am the resurrection. If any man believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. John 11:25-26
He told them all those things. That was the light. That was the true light that shineth from above, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
We know what happened after his ascension. We know about the upper room. We know about the Day of Pentecost. We know what happened when those people became united in one accord, doing exactly what their Lord had told them to do. They met there on that given day. That was not coincidence. That was not a coincidence that they met there on that day of Pentecost. It was not a coincidence that our Lord was crucified on the Passover. That was prophesied of.
We know about all of that. We know what happened with the new church. We know how they went out filled with fire from God. We know how that people fell before their preaching. We know all that. And then we get over into I, II,III John, Jude and Revelation. And then we don’t know very much about what happened, do we? We don’t know very much about what happened after that. I believe that God always had a people. I believe that those people continued on. I believe that there were those that were committed and convicted that the preaching that the apostles preached to them, and the spirit that they possess, and the gospel that they got was right and they begin to risk their lives for it.
And in the face of the Roman Empire, when they made mockery of them, when they took them, persecuted them, and threw them in pits and to the wild animals and made sport of their death. I believe there were those there then that held on to their faith and their conviction. Their faith and their conviction was the sustaining light of the world. And then about 400 years later, you come into contact with the Catholic Church. The Roman Empire took Christianity and adopted it as its national religion in the form of the Roman Catholic Church. And I don’t mean to speak disrespectfully in any way. If I do, please understand it’s nothing disrespectful coming from within.
For hundreds and hundreds of years, about a thousand or more, when there was no written word, no printing presses, people were by and large illiterate. There were a few, a select few, that had privilege of having an education and probably had some access to the word of God. But by and large, it was locked up in the archives, I suppose of the Catholic Church. I don’t really know that much about it. I’m not a scholar. I’m just trying to trace a lineage from the very beginning all the way down to us. And I do believe the light of the world is Jesus. I think you can make a good case for it.
There was a lot of things went wrong with the Catholic Church. They began to oppress people. They began to do what the children of Israel did. They failed to realize that God loves ignorant people, poor people, oppressed people, people that have hardly no hope. They failed to realize that and they began to wind this thing up real tight in their little society and somehow or other they forgot. It was almost like the kingdom where you had the royalty and you had the commoners. And they weren’t too much concerned about it and people began to be oppressed under that. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church, it was many countries in that day.
In that day, I suppose it’s hard for me to explain it because I don’t understand it that well, but the church and state were the same thing. Government and the church was all the same thing. They got it all mixed up and they began to, instead of opening doors for people and trying to reach out to the people, they began to close the doors. And there were those that were within, the select few, and there were multitudes that were without. This is not new. This happened with the Jewish people. This is exactly the state that John the Baptist found them in when he stepped out of the wilderness on the shores of Galilee and began to preach. He began to preach to people that had not been preached to before.
Their priests had failed to do it. Their little group, tightly knit in the Jewish faith, had failed to reach out to the people. But this happened, I read this sometime ago and I won’t try to belabor it, but the Catholic Church in those days of long ago had a custom that they called, “penance” wherein a man may pay for his transgressions. And this was along about late 1400s and early 1500s. And they were trying to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica. I have never seen it. I have never been over there but they tell me it’s a magnificent thing, I don’t know. But they had this man that was a great orator and a speaker and he begin to go around in their little communities, in their little villages, and he began to preach fear on the people of the torments that would come. And he asked them, not for penance of sins that were past, he asked for monies for sins that they would commit in the future, almost like a license to sin. This really, really, in fact, happened.
There was a cry went up from many people. This was the days of Martin Luther, the Reformation. Martin Luther girded with one verse out of the scripture, and that verse is that “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” became convinced that this was an ungodly practice, and he rose up in defiance about that. If I’m getting too far off, forgive me. I think it’s very important. There were men of every age that have been willing to risk their life to stand up for the truth. There are men today that are willing to risk their life, their reputation, their fortunes, their honor, everything they have, to stand up for the truth.
This is the light of the world. Without that the whole world is plunged into darkness, as they lived a thousand years in those dark ages back then when they have not the word of God. He rose up against that, every day suspecting it could be his last and it very well could have been. But by that man’s preaching and by his standing up for what was right, he delivered multitudes out of the hold and the grip that blinded men’s minds under the Roman Catholic Church. And this we call the Reformation.
How much of this is coincidence that at this particular time, the printing press was invented? The word of God began to be printed. People became educated, began to read for themselves. How much of that is coincidence? I don’t know. But I do know, I feel that I know, that through this man…and there were others, not only him. There was a man named John Huss before him that lost his life, but had a great influence over Martin Luther. But through this man, standing up for what he believed was right, if it cost him his life, delivered multitudes of people from the darkness and the bondage that surrounded them that day.
You might not think it means very much to us today, but if you’d have been there, if you’d lived there under that thing and somebody delivered you, I expect you’d want to offer up a little prayer of thanks to God. This is very real things I’m talking about. They really happened. It’s not a story. It’s not fiction. It’s not a fable. This really happened. And from there, the fire of God began to spread all over Europe. It went from one country to another. It began to invade churches. It broke down all that structure that blinded men’s minds and held them captive and people began to serve God and began to come out in the open. They began to praise the Lord for what He had done.
Artisans began to paint the most beautiful pictures the world has ever known. Most of their subjects came out of the Bible. They painted Peter. They painted the Madonna and child. They painted the Last Supper. And I’m talking about great mighty works that was done. Great sculptors began to do their carvings of great things. There were mighty things happening because one man stood up for what he believe was right and delivered a multitude of people. And it came on down and under these conditions, these people that had been oppressed by the royalty of their land, by the church that held them in bondage, by the government that held them in bondage, provided the very seed of which this country was born.
And chances are, if you could look up your own ancestors, you would find somebody in there that came out of Europe under those conditions, seeking for freedom, seeking for a way to serve God if they wanted to. Our country was born under these conditions. And it wasn’t just one man, there were many. But whoever they were and wherever they were and whoever they are, and wherever they are, when a man stands up for the truth and for the right at the risk of his all, he is holding up the light of the world. And that light of the world is Jesus. I really believe that today.
Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the side of God. 2 Cor 4:1-2
the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world had blinded the minds of them which believe not, less the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine onto them. 2 Cor 4:3-4
The light of the world is Jesus.
The light of your life, of your marriage, of raising your children, of your future posterity, of our church, of our harmony with each other, of our fellowship from crowd to crowd, the light of the world is Jesus. It always has been and it still is today. And there maybe people I’m talking about that you don’t know and that I don’t know, but if they held up the light and the truth of God, they did us a tremendous favor and I’ve gotta thank the Lord for them. I don’t know them but I thank the Lord for them.
For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.2 Cor. 4:6
I thank the Lord for that. It comes on further down. Those people, there were many, there were thousands, there were millions, that risked braving the dangers of a wild Atlantic Ocean when they didn’t have great sailing vessels, like great vessels like we have today that we can be assured of reasonable safety. They were very marginal as to whether or not they would even make the trip and many of them didn’t. And there were thousands of those people.
Burning conviction that they wanted to serve the Lord more than anything else. And they left their homelands and they came to this nation and they established here what I believe is the greatest nation on the face of the earth today. I don’t think we’re great because we’re better than anybody else. But when those men, whoever they were, penned those words in that Declaration of Independence that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, it was a giant step in the history of mankind. You can count on it. It was a giant step, that all men are created equal.
That was more than 200 years ago. And we, today, stand here in perfect freedom to serve the Lord as we will. In our little short history of 94 years we have never one time been harassed by our government, we have never one time been persecuted by our government. We have been guaranteed absolute freedom to serve the Lord as we pleased. You gotta be thankful for that. It ain’t that way everywhere.
It might be a broader scope than what we’re used to looking at, but it’s a very real situation. And I say tonight that there are thousands of people in other countries that don’t have this freedom that we have, that have to meet secretly, that have to practice their religion and serve their God in fear that they’re going to be caught and someone’s going to do something to them. We got to be thankful for what this country has delivered to us today. I know she’s got lots of problems, I know there’s lots of things that I don’t agree with, I’m sure there’s lots of things you don’t agree with, but we got to be thankful for that, that we live in this land.
Well, what a noble cause. I think that there was a lot of this going on after the day of Pentecost. Do you remember…do you remember Cornelius was an Italian man? But he was a prayerful man and a good man. And he prayed and the Lord began to work and he needed preaching to and Peter had a little hang up on his own. He didn’t quite understand how the Lord had brought in the Gentiles. And the Lord began to work with Peter and he let down the sheet and said,
Arise Peter, slay and eat Acts 11:7
He said, Not so Lord. Nothing common or unclean has ever ever entered into my mouth, and he did it three times.Acts 10:14-16
He was preparing Peter. He went preparing him. And he went over there to Cornelius’s house and he began to preach. I’d love to have heard that sermon.
He began to preach and you know what happened? The Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles, on the Gentiles. They never thought of that. That never crossed their mind. They thought they still had this thing all locked up. It’s us. We’re children of Abraham, we’ve got Abraham to our father. We’ve never been in bondage to any man. We got a little royal society here. We’re the Jews.
And the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles and Peter said, “Can any man forbid water? Acts 10:47
Now a lot of times I think we might jump the track on that when we read it.
The significance of that scripture, I believe, must not be placed on water baptism. But Peter was acknowledging that he had accepted what God has done. That’s all that he knew to acknowledge it at that time. That was all that he knew to acknowledge it at that time because all the disciples of John the Baptist and all the disciples of Jesus had been baptized with water and that was an acceptance. It was a form of acceptance and Peter said, “Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized?”
It wasn’t because they doubted their sanctification, it was because they were Gentiles. And people didn’t understand that Gentiles could be baptized and be accepted and be taken into this royal family. But Peter understood it at that time and
Peter said, I perceive that in every nation, every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him. Acts 10:34
If you understand that any man, anywhere, under any condition, has a right to approach God and be accepted with God, that’s light. The light of the world is Jesus. And you know what happened? The old Jewish elders up there in Jerusalem, they called him up, called him up that, We hear some things about you. We hear that you’re down there baptizing the Gentiles. Give an account of yourself. And I like what I read.
He started from the beginning. He told how the Lord called him. He told about the sheet let down. He told them how he went, as the spirit made him go to Cornelius’s house. He told them how he preached. He told them how the Holy Ghost fell on them. You know what they said? They glorified God. They glorified God that the Lord had poured down on the Gentiles the gift of the Holy Ghost too.
Now, if we think it’s just for me and my house and our little circle, we haven’t gotten quite as far in the light as we should be. Peter understood that it was any man could approach onto God. Now where was I?
Eighty seven years after the birth of this country, Abraham Lincoln, being the backwoods president from Kentucky, or Illinois, or wherever, found himself presiding over a nation that was torn and wrecked with bloodshed, not from foreign enemies, not from people without but from within. Brothers fighting against brothers spilling blood for, would you believe, slavery. What happened to that noble cause, that all men were created equal? What happened to it? That was such a noble thing. Such an enlightening thing, such an uplifting thing, that any man from any country, anywhere, could come to America and be free, and be his own man. And the nation had drifted into slavery and was tearing the nation apart. And I don’t think that I am capable of understanding the depth of feeling that went with this issue. I just don’t believe I can fully understand how deeply those people felt about this issue, such a terribly divisive thing that they were dealing with.
Now, lots of countries when they have…a group overthrows the government and they promise to people what all they’re going to do. It’s not long till they regress and they’re not doing any better than the one they got out. Seems like that happens all around because we see that so many times. It seems like so many people they have set out laws for their children or for their workers, or for their corporate people and by and by they find themselves transgressing their own laws, and then they just cover it up, sweep it under the rug and say, Well, you know how that goes.
I suppose that that could have been done at this particular time. But in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he told about whether this nation, or any nation, so conceived in liberty could long endure. And I don’t know what happened first, I’m not really that well-versed on history, I wish I were. But I know one thing, he’d come to grips with the issue and he issued forth to those oppressed black slaves, the Emancipation Proclamation that freed those people.
It was wrong to hold them in slavery. It was wrong to do that. The color of man’s skin should not determine whether he’s good or bad, whether he’s right or wrong, whether he’s worthy of the nice things that you have to offer or whether he’s unworthy, shouldn’t be. And he set this great country back on course. I’m not sure we’ve achieved equality like it should be, but I’ll say one thing, they gave it a good try. And we’re all lots better off today, we are lots further along today than had they swept it under the rug and continued on in that prophecy that was killing them from within.
I don’t know, as Floyd said in one of his sermons recently, I don’t know about the personal experiences of some of these people, but I gotta thank the Lord for a man, if he was president, that had grace of God enough to stand up and say, This ain’t right. We’re gonna make it right. And you and I owe a lot to those people, wherever they be. We live in a great country. I will read one other scripture. It’s in the 58th chapter of Isaiah.
You know, just last month they had the celebration about the 100th year of the Statue of Liberty. Now, you might think it’s a tourist trap, I don’t know. I think it has lots of significance. I think it’s significant when the French people had such a memorable image of America that they wanted to build something and they built that thing where the torch held up, a welcome sign to people to come. I think it’s quite significant. And I read an article about it in the Reader’s Digest and I supposed just by…I don’t know, that night, I read the 58th chapter of Isaiah and I began to think in those terms. And I want you to think about it as I read this,
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush and spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast and an acceptable day of the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? Isa. 58:5
This is the fast that the Lord has chosen. He don’t want you afflicting yourselves. He don’t want you starving yourselves. He’s not asking you to do anything like that.
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to lose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, Isa. 58:6
Can you visualize if you yourself had been one of those immigrants coming from a foreign country that had oppressed you and had held you down, and your government and your church wouldn’t let you serve the Lord like you wanted to. And you came across that fearsome Atlantic Ocean and you came in at New York Harbor and you saw that light held up, and you believed it meant you. Can you believe? Can you imagine how you would have felt? And it was real that they could do that. They could come in here, of any nationality, of any people, of any background, of any origin and find a place. And they spread out all over this country and that’s what America’s made of today.
Is it not to undo the heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free and that you break every yoke? It’s good for us today on a small scale. It’s good for nations on a large scale. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry and that they bring the poor that are cast out to the house? This is what Jesus did when he made that great feast and he invited those to come in and they wouldn’t come. And some of them didn’t have the wedding garment and he told his servants, he says, Go out in the hedges and the highways and compel them to come in. Bring them in. My house is full. My table is spread. We want to open some doors. We want to pull down some barriers. We want people’s hearts to flow together. We want brothers and sisters to be united. We want crowds to be united. We want the love of God to come down. We want to open the doors. We want to hold up the light of the world. It is Jesus. It always has been and it always will be.
That To deal thy bread to the hungry. That thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house. When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Isa. 58:7
What happens when you do this?
Then shall thy light, the light, break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily. And thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord will answer, thou shall cry and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke Isa. 58:8 ,
take it all, get rid of it. “The putting forth of the finger”, all of the accusations, let’s get rid of it, and the speaking of vanities.
If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness as the noonday: Isa. 58:10
That light that Isaiah prophesied of was Jesus. Don’t you know it was? The light of the world is Jesus. It always has been and it always will be. It was the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Well, if I went afoul, I’m sorry. I think about these things. I think about how we got here. We all reasonably well know our church history and I could spend a little time on that, but my time’s run out. But our history goes a long ways back. And I don’t believe there are any gaps. I don’t believe there was any time that the Lord turned the light out and men didn’t have a way to approach God. I don’t know why, but I just don’t believe it. And I believe that in every nation, in every generation, among every people of any race or color or creed, under any circumstance, when they turn to the Lord, the Lord floods them with light and that light is the light of the world and it is Jesus. And if there’s any here today that your life is cast in darkness, the song says, come to the light. It’s shining for you. The light of the world is Jesus. You all pray for me.