Mission Lab 2018

Josh Smith: Display, discern and declare light of Christ

November 22nd, 2017 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

Josh Smith: Display, discern and declare light of Christ

DALLAS—Josh Smith, pastor of  Irving’s MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church, joked Nov. 14 that preaching right before special guest Tony Evans at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting was like an NBA rookie who got his first rebound the night the legendary Wilt Chamberlain snagged 55 boards.

“I have one goal tonight: to get one rebound,” Smith quipped. “The rest of my life I can talk about how Tony Evans and I nailed it on the last night of the conference.”

Smith’s sermon drew from Ephesians 5:8-14 as he called believers to display, discern and declare the light of Christ as part of their sanctification.

Calling sanctification a “complicated process,” Smith mused, “Are we to simply let go and let God? Do we need to just abide?”

“God works in different people in different ways in different times with all kinds of different means” to sanctify, yet we are all charged with obedience. 

“When God by his will saves us, he frees up our will and then demands that we—by an act of our Spirit-infused will—obey,” he said, referencing Ephesians 5, where Paul describes sanctification with the illustration of darkness and light.

“Light bears fruit,” Smith said, drawing from verse eight. Smith also said believers must “display the light,” noting the apostle’s juxtaposition of children and light: “Children bear the fruit of their parents.”

“The things that annoy you most about your children are the things they got from you,” he said.

While we have “baggage” from our father, Adam, our fruit should be evidence that we belong to the family of God, Smith elaborated. “Slowly we begin to change from looking like our original father, Adam, to our Father in heaven.”

We display the light by “being good, right and true” and also “kind, holy and honest,” Smith said, drawing from verse nine. “A man who simply walks in moral integrity will shine. Those who don’t will be exposed.”

In addition to displaying the light, Smith said Christians should “discern the light,” referencing Ephesians 5:10.

“This Christian life demands something that we hate to give it: thought,” Smith said. “Those who fail to take the time to discern the way to walk in the light always have a dim light.”

Finally, Christians must “declare the light,” Smith said, quoting Ephesians 5:11 where believers are cautioned against the “unfruitful works of darkness.”

“There are no neutral works,” he explained. “Works are either increasing the brightness of the light or dimming the light.”

Exposing the works of darkness does not involve constantly pointing out the sins of others, though some think it their duty to do so. Rather, light exposes darkness as the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed.

“Through the preaching and proclamation of the gospel we declare the light,” Smith said. “God uses the foolishness of preaching to turn the light on in dark hearts.

“The gospel must be declared,” he added. “If those who have light choose to walk in darkness, how are those who are walking in darkness ever going to see the light?

Smith concluded with several warnings. “We cannot be a people who are known for what we are against. We have to be a people known for what we are for … the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Also, if a preacher is known more for political associations than the light of the gospel, he warned, “You are in the wrong business.”

Display, discern, declare the gospel, and thus work out your salvation, he said.

Ed. Note: Josh Smith now pastors Prince Ave. Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia. He preached his last sermon at MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church on November 19.