Could our Sunday morning service start out any more nicely than it did this morning? The children of our church, dressed in their finest, were gathered up front by their choir director, Bonnie. With Michael at the piano, they sang their hearts out to God with the hymn, “Amazing Love”. I wish I had a camera.Pastor Vince Giardino came forward to the pulpit with another of his many and varied illustrations. He spoke of the fine messages preached during this past week’s Bible Conference here at Gospel Light. For those who missed the messages, he likened them to someone trying to cut a path through a heavy jungle with a butter knife. And that is just what he pulled out of his suit coat … a dull butter knife. But for those armed with this past week’s incredible messages and doctrines, he pulled out a gleaming and no-doubt sharp machete. Cutting through life’s problems is so much easier with an understanding of God’s will.We witnessed a marvelous music special by a women’ quartet. Lori, Bonnie, Jaime, and Melodie lined up together to blend their voices in praise, singing “He is God, He is Lord”. Koari ably accompanied them on piano.After Pastor G. presented Evangelist Sam Gipp as our preacher for the morning, Brother Gipp (which appropriately rhymes with quip) remarked, “I always love when they read the introduction the way I wrote it.” And thus went the morning sermon … full of thought provoking messages, but full of fun stories, jokes, and a touch of sarcasm.
Brother Gipp did not give a title for his message, but it boiled down to this: A One Word Answer – Jesus. He began by asking us to think of one word that altered the world. He offered many, including electricity, airplanes, automobiles, refrigeration, telephones, and the internet. However, the one word that absolutely changed the world far beyond all the others is “Jesus”.
We read from Matt 1:21-25. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”; and so Joseph did so. Brother Gipp reiterated what he had taught in Sunday School by saying that the world has a problem with the name Jesus. No other religion has Jesus as God. By Jesus living on earth as a man, He lets us know that He knows how we feel. Jesus knew betrayal, physical pain, grief, and temptation, but He was also vexed by the immorality He saw around him every day. Bro. Gipp told of Jesus’ miracles and healings and said “Jesus ruined every funeral he went to.”
We heard Brother Gipp’s story about inscriptions on tomb stones in a cemetery he once visited. The inscriptions often summarized the person’s life. Bro. Gipp said the life of Jesus could be reduced to five words: “He went about doing good.” None of us would dare have those words engraved on our head stone.
We were taught that, when man tries to pay for his own sins, it is like slapping the face of Jesus. “Jesus is our substitutional, all sufficient, payment for our sins”, Brother Gipp exclaimed. Nothing else is needed. He went on to explain that no tragedy or illness in your life was placed their by God as payment for your sins. Brother Gipp spoke of several harrowing incidents in his life while a missionary in the Philippines. He understood that Jesus Christ was with him through it all, and thus, he got through these trials, not with bravery, but with the knowledge of God’s presence.
We were reminded that, as Christians, we make two decisions: (1) to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and (2) to surrender our lives to Jesus, living for Him. Brother Gipp spoke how we mess up our first lives and then, after being saved, we wonder why our second life gets messed up. It is because we don’t know how to run our second life any better than our first. We need to give our life over to God to run. He equated giving our lives to God to committing ourselves to a roller coaster ride; “Get ready for the ride”, he remarked. “Jesus is my master; I am his property”, he said. For those hesitant to follow Christ, he asked, “Can you explain to me how living in the world is any worse than living for Christ?” He described how the world pummels our young people and tricks them into actions they regret when they are older. Yet if we choose to live for Jesus, “God will be good to you, but will work you hard”, Brother Gipp concluded.