- First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi - https://www.fpcjackson.org -

Being a Radiant Christian or Joy of Salvation

The Lord’s Day Morning

May 15, 1949

“Being a Radiant Christian or Joy of Salvation”
Psalm 51:1-13

The Reverend Dr. Girard Lowe

Sometimes, we who are Christians, loose the sense of what a great thing it is to be a Christian and then the glow, the joy, the radiance is gone from our Christian lives. This should not be so and all of us should guard against it.

But I presume that at times it will overtake us no matter how careful we may be. So this morning I am coming to you, that I might suggest to you why it comes and then if I can prescribe a cure for it.

In the first place it comes for the same reason it came to David. David had committed not one sin, but several. He was not conscious of the great wrong he had done until Nathan came to him and informed him that he had sinned against God. It was then that David repented and confessed. But of that horrible experience he wrote the 51st Psalm.

He did not seem concerned so much after he had repented and made his confession about being sinful. The thing he asks God for in the 12th verse is to restore unto him the joy of his salvation. When he realized how awful he had been and what a sinner he was, then the glow was gone from his spiritual life and he wanted it back ever so badly.

We must realize that we cannot live a life of sin and then expect to also live a life of fellowship with God, which will produce a great sense of joy and radiance in our Christian lives.

If you have no sense of the glow and joy of salvation in your hearts, then perhaps you had better begin to search your heart and see if the cause is not sin. 

Some of us have seen people have a great glow in their faces during times of great sorrow or sickness or strain when they were living very near to God and have then later seen them when that beautiful radiance had faded and been replaced by a hardness that was almost unbelievable.

It is said that Leonardo da Vinci when painting “The Last Supper” found an individual which seemed, to him, to fit the personality of each of those disciples he was portraying on the canvas. He found a man of intelligent eyes, firm chin and sensitive hands and painted him as John. Time passed, a year or more, and the picture neared completion. But he could find no one to represent the betrayer of the Master. At last in the slums of the city he found a hard-faced, bitter and corrupted man and painted him as Judas. Leonardo paid the man his dues after the last sitting, but the stranger did not go. He gazed at the picture for some time then moved slowly to the door. He seemed dissatisfied and unwilling to leave. “Have I not paid you enough?” said Leonardo. “Here is more.” The stranger waved it aside “no” he said. “It is not that – you painted me as John a year or more ago.” The image had been defaced by sin. Here was a man who had allowed sin to rob him of the look in his face and what may we ask must have happened to the man’s heart?

There are those who have no joy, no radiance in their Christian lives because sin has robbed them of it.

You may be in that group this morning. If you are, will you not do as David did. Come to God and confess your sin and ask His forgiveness and then pray that the joy of your salvation and the radiance of your Christian life will be restored to you. Or if you have never had that radiance then ask God to give it to you.

But sometimes one loses the joy of salvation not so much because of sin, but because it comes to be a fact which is so evident that it has become common place to them.

We need to go apart some place and sit alone and think over again what it means that we are saved and of the Christ who saved us. This morning let me try and make this great truth that you are saved, live again, not by teaching you the theology of it, but trying to show you what a great thing it is God has done for us.

Go to the manger in Bethlehem and stand there for a few moments, not asking any great philosophical question about how such could have been done, but stand there, your mind’s eye and look into the manger and see lying there a little baby only a few hours old and then call to mind that in that frail human form is housed the same personality which created the heavens and the earth. Then it will not be so much a question of how, but why. Why should He have done this for us? Surely one cannot stand there in that stable long and look at that baby knowing who He is without something of a sensation of thinking joy almost overwhelming, then as they realize that it was for us that He did that thing.

But let us see that baby grown to manhood and follow Him about over Judea and Galilee. We see Him as He meets some lepers and touches them and heals them. We see Him as He faces a hungry multitude and because of the great compassion of His heart, He cannot send them away hungry, but feeds them. See Him again as He goes to Gadara and there finds a man so beside himself that he is compelled to live away from society and has his dwelling among the combs, and at times must be chained. But Jesus comes to him and puts His hand upon his shoulder in love and compassion and drives out the devils and restores the man to his rightful mind.

See Him as He meets a maiden whose husband has already died and now she is on the way to the cemetery with her son to bury him. See Christ as He stops to speak to her and comfort her.

See Him as He walks to the tomb of Lazarus with his sister Mary and Martha and out of the great compassion of His heart, He weeps.

I am not asking you to think of these great truths as something which has no effect upon you now. Listen! Ask Christ, “Why are you doing these things” and He will answer, I am sure, “That you might know the kind of God you have.” Oh, now I see I have a God of greatness, yes, but more than that, a God who is a Father, compassionate, kind, living, understanding, sympathetic. Oh, what a God and as I think of what a privilege it is to be His child, surely there must come to me a great thrill that sends sensations all over my body and causes it to tingle and surely there will come a great quickening to the beat of my heart and a new glow of radiance in my life which will perhaps show even in my face.

Oh Jesus, did you really come to show me that I had such a marvelous God and Father?

But follow Him just a few more hours and you will see Him as He goes out into a Garden and asks three of His disciples to pray with Him, but they fell asleep. You can hear Him as He prays, “Father, if Thou be willing let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but thing be done.” See Him as He returns to the entrance gate of the Garden and is met by a rabble of Jewish soldiers from the Saceludrin and a contingent of Roman soldiers. See them as they arrest Him and lead Him away to the house of the high priest where they slap Him in the face and where they mock Him. Follow Him as they take Him to Pilot and see Him as they place a crown of thorns on His head and as they beat His back. Then see them as they lead Him out to Golgotha and then nail Him to the cross. Stand there long enough to hear Him say, “It is finished.” 

Now, do not think of the chronological and philosophical problems which may be raised, but simply ask Christ why He did it and let us hear Him answer, “I did it for you.” I may not be able to understand the full implication that Christ loved me enough to suffer and die there for me. And when I think, yet surely, there must come to me a great sense of the gloriousness of that love and surely there must come a new radiance to my heart as I realize that I am saved, not because of what I have done, but because of what God has done for me.

Surely this should bring a glow to our hearts. But follow on if you will and go to the tomb where they had laid Him and you will find it empty. He is gone you know not where nor how, but you hear footsteps and as you turn you see Him and He says, “Peace be unto you.” You ask, “Why have you arisen from the grave and appeared to me?” He will answer, “That you may know me, that you may have the privilege of my companionship and friendship. I knew you would have to face hard difficult places in life and I want you to know that I stand ready and willing at all times to help and assist you. I am alive to be your constant Helper and Guide.”

Here is a great doctrine:  Christ lives, but if that is all it is to you then you have missed something. It means you can have a daily, hourly companionship with one who loved you and died for you.

Surely the glow of our salvation should be burning brightly and the radiance of that glow should show even in our faces.

Oh, how our hearts should burn within us. We have a Savior, a dear heavenly Savior who did all of this for us. Surely we must not, we cannot, take it as a matter of course and let the joy of our salvation wither away. 

There was a brave soldier of Christ of the foreign generation. Allen Gardiner of Patagonia. His life as a missionary was a record of terrible sufferings and privations and he was found at last lying dead on the shore beside an upturned boat. And there when it had fallen from his hands, was his diary telling of the hardships he had been through, the hunger and third, the wounds and loneliness. But the last sentence some words penciled, scarcely legible, before the dying hand could write no longer. Here are the words: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”

Surely as we think of Christ and what He has done for us, we must be overwhelmed by His goodness.

Surely our hearts must be set aglow by what God has done to save us. But lest some of you cannot let me remind you that we have a glorious task in life. One which is so large and so infinitely important that surely we should be thrilled beyond words with such an undertaking.

Some of us can become thrilled with such minor things. Some people can become so excited over a task, even a fishing trip, that they cannot sleep the night before.

What an adventure we Christians have before us in fellowship with Christ. No matter what may be our task in life we are collaborate with God.

This means He will be with us. There is the story told of the famous English surgeon, Lord Moynihan, how once when he had been invited to operate before a distinguished group of fellow surgeons, someone asked him afterwards how he could possibly work with such a crowd around him. “Well,” he said, “it is like this. There are just three people in the theatre when I operate. The patient and myself.” “Three,” said his friend, “but that is only two. Who is the other?” And the surgeon answered, “God.”

Here is a thrilling truth, whether we are preachers, doctors, surgeons, nurses, teachers, parents, business or professional men, we can be sure we have the privilege of working in fellowship with God. Surely our souls should be thrilled with this great truth.

But now then, that we can know that our work is for eternity, we shall receive a reward for what we have done. Men thrill at making money.  They become radiant with joy over some financial deal consummated or some connection made in a business way. But think when we are associated with God, the great Architect of the universe and we have a task which is eternally important.

But let me say, if these things seem to thrill your hearts and put a glow into your Christian life, then listen to this. “You are on your way to a glorious place.”

I may have a long hard journey ahead of me. I may have many slick hills to climb and will perhaps have some deep valleys to cross, but I know that at the end of the road there is a destination and that surely one day I shall arrive there.

The story is told of what happened on a December day in 1666 in Edinburgh when Hugh Mackail, youngest and bravest of the covenanting preachers, was brought before his judges and condemned to the scaffold. They gave him four days to live, then back to the tollbooth the soldiers led him. Many in the watching crowd even weeping as he went, so young he seemed, so terrible his coming fate. But in his own eyes no tears were seen, no trace of self-pity or regret on the radiant eager face of this young Galahad of the cross. “Trust in God,” he said and his eyes were shining, “Trust in God.” Then suddenly catching a glimpse of a friend among the crowd, “Good News,” he cried, “Good news. I am within four days of enjoying the sight of Jesus Christ.”

Oh, my friends, if you have no joy in your Christian life and service let me urge you this morning to think on Jesus Christ, what He has done for you what a glorious privilege is yours of working with God and what a glorious destination is yours at the end of your life. 

Then with a restored or renewal radiance in your life do what David said he would do. “Then will I teach transgressors they ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.”

This will happen when we Christians have a glow in our religion.