Walk in Light — Part One
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Walk in Light — Part One

From Series: A Study in Ephesians, Volume 8

Ephesians 5:8  (ID: 3254)

The problem with the human condition isn’t lack of education, inadequate resources, or insufficient self-effort; it’s a matter of the heart. Alistair Begg explains that by nature, every human being is corrupted by sin, and we cannot understand ourselves, our neighbors, or our culture without first wrestling with this truth. Those who are in Christ are radically transformed from darkness to light as the Spirit of God reveals the Son of God through the work of God’s Word.


Sermon Transcript: Print

We’re going to read this morning from Ephesians chapter 5. I invite you to turn there and follow along as I read. And we’ll read from verse 1:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

“But sexual immortality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

Make the book live to me, O Lord,
Show me [myself] within your Word,
Show me myself and show me my Savior,
And make the book live to me.[1]

For Christ’s sake. Amen.

“I Can Tell by the Way You Walk”

In 1968, Johnny Nash had a hit that only got to number fifty-eight in the American top hundred but reached number six in Great Britain, proving just what a wonderful place Britain is for an understanding of contemporary American music. Johnny Nash is not a household name to many. If you know of him, it’s possible because you remember the song “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,”[2] or

When I want you in my arms,
When I [need] you [with] all your charms, …
All I have to do is dream.[3]

That’s him as well.

But the one that I have in mind is the song of 1968 entitled “You Got Soul.” “You Got Soul.” And those of you—the six of you who remember it—will recall that it has the line

Hey, I can tell by the way you walk
You got soul, soul.
You somethin’ deep inside
Nothin’ in the world can hide.

You got soul, baby,
You got soul.[4]

Okay? Now, you say, “Well, fine, fair enough, but why are you mentioning it?” Well, because I think that although Paul may not have liked the music, I think if he had had access to this lyric, he may well have decided to do what I’m doing now, and that is make mention of it in order to drive home the central point that Paul has been making since the beginning of chapter 4—namely, that the reality of the profession of the believing community in Ephesus is to be seen in their walk. In their walk.

Now, Paul… I say this with some justification, at least in my own mind, because Paul, we know, was quite happy to quote the poets of his day. If we had nowhere else, we know that when he had dealt with the folks in Athens in Acts chapter 17, he was able to say to them as he argued along the way, “And even some of your own poets have said this.”[5] So I don’t think it is unlikely that if he had been around now, he might have been doing something similar.

But you remember how chapter 4 began: “Therefore, a prisoner for the Lord”—and if you don’t remember, then turn to it in your Bible, I suggest—“therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, [I] urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”[6] He’s referring to the fact that they had heard the call of God in the gospel, that the Spirit of God had been at work in their hearts, and now, walking out in obedience to Jesus, their lifestyle, their conduct, their walk is to bear testimony to that.

And so, down in 4:17, he again urges them in the same direction: “This I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” In other words, “If you live in this way, then you will make a dent in the culture of Ephesus. Because the people in Ephesus will end up saying, ‘Why is it that you walk as you walk? Why don’t you walk where you used to walk? Why are you not present in these places? Why is your language different? You used to love those filthy jokes. What happened to you now?’” So Paul is urging them, and clearly so.

The Ephesians had heard the call of God in the gospel, the Spirit of God had been at work in their hearts, and now their lifestyle, their conduct, their walk was to bear testimony to that.

By the time we get to chapter 5, he begins, “Walk in love”—verse 2—and he defines that love as the love of Christ, the sacrificial, atoning love of Jesus. And then in verse 15, if you allow yourself to advance a little, he’s going to urge them to walk as wise rather than as unwise. And then back up to verse 8, which is where we are now this morning, he is calling them to walk in light. So it’s very straightforward. Chapter 5: “Walk in love”; we’re going to come to the call to walk in wisdom; and this morning we think about the importance of walking in light.

Now, let me say what we’ve said, I think, on each occasion, and purposefully so. When Paul writes in this way to these people, he is not issuing a call to them to become something that they are not. He’s not asking them to, as it were, put on an external framework that is representative perhaps of their desire to be good and kind and proper people. That would be a bit like—as we use the analogy at Christmastime—it would be a bit like hanging on Christmas ornaments. You can hang them on the tree. They’re not real. They’re not produced. There’s no fruit in them. They are stuck on, and they are removed. So Paul, in writing the second half of Ephesians, is not calling for people to find sort of religious ornaments to attach to the tree of their lives, but he is saying, “Where the Spirit of God has implanted the reality of his power within you, then the fruit that will be produced in your life will be revealed in your walk.” And so he’s calling them not to become what they are not by means of self-effort but to reveal what they are as a result of God’s grace.

And the recurring theme—the melody line, if you like—is very straightforward. In fact, let me just show it to you. You have it here in verse 8, at least in two parts. Look at verse 8: “For at one time you were…” Verse 8b: “But now you are…” And as we get down towards the end of the chapter in verse 23, he is explaining to them all that they—in verse 27, I should say—all that they are going to become. Together, as the precious, redeemed church of Jesus Christ, they are going to be ultimately “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing”: the completed work of not only sanctification but glorification, about which we spoke last time.

So, if you have that, it’s kind of a sonata form, for those of you who don’t like my reference to Johnny Nash because you’re very classical. So, let me come to you. So, what do you have? In sonata form, you have exposition, you have development, you have recapitulation. And that’s exactly what he does. All the way through, he is saying this again and again in order that we may be left in no doubt.

Now, let’s just say something that’s vitally important, too, in case we miss it: because Jesus died on the cross for the sins of men and women, all are not automatically forgiven. There is a word out on the street that suggests, “Oh yeah, I know about that. There’s a Jesus, he died on the cross, and there’s forgiveness.” You have people who are saying, “Well, I believe the creeds, and I like the ethics, and I’m frankly trying my best.” That is not what it means to be a Christian.

Remember, Paul, we’ve noted, has not been using the word Christian throughout. He has been using phraseology that is characterized by two words: en Christos, “in Christ,”[7] or alternatively, “in the Lord.”[8] And all the way through, he has started by saying, “Here is the wonder of God’s grace,” in this great symphony with which chapter 1 begins, “that God, out of all of eternity, has purposed to have a people that are his very own. And by the extent of his amazing love towards us in Jesus, he has reached down into our lives, and he has drawn us to himself, and we have heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. We have believed, and we’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit.”[9] In other words, he says, “We are no longer what we once were, but we are now in Christ.” “As in Adam,” he says elsewhere, “we’re all dead men, in Jesus we are made alive.”[10] Or as Calvin puts it, all that Christ has done for us is of no value to us so long as we remain outside of Christ.[11]

Now, I suggested to you that we were a little stuck here this morning, and I confess to you that I found myself purposefully stuck. In my studies this week, I guess I must say that I just felt the burden of trying to make sure that I understand, and then that we understand together, the dramatic contrast, the significant antithesis, that is represented in just one phrase of verse 8—namely, “[You],” you will notice, “at one time … were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” It does not say, “At one time you were a non–church attender, and now you’re a church attender”; “At one time you were irreligious, and now you’ve become religious”; “At one time you were flaky, and now you are not so flaky.” No. It is far more significant than this. In fact, he doesn’t simply say, “At one time you lived in darkness,” which is true, “and now you live in light,” which is true. No. He says, “You were dark. You were darkness,” skótos, “and now you are phōs, now you are light.”

The Change That Paul Describes

Now, I want us to camp here, and purposefully. I actually had two points, but you’ll be relieved to know we’re only having one. The two points are these: the change that he describes and then the challenge that he delivers. The challenge that he delivers—we need to go back up into verse 7, because that’s part of the challenge, and then on down through there. If God spares us, we’ll come to that another time.

But what we want to focus on is this dramatic change, and essentially to do so in such a way to try and help us understand where we are in relationship to this, what it means for us, then, to communicate with our friends and our neighbors who will say to us that they are professedly unbelieving. They may be agnostic; they may profess to be atheistic. How, then, does this notion, this reality, help us both to understand our approach and then to be gracious in that approach?

“At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Paul is unequivocal. He’s already used these categorical terms. You’ll recall back in chapter 2, at the beginning of chapter 2, he says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.”[12] See the walking again. “That was your way of life. You were with the dead men. You were with the sons of disobedience. That’s the rock band that you played in, the Sons of Disobedience—by nature!” That’s what he says: “You were dead, but now you are alive.” It’s an antithesis. It’s in keeping with what he is saying here.

And I say to you, it is vitally important that we understand this. As my grandfather used to say about a number of conversations that would unfold—he had a closing line that often went like this: “Aye, son, there’s no two ways about it.” “Aye, son, there’s no two ways about it.” And if you look carefully here, you will see that my grandfather was absolutely correct, at least in relationship to this: You were, you are. There’s no halfway house. You’re not half dark or half light. Dark, light—by nature dark, by grace light. As long as we remain outside of Christ, we remain in darkness. It is not that we are in a neutral territory and, as we finally come to years of understanding, we decide, “Oh, I think I’d like to live on the dark side,” or, “I think I’ll choose the light side.” No, by nature the darkness is an inescapable darkness, because the darkness is at the very core and center of our human existence. Let me put it in even more straightforward terms: we’re either Christians or we’re not. We are either in Christ or outside of Christ. We are either spiritually dead or spiritually alive.

Now, where else are you going to find this kind of statement in our world today? Think of all of the explanations that are given for the human condition on a routine basis as we get up to a new day in the morning and we’re confronted by the drama of life, the unfolding story of individual life, men and women’s attempt to make sense of their existence, and all the way and out at the limits of all that social media can bring to us. If I don’t read my Bible in the morning, there’s no saying where I will end up by nine o’clock, because I’ve already read the London Times, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. And if I go the wrong way round on this, I’m like a rabid bear, you know. I’m gonna run around and be shouting and things. I need my Bible to adjudicate on the world in which I live: “Lord Jesus Christ, is our culture completely gone? Jesus, you are a sovereign Lord and King. Jesus, how is our culture to be impacted?”

Well, in the same way, he says to me, that Ephesus was to be impacted. And how was that? Not as a result of Paul taking to the streets of Ephesus to condemn the darkness, not as a result of him taking on the culture and pointing out everything that was wrong, but as a result of him preaching the gospel, telling this wonderful story that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world [to] himself,”[13] that he was making a whole new one out of the two of before,[14] that people from a Jewish background and a gentile background had been brought to the very same place in an understanding of who and all that Christ is. Then he says, “Now we’ll make an impact on Ephesus, when we live out, when we walk out, and people say, ‘You got somethin’ deep inside, somethin’ that this world can’t hide. Baby, you got soul.’” You got Jesus in your soul. That’s the impact! That’s the impact!

As long as we remain outside of Christ, we remain in darkness.

Even after I preached in the first service, there were people coming to me, and I know the way they listened to what I said, because their reaction was simply, “Well, that’s something the world needs to hear.” That wasn’t what I was saying! That cost me a lot of energy for you to misunderstand that! That’s easy! You’re here this morning, you don’t believe, you don’t understand, you wonder, you’re trying to make sense of your life, you’re going down the road that is just marked out before you—I didn’t want to bring you here to say unkind things to you or anything. No, this is written to the church. This is written to the professed believers: “You mustn’t be involved in this sexual nonsense. It’s shameful to think about it; it’s worse to do it. And your mind will be impregnated with it unless you are fueled by the truth of Scripture. Because,” he says, “think about it: you were, but you are”—not perfect, but making progress.

Now, think about it: when the human condition is expressed as it is in our culture today, then it is understandable that men and women have got to try and come up with a solution. So, I don’t want to belabor the point, but as much as we love and appreciate education, and are involved in it here, and want to educate our children on a day-by-day basis here at Heritage Christian Academy and in other places too—as much as we’re concerned about that, we realize that education cannot in itself change the human condition. Nor can a process of renovation. You think about it: all of the commitments that are made in our world to deal with specific issues, whether it is of immorality or abortion or whatever it might be—justifiable, unnecessary, and necessary engagements. But what are they doing? Precious little. You see, because you cannot change the human condition by simply educating or legislating or manipulating the issues from the outside. That’s why we have the gospel. That’s why the story of the Bible is focused entirely upon Jesus.

At the end of the nineteenth century, William Booth was at the heart of engaging with the poor in London. And on one occasion they asked him, you know, “What is it you’re actually doing? And what does it really mean for somebody to be converted?” Or, in the terminology of the time, “What does it mean for them to be saved?” (Incidentally, it’s still the terminology of the time.) His reply was, “To get a man” or a woman “[roundly] saved it[’s] not enough to put on him a [new pair of trousers], [or] to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor.”[15]

Who can change the inside? Who can change the inside? “Well, I’ll change it myself.” No, you won’t. You’ve tried. It’s not working, is it? How many years have you lived? How many New Year’s resolutions have you had? How many new leaves have you turned over at your attempt at self-renovation? It doesn’t work. You say, “Well, I’m a little dim. If I could just learn a little more… I mean, if somebody could really explain to me what happens in the nature of lung cancer, then I’d never smoke another cigarette.” Goodness gracious, they put on the packet, “You’re a dead man if you do this,” and you still do it. So how’s the education program working? No, you’re gonna have to be changed from the inside. And that’s exactly what Paul is describing here.

The Darkness within Us

You say, “Well, I have a lot of friends, and if I ever would speak to them in this way, they’d say something like, ‘Well, that’s all very well for you, but I don’t see it that way at all.’” And that may be you here this morning, and that’s perfectly understandable. And the Bible tells us why: because you’re dark. Because they’re dark. Because you’re spiritually blind. It’s dreadful isn’t it? It’s not simply that we live in a dark world but that the darkness is within us—that the darkness is internal and the darkness is inescapable. It is impossible to exist except that we are by nature dark. That’s what the Bible says.

Now, think about this. You may pride yourself on your intellect. And you listen to this kind of thing, and you go away and say, “I can’t believe Begg comes up with that stuff, and the rest of them; they’re all the same, tarred with the same brush. I mean, I don’t mind the services. Some of the songs are pretty good. But I can’t believe that they would say these kind of things.” And you’ve convinced yourself that the reason you do not believe is because you have a size 14 brain. Number one, you’re arrogant, and number two, you’re wrong. The reason you don’t believe is not because of your intellect. The reason you don’t believe is because you are dark. You are dark. You are blind. You are blind, and you can’t make yourself see.

Wow! Think that one out for just a moment.

Listen to how Paul puts it as he writes to the Corinthian believers: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he[’s] not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”[16] You think about this. That is why in the teaching of the Bible—and we are committed to the teaching of the Bible—you teach the Bible, you do your best to explain it, and two people can be sitting side by side, and one person comes out and says, “You know, I both understand and believe,” and the other person walks out the door and says, “I haven’t the foggiest idea what the fellow was on about. Why was he getting so upset about it? Goodness gracious! What’s wrong with the chap?” What’s the difference? The difference is the illumination of the Spirit of God in the darkness of a human heart.

Now, think about it just in relationship to the unfolding story of life. You take, again, the human condition and what the Bible says about the fact that we have spurned God’s law, that we have rejected his love, that we have decided that we’ll go on our own. And the Bible actually calls that sin: that we have erred and strayed from his ways like lost sheep; that we have missed the mark; that we are involved in iniquity; that our lives are like a bowling ball in crown bowls—which is played mainly in England, I think. If you’ve ever used one of those things, it is impossible for it to run straight, to run true, because it is biased. Therefore, you have to deal with the bias. Luther says that’s the problem: that we are turned in upon ourselves. That’s what the Bible says. What does our world say? Well, no, we may be a little naughty as a result of our environment, or we’re suffering from a disease, or we’re just a human machine. There’s nothing we can do. We’re just a kind of programmed mechanism. “Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!” “Just another brick in the wall.”[17]

You wonder why it is that people can’t make sense through their lives. They get in their car on a Monday morning and drive off, and they reflect upon the moments that have passed in the weekend. They’re trying to make sense. They may not be thinking about sin, but they’re probably thinking about the fact that they were unkind, that somehow or another they’re going to have to deal with their jealousy, that if only they could stop cussing the way they do, if only their mind in default didn’t always go to the dark and to the empty side of things, if only there was significance, if only there was a reason, if only there was a purpose, if only somehow or another I could unscramble this, if only I could believe that this journey through life is set within the context of the purposes of an eternal God who is prepared in the mercy and majesty of his love to draw people to himself…

You see, when we sing these songs, as we sang, they’re either true or they’re not true. We don’t make them true by singing them. This Christ is going to “return in robes of white,”[18] I think we sang—the picture from the book of Revelation; that there is actually an end; that there was a beginning, and God created, and there will be an end, when God wraps up time and history as we know it; that there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which there dwells righteousness,[19] and those who are there will not be there as a result of our own endeavor but as a result of God’s amazing grace; that the story of the Bible is that from the garden of Eden, sin, if you like, has put out the light in man. Put out the light! And only the Spirit of God turns the light back on.

Can I ask you: Has the Spirit of God turned the light on in you? You say, “Well, how would I know?” Well, there’s a number of ways you would know. You wouldn’t be saying things like “Well, I believe the creeds, and I’m good on the ethics, and I’m trying my best.” No, you’d be saying things like this:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a [bum] like me!
I once was lost, but now [I’m] found,
[I] was blind, but now I see.[20]

You’d be singing songs like “I once was lost in darkest night [but] thought I knew the way,”[21] past tense. “But now…” And you’re about as amazed as your family is amazed and your work colleagues are amazed, because you’re not that nice half the time. And some of the times you’re a pain in the neck. And you look in on yourself and you say, “I’m not sure I’m really making any progress in this thing at all.” And your friends say to you, “You know, there’s other people in the office that are a lot nicer than you.” And you’re tempted to say, “Oh no they’re not! You just don’t really know me. If you knew me, you’d know how wonderfully nice I am.” But then you can hear your wife in the background going, “I don’t think you should say that.”

Because what is the answer to that question? The answer to that question is “I am amazed at the grace of God. I am amazed that while I am still a sinner, Christ died for me.[22] I am amazed that he puts his treasure in old clay pots.[23] I am amazed that he has promised to bring to completion the good work that he has begun in me.”[24] In other words, we are amazed by the fact that the light was turned on. We’ve used the analogy before: when your mum used to wake you up in the morning, if you’re in a good sleep, all you can hear at first is a noise. And then you can hear a voice. And then you can hear your name. And then you’re awake. That’s a bit like what happens when the light turns on. You’re reading the Bible, you’re hearing the sermons; it’s kind of a noise. And then suddenly it’s a voice—not the voice of a man. It’s the voice of God. And then you realize, “He actually got my name. He called my name.”

You see, loved ones, Paul is not talking here about how and when that happened. Our preoccupation is so often with that: “Tell me how. Tell me when.” Paul is not concerned about whether this happened spontaneously, instantaneously, gradually, or whatever else it is. He’s not talking about where they were in the pilgrimage of their lives. What he’s saying is this: this will be the shared reality, that when the Bible is read, when the songs are sung, when Christ is lifted up, deep in your heart you will affirm the reality of this. And in doing so, you say, “You know what? I once was… But now I am…”

Because, again—and I must stop—but again… In 1 Corinthians I quoted you 2, 1 Corinthians 2. Second Corinthians 4, similar. Second Corinthians 4. Here, listen to this: “And even if our gospel is veiled…”[25] Which it is! The gospel is veiled. He says elsewhere, you know, “When the law is read,”[26] when he’s thinking about all his Jewish friends. And we have lots of Jewish friends. I was with some of them the other night. Why do they not believe? They’ve got the whole Old Testament, and we’ve read it, and it seems that all the sacrificial system is pointing to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”[27] Why in the world do they not? Because their gospel is veiled to them, and only in Jesus is the veil taken away.

Loved ones, you see how important it is that we pray? Some of us think if we could talk for a month of Sundays, we would fix everything. If we would get on our knees and talk to God for a quarter of the time, who knows how many of our friends and loved ones and family would be radically converted and changed?

No, I was quoting, wasn’t I? “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.”[28] “Perishing”! “Well, I don’t like the word ‘perishing.’” I don’t care whether you like it or not; it’s a Bible word. We’re all perishing. You don’t know you’re perishing? Get a mirror! That’ll help you. If you don’t trust the mirror, trust your spouse. Trust somebody who’ll be honest with you. We’re all perishing. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [whoever believes] in him [will] not perish, but have everlasting life.”[29] “Is veiled to those who are perishing” because “in their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of … unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.”[30]

If we would get on our knees and talk to God, who knows how many of our friends and loved ones and family would be radically converted and changed?

Let’s allow Luther—since we’re getting very close to the anniversary, now, of the Reformation—let’s allow Luther to close this out for us. For those of you who are gonna write to me tomorrow or send an email saying, “Where was that quote from?” let me preempt that: this is from The Bondage of the Will, page 73. Okay? Luther:

Nobody who has not the Spirit of God sees a jot of what is in the Scriptures. All men have their hearts darkened, so that, even when they can discuss and quote all that is in [the] Scripture[s], they do not understand or really know any of it. They do not believe in God, nor do they believe that they are God’s creatures, nor anything else—[for] “The fool ha[s] said in his heart, there is no God” …. The Spirit is needed for the understanding of all Scripture and every part of Scripture.[31]

The antithesis is clear. When we come together tonight, our opening song will be “And Can It Be?,” God willing, and we’ll be able to sing that wonderful phrase, “Alive in him, my living head, and clothed in righteousness divine.”[32] How does that happen? In this way: that God, says Paul again, who first ordered light to shine in the darkness in creation, has flooded our hearts with his light so that now we both understand the gospel and believe it,[33] and, by the enabling of the Spirit, seek to walk in love, to walk in wisdom, and to walk in light.

“I Do”

I had the privilege of conducting a wedding yesterday afternoon. I was struck again by how definitive it is, how clear it is, and how there was very little emotion in it, actually, in terms of the words that were spoken. Nobody was really there to say how they were feeling.

Nor was the idea brought that you could say to somebody, you say, “Have you heard about marriage?”

“Yes!”

“Do you like the idea of marriage?”

“Love it!”

“Yeah. Would you like to be married sometime?”

“Oh yeah, sure.”

“Well, you know what? You are married!”

Person says, “You lost your mind?”

No, you have to come to the point where they say, “Do you?” and you say, “I do.” And some of you, perhaps, sitting there going, “Okay, I get all this stuff, and I really do believe that the light got turned on for me,” either now, or four months ago, or five years ago, or whatever else it is, “but I’ve been wandering around. I mean, this gospel train has stopped at this station, goodness, fifty times, and I’ve been meaning to get on, but I never got on!” Well, why not get on this morning? You say, “Well, how do you get on?” Well, just talk to God. You say, “Well, I don’t know what to say to him.” Then let me end by a prayer that you can make your own. All right?

Let’s pray. This may be helpful to some:

“Dear God, I know that I’m not worthy to be accepted by you. I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life. I’m guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you, and I need forgiveness. Thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for me that I may be forgiven. Thank you that he rose from the dead to give me new life. Please forgive me and change me, that I may walk with Jesus as my Lord and Savior and Friend.”

Lord Jesus Christ, hear our prayers, and let our cries come unto you. May your grace and mercy and peace be the abiding portion of all who believe, today and forevermore. Amen.


[1] R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943). Language modernized.

[2] Johnny Nash, “I Can See Clearly Now” (1972).

[3] Boudleaux Bryant, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” (1958).

[4] Johnny Nash, “You Got Soul” (1968). Paraphrased.

[5] Acts 17:28 (paraphrased).

[6] Ephesians 4:1 (ESV).

[7] See Ephesians 1:1, 3; 2:10.

[8] See Ephesians 2:21.

[9] Ephesians 1:3–23 (paraphrased).

[10] 1 Corinthians 15:22 (paraphrased).

[11] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.1.1.

[12] Ephesians 2:1–2 (ESV).

[13] 2 Corinthians 5:19 (KJV).

[14] See Ephesians 2:15–16.

[15] William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out (London: Funk and Wagnalls, 1890), 45.

[16] 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV).

[17] Roger Waters, “Another Brick in the Wall” (1979).

[18] Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, “O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” (2015).

[19] See 2 Peter 3:13.

[20] John Newton, “Amazing Grace” (1779).

[21] Jordan Kauflin, “All I Have Is Christ” (2008).

[22] See Romans 5:8.

[23] See 2 Corinthians 4:7.

[24] See Philippians 1:6.

[25] 2 Corinthians 4:3 (ESV).

[26] 2 Corinthians 3:15 (paraphrased).

[27] John 1:29 (ESV).

[28] 2 Corinthians 4:3 (ESV).

[29] John 3:16 (KJV). Emphasis added.

[30] 2 Corinthians 4:4–5 (ESV).

[31] Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 73–74.

[32] Charles Wesley, “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?” (1738).

[33] 2 Corinthians 4:6 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2022, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.