Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 11 Page 2 November 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

A Burning And Shining Light

"He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light" (John 5:35). This statement was made by Jesus Christ about John the Baptist. However, Jesus essentially applied the same frame of reference as well to all who would be his disciples.

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
All Christians should be careful to always be Ďburning and shining lights.í 

Light and darkness are used extensively in Scripture to depict the polar opposites of righteousness and wickedness. Additionally, many of the songs we sing teach this biblical distinction. Singing, as Godís choice of music in worship, teaches and admonishes (Colossians 3:16) and speaks (Ephesians 5:19) to the assembly about holy things. Further, singing, though praising God, is also both to be sung with and result in understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15). Songs about light include: "Ye Are the Light of the World," "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning," "Sunlight," "Stepping in the Light," "Send the Light," "Heavenly Sunlight," "Walking in the Light of God," "There Is Sunshine in My Soul" and "The Light of the World Is Jesus." These songs variously emphasize themes like (1) the source of Divine Light (God, Jesus, Heaven, the Bible), (2) Christians exhibiting that Light (Christian living) and (3) Christians reflecting the Light to the lost world (evangelism). Listen carefully to the hymns sung and sing not what for you personally would be lies. 

GREATER AND LESSER LIGHTS

The sun of our solar system serves as the greater light, whereas the earthís moon is a lesser light (Genesis 1:16-19). Ordinarily, the sun shines on the moon, which in turn reflects that light in earthís night skies; the moon has no light source of its own. Similarly, Jesus Christ is our spiritual Son. His Sonlight should enlighten Christians (the church) who in turn reflect Sonlight upon the darkness of a sin-sick and dying world (the lost). The church has no other light source and does not originate its own light. The moon and the church both possess reflective functions, without which neither have a purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11). 

However, in the physical universe a solar eclipse (or bashful moon) sometimes blocks sunlight, leaving the earth in darkness. The same thing can occur in the spiritual universe, whereby the church fails to reflect Sonlight to a darkened and lost world. In either case, this represents the failure of the reflective function respectively assigned to the moon and the church. The church cannot afford to be a bashful moon

In addition to a solar eclipse, sometimes a lunar eclipse occurs. This happens when the earth comes between the sun and the moon, and the moon is in darkness. Spiritually, this occurs when the world (worldliness) comes between the Son and the church. A church or Christians caught up in the world are also darkened and cannot enlighten the lost. This, too, is a failure of the ordinary reflective function. 

Generally, a solar eclipse may be total or partial. Likewise, spiritually speaking, the Sonlight which Christians or the church should reflect may be wholly or partially obscured. Comparisons between physical and spiritual eclipses bring to mind (1) passages noting that though we live in the world we must not be of the world (John 17:14-16) and (2) the enumerated deficiencies of the churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3). Godís people must resolve to reflect the Sonlight and obscure it not at all. Their souls and the souls of the lost world require it. 

THE LIGHT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS CONTRASTED WITH 
THE DARKNESS OF WICKEDNESS

The Bible contrasts the light of righteousness with the darkness of wickedness. Light and darkness represent the opposites of righteousness and wickedness (2 Corinthians 6:14). "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" Outside Christís kingdom of light is only darkness (Colossians 1:12-13; 1 Peter 2:9). There is no middle ground between light and darkness, righteousness and wickedness, the kingdom of Christ and the darkness of sin

LIGHT IS DIVINE IN ORIGIN

Heaven itself is the power plant of divine light (1 Timothy 6:16); the abode of God is a dwelling place of light. Further, light is said to emanate from God himself (James 1:17; Revelation 21:23-25; 22:5). Also, prophecy (fulfilled in Jesus Christ) predicted that divine light should dwell on earth in the ministry of the Savior (Matthew 4:13-17). Our Lord came to be a light to Jews and Gentiles alike (Matthew 4:13-17; Luke 2:32; Acts 26:23), and he is the only light of the world (John 1:4-9; 8:12; 9:5). Christís mission involved coming to earth to give light to men (Ephesians 5:14), which light he imparted by preaching repentance and the kingdom (Matthew 4:13-17). Hereby, Jesus empowered men to become the children of light (John 12:35-36). 

LIGHT SHINES ON EARTH THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD

Paul referred to the "light of the glorious gospel of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4). The same divine power which spoke physical light into existence has also provided spiritual light (revelation, knowledge) (2 Corinthians 4:6). Hence, spiritual light today shines on earth through the Word of God. This word is called a "light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19-21). The Christianís source of light, which he in turn must reflect toward others, comes today through the Word of God, the Gospel. 

THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST REFLECT DIVINE LIGHT

Heavenís light resides in the children of God. Christians, therefore, have the divine charge to let that light shine (Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 8:16; 11:33-36; 12:35). Christians are called "the children of light" (Luke 16:8; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8), since God is the "Father of lights" (James 1:17). We become the children of light when we are "enlightened" by the Word of God (Hebrews 6:4-6), and are required to give that light away to all men (Luke 1:79; Acts 13:47; 26:17-18). The Christian light must not only burn, it must also shine (Matthew 4:14-16; John 5:35).

CHRISTIANS ARE CAUTIONED AGAINST FALSE LIGHTS

Satan and his servants take on the appearance of light and righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Sometimes men are false lights as the Jews often were (Romans 2:19). Numerous passages warn about false teachers (lights) (Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; James 3:1). "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). 

HOW CAN CHRISTIANS LET THEIR LIGHTS SHINE?

The practical application of any assessment of the doís and doníts of religion (or any other field of inquiry) is essential, without which the value of oneís study is greatly diminished. So, "How can Christians let their lights shine?" 
  1. Reflect only light emanating from the divine source (heaven, the Father, Christ, the Word of God). 
  2. Reflect all of the light radiating from the divine source (Acts 20:27). 
  3. Allow no darkness a place in one to overshadow or dim the light of the Gospel. 
  4. "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light" (Luke 11:33-36).
     

  5. Putting away unholy things. 
  6. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain" (Philippians 2:14-16).
     

  7. Seeking only that which is holy. 
  8. "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8).
     

  9. Put on the armor of light. 
  10. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying" (Romans 13:12-13).
     

  11. Finally, let us hold forth the Word of God (Philippians 2:14-16). ". . . ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life . . ." See also Philippians 1:17 and Jude 3. 

CONCLUSION

Light reproves sin and darkness (John 3:19-21; Ephesians 5:13), and the light of the Gospel is the only means by which one can avoid stumbling as if walking in the night (John 11:9-10). Men can walk in light or darkness, not both and not in between (1 John 2:8-11). Only by walking in the light can one enjoy fellowship with God and the forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:5-7). May each Christian determine to be "a burning and shining light" (John 5:35). 

There is a distinct difference between the light of righteousness and the darkness of sin. Wonít you be led by the light of the Gospel today? Erring Christians can be rekindled (Acts 8:22). Others can begin their walk in the light by being immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 John 1:7). 


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