The Cutting Room Floor: Speaking the Light
One of the greatest challenges for any preacher is deciding what not to say. Once we’ve taken the editor’s knife to our work, we’re left with a mess of material strewn about the cutting room floor. These posts are my way of sharing some of what couldn’t be said in Sunday morning’s sermon.
Today’s post follows our 3/1/20 sermon on Acts 2:1-13 – “Say What?” To listen, click here.
It was a joy to be with you yesterday morning. In our first sermon on Pentecost, we saw the Spirit descend and enable the disciples to speak in tongues that were not their own (Acts 2:1-13).
This dramatic reversal of Babel was God’s way of purifying their (and our) lips. Through the saving work of Jesus and the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we’re set free to do what we were made to do: use our words to fill the world with the knowledge of the glory of God.
As we saw, one of the ways God manifested His presence was through what appeared to be divided tongues of fire. Like the burning coal that touched Isaiah’s lips (Isa 6:6), these tongues prepared the disciples’ mouths to prophecy to the people of Israel gathered in Jerusalem.
Though we talked about purification, we barely touched on another important aspect of fire: light. This can be hard for us to appreciate. When we want to light up a dark place, we flip a switch. But if someone in the ancient world wanted to see in the dark, they’d have to start a fire.
In Acts 2, God “flips the switch” on the Church’s mission to fill the world with the light of His glory. The fire symbolizes how the disciples’ words would be the vehicle for that light.
When people like us receive that light through the reading of Scripture and the preaching of the Word, the Bible says that God Himself shines “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). We come to know Him and ourselves in an entirely new way. James Montgomery Boice summarizes this well:
Apart from God’s self-revelation men and women have no more than a faint idea of who God is. But when the gospel comes there is light. People can see as they could not see before. They can see who God is and what the gospel is. Perhaps as significant as anything, they can see what they are apart from Jesus Christ and what they can be in him. (Acts, 44)
That light isn’t meant to be hidden under a bushel. To receive the light is to become an agent of its reflection. God has claimed us so that we may “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). Like the Baptist, we are meant to be “little lights” who point to the true Light who came into the world (John 1:6-13).
As the miracle of speaking in Acts 2 shows us, our words are the mirror in which the gospel’s light is reflected. Of course, our works matter; we must be both hearers and doers (Jas 1:19-27). But it’s through the speaking of God’s goodness that the world will see and perceive His light.
This week, I pray the Spirit will empower you to testify to the gospel and its God. With His help, may you overcome every barrier as He uses your words to shed abroad His glorious light.