So how are you all doing tonight? Good, good, good. Every time I get the opportunity to speak, no matter what it is, whether I’m preaching at a church or whether I’m speaking to a youth group, or speaking at a DNow or camp or anything like that… I mean, Sunday School, okay, I always get extremely nervous leading up to it. My nerves are just wracking every time. I don’t know what it is. I think it’s a healthy spiritual thing because maybe the Spirit’s laying upon me the weight of what it means to deliver God’s word. I don’t know. And also it may just be that my flesh, I get nervous speaking in front of a bunch of people, but every single time without fail, every single time, as soon as I approach my music stand, or my podium, or whatever, as soon as I start speaking the nerves go away and I feel the Spirit with me and He is faithful every single time to calm me down and to speak.
So I tell you that because I want you to know that He’s been faithful again tonight, and He can be faithful to you if you’ll listen. And I’m really kind of excited because the topic of my message is right in line with what I believe you guys have been learning in the high school group and in the middle school group and it’s also in line with what… Does that sound better? Good. It’s also in line with what I’ve been sharing a lot with you guys whenever I have spoken to you.
The last time that I spoke to the middle school, what I spoke to you guys about was out of Isaiah 50, “Why do you buy bread that does not satisfy? Why do you labor for that which will not fulfill you?” And I encouraged you guys to live your lives for a greater purpose than yourself and I believe from talking to some of the students here and from talking to Casey and Richard, some of the little bit of what you guys have been talking about has been living your lives for a greater purpose, and so that’s another reason why I’m excited is because I chose this topic on my own. The Lord sent me here, the Spirit brought me to this, and it’s right in line with that so I think that he’s been preparing a lot of you for what’s about to be said tonight.
And so a lot of you guys know, I don’t give in to the whole little kids are stupid and you gotta dumb things down for ’em. I don’t do that. You guys are not stupid. You guys are capable of understanding exactly what the Scriptures say. I don’t have to water anything down. I don’t have to dumb anything down for you to understand it. The Spirit will teach you what you need to know. His Scripture is applicable for everyone, so I want you to listen, I want you to listen close, I want you to lean in, I want you to invite the Spirit to come and to teach these things to you, to enlighten the eyes of your heart. So let’s open our Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5. We’re gonna be looking at verses 15 and 16.
Ephesians 5, verses 15 and 16. It says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise making the most of your time because the days are evil.” Now let’s look at this here and let’s pick this apart. “Be careful how you walk and not as unwise men but as wise making the most of your time because the days are evil.” Now that phrase I want you to look at first is, “Making the most of your time.” In the Greek what that’s really kinda better translated as is “redeeming the time.” So, let’s read it again: “Therefore be careful how you walk and not as unwise men but as wise redeeming the time because the days are evil.”
Now look at the second part: “Because the days are evil.” We understand the days to be evil, right? What do we see in the news? Like in the last week or two, goodness gracious, what do we have? We have a child falling into a gorilla pit, and there’s just national outrage about that. A few days later we have a Christian artist, her name is Christina Grimmie or Grimy. She gets gunned down in a club after a performance, shot and killed. The next day right after that, a man named Omar Mateen walks into a gay club in Florida with an assault rifle and he mows down everybody that he sees. He kills 50 people and wounds 53 more. It is the largest murder by a gun in the United States that there’s ever been. And then we have a two-year-old boy that gets dragged away by an alligator right in front of his parents. We have the Supreme Court passing decisions that are going to force my two daughters to have to register for the draft so that against their will, the government can pick them out of their homes and send them to their frontlines of combat. The days are evil. There’s a lot of evil around us that you guys are gonna be confronted with a lot of evil.
So there’s no question that the days that we live in are evil days, temptation all around us. But we are called to redeem our time because the days are evil. Now the word redeem means to gain possession of something in exchange for payment. So this means that we need to regain possession of our time because these days are evil. They’re doing their own thing. We need to reclaim that. We need to bring that back. And now to understand how we can redeem the time, how we can take back, take possession of what is rightfully ours, this world and this age that we live in. It would help us to understand how we can do that if we understand how Christ models this redemption for us. So if we are supposed to redeem the time because the days are evil, the best place to go to understand how to do that is to understand how Christ redeemed us because we were evil.
God created this world and He said that it was good. He created the people for himself and he said that they were very good. But these people rebelled and they dove head first into the clutches of sin and depravity. And for thousands of years, God watched as these people helplessly tried to pull themselves out of the muck that they dove head first in. In vain they struggle to offer some form of sacrifice that would reconcile themselves to their Creator, but they were so stained by their sin that even their righteous acts were as filthy rags before God and so we were left helpless and condemned. But you have God who’s filled with mercy and love for His creation and He decides to take it upon Himself to provide a suitable sacrifice. So the Father looks about for a fitting sacrifice to redeem His creation to Himself and He sets His eyes upon Jesus Christ. Wow! What He sees.
The Father sets his eyes upon the Son and He sees that He is the fullness of Deity. He is equal with God the Father in all of his attributes. He is the image of the invisible God, the exact imprint of his nature and the radiance of his glory. He is co-eternal with the Father never having a beginning and reigning with him since before the advent of time. He sets his eyes upon Christ and He sees perfect wisdom that exceeds that of Solomon and all the wisdom of men. Never once has Jesus ever been perplexed or confused or dumbfounded by anything and this runs parallel with his knowledge. The entire universe was created through Him and so in Him rest all the knowledge of the entire created order. Christ is never surprised. He is never enlightened and He is never amused by anything that we could ever say, do or create.
God sets his eyes upon his Son and he beholds the greatest power that this world has ever known. With one word, He calls the dead to life and he forces the storms to cease and he commands the mountains to be tossed into the oceans. With one hand, He heals the blind and He cleanses the lepers and with a single utterance of his name, I am a legion of soldiers falls to the ground and by withholding his speech and offering only a simple glance, he brings the mouths of governors and kings to a complete silence. He has no rival, no foe, and no enemy. His strength is unparalleled. The Father gazes upon the Son and he sees a strength that does not contradict his meekness. Christ is the embodiment of compassion weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn. He deals gently with those who continually let him down and he welcomes all the children who desire to come to him. God sets his eyes upon Christ and He sees an unmatched authority. Christ sustains the entire universe by the word of his power and He orders every single moment of existence to his liking.
God sets his eyes upon Christ. He beholds a beauty unlike any other. Every galaxy, every rainbow, every valley, and every mountain. Yes, all of creation, having been created by and through him takes its inspiration from Him. Every breathtaking sunset is an instance of his glory filling the skies. God beholds his Son and he sees an unwavering faithfulness. Every word ever spoken by Him has and will come to pass. Every promise uttered and oath taken has a guaranteed fulfillment. God sets his eyes upon his Son and He beholds righteousness. This is a purity and a holiness that we cannot comprehend. He never sinned. Not once was there any guile or deceit found in his mouth. He did not return rivaling for rivaling, a never ceasing choir of angels surrounds him crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” And these virtues of his are never changing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, constant in his being, never swing left or right, always true, always absolute, always definite. And time would fail me to tell you of the countless other excellencies of Christ, there are many.
God beholds his Son, He sees all these and He determines that Christ is indeed the only true and fitting sacrifice to overcome all of the sins that we have ever committed. Every single one of us. And so Christ steps into this world. Scripture says that he emptied himself and he took on the form of a servant. He came as a little baby. He grew and he matured right before everybody around him’s very eyes. He learned wisdom and he learned obedience through the things that he suffers, the Scripture says. He begins his ministry at 30 years old and he calls 12 men to follow him and he pours into these 12 men the things that they need to know to live a fulfilling life to God. But all along the way, the Scripture says that he was a man well acquainted with grief and he was a man of sorrows. All along the way you see the straining and the toiling and the struggling that Christ fought through every single day. He resisted sin to the point of shedding his blood.
In the Garden of Gethsemane as he’s about to go to the cross he’s in such agony. He pleads with the Father, “Remove this cup from me yet nevertheless not my will but your will be done.” He was perfectly obedient. The soldiers come to arrest him and the only friends that he ever had abandoned him. They forced him to the house of Caiaphas, they judge him as guilty, and they send him to be flogged, they beat him, they curse him, they spit on him, they put a crown of thorns upon his head. They fashion a cross out of splintery chipped wood and they toss it on his beaten back and he carries it up to the hill of calvary and they nail him to it. And as he is there, naked on a cross before the whole world that he came to die for, in that moment the Father turns his back upon his Son because in that moment Christ became our sin. He became your sin, he became my sin and God cannot behold this, so the perfect fellowship that Christ had with his Father from eternity past was severed in that moment because of you, and because of me.
But don’t think that through any of this the dignity of this man was ever minimized because even in his dying breath, covered in blood, in the most embarrassing situation that you can imagine, the way that he gave up his breath caused a man to say, “Surely this was the Son of God!” Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, Galatians 1:4. So you see, that’s what we understand redemption to be. This pearl of great price. The darling of heaven. The supreme treasure of all creation. God exchanged him for us. Christ paid the price that we should’ve paid and he bought us. He laid down his life as a ransom for many and he redeemed us. That’s what we understand redemption to be. So now that we have a better picture of redemption and what it means, let’s go back to the verse and look.
“And therefore be careful how you walk not as unwise men but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” So how can we redeem the time? Well, first things first, if you’re going to redeem the time that you live in, if you’re gonna redeem your time, if you’re gonna redeem every single thing that you do, you’ve gotta be saved. Look at verse 13 right before that. Starting in verse 13. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” “Therefore be careful how you walk not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.” He’s talking about salvation here when he says, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.”
So whenever you become a new creation, Christ shines his light upon you, right? And what does it say right before that? Everything that is illuminated becomes a light. So if you’re gonna do anything that’s gonna shed any light on any situation you have to arise O sleeper, you have to raise from the dead and you have to allow Christ to shine upon you. You have to be saved. You have to be pulled out of your sin, you have to be pulled out of your rebellion. You have to be given a new heart. You have to be given a new spirit. You have to be given a new life. You have to be made a new creation. Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself, for himself by people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:14. So Christ gives us new life and we look at the model that he exhibited for us. Christ stepped out of heaven and he became a servant. He became the least of all. So just as Christ laid himself down, after we receive this new life, we must lay that life down. Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
It is not easy to follow Jesus. Do you understand that? I mean, you guys probably realize that, you probably understand that. I mean how hard is it really to go to your school, to be around your family who may not believe, to be around friends who may not be as excited about Christ as you? How hard is it to be faithful to Jesus in every single thing that you do? It’s hard. I know. I know it is. I’ve been a Christian for six or seven years now and I know that it is hard. And we have to sacrifice a lot. We have to lay down our desires. We have to lay down our passions. We have to lay down the things that we want the most. And we have to exchange them all for the beauty and the glory of Jesus. We have to count all things as loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ, but this does not come without a reward. Jesus also says in Matthew 19:29, “In everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or land for my namesake will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” It is not for naught that you surrender everything to Jesus because you inherit everything when you do.
So we are saved. We are given new life. We lay that life down and instead of pursuing the things that our flesh gravitates towards, we walk in new life and we pursue the works that He has set out for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-9, you guys know it’s a familiar verse, “For by grace, you have been saved through faith and it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works so that no one can boast, for we are God’s handiwork.” Listen to this, “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So there are good things that we have to do. What this verse is saying is not that you are saved by your good works, it is saying that you are saved for good works. There are things that God has planned in advance for all of us to do. And whenever we become Christians that is what we pursue, that is what we chase, that is what we set our eyes upon and we find something that just makes our heart race with the glory of God and we pursue it with all our might.
He goes on later in that chapter, Ephesians 5 to explain, you know, some of the things we should do. He says, “Look, don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit.” He says, “Encourage one another.” He says, “Give thanks to God in all things that you do.” So what I’m hoping that you see through all of this, through all this Scripture that I have quoted, and just kinda what I’ve laid out here, what I want you to see is that you were created to be given to a purpose and a cause greater than yourself. One of the things that we are called to do is we’re called to redeem the time that we spend. Now let me ask you, this summer so far, have you succeeded in that? Have you redeemed the time that you’ve been spending this summer? Or have you been playing Xbox all summer? Have you been going to the movies all summer? Have you just been swimming and hanging out with friends, not doing anything godly? Have you been studying the Scriptures? Have you’ve been pursuing Christ?
I mean, look, you guys are here at a church on a Friday night, okay? And you’re gonna be here all night. So some of you, maybe not all of you, maybe some of you were invited, but most of you probably call yourselves Christians. Right? You consider yourselves Christians, but what have you done to redeem the time? You do realize that after this life, eternity awaits you. Eternity. This life is just a vapor, the Scripture says. This is a blink compared to eternity. It never ends. So what you do now has eternal ramifications. Let me show you what I’m talking about. In I Corinthians chapter 15, it’s a wonderful chapter, it’s the resurrection chapter. Paul talks about the resurrection. The resurrection is the doctrine that we believe just as Christ was laid in the grave for three days and he rose from the grave and ascended into heaven, so likewise after we die, that’s not it.
There’s gonna be a resurrection of our bodies and we’re going to be raised into imperishable, immortal bodies that will never die, and we will go to either one of two places. We will go to paradise. We will go to heaven. If you believe in Christ and you have trusted in Him for the forgiveness of your sins, if he has redeemed you from your evil self, then you will go be with Him for eternity where there is no pain, there’s no tears, there’s no sadness and you will worship Him for all eternity. And otherwise, if you have not trusted in Christ, if you do not believe in Him and the work that he has done on your behalf, there’s a very real place called hell where you will go. It is the place reserved for Satan and his demons because they rebelled against God and that’s why you go there too is because ultimately if you live your entire life and you do not accept Christ, you are rebelling against Him and if you didn’t know that before, you know that now.
And so Paul is talking about the resurrection and he’s talking about the glorious hope that we have. It’s where we get all these amazing verses like, look, if Christ is not raised from the dead, we are most to be pitied, if the resurrection is not true then our hope in Christ extends only in this life then we are most to be pitied. Death has been swallowed up in victory. It’s an amazing passage. And at the very, very end of that, in verse 58, after talking about the resurrection and the life that exists after this one, Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord knowing that your labor is not in vain.” Now why would Paul say that you should give yourselves fully to something, you should always be abounding in this work because you know that your labor is not in vain? What does he mean when he says that you know your labor is not in vain?
Well, let’s think about it. We die in this life, and then we are raised to life. Those of us who trust in Christ, we go to heaven and we are given rewards based upon the things that we have done in this life. There’s a crown of Hope, there’s a crown of Righteousness, there’s a crown of Glory, there are several crowns and rewards that we will receive. So every single one of us that have trusted in Christ, we will be rewarded based upon the things that we have done, okay? Our works. But what will we do with those crowns? We will take them off and we will lay them at the feet of King Jesus because we understand that even though I may work harder than any of you, it is not me, but it is the Spirit of God within me that is pushing me to do these things. I cannot take credit for any good that I do. I’ve been crucified with Christ, and is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. Therefore, every good thing that I do and every good thing that you do, you don’t get any credit for it. Christ gets all the credit, Christ gets all of the glory.
So what Paul means when he says that the things that you do in this life are not in vain is that when you lay that crown before Christ and you acknowledge Him as the giver of all the good deeds that you have done and we continue to worship Him for all eternity for the things that He has done then what you are doing is you’re adding to the eternal legacy of Christ Jesus. The things that you have done will not burn up in this Earth and be condemned to hell, we will sing about them for the rest of eternity and we will give Christ all of the glory for it. That is why the things that you do are not in vain. It is not without hope that you wake up early before the sun rises and you read your Scriptures so that you can know Christ more. It is not for no reason that you share Christ with your friends no matter how awkward it may be. It is not for no reason that you give of your possessions sacrificially so that somebody else can have it just a little bit better than you do. It’s not for nothing.
We will praise God for these things for eternity. They will be remembered forever. But if you don’t redeem your time, if you don’t surrender everything to Christ and if you don’t take every single second, every single moment to turn it into a God-glorifying one, you will be forgotten. Your works will not mean anything. Bill Gates and Elon Musk, yeah, they can do amazing things that benefit humanity now. But I’m telling you, a thousand years from now, 10,000 years now, whenever it is when Christ returns, it’s not gonna mean anything. They can try to make this world a better place but Christ will perfect it when He comes. He will do that work. And everything that Stephen Hawking and anybody has ever dreamed will be forgotten. It will not mean anything. So right now, I’m telling you, you have a choice. Forget everything that you think you may know about salvation and how that works and how that’s carried out, forget all that. I’m telling you right now, you have to choose today who you’re gonna serve. You have to choose today if your life is going to have a purpose or not.
Like I said, this is probably the last time… No, this is the last time, that I’m probably gonna get to speak to you. I’m moving away in a few days, going up north to Ohio. But the thing that I want to leave with you is I want you to be encouraged and to know that even though you’re young, even though you’re in middle school and high school, you can redeem your time and you can start now living a life that matters. You don’t have to just sit around twiddling your thumbs and playing Pokemon or whatever. You can do things that matter. You can do things that last for eternity. You can do things that bring glory to Christ, and all of these things we will rejoice about for eternity. You have a choice. Now listen, if you don’t know Christ, if you have not been redeemed by Him then right now everything you do is for naught, you’re wasting your life. But let me tell you what you can do. Start living for a purpose. You repent, you repent of your sin. What that means is that you acknowledge, “Christ, I’m nothing without you. I realize I’m just a vapor. I realize that I can do nothing good apart from you. And I’ve been holding onto these sins, these things that you don’t agree with, I have been rejecting you and God I want to no longer.
I want to surrender my life to you. God, I want to receive new life from you. I wanna lay that down again, and I wanna pursue you with all my might. I wanna turn away from all these things, and I want you, Jesus. I want you. Because you, as we have seen, are the supreme treasure. You are what matters most. You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You’re the pearl of great price and if I have you, I have everything. That’s the first thing you need to do. You need to repent of your sins, and you need to believe. You need to have faith that Christ did everything for you that you’re supposed to do. You call upon His name, and he will save you. He will. So, I’m gonna give you guys an opportunity to respond. Listen, I’m calling you. The Scriptures are calling you. The Holy Spirit I pray is calling you. Christ is calling you. There’s a cloud of witnesses that are calling you. Lay down your life at the foot of the cross. Trust in Jesus, and then you will live with a purpose that matters. You will redeem your time. You will redeem all of the things that you have done wrong. They will be washed away and then you can start doing truly good things.
Live for a reason and a purpose that is greater than yourself. Now, you can sit here the rest of the night in this lock-in ’cause you’re gonna be here all night. You can sit here, and you can wrestle with these things if you want, okay? You have time to think about this. You have time to dwell on this, but I’m telling you don’t tarry too long. You don’t know what’s gonna happen the second that you leave here. You don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. You don’t know what’s gonna happen a week from now, a month from now, a year from now. Eternal joy awaits you if you will receive Christ. Now, there’re some men standing in the back. I believe there’re some women over here, young girls you can speak to. Go talk to them, please, please. And you can talk to me. You can talk to any elder here. Talk to someone. Don’t just ignore what you’re feeling right now. Please join me in prayer.
Father, we have seen the glory of Jesus. We have seen how magnificent He is. We have lifted him up Lord, and we believe that if he is lifted up, he will draw all men to himself. And I pray for you to have mercy. I pray for you to grant repentance. I pray for you Lord to send your Spirit in this room to convict us of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. Father, I also pray that your Spirit would minister to us, give us hope, give us peace. Remind us, Lord, that no matter what we have done, no matter how far we think we’ve gone, there’s still a chance for us. Father, I’m reminded of the thief on the cross, an entire life, 99% of his life spent rebelling against you. The choices that he made led him to that hill right next to Jesus. But Father, that one moment, those few hours that he trusted in Christ, Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” That entire 99% that he wasted was redeemed. There’s none of us that is beyond your saving grace. Thank you so much for your love. Thank you so much for Jesus. We trust in your faithfulness Lord to do what you say that you will do. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.