Comparing a Christian’s Life to a Lighthouse

Matthew 5:14-16
Audio MP3

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Oct 26, 2014   AM

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:14,15)


A.     This morning I want to compare a Christian to a Lighthouse


1.      I have always loved lighthouses – I don’t really know why

2.      But when I got saved, they got a whole new meaning for me!


B.     Jesus says that His followers are Lights in the world (Matthew 5:14-16)


1.      Ye are the light of the world.

2.      NOTICE. As a group, we are like a city that is SET ON AN HILL - It cannot be hid!

3.      We are like “a light on the top of a candlestick” - Gives light to all around

4.      Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


C.     The world needs a lot of light – the ability to see where it is headed


1.      This is a Dark World


a.       The Bible describes our world, our culture as being in darkness:


1)      "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph.6:12).

2)      "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18).


b.      This world loves the darkness: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).


1)      This world does not think straight, act straight, or live straight. Our modern culture is characterized by a lifestyle that is crooked and in contrast to that which is straight.

2)      1 in 4 in Ireland have been sexually abused

3)      1 in 4 sexually active teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease, and most don’t know it

4)      3,000 hospital beds are occupied every night by stupid drink related illnesses

5)      People think it is “fun” to snort cocaine up their nose, heroin into their veins, smoke into their lungs, alcohol into their brains, and ecstasy into their heart!

6)      Instead of getting married, people choose to only live together, partner after partner.

7)      Instead of one man and one woman, it’s a man with a man, and a woman with a woman.

8)      Television and movies are filled with lust, pornography, adultery, incest, hundreds of murders, and lying and stealing like there is no tomorrow!

9)      And people think it is all normal?


c.       Behind all these facts is a lifestyle without morals, convictions, principles, scruples, and standards. To live "straight" is considered old fashioned. To have a high standard of morals is out of date. To be a Christian is the worst thing imaginable to most people!


2.      But it is IN THE WORLD is where Christians shine! In a DARK WORLD! (Philp 2:14-16)


a.       Among whom” (among crooked and perverse people)

b.      ye shine” – not angels, but YE, YOU ALL shine!

c.       as lights” – Jesus is THE Light, and we are reflectors of that light – we are not light

d.      in the world


D.     Let’s find out how to shine, by learning from something called “A Lighthouse”


II.    Message


A.     What is a Lighthouse?


1.      A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a high enough place as to aid the navigation of maritime pilots at sea or while on inland waterways.

2.      In other words, a lighthouse is something that sends out a warning light of dangers nearby so that ships and sailors could pass on, and arrive home safely!

3.      The lighthouse is not the light but holds up the light. Like a giant CANDLESTICK!

4.      It itself is not the light. It just powerfully projects it to the farthest reaches! Provides a Magnifying lens for the light!

5.      It is there to Warn and Guide!

6.      It must be HEEDED, obeyed!


B.     Why Were Lighthouses Built?


1.      Only ONE reason…

2.      To Warn Sailors of Dangerous Areas nearby!


a.       Many areas just under the calm surface of water, are dangerously shallow, have rocky reefs, have dangerous rip tides that can force ships against rocks and shorelines in the blink of an eye

b.      Sailors looked for the lighthouses to warn them of the dangerous areas in enough time to change their direction and avoid a crash.

c.       Warn them of dangers and dangerous areas to stay away from

d.      Many ships DON’T have radar, GPS, good maps. Many times you just have joy-riders, who have no idea what is just ahead of their journey

e.       In extremely stormy weather, or foggy conditions when the light could not be seen, naval ships depended on the light station’s FOG HORN. Sometimes it would be whistles, bells, and horns. The horns were a low pitched, sad and eerie in sound. Each foghorn signal was unique – their own combination of sound and silence to mark what lighthouse they were near.


C.     Where Were Lighthouses Built?


1.      Usually HIGH on a hill

2.      As near to the dangerous waters as possible – always near the danger. Lighthouses are placed in hazardous regions to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, safe entries to harbours, and can also assist in aerial navigation. They are not built where the waters are calm, and the travel is safe!

3.      In some places where it is too dangerous, too difficult or too expensive to build a lighthouse,  Lightships take position, RIGHT IN THE WATER, and act like floating lighthouses, anchoring themselves, and riding out every storm, so that passing ships can see where the dangers are!


D.     The Design of a Lighthouse


1.      They are built out of stone, concrete, wood, steel, brick, or cast iron.

2.      Usually built with the strongest materials that were readily available in that area.

3.      Lots of Shapes and sizes


a.       Most are round, or cone shaped.

b.      Others are like Pyramids, Octagons (8 sides), and Square lighthouses.


4.      Beautiful – something that stands out from the surrounding rock and water


a.       Every lighthouse has its own beauty

b.      Designed so that it could be identified during the day

c.       But at night, mariners could not see the lighthouse’s structure. They could only see the light.


5.      Permanently there – always shining – always dependable!


E.     How Do Lighthouses Work?


1.      Very simple system

2.      They have a light at their top

3.      Oil, or electricity to power the light

4.      A clear protecting outer glass surrounding the light so that the storms don’t extinguish the light

5.      A  glass lens, shaped like a beehive around the light that focuses the light in one direction – making it very bright

6.      And a platform that turns the light in all directions

7.      And that is it!


F.      The Most Important Part of the Lighthouse - the Light


1.      The tallest, most beautiful lighthouses are WORTHLESS without their light!


a.       Lighthouses were not really needed during calm, sunny days

b.      But they were desperately needed during stormy, dangerous weather

c.       And they were needed to SHINE!


2.      The first warning lights were made of wood and coal fires out in the open top of a high platform called a lighthouse.

3.      By the late 1600’s they started putting the fire into a ”lantern” room so it wouldn’t blow out.

4.      Later, wood and coal was replaced by whale oil, and later by kerosene oil.

5.      Then, in 1822, a French scientist, Augustin Fresnel (fray-nel), invented the fresnel lens.


a.       Made of hundreds of pieces of specially cut glass, that surrounds the lamp.

b.      The lens was designed to collect and direct light rays to produce a beam more powerful than ever before – like a magnifying glass!

c.       He designed 6 different kinds of lenses:


1)      One kind is the brightest and its light can reach the furthest out into the waters. They were very bright and when placed 100’ above sea level, the light could reach 18 miles out into the ocean.

2)      Other lenses were for shining shorter distances, when they didn’t have to shine as far or as brightly.


6.      But the key thing is that everything about the lighthouse was so that the LIGHT could shine! Really, not for much else!


G.    A Word About The Keeper


1.      When lighthouses were first built, keepers were paid to take care of the lighthouses.

2.      A home was usually built right alongside the lighthouse so that the keeper could quickly get to the lighthouse and take care of anything that needed to be done.

3.      As a keeper, you were required to do strenuous, around the clock tasks. Keepers had to light the lamp at sunset and keep it going all the way until sunrise. The keeper might have to climb to the top of the light every 4 hours to check on the flame, trim the wick, fill the oil or clean the glass. Some keepers had to climb hundreds of steps each time they needed to complete a job at the top!

4.      It was a very important job to keep the lantern glass clean so the light’s beam would not be dimmed at night in any way. So the keeper had to shined the brass, clean the windows and walls, clean and polish the lamp and lenses. Quite often it would take an entire day to clean and polish a huge lens alone!

5.      Everything – the light, the home, and even the gardens around the lighthouse had to be kept in top order. Passing ships needed to see that the lighthouse was occupied by someone who loved their job!

6.      There was not usually just one keeper! Fathers taught their sons and daughters, and husbands taught their wives how to care for the light. It was very important that someone would be able to take over the position if the keeper should become ill, held up on shore because of the weather, helping out in a disaster somewhere else, or if the keeper should die.

7.      It was a lonely job!


a.       Because most lighthouses were isolated from the rest of the world, the keepers that lived there usually led lonely lives.

b.      Not a very popular job – who would want to be married to a lighthouse keeper, living nearest to the storms, and having so much work to do every day? Not many!


8.      But, it was a Most Necessary Job


a.       Because of SHIPWRECKS


1)      The United nations gives an estimate of 3 million shipwrecks sitting at the bottom of every ocean, lake and canal

2)      Just remember three of the most recent shipwrecks:


a)      Jan. 13,2012 Italy: the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia capsizes near the Tuscan coast. There are 4,200 passengers on board. At least 11 people are killed and dozens missing. The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, reportedly changed course to sail closer to shore to show off the luxury liner. In addition, he is accused of abandoning the ship after the crash.

b)      October 3, 2013 Mediterranean Migrant ship capsized in the Mediterranean near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. at least 360 people died when it. The boat, carrying African migrants to Europe, sank after passengers lit a blanket on fire to signal their position. The fire spreads from the blanket to gasoline, creating a panic that sinks the boat. It is the worst boating accident of its kind in the region.

c)      April 16, 2014 South Korea: a ferry carrying 459 people, mostly students from Danwon High School, sinks off the southern coast of South Korea. When the ship begins sinking, the ship's captain, Lee Jun-seok, is not at the helm. Instead, the third mate is steering the ship. Lee is taken into custody. There are 146 confirmed deaths with more than 150 people still missing.


b.      Lighthouse keepers could often serve as a rescue service if necessary.


H.    Famous Lighthouses


1.      Among the hundreds of thousands of lighthouses in the world, several stand out!

2.      The Statue of Liberty in New York is a lighthouse! I bet you didn’t know that!

3.      The Hook Lighthouse (also known as Hook Head Lighthouse)


a.       Is a building situated at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, in Ireland.

b.      It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, and the oldest operating lighthouse in Ireland.

c.       The existing tower dates from the twelfth century,

d.      Tradition states that Dubhán, a Bible believing missionary to the Wexford area, established some sort of beacon there as early as the fifth century.

e.       The original tower was built by Strongbow's son-in-law William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who succeeded Strongbow to also become Lord of Leinster. Marshall had established a port in the town of New Ross, approx. 30km up river. In order for his new port to be successful and for ships to safely reach their destination, Marshall had a 36m high tower built at the mouth of Waterford Harbour. The exact year of construction is not known, however, Marshall first came to the region in 1201 and the first map that shows the lighthouse serving its function is dated 1240, therefore construction must have taken place between these dates.


4.      The Lighthouse of Alexandria, sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria, was a lofty tower built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 BC and between 393 and 450 ft (120 and 137 m) tall. It was one of the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries, and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

5.      The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse in north-western Spain. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. The structure, almost 1900 years old and rehabilitated in 1791, is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use today. The tower has been in constant use since the 2nd century and is considered to be the oldest existing lighthouse in the world.


I.       Our Lighthouses TODAY


1.      By the 1920’s, lighthouses changed to electricity. One by one, the lights of lighthouses around the world were changed to electricity, and it didn’t take long for the keepers to be out of a job. The lighthouses became automated – the lighthouses themselves could do the job on their own.

2.      But with the keepers gone, these beautiful structures began to fall apart. Vandalism and the weather elements quickly took their toll.

3.      Slowly, lighthouses are being just abandoned. Left to become ruins.

4.      Because it is too expensive to maintain them

5.      And because more and more ships have super accurate GPS systems on board and radars

6.      There are still 81 lighthouses in operation around Ireland!


J.      They are Still Needed


1.      A lighthouse is not a big thing anymore. Not popular. Expensive to build and maintain. For many, they are in the way of the scenery.

2.      But they are still needed – even in the 21st century!

3.      Because storms knock out power on ships

4.      Because not all ships have radar and gps

5.      Because it is still dangerous to travel on the water

6.      The waters are full of ejits who only want to have fun and play the fool, and ignore common sense even

7.      Because there should be a beacon of warning near every place of danger

8.      Because just one SOUL is worth saving!


III. Application – How a Christian, and a Church is Like a Lighthouse


A.     What is a Christian Supposed to Be? (John 1:1-9)


1.      Not the Light, but someone who shines the light

2.      In other words, Someone who stands high enough to be seen by the world around them, sending out warnings of dangers nearby so that people could can on, and arrive home safely!

3.      A Christian is not the light but bears witness if the light (John 1). We are a Magnifying lens. Not the light. The word of God just sits there and the holy spirit is just quiet until someone shouts it with passion!

4.      We Warn and Guide, but WE cannot save. Only JESUS saves!


B.     Why Be a Light? (John 1:7,5)


1.      To “bear witness” means to lift up high and let everyone see the Light of Jesus Christ

2.      To Warn people of Dangerous Areas


a.       Much of life is deceptive – it can have a calm surface, but just beneath are rocky reefs, and dangerous rip tides of popularity and fads that can force young and old alike against disasters in the blink of an eye!

b.      People USED to look to Christians to see what was RIGHT and GODLY to do, and wear, and listen to. They expected Christians to be helpers, and people who would risk their own lives that others would be saved!

c.       Most people DON’T have any sense! They are just joy-riders, who have no idea what is just ahead of their journey!


3.      People don’t often understand what we are doing, but we shine anyway (John 1:5)!


C.     Where Are Christians Placed? (Luke 10:3; Acts 9:15,16)


1.      High on a hill – “a city set ON A HILL!”

2.      As near to the dangerous waters as possible – always near the danger.

3.      Not all in Texas, or in comfortable Cork…

4.      God places Christians, Missionaries, Church Planters, in many hazardous regions to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs, safe entries to harbours, and can also assist in aerial navigation.

5.      Have you noticed that they are not placed where life is calm, and everything is safe!

6.      I have known many missionaries who are like the Lightships – they go into Cuba, and Iran, and even North Korea with the Gospel, risking their own lives to save some souls! They can’t STAY, but they can get between sinners and the rocks of life and can shine for as long as possible!


D.     How Christianity Works (Matthew 10:18-20)


1.      Very simple system

2.      We have a light

3.      Powered by OIL – the Holy Spirit

4.      We keep our testimony clean so that sin don’t cloud out, or extinguish the light

5.      We are supposed to have a burden that focuses the Light in certain directions – no matter how far away may be the need

6.      A platform that turns the light in all directions – our church, that keeps people always moving, always giving, always having a new focus, always shining, even when tired!

7.      And that is it!


E.     The Most Important Part of the Christian Life is… the Light (Philp 2:14-16)


1.      All that matters is that a Christian shines! Doesn’t hide, or try and change the light!

2.      The world is dark and deadly. It needs LIGHT!

3.      It is not about US, and our happiness, and our successes

4.      It is about the Light that we shine forth

5.      You cannot improve on it – you can’t make it prettier, brighter, clearer than it already is

6.      We just need to let it shine!


F.      A Word About The Keeper (Luke 11:39,40)


1.      Every Christian is a Keeper of their own life – no one else will do your job

2.      As a keeper, you will have to do strenuous, around the clock tasks.

3.      Light the lamp when it gets dark around you

4.      And keep it going all the way until sunrise (until Jesus comes again).

5.      Keep your testimony clean so the light’s beam is not dimmed in any way. That means, no smoking! No drinking! No porn! No murmuring! No complaining! No fighting! No drugs! No laziness!

6.      Yes, being a Christian can be a lonely job! Not super popular – people mock it daily!

7.      But, it is a Most Necessary Job (Col 1:28)


a.       Because of SHIPWRECKS (1Tim 1:19)


1)      There may be 3 million shipwrecks sitting at the bottom of every ocean, lake and canal…

2)      But there are billions of souls right now playing and singing and ignoring even their own conscience, living like there is no danger

3)      And they need a lighthouse to shine and warn them of the dangers of sin, and self-righteousness, and living without God!

4)      Warning people, even Christians of


a)      Drink, Drugs

b)      Sex outside of marriage

c)      Rock Music, and wicked entertainment

d)      Ungodly friends

e)      The love of money (1Cor 6:9,10)


b.      It is a great privilege for a Christian to serve as a rescue service if necessary.


G.    I Wish I Could Talk About Famous Christians (John 5:32-35) – who lived like bright lights, bright LIGHTHOUSES in a dark culture!


1.      John the Baptist
John 5:32-35  There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

2.      Peter, James, and John (Acts 4:7,8,10-13)

3.      Stephen, and all Christians in the first century (Acts 8:1-4)

4.      The apostle Paul (Acts 17:22)

5.      Peter Waldo (c. 1140 AD – c. 1218 AD), Founder of the anabaptists called the Waldensians, who preached across northern Italy, turning Switzerland and surrounding countries to faith in Christ alone!

6.      John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384), a converted catholic priest in Oxford England, who began to turn the entire nation of Egland to faith in Christ alone!

7.      Martin Luther (1483 – 1546), a German friar, who was converted to faith in Jesus Christ alone – turned half of Germany away from Catholicism to Christ alone!

8.      George Whitfield (1714 – 1770), was an English preacher who helped spread the Gospel throughout Britain, and especially in the American colonies. He preached wherever men would gather - in parks and fields - sometimes just at dawn! Many times, the audiences would swell to over 30,000 to hear him preach Jesus Christ!

9.      Dwight Moody (1837 – 1899), a converted shoe salesman who answered God's call to preach, and ended up filling stadiums up with 15,000 to 20,000 people, with 1,000's getting saved in every meeting!

10.  Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892), a British Particular Baptist preacher, known still as the "Prince of Preachers" because of his ability to preach the Bible so clearly and thoroughly! His church would fill to capacity on Sunday mornings, with over 5,000 attending in London!

11.  Billy Sunday (1862 – 1935) was an American baseball player, who during the 1880s, heard the Gospel at an RU meeting in Chicago, and became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century. Over the course of his Christian life, Billy Sunday probably preached to more than one hundred million people face-to-face, without any electronic amplification. And over 1,000,000 get saved in those 20 years!


H.    Christianity TODAY is Kind of Dim


1.      One by one, the light of the Gospel is being replaced with entertainment, and prescription drugs!

2.      Churches are almost automated – just come in, go through the motions, and then go home!

3.      Christian lives are quickly falling apart.

4.      Bible preaching churches are being just abandoned.

5.      Many people believe they are too expensive to maintain them – to pay their pastors, and do all the ministries

6.      Besides, people don’t NEED all that hellfire and damnation preaching, and line by line teaching through the Bible

7.      People have self-help books, and counsellors, and courses, and drugs for when things get tough!

8.      Well, thank God there still are many Bible preaching churches all around Ireland and the world – but they are dimming fast!


I.       Christians are Still Needed!


1.      Because…


a.       Sin, and troubles still sink people’s lives down the toilet

b.      People do NOT have goodness inside that naturally tells them what to do

c.       It is still dangerous to live without God – deadly.

d.      Just one SOUL is worth saving!


2.      That’s why…


a.       We pick up our Bible every day, and beg God to be FILLED with His Holy Spirit – because our brightness must be constantly replenished

b.      That’s why we don’t HIDE, and shy away from preaching and teaching the truth – we live out in the open, even high on a hill. Not ashamed. A lamp must be high enough to be seen before the danger is reached by a mariner. So must the bright life of a Christian!

c.       That is why we are CONSTANT. Cannot ever go out!

d.      That’s why there should be Christians near every place of danger, warning the passers-by

e.       Yes, Biblical Christianity is COSTLY to operate. That's why so many churches are automated, and cost little to nothing for most people, but you can't automate Gods work! It costs to send church planting missionaries, to pay for pastors, do all the ministries for people like RU, etc!


3.      Our Purpose is for OTHERS – the safety, salvation of others! No matter the cost!


IV.  An Invitation


A.     Christian… This Halloween, during THESE dark days…


1.      Clean up your testimony, and get some fresh oil, and start shining!


a.       Start telling this lost world that they need Jesus Christ! They need to be SAVED! Born again!

b.      Preach like John the Baptist did

c.       Live like Paul, and Peter and Philip and Stephen


2.      Be a light, folks! Shine like a Lighthouse!


B.     What about the rest of you? Are YOU the lost sailor, headed for the rocks of sin?

C.     Today, you can heed the Lighthouse, and turn from your wicked ways (2Chron 7:14)