Here, for instance, is a divine declaration which comes to us by the hand of John :-- "This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John I : 5)
This is not a message for the Circumcision only, it is a grand general truth about God Himself, and since it is the duty and the delight of everyone who is of the faith to know and understand all that can be known about our God, it is a message for all believers of all times. That God is Love, every child is taught; that God is Spirit every believer should know; that God is Light is a truth to which our comprehensions are often darkened.
God is Light. It may be that our failure to realise the importance of this is due to some confusion in our minds between the attributes of God and His essence. Light is not an attribute, but an absolute. Justice and Power and Wisdom are attributes, and we are never told that God IS any one of these. That which He IS is comprehended in the three terms, Spirit, Love and Light.
Faulty dogmas have arisen in the past because it has been deduced that God will pursue certain courses since these are dictated by His attributes. He is just and powerful and wise, but these are not of His essence but are characteristics of Deity, and must always be subservient to that which He actually is. And that which He is, essentially, will always control such things as His justice and His power. Unless His love permits, justice and power do not come into action. If they were automatic, marking every iniquity with due retribution, who would be able to stand?
The attributes of God we can understand, for they are expressed in terms easily comprehended by the human mind, but the words which He uses to describe what He IS carry implications much too vast for our finite understanding-- Spirit, Love and Light, who shall describe these? But from all three there is much that we can learn, endlessly leaving much more to be learned.
John tells us that God is Light and all through Scripture the word Light is used to signif~r truth, purity, knowledge, prosperity and joy, as Darkness is used to signify their opposites. God, says the Apostle, IS LIGHT; not the light or a light, but Light itself, the source of all light of whatever kind in all the universe. And James adds to our understanding of the truth when he writes :-- "Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights, in Whom there is no variableness, or shadow of turning" (Jas. I, 17).
Here James is making a comparison between Him Who is Light and the greatest of His created lights, the Sun. With God there is no mutation, no liability to change, as the Sun appears to do from our earthly viewpoint, yet God is like the Sun in that all well-being is dependent upon it so far as dwellers on earth are concerned. All His gifts are good, and since He is the Father of Lights so all physical blessing, deriving as it does from the Sun, comes from Him, both for "the just and the unjust." Without the Sun there would be no life on this planet as we understand it in the physical realm, and in the same way all spiritual life comes from Him Who is Light.
The moon is to us a source of light, but God is not compared to the moon because in fact moonlight is no more than reflection, and an inconsistent reflection at that, varying from a silver streak in the sky to a glowing disc according to the rotation of the earth, which itself in its regular orbit turns from light to darkness. God is like the Sun because in Him there is "no shadow of turning."
Paul instructs the believers to "walk as children of light," and although the message belongs to John and the title originates with James, Paul is evidently at one with them in saying that the Father of Light is the Father of all who believe, and that we should find the basis of all our works in Him.
God is Light, and in what degree the individual believer understands Gods revelation, in that degree there will be light in us. Fellowship with God as Light leads to the discovery of all that is of the darkness. It is Gods light in revelation that convinces us of sin, for without that light we might be unaware of its sinfulness, apart from the premonition accorded us by the flickering light of conscience. It is only in comparatively recent times that we have come to learn more about the physical properties of light and to appreciate that only a portion of its wavelengths are visible to the eye, for in addition to that which our eyes can see there are invisible rays both at the infra-red and ultra-violet ends of the spectrum. Heat, vision, radiography and many chemical stimuli are all properties of light. It does not need much imagination to translate these into their spiritual counterparts, knowing that God is Light, for as heat is felt but not seen so are the workings of God, while He Himself remains invisible.
Christ our Lord is described as the "brightness" of Gods glory, a word better translated "effulgence" or shiningout. This aspect of one of His many glories seems often to be overlooked, but it has great point when we consider God as Light, for even as the Sun itself is too bright for the human eye to look upon, so is God, and exactly as we see the radiance which surrounds the Sun (its luminous photosphere) so is our Lord compared to God--He is the visible Light which reveals the invisible Source of Light, the shining of His glory. He said Himself;" I am the Light of the world "and He is the Light that lighteneth every man, the radiance of Gods glory.
In the richer Hebrew tongue, two terms are used to describe the Sun.
One refers to the Sun itself, and is seldom used, but the other, the common term, refers to the radiance of the Sun--the sunshine. So when we read the words at which the so-called scientific critics scoff--when the Scriptures relate that the Sun rises and sets, moves and stands still, gets hot and scorches--it is not the astronomical idea of the Sun which is intended, but the phenomenal thought, the sunshine. It is, after all, the sunshine of which we are aware, not the Sun itself, and it is a fact that all our physical blessings are brought to us by sunshine. All light and life relies not only on the Sun, but on its radiance, its effulgence.
If the Sun were no more than a star giving Out great heat, it if ceased to shine, and its radiance were to be discontinued, it would be like God without His Son--unappreciated, unknown, inscrutable. And so in fact He is to all who have not seen and felt His light and love as these radiate from Christ, His out-shining. Even to those of us who know God, and have experienced the warmth of His love, He still remains invisible, it is by His Son that His glories have filled our hearts and His light enlightened our eyes, in just the same way as the Suns rays spread light and blessing in nature. And so it is that as the radiance of the Sun is seen, so we see Gods Son manifested to the world in the world. He came to reveal God, for not only is He the Brightness of His glory, but He is the image of the Invisible God. And this is why He made no effort to impress Himself upon those with whom He came in contact, but constantly referred them to His Father, saying :-- "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself, but the Father Who dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" . . . "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me."
But in the spectrum of light, not all wavelengths are visible, as we know, At both ends of the visible band are extremely powerful rays which the eye cannot detect, such as the ultra violet and the infra red, and the so-called X-rays. As Christ is the radiance of God as Light, so the Holy Spirit finds its parallel in these invisible yet intensely powerful rays which permeate everything. This is the power of invisible light which we know will effect changes in the lives of men.
Light has peculiar qualities, and about many of these very little is yet known, indeed the whole phenomena of radiation is one which is constantly engaging the attention of the research scientist, and bound up with it is the secret of our understanding of the relation between energy and matter and those fundamental realities of the universe, electron and proton. Despite all our recent knowledge we seem to be in waters too deep for the human intelligence to fathom, which gives added force to the assertion that God is Light.
It is within our knowledge, however, (and all those who are interested in photography will know this) that the ultra-violet light, which our eyes cannot see, is much more powerful photgraphically than the yellow light which appears so bright to our vision. This is because the ultra-violet effects chemical changes in a photographic film emulsion, quite invisible until we see the developed positive picture. In the same way Gods Spirit works wonderful changes in the lives of men and women, and although we can see the results of its working, the Spirit Itself is completely invisible.
There are other remarkable qualities of light. . . for one thing, it is diffusing, it is spread abroad everywhere. It finds its way into seemingly impossible places, it works its way into all nooks and crannies--it is one of the hardest things to keep out. This is true also of the activity of God--He is immanent, ever present. And light is dispensary, it is continually giving out, yet it is never exhausted. This also is true of God, for He is always giving, giving silently and never with the desire of attaining. "He giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not." "The earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof" but He gives it and constantly sustains it for the delight of those who dwell upon
Light is power. Everyone in this space age has come to realise that as we learn about the utilisation of solar energy. And Gods light in the human life is the only source of power, power for service, power to live, power to witness. None of these come to those whose spirits are in darkness.
Apart from these physical attributes of light it has its metaphysical aspects also. Light is a favour--you cannot buy sunlight, it is sent out before the individual knows where to seek it. It is around us and in us and through us. In this it corresponds to Gods grace. His unforced favour, which comes to us absolutely freely.
Light is also a condition of life; without it nothing can live or grow or bring forth fruit. In the same way God is not only the source of life, but the condition of life also. In order to live to any purpose we must have fellowship with Him and place our reliance upon Him, and find our companionship in Him. The Psalmist wrote " With Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy Light we shall see light" (36: 9). God is the condition of life because our history, our existence and our destiny all depend entirely upon Him--as Paul said to the Athenians "In Him we live and move and have our being." He makes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and He gives His blessings both to the grateful and the ungrateful.
If God is Light, it is not surprising that we are told the Son of God is the Light of the World, and the life that was in Him was the light of men. He came that we might have life, and it is His own perfect life which is the light of men. The true light represents righteousness and salvation and holiness and is the illumination of spiritual understanding. And since Satan must always have his false counterpart, he produces in the minds of men an artificial light, which is false knowledge and self-righteousness and the substitution of religion for living faith. All the artificial light in the world never opened a single rosebud, but the Sun opesis the flowers every morning. Human methods and human systems will never be of any benefit to mankind, for artificial light can never do the work of the True Light.
Paul the apostle was struck down by a light "brighter than the noonday sun," and the evangel that he preached was instinct with life and light. He says:
God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
and he warns his readers in another place that "light has no fellowship with darkness." This is a warning we all might heed.
If we hear the message that God is Light, what should be the effect upon our personal lives? Now the effect of light upon any substance is to cause it to shine back, or reflect. God shone upon Paul and he became a burning and a shining light. This ought to be true of all who have been brought out of darkness into the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Paul speaks of this reflection when he writes :-- "Now we all with uncovered face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the spirit."
He is speaking of the ancient bronze mirror which reflected the light as well as the image of the one using it, indeed this glorious conception of God as light seems always to be in Pauls mind. He writes to the Ephesians,
"Ye were once darkness, yet now ye are light in the Lord, walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth."
To walk as children of light is the complement of imitating God as beloved children, for God is love as well as light. The most satisfactory imitator of God will be the one who has the most light, who knows what Gods will is. Our most strenuous efforts will not meet with Gods approval if they are out of line with His revelation.
Satan is spoken of as "the ruler of this worlds darkness "and he has succeeded in blinding many who think they are following the true light. Satan is very clever, and in keeping with his subtle methods of counterfeiting all Gods manifestations, he goes about today not as a roaring lion, not as an evil doer, but, as we are clearly warned, disguised as an angel of light. His servants proclaim a kind of righteousness and pose as servants of God. His main activity is not to be found in open wickedness-- we can see that for what it is and we recoil from it--but in encouraging the efforts to reform, educate and satisfy mankind apart from God. He deceives by assuming the very role which he is popularly supposed to oppose! Every philosophy, every religion, every creed which down the ages has persuaded men that satisfaction and salvation can be found without God, and apart from the blood of Christ, is the work of the Prince of Darkness, until now, in our time, darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people. But now, as always, the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness grasps it not, and from God who is Light the message still comes--" awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
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