The very first thing that God created was light. It is fundamental to the structure of space and time in this universe.
Nothing else would exist without light. Not only does it give us the ability to see things, but the universe itself depends on the operation of electro-magnetic radiation, including the visible spectrum that we perceive as light and colour. Without light there would be no life on this planet, no warmth, no plants, no animals, nofood, no mobile phones and no internet.
Even before the creation of physical light, before the creation of the physical universe, there was, and always will be, spiritual light. Just as physical light is needed to see the universe, spiritual light is needed to see or know anything about God.
The first aspect of spiritual light is the way in which Jesus reveals the wisdom of God.
Let’s look at the Gospel according to John chapter 1 verses 1 – 5:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
In this passage, John describes a person known as The Word. This person is described as one who brings light to the world. In bringing light to the world, Jesus is driving out the spiritual darkness.
When the Bible talks about the Word of God, there are two possible meanings depending on the context. These two meanings are closely related. The written word of God is scripture, the Bible itself. The divine, incarnate Word of God is the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, who from the very beginning was always with God the Father. These two meanings are combined in Hebrews 4:12 which says:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, jointsand marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The passage describes the Word of God as an active agency working onour lives. We can sense this as we study the Bible – it affects us in a way that nothing else will. It is designed to speak to the very depths of our being. There is nothing superficial about the Bible; everything in it has been written for a purpose.
The gospel of John identifies Jesus as the divine Word of God, the source of all knowledge and wisdom. Jesus had a unique ability to answer the most difficult questions that were asked of Him, and to give a simple yet profound answer to the most complex theological questions.
That wisdom is available to us, through the Holy Spirit if we ask for it, like King Solomon did. James 1:5 says that wisdom will be given to anyone who asks for it. How often do we pray for God to grant us wisdom in making difficult decisions or in understanding a complex Bible passage?
The physical universe that we see around us was created through Jesus, and His wisdom is to be seen the way that the world was designed. The role of divine wisdom in creation is described in Proverbs chapter 8 verses 27 through 30.
In Proverbs 8: 27 – 30; the voice of Wisdom says
I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when He gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep His command, and when
He marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at His side.
I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.
In this passage from Proverbs, God’s creation is described as being shaped by His wisdom.
Modern science only works because we are made in the image of God, and therefore in the image of God’s wisdom. Without it there is no objective standard on which to base scientific inquiry. It is only because God is unchanging, that we can expect the universe to behave in a logical and predictable way, in order to be able to study the world and discover how it works.
Modern science developed because of an understanding that God created the universe to behave in logical and consistent ways, according to God’s design. Without a belief in a creator God, it would belogically inconsistent to expect to be able to understand the universe at all. There would be no fixed meaning; no absolute standard of truth, on which to build a scientific theory. Instead, without God, scientific theories would be entirely subjective, based on the majority opinion on how to interpret the evidence and subject to change as new evidence is discovered, rather than based on absolute truth.
Without God, there would be no structure or order, the universe would be random, would make no sense and there would be nothing.
Nothing exists in the world except that which was created by Jesus Christ in partnership with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom is one of the attributes of God, therefore wisdom existed before creation, and the universe was created through the wisdom ofGod. Therefore true wisdom is from God, we can only discern truewisdom by using the Bible as our standard.
Some people might be tempted to think that God does not understand modern science, or that the Bible contains scientific error, since it was written down by people unfamiliar with modern science, whereas the opening verse of John’s gospel asserts that Jesus is the author of creation, and therefore the author of the scientific principles by which the universe operates. Since the God who inspired the Bible is the same one who created the universe, there is no possibility of scientific error in the writing of the Bible.
As mentioned earlier, one of those scientific principles is light.
Physical light is used as a metaphor to help us understand the nature of spiritual light. Those without Christ are described as being like people living in darkness, unable to discern right from wrong.
In John 8 : 12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
If you are walking at night in pitch black darkness, then you cannotsee danger ahead, you cannot see if you are clean or dirty, you cannot see if you are about to walk into a dangerous ditch or into a pile or mud or into a sharp object. If you are not already a follower of Jesus, then although you might not realize it, your life is in darkness. Without the light of God’s word then you cannot see spiritual truth or know good from evil.
John 1 : 6 – 9 “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he cameonly as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light toeveryone was coming into the world.”
For those of us who already follow Jesus, our role in the world is the same as John the Baptist. We are not the source of spiritual light, but can can reflect that light in our lives, and help others to find the light so that they no longer live in spiritual darkness.
One of the ways that we can reflect the light of Jesus is through wisdom, but we also reflect the life of Jesus through holiness.
If people see only the wisdom of God but not holiness, then it will make God seem distant, abstract and impersonal to them. If we focus only on God as Creator, but not as Supreme Judge and King of Kings, then we would be presenting an incomplete picture of God.
John 1 : 10 – 11 says of Jesus “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
Why did the world not receive Jesus with open arms? It was because of human sinfulness and wickedness. Perhaps like King Solomon we have asked for wisdom and God’s blessing in our lives, but have no motivation to obey God’s commands. Many people followed Jesus, at first, because of His miracles and healing, but turned back when He started holding them accountable.
John 3 : 19 – 21 says
“Light has come into the world, but people 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 their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
Spiritual light in our lives works first by giving us the moral wisdom to discern right from wrong. Have you ever tried washing dishes by torch light, during a power cut, and looked at the same dishes the next day? Just as sunlight reveals all the dust and dirt that we never see in the dark, spiritual light reveals sinfulness in the hidden corners of the lives. We can choose to follow the light knowing that it will be painful at first, or we can choose to run away from the light and hide in the darkness, but if we choose the light then God will also bring healing and forgiveness.
1st Thessalonians 5 : 5 – 8
“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
This passage says that all who belong to Jesus should be living in the light of His word. Many crimes such as robbery, assault or murder are committed at night because the villains believe that they cannot be seen. Likewise when we are in God’s light we are conscious of His presence in our lives; we are wondering what He thinks about our thoughts and actions. He knows our secrets. We can’t hide from God.
Ephesians 5 : 8 – 13
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Liveas children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible”
If we only knew about God’s wisdom, then we would have a non-personal, abstract view of God, as if he had no impact on on daily lives. When God shines His light on our lives, He reveals two things; our sinfulness and His absolute holiness. God cannot tolerate sin. Yes, he is patient and long-suffering – yet all sin requires punishment.
Just as natural light reveals dust, dirt and other imperfections; spiritual light reveals hidden sins of which we were previously un- aware. It could be something that we thought was spiritual and good, yet on closer reflection, we realize that it is not honouring to God.
It is spiritual light which forces us to be honest with ourselves about our motivations and behaviours. Studying the Bible makes us even more aware of God’s standards.
In the words of the preacher Jonathan Edwards:
“But that is the nature of true grace and spiritual light, that it opens to a person’s view the infinite reason there is that he should be holy in a high degree. And the more grace he has, and the more this is opened to view, the greater sense he has of the infinite excellency and glory of the divine Being, and of the infinite dignity of the person of Christ, and the boundless length and breadth and depth and height of the love of Christ to sinners. And as grace increases, the field opens more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with the vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much it becomes him to love this God and this glorious Redeemer that has so loved man”
― Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections
Yet, spiritual light reveals more than just wisdom and holiness. It also reveals God’s love. If we knew about God’s wisdom and holiness but not about His love for sinners, then we would have a very dark and scary view of God. It would cause us to flee from God’s presence instead of coming to Him in faith. People are only drawn to God, when they understand His love for them, but we only fully appreciate His love for us, when we also understand the perfection of His wisdom and the absolute integrity of His holiness.
If we forget about God’s wisdom and holiness then we fail to fully appreciate His love for us, but if forget about His love for sinners then we will terrified of God and want to run away from Him.
John 1 : 12 – 13 says “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Just as spiritual light reveals our sin, it also reveals God’s forgiveness for our sin through the sacrifice of Jesus. Our forgiveness was costly for Jesus, but also for God the Father as described in John 3 : 16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
This verse, John 3:16, the most well known verse in the Bible, defines the greatness of God’s love. God the Father gave up his Son. God the Son became the man Jesus, the Son of Man, and died for our sins, so that we could be forgiven. Jesus gave up His Spirit, becoming separated from the Holy Spirit as well as God the Father.
There is no greater price that God could have paid for our salvation. The whole Godhead, all three Persons of the Trinity, suffered in a way that we cannot ever fully understand, so as to take the punishment for our sins. Yet, in that suffering Jesus overcame death itself, and was raised to the right hand of God the Father, not only regaining His former power and authority but opening a way for us to be raised from the dead as well. Thus Jesus was able to undo the power of sin and death itself, achieving complete victory over Satan.
The only remaining sin, the only unforgivable sin, is the sin of rejecting Jesus, refusing to accept that He died for our sins, refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to make us holy and righteous. Just as our picture of God would be too negative
if we forget about His love for sinners, so God’s work in us would be incomplete if we saw holiness only in terms of what we don’t do, if we failed to reach out and love sinners in the same way that God Himself cares for sinners who need to be saved.
Still, we are totally dependent on the light of God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit; for wisdom to know what and when to say to people, for holiness to avoid being a bad witness and for enough love to reach out to sinners. These things we can only do in God’s power; we cannot proclaim the gospel, be a good witness or reach people’s hearts in our strength. Yet, if we allow God to work in us and through us then we are promised an external reward.
We might think – isn’t it enough to be saved, why do we need a reward as well? Yet God does promise a reward to those who are faithful in obedience to Him. What’s the difference? The more obedient we have been to Christ the more we will fully appreciate and enjoy being with Him in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. It will be perfect for everyone, but in will mean more to those who have the deepest love for Jesus. Yet, the ability to love God is something that we can ask for; we can ask God for increasing wisdom, for increasing holiness and increasing love.
Knowing the we are incapable of perfect holiness, by our own effort, God Himself has chosen to take the punishment for our sins. However His desire for holiness is such that He continues to reveal and uncover our sins, so that we can repent of them and be sanctified
from them. Spiritual light helps us to discover our sins, repent of them, and see sin from God’s perspective. Instead of stumbling in the dark, we learn to avoid temptations and sinful situations, by living in the light, as revealed in the Bible; God’s word.
1st John 1 : 5 – 7
“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”
This passage tells us that when we come to Jesus, he not only forgives our sins but purifies us from the desire to sin, by revealing hidden sins of which we were previously unaware. As we grow in holiness, we become more aware of our own sinfulness. God reveals our sins, nor only to make us more holy, but also to help us realize how much He loves us, to realize how much it cost Him to forgive our sins.
If we knew the wisdom and holiness of God, but not His love, we would become very very afraid of Him. We would never dare enter his presence in prayer. We would never even want to go to church, if we did not know about God’s love for sinners.
As we develop in spiritual maturity, we become less inclined towards sin, more inclined towards prayer and more inclined to trust on God’s grace rather than in our own strength.
Just as plants grow towards sunlight and are nourished by that sunlight, we grow in spiritual maturity by feeding on God’s word in the Bible, by allowing ourselves to be changed and made holy. We are only capable of seeing God’s love because the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Although we have a responsibility to repent and accept God’s grace, yet it we cannot do this by our own strength; it is the Holy Spirit who helps to do this, by shining spiritual light into our hearts and minds, by giving us spiritual life.
In John 1 verse 4 we see the connection between spiritual light and spiritual life:
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
1st John 2 : 8 – 11 “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”
Another quote from Jonathan Edwards:
“But it is doubtless true, and evident from [the] Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.”
― Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections
John 1 : 14 “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus is the light of the world. His light reveals God’s Wisdom; our world was created through Jesus, the divine Word of God. Jesus reveals God’s absolute holiness, and the Holy Spirit continues to shine spiritual light on us so as reveal our sinfulness and need of a Saviour. Jesus revealed God’s sacrificial love for sinners, by becoming our Saviour and dying for our sins, in our place.
If we havn’t already then we need to turn away from darkness andtrust in Jesus as our Saviour. If we are already saved then we need to continue to walk in the light as revealed to us in the Bible.
Father God, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus, to reveal yourself to us. We thank you for your infinite wisdom, absolute holiness and yet unlimited love for us sinners. We thank you for providing us with your word, the Bible to show us how to live in response to your glory. We thank you for filling our hearts with spiritual light to expose our sins and reveal our need for a Saviour. We thank for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen