I want to share with you about the Gospel of Light. Please take time to read the texts and study these words. I want you to catch the revelation of light in the darkness. We are called to help people SEE.
TAKING THE GOSPEL OF LIGHT TO THE WORLD
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
As disciples of Jesus, we are individually and corporately called to be Light-Bearers. The Light of Life has been gifted to us (John 8:12). This is not a flickering light. It has no “on/off” switch. The light is the presence of Jesus.
“Let your light so shine before men THAT THEY MAY SEE…” This is the purpose. In this world we are called out from obscurity and onto the lampstand so that we may “give light to all who are in the house.” “That they may SEE…”
1. The darkness of an UNBELIEVING WORLD
The magnificent Good News of John 3:16 is, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” These words follow the powerful connection of Light and belief, and darkness and unbelief.
Reading further from John 3… verses 17-18 give perfect clarity to the “condemnation” of unbelief. I remember as a child, the first time I played with two magnets. Turn them one way, and “bang!” they snap together. Powerful attraction! Turn one of them the other way, and it’s just impossible to get them to meet. Powerful opposing force! Every one of us is like a magnet! We need to be turned around, to be pulled into the amazing attraction of our Father’s Love. Unbelief is much more than “not believing”. It’s counter-turned against belief. Jesus’ miraculous power was hindered in the places where the magnets were deliberately turned! (Matt 13:58)
John 3:19-20 (NIV): “This is the verdict. Light has come into the world; but men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been done through God.” Darkness is bondage to sin. We are not called to shout against sin, but to shine the light of Jesus in this unbelieving world. The light will do its work! Darkness is where unbelief and evil hide. The old expression “under cover of darkness” puts it perfectly. There is only one thing that can take the darkness away. LIGHT! It’s our great privilege to shine the light of Jesus where people are in darkness.
2. The darkness of PERSECUTION
Darkness can be intimidating. Persecution and hatred are works of darkness, and more than ever Christians are taking to the lampstands to shine the love of Jesus into the extreme dark night of terrorism and violent persecution. More than 100 million Christians live with this (see Open Doors online).
Matt 5:43-44: “You have heard it said ‘you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. But I (Jesus) say to you, LOVE your enemies, BLESS those who curse you, DO GOOD to those who hate you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
One woman touched a nation of 75 million in 2008. She and her husband were called from Germany as Christian workers in Malatya, Eastern Turkey. On April 18, the pastor, together with two national pastors were savagely martyred by a small group of young men. In the following days the story was headlined throughout Turkey. As the national news cameras were fixed on her, the pastor’s wife spoke to the people of Turkey that Jesus has taught us to love and forgive. She told that she had forgiven the men who killed her husband. She spoke of her love for Turkey and asked that she may be able to stay and continue to serve Turkey in the love of Jesus. This was broadcast throughout the nation. It was one small candle that penetrated like a search-light. The impact of that light is inestimable, as it not only flooded into millions of homes, but also emboldened the Christians to come out from hiding and be visible.
This love and forgiveness is supernatural, and we are called to live this way. This light burns only because of Jesus, who has gifted us with the Light of Life.
Please notice this! We all know Romans 12:2 “And DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, but be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Too often we stop right there without reading further into the chapter, to find out what is to be transformed. The “no longer conformed to this world” life looks like this: Vs 14: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. Vs 17: “Repay no-one evil for evil.” Vs 18: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Vs 19: “Do not avenge yourselves”. Vs 20: “Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire (conviction) on his head”. Vs 21: “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
None of us desire to “heap coals of fire on our enemy’s head”! What does it mean? Our light of witness, loving those who hate us or persecute us, will have an impact in Heaven and on earth. Before God, the one who hates us has been offered Heavens grace; to receive it or reject it. In the here and now, our light-filled actions lead to conviction. The Holy Spirit does this work. Conviction will sit like coals of fire (John 16:8-11). We can’t convict anyone. We do the work of Light. We live transformed.
Remember when the disciples wanted to call down destruction on the Samaritan town that rejected Jesus (Luke 9)? Jesus rebuked the disciples, not those who rejected Him! “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of!” he said (verses 55-56). “The son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” The disciples were no different from those of us today who sit as commentators against the enemies of the Church. Too many of us who never personally face violent persecution are full of opinions and anger at those who reject Jesus and use violent terror as a weapon against His people. We join the disciples in wanting to call down destruction. Of what kind of spirit are we? That which is conformed to this world! Jesus calls us to the revelation of the transformed life in the Light of Life.
I have seen this amazing light shining in Northern Nigeria. The terror and persecution is extreme, murderous; demonic. But those who have suffered the most are shining the brightest. The response to the killing of our dear friend Emmanuel Razack earlier this month is outstanding. Dr Kent Hodge was caught up in the murderous attack, his own life so nearly taken. But Kent and Ruth have communicated such enormous grace and love towards the perpetrators. Perhaps it’s because of this transforming love, that God has used Kent and Ruth to raise up thousands of pastors, evangelists, teachers, prophets and apostles who are operating in that same spirit, the Light of Life, all over Islamic Northern Nigeria. The light is so attractive. Many are turning to Jesus, as they SEE HIM through the clear and powerful light of His people.
3. The darkness of HUMAN HEARTS WITHOUT JESUS
John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life”.
Our Heavenly Father always answers darkness with light. 2Cor 4:6-7: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels; that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
The formless void of our Earth was transformed by His voice… ”Let there be light”. And, there was light! Everything was transformed by that light. And so it is for us, that the same Creator has now shone His light into our hearts, giving the light of His Glory to us, in Christ. This treasure is ours.
This light is the new creation life of Jesus. Ephesians 5:8: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”
It seems that the very first darkness that is broken by his light is the darkness of our hearts. It’s interesting how people will search everywhere for “enlightenment”. Could it be that we have let them down? Helen and I have friends in Cyprus who pay for stalls they run at New Age festivals, from which they minister to people in Jesus’ name, lay hands on the sick, talk about Jesus, pray for their needs. They are leading people to Jesus. They have seen wonderful healing miracles. The very best place to let your light shine is in the darkness. We will do nothing to remove the reign of darkness which blinds people’s hearts, while we count them undeserving of the same light of the gospel that has shone upon ours!
What a great privilege we have, to shine in this world, walking as children of light, showing the way to Jesus. Pray that He will give you a fresh desire to let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
You are the light of the world.
Blessings to you all!