Some nineteen hundred years ago, just before our Lord ascended into glory, he left with his church on earth the command “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. This injunction did not stop with the apostles, but has been handed down through the ages, and now rests upon us as the coming generation of the church.
We have gathered here at this convention as a Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies. Many of us have traveled great distances to attend this convention. This enthusiasm in itself is a manifestation of the seed of godliness that the Holy Spirit has planted in the hearts of the elect. The purpose of this convention is not primarily to get together for a good time, but to glorify the name of God, and to inspire the youth of the church to exercise that gift of godliness that has become our possession. We as Protestant Reformed Young People have a distinctive calling. We have been brought up from the cradle in the fear of God. We have been thoroughly instructed in the Reformed truths, which have been founded on the Word of God. Our lives have been impregnated with the Spirit of Godliness. We are constantly being reminded of our heritage and the dangers that threaten it. This heritage is a gift of God, It holds for us many privileges, but also, a great responsibility. Christ calls upon us to witness before the world. In Matthew 5:16 he commands “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
But we have fallen, and continue to fall far short of this calling. Sad to say, it is often difficult to distinguish between the damned sinner and the supposedly regenerated child of God, It is comparatively easy for us to witness for Christ when we are in Christian company, at home, church, or society, but when we are confronted by the world, and the things of the world, our faith too quickly fades, and our light fades with it. Instead of testifying for Christ on the witness stand, we are content to sit in the back row and watch evil men curse his Holy Name. When we do let our light shine, we often try to shade it a little, to make it easier on the sin- darkened eyes of men. Instead of glorifying the Name of God, we, mortal men, are actually ashamed of a true and perfect God, who is the Creator of all. We ignore the calling “Come out from among them, and be ye separate”, because we enjoy the folly of the world, and are enchanted by the temptations of the devil.
We are the salt of the earth! Has the salt lost is savour? Are we merely in the world, or are we also of the world?
The people of God must be a peculiar people. The line of distinction must be plainly visible. There can be no compromise between good and evil. Man cannot serve two masters, nor can there be a twilight in Christianity, for twilight always heralds the coming of total darkness.
Perhaps the greatest reason for our failure to witness for Christ is our own sinful pride and selfishness. We want to make a name for ourselves in this world instead of magnifying the name of God. We are afraid of being ridiculed by godless men who would make us believe that there is no God. We are ashamed to confess that we are dependent upon God for our very existence. We are ever ready to defend ourselves, and even other men, but God is denied and cursed, His Name mocked and cast out, and we do nothing about it.
Where is this godliness that we hear so much about?
God, in His marvelous grace, has given every one of us, each in his own measure, the ability and the opportunity to reflect his perfect light. We are duty bound to use these gifts that his purpose in us may be realized. What will we do with our talents? Will we exercise them for the glory of God? Or will we bury them deep in the gloom of our sinful hearts, to be rooted up in the judgment, to testify to our own damnation?
Some may think that they are too young to be so serious minded, that now is the time to enjoy our youth and get a little fun out of life, and that there will be plenty of time to confess our faith and live a godly life. This is a common and often disastrous error. We are under an obligation to God from the hour of our birth, and the fact that one is not a confessing member of church does not free him from this obligation. Life is too short and time too precious to be squandered in the folly of this world. The call comes to each one individually, and we must not wait until tomorrow; tomorrow may be too late.
We are living in perilous times. Never before in history has man become so aware of the uncertainty of human life. Within one generation this world has experienced two devastating world wars, and now seems to be on the threshold of a third. Each conflict brings more bloodshed and destruction than the one preceding it. Man, who formerly was afraid of planes and guns, is now terrified at the thought of rackets and atomic bombs, which have the power to destroy millions of lives in a matter of seconds. He is so filled with fear and discontent that he does not trust his fellow man, and often not even his own friends and relatives,
The strife between capital and labor is at a maximum. The divorce rate is higher than it ever was before. Parents desert their children and children murder their parents.
This nation was founded to overthrow the tyranny of earthly dictators and to give freedom to the common man, but the common man has only proved that he is incapable of governing even himself.
When man views the confusion and turmoil which surrounds him, he stands aghast, and wonders what will happen next.
And through it all he strives for a vague something which he calls peace, but he finds no peace because he seeks a peace of this world, which does not exist.
But we as members of the body of Christ have a peace that is sure. A peace that passeth all understanding. A hope that is anchored in the Rock of our salvation.
When we behold the comfort that is ours in Christ, we can sense, in a small way, the power of godliness. May we always respect this treasure, and pray God for more godliness and for grace to exercise it before the world. And also that this convention may be an inspiration for us to take our candles from under the bushels of sin, and to let them shine in the darkness of this modern world, that through our testimony, our Father which is in heaven may be glorified.