The True Light
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."—#Joh 1:9.
Everywhere throughout the Scriptures light is used to represent God, His truth, His righteousness, His servants and their messages; and, contrariwise, darkness is the synonym for Satan, the Prince of Darkness, and all his deluded followers, the children of darkness, and the wickedness with which he is identified, the works of darkness.
So forceful are these figures of speech that they are recognized quickly, not only by those skilled in the use of the Scriptures, but also by the world. The voice of inspiration in the Bible declares that the "whole world lies in the Wicked One"—under Satan’s influence—under the powers of darkness. And this declaration was made, not in the period before the Flood, nor in the period before the giving of the Law to Israel, nor during the Law Age, but during this Gospel Age. Furthermore, since Jesus has come and has given His life a Ransom, and since His followers have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, since Pentecost, the world still lieth in the Wicked One, as again stated, "Darkness covers the earth—gross darkness the heathen." (#1Jo 5:19; #Isa 60:2.) But the Scriptures also testify that Jesus is the Light of the world—the true Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world—the statement of our text. How and in what sense is this true? We reply that it is not yet true—that it is a prophetic statement of what shall yet be.
Our Lord declared this great truth when He said, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me should not abide in darkness"; but "men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." (#Joh 3:19-21; 12:46.) In other words, our Lord here indicates that mankind had become so depraved, so in sympathy with sin, so out of accord with absolute truth, justice and righteousness, that it was not attractive to them—or rather, less attractive to them than the error.
He declares that this was the secret of the hatred which His presence engendered and which led to His crucifixion.
"The darkness hateth the light, neither approacheth the light lest its deeds be made manifest"; for it is the nature of light to scatter the darkness.
Strange to say, the darkness was not confined to the ignorant then, nor is it today. It is no respecter of stations.
It was the Chief Priests, the Doctors of the Law and the leading Pharisees who were the most pronounced servants of darkness and most opposed to the light of Truth which shone forth from our Redeemer’s life and teachings. "The common people heard Him gladly."
Indeed, we say that the powers of darkness are greatest in the more influential and the better educated. Satan himself, the Prince of Darkness, is not such by reason of his ignorance and stupidity, but by reason of pride and sinful ambition, which led into a course of opposition to the Divine Plan.—#Mr 12:37.
"YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"
Our Lord not only informed us that the possibilities of the light shining from Him were limited by the surrounding darkness of Satanic influence and human depravity and wrong ambition, but that the same would be measurably true of His followers—that, so far from being bright luminaries, powerful suns in the firmament of earth’s affairs, scattering its darkness, they would merely be little lights or candles. He admonishes us not on this account to be discouraged or ashamed of Him, ashamed of the light but to set our candles on a candlestick, that they may give light to all that are in the House—in the Household of Faith our lights are to shine.
We are to build one another up in the most holy faith.
True, indeed, our windows are to be opened, so that those who are without may see the light within the Household of Faith and come to the light, and all such are to be welcomed. But we are not to suppose that the world will love our light, nor that if we take it to them they will be inclined to glorify us and exalt us and to honor us.
On the contrary, so long as the Prince of Darkness has his hold upon the world and operates through worldly ambition and prejudice, strongly entrenched delusions and false doctrines, so long the Lord’s words are true, "Marvel not if the world hate you; ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." (#Joh 15:18.) "Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you." (#Mt 7:6.) The depth of your message is not intended for the world, which is worshipping Mammon, but merely intended for the Elect—the class whom God is choosing out of the world for a special purpose, a "people for His name."
To these alone is given to know the mysteries of the "Kingdom of Heaven"; for these alone the light of Truth is now intended—even "as many as the Lord your God shall call." As for the rest of the world, they are the children of darkness, who will be dealt with in the Lord’s providence in due time.—#Mt 13:11; #Col 1:13.
Similarly the Scriptures speak of the pathway of the just throughout this Gospel Age. They do not indicate that the pathway of the Church is a brilliant one; but, quite to the contrary, that it is narrow, crowded, beset with trials and difficulties, and hedged about with darkness except as the lamp of Divine Truth illuminates it.
Moreover, the picture of this path and of the Church as a traveler on it, given in the Scriptures, emphasizes this point. It pictures the traveler with the lamp attached to the toe of his sandal, giving light only for each step of the way, as it is written, "Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet, a Lantern to my footsteps." (#Ps 119:105.) The Apostle Peter gives the same thought, saying: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well to take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place until the Day dawn." (#2Pe 1:19.) Here four facts are emphasized: (1) That there is a new Day Divinely arranged for, which shall dawn in its proper season; (2) that we are now in the night-time preceding that new epoch; (3) that the Word of the Lord is the only light and guide for His people in this night-time; (4) that those who are not His people and who do not have this light are walking in darkness, however worldly-wise and prudent themselves and others may believe them to be.
How glad we are of the assurance God has given us that a better Day is coming, a glorious Day, when all "the shadows, weary shadows, from the world shall flee away!"
This implies the victory of the light over the darkness, of which we are assured in various Scriptures, which tell us that in due time our great Redeemer Christ shall take to Himself His great power and begin His Reign—the Reign of Righteousness—the Reign of the Kingdom of God. The further assurance is that promptly at the beginning of that Reign Satan shall be bound for a thousand years, that his deception of mankind shall thus be restrained.
Our Lord, speaking of this in one of His parables, calls Satan the strong man of this present dispensation, and declares that He will bind him and "spoil his goods"—destroy the works of evil, of sin, of superstition, of ignorance, etc. Oh, what a happy day that will be for the world!
"BRUISE SATAN UNDER YOUR FEET"
But here we are reminded by the Apostle that the Divine Plan respecting the future Kingdom of God is that the elect Church of this present time shall be associated in it with her Lord, her Bridegroom. So intimate is this association of the Church with Christ that sometimes the work of restraining Satan and the powers of evil in the opening of the Millennial Age is ascribed to the Church under her Head and Lord, as when the Apostle declared, "The very God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (#Ro 16:20.) Similarly, our Lord mentions the Church as associated with Himself in the enlightening work of the future; for, while our text refers to Christ as the true, great Light which ultimately shall enlighten every man that cometh into the world, our Bible shows that the Church now enlightened, now walking in the narrow way in His footsteps, now exposed to peculiar trials and difficulties in order to develop and test the overcomers, shall also be members of the great Sun of Righteousness which the Scriptures promise shall arise with healing in His beams.—#Mal 4:2.
This participation of the Church with Himself as members of the glorious Sun of Righteousness our Lord shows in the parable of the wheat and tares. In the conclusion of that parable He shows the gathering of the Elect in the end of this Age by a resurrection change, and then declares, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."—#Mt 13:43.
GROSS DARKNESS COVERS HEATHENDOM
Coming back from the glorious pictures of the Millennial morning to the facts as we now have them, we perceive the absolute truth of the Scriptural pictures, which represent the world in darkness and heathendom in gross darkness, and the Church alone possessing the Lamp of Divine Revelation—and it, close to the path, giving light only for one step at a time. Everything in these pictures corroborates the other statements of the Word and also our own experiences: that nothing that the Church could do in the present time could scatter the powers of darkness.
Our little candles should all be on their candlesticks, our lamps trimmed and burning, to give out as much light as possible for ourselves and for others; but there is absolutely no encouragement for us to think that by any power of our own we could become the Sun of Righteousness and scatter the darkness of earth. It will require the glorious change of the First Resurrection to thus equip and qualify us for the work of enlightening the world. On the contrary, despite the efforts of God’s people during eighteen centuries since Jesus’ death, the numbers of heathendom are increasing hourly.
Alas, while the outward show and splendor of civilization called Christendom are in many respects impressive, our Lord’s true picture of the situation prophetically given is, "This people draweth nigh to Me with their lips while their hearts are far from me"! (#Mt 15:8.) Only a few today, as ever, are right with the Lord, filled with the Spirit and guided by His Lamp of Truth. The majority of Christian people everywhere, in all denominations, are falling, as described by the Lord through the Prophet, saying to the true Church of Christ, "A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee."—#Ps 91:7.
These thousands—yes, tens of thousands—include many of the most learned of our day, just as the falling at the First Advent of our Lord included the Doctors of the Law, the Chief Priests and the members of the Sanhedrin.
The fall in this case is not a moral deflection, not a falling into vulgar sin, but the falling away from "the faith once delivered to the saints"—a falling into Evolution theories, into Higher Criticism, Infidelity, into Theosophy, into New Thought, New Theology, Christian Science, etc.—away from the teachings of God’s Word respecting the fall of the race into sin and under Divine sentence, respecting the redemption of Adam and all his race by the precious blood of Jesus, respecting the deliverance of the Church and ultimately as many as will receive Divine favor at the hands of Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood.—#Jude 3; #1Pe 1:18,19.
While declaring His power to conquer sin and Satan and to deliver the poor world from its darkness and ignoranceand superstition, why does the Lord permit so long a delay? Why was it four thousand years after the fall before He sent the Redeemer, and why has it been nearly nineteen hundred years since the Savior died for all the world before He comes in power and great glory to deliver mankind from the yoke of sin and death—to deliver the groaning creation from the bondage of corruption to the glorious liberty of the sons of God? Why?
Ah, there is a reason, but it is not for all to know now.
Even if we tell it all cannot hear. Our Master said truly, speaking to the faithful Little Flock, the followers in His footsteps: "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that, seeing, they might not see, and, hearing, they might not understand." (#Lu 8:10.) Hence, we need not be afraid of giving away the secrets of the Lord in respect to this matter, which the Apostle styles "the Mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations, but now revealed unto the saints." (#Col 1:26.) It is proper that the saints should know this Mystery, for now the strength which this knowledge would give will be of special value to them in their combat with the special trials and difficulties which lie immediately before them. The Mystery is this: that God’s purpose from the first was that the great Deliverer, Messiah, should be not only the Lord Jesus, the Redeemer, but should include also the elect Little Flock of this Gospel Age—the ripe grains gathered in Israel’s harvest time and also during this Gospel Age those gathered from every nation, people, kindred and tongue.
These the Lord styles His "jewels"—"They shall be Mine, saith the Lord, in that Day when I come to make up My jewels." (#Mal 3:17.) The "jewels" will not be made up, will not be glorified, until the full number of the Elect have been found and polished and prepared. Then shall the Elect, the righteous, shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father—for the blessing of all mankind.
They, with their Lord, the Bridegroom, will then, as the antitypical Seed of Abraham, fulfil the Divine promise, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."—#Ge 12:3.
WHY GOD’S PEOPLE REJOICE
Thus the Mystery hid from past ages becomes plain to those whose eyes have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, and who are looking in the direction which the Lord is indicating. They see that now "Light is sown for the righteous—Truth for the upright in heart," and this rejoices them: first, as a manifestation of Divine favor; and secondly, because it encourages and stirs them to uprightness of heart, that they may abide in the Divine Love, and go onward from grace to grace, from knowledge to knowledge, in the narrow way, guided by the Word as a lamp to their feet. They rejoice because they now understand the purpose of Divine Wisdom in permitting special trials and tribulations of the people of God—that these are intended to work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which they have been "called according to the Divine purpose."
They are not jealous or envious of the world and its Highway of Holiness, upon which it will be privileged to go up to perfection of restitution during the Millennium.
They realize that, grand as those blessings will be, "God has provided some better things for us." (#Heb 11:40.) They are content, yea, able to rejoice in fiery trials, because of their realization that these are the Divine arrangement by which they are being prepared, tested, proven worthy of a place in the glorious Kingdom so soon to be established for the blessing of the world. These large-hearted, warm-hearted saints, full of love for God and every creature, are made further glad by the knowledge of the Divine Plan, that the whole creation is under the Divine charge, though saints are God’s peculiar care.
They rejoice in the unfolding of the Divine Plan, which shows most clearly that God has provided an opportunity for eternal salvation through Christ for all those who shall obey Him, and, furthermore, that the knowledge and opportunity and assistance necessary to such obedience will be granted to mankind during the Millennium.
"GREAT JOY FOR ALL PEOPLE"
Is it any wonder that the Message of God’s grace as it was announced on the first Christmas morning was a Message of peace and good will toward men—all men?
Is it any wonder, in view of what we see of the developing Plan of God, that the angels declared to the shepherds, "Behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Messiah, the Lord"?
No! That Message is in full accord with all that we know of the Divine Word, and with all that the reasonable, intelligent mind could expect from an all-wise, just, powerful and all-loving Creator. Why should He not delight to bless every creature of Adam’s race? Why should He purpose to save merely a handful of the Elect and to turn the others over to eternal torment at the hands of fireproof demons? Such unscriptural ideas evidently came from the great Prince of Darkness himself, who fain would turn our hearts away from the God of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power—who fain would have us think of our God as the real adversary of the race, delighting in its suffering.—#Lu 10:11.
How broad, how gloriously sweeping the statement of our text, which declares Jesus to be the true Light of the world—for every man that cometh into the world! How it assures us that the Redeemer of the world was God’s great Christmas Gift to Adam and all of his posterity—a gift whose value grows in the estimation of all the Lord’s holy ones in the present time, as day by day and item by item they come to know the Christ of God—an estimation which will grow with the world as, during the Millennial Age, they will avail themselves of the glorious opportunities then afforded and come into hearty accord with the Lord and His righteousness—an estimation which will grow with them throughout eternity as the lengths, breadths, heights and depths of the Love of God shall become more and more manifest.
GOD’S WAYS HIGHER THAN MAN’S
Let us not mistakingly allow our own littleness of mind to hinder our appreciation of the true meaning of our text. Let us remember our Lord’s words, "For your thoughts are not My thoughts; neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My plans than your plans." The great Plan of God, which has thus far reached only the Church, even as many as the Lord our God has called, is yet to reach not only the world of mankind living when the Election of the Church is completed and when the Bride of Christ shall have been ushered into Heavenly glory, but also all those who have already gone down into the great prison-house of death—the tomb, Sheol, Hades.—#Isa 55:8,9; 40:5.
We know certainly that the vast majority of these have never been enlightened by the Lord Jesus and His Gospel Message. There was no such light before our Redeemer came into the world, although four thousand years had elapsed and billions of humanity had gone down to the prison-house. On this the Scriptural testimony is most explicit, namely, that "Christ brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (#2Ti 1:10.) Neither the immortality which is God’s gift for the Church was seen and appreciated and understood, nor was the eternal life which God is providing for all of Adam’s race who will accept it. True, there were vague promises before, but there was no clear light upon them.
They had to be received strictly by faith.
But now it is different. We see Jesus, we behold Him as the Word of God made flesh, we perceive His mission, that He came to redeem our race. With the eye of faith we behold Him crucified for our sins, yea, risen from the dead and ascended to the Father’s presence and appearing as the Advocate for the Household of Faith, the Church of the First-borns. As the Apostle says, "There to appear in the presence of God for us." (#Heb 9:24.) Now we can see, as the ancients could not see, that God could be just and yet be the Justifier of him who believeth on Jesus. We can see that Adam’s penalty being paid for him, he and all of his family, his race, may be released from the tomb and from the death sentence, and be given an opportunity to behold the Light—the true Light—to be enlightened thereby—to be brought to a knowledge of the Truth and thereby have an opportunity for a full reconciliation with the Father and to he restored to all the blessings of His favor. It would seem that the subject is too plain to require controversy—that God has promised that the true Light should enlighten every man—that it has as yet enlightened but a few—that it must, therefore, be manifested during the Millennial Age to every creature before the great Plan of God for human redemption shall have reached its consummation—that one must see this great Light before He could be liable to the great penalty—the Second Death.
Let us who have been favored, called of God in the present time, and who have seen the true Light with the eye of faith, and who have been begotten by the Holy Spirit, and whose footsteps have been guided in the path of faith, in the light from the Lamp—let us rejoice more and more in the goodness of our God and follow on in the good way, practising the fruits and graces of the Spirit, and thus be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, that we may with Him shine forth as the Sun in the blessing of all the families of the earth.
No need of the Sun in the
city to come, The light of the world is Jesus; All nations shall walk in the
light of the Lamb: The light of the world is Jesus.
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