The True Light
James Smith, 1859
"A light to enlighten the Gentiles." Luke 2:32
The whole world once had the knowledge of God—but as the Gentiles did not like to retain the knowledge of God—God gave them over to a mind void of judgment, and so they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened, Romans 1:19-32. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and God gave them up. Then they went on in darkness, until at length they sat down in darkness, and in the shadow of death. That was their condition for ages. It was called "the times of their ignorance." They were ignorant of the true nature of God, strangers to the right rule of duty, sold under sin, in captivity to Satan, laden with iniquity, and their abodes were the habitations of cruelty! They personified lust—and worshiped it. They imprisoned truth—and lost it. Ignorance, guilt, misery, and cruelty, were the representatives of their condition. They were without hope, and without God in the world. Being godless—they were hopeless; being hopeless—they were miserable; being miserable—they were cruel.
"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless." Romans 1:28-31
Such was the state of our forefathers, and such would have been our state but for the free, sovereign, and unmerited grace of God!
God looked down from heaven men, to see if there were any who sought after God; but they were all gone out of the way; they were together become abominable; there were none that did good—no, not one!
First, he separated the Jews for himself, as his chosen and privileged people. He redeemed them from Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and settled them in the land of Canaan. He adopted them as his children; placed the Shechinah, his glory-cloud, among them; gave them his covenants and his law, the sanctuary and the temple and their services, with his exceeding great and precious promises. One of these promises was, that of a Savior, a Divine Savior. One who should be "a light to enlighten the Gentiles," while he was "the glory of his people Israel." During all this time, for about the space of fifteen hundred years, "he suffered all nations to walk in their own way." He left them to themselves to do just as they would, and when the whole world was corrupt before God, when the earth was filled with violence, when human nature was at the very worst, then he sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world—but that the world, through him, might be saved. When all was darkness, gross darkness, then the Sun of Righteousness arose, with healing in his wings. Then Jesus came, as "a light to enlighten the Gentiles;" then the Son of God appeared, and his glory was, that he was "full of grace and truth."
Jesus is the true light. Error is darkness, truth is light, and Jesus is the truth. All saving truth is in Jesus, and proceeds from Jesus. "The light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is in the person of Jesus Christ. His people are lamps, or candles—but he is the grand luminary. They throw a faint light upon a small circle—but he enlightens the world. The true knowledge of God, the correct state of man, our danger in consequence of sin, the way of escape from the wrath to come, the path of peace, and the medium of acceptance with God—are only revealed by Jesus Christ. In his light alone—can we see how God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. In his light alone—can we discover how the filthy sinner can be made clean, the guilty pronounced righteous, and the degraded be raised to glory, honor, and immortality.
This light shines in every direction, it reveals to us heaven with all its glories, hell with all its horrors, time and the design of its trials, eternity and the results of free grace. May the light of truth shine more and more into my heart—to humble me; on the sacred page—to encourage me; in my trying path—to stimulate me; in my heavenly home—to attract me. In the light of Jesus may I see light, and so rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Jesus is the true light. Darkness is sin and guilt, light is pardon and peace. In the light of Jesus I see the horrid nature of sin—and abhor it; the terrible consequences of guilt—and seek to be delivered from it. When Jesus enlightens my mind, I perceive that God has forgiven me all trespasses, and delivered me from all condemnation. I feel that I am at peace with God, and that God is at peace with me. Doubt vanishes, slavish fears depart, confidence springs up, and I have joy and peace in believing.
Truly this light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to see God reconciled to us in Jesus, and loving us with an everlasting love. Now, if I look up to heaven—I see it is my Father's house; if I look at death—I see it is my Father's servant, sent to fetch his child home; if I look at the grave—I see it is a quiet resting-place for the poor, diseased worn-out body, where it will repose until the resurrection morning; if I look forward into eternity—I see it is the lifetime of my happiness, and that which perfects and perpetuates my soul's joys.
Jesus is the true light. Darkness is impurity, light is holiness and love. Human nature is impure, it is rotten at the heart's core. While in the dark—it is not discovered, consequently it is not deplored. But when light, celestial light, shines—we see our defilement, loathe our pollution, and seek freedom from our filthiness. And the light that discovers the disease, reveals the remedy. The light that shows me that I am a sinner, leads me to the Savior; for Jesus, like nature's sun, is only seen in his own light. Blessed, for ever blessed, be the day, when this light shone into my soul, revealed to me my filthiness, and led me to the open fountain, and became a means of my cleansing. Now I love purity; I enjoy purity; I long for perfect purity; and, blessed be God, I shall enjoy perfect purity too.
In the land where this luminary shines in all his splendour, all is pure. There are no spots on this sun, and there are no spots on those on whom this sun in perfection shines; for as the light of nature's sun chases away night's darkness, and introduces perfect day, so will the sun of righteousness; and in a little time all on whom he now shines will be "without fault before the throne of God."
Jesus is the true light. Darkness is enmity and cruelty; light is love and sympathy. Man, by nature, is enmity against God, and cruel to his fellow man. While in our natural condition we are led captive by the devil, (who is the personification of enmity,) at his will, and are influenced by the prince of the power of the air, the most cruel of all God's creatures, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. But when Jesus shone upon us, our enmity was subdued, and we loved God because he first loved us; the cruelty of our natural disposition was destroyed, and we felt a love to all mankind. Just in proportion as this light shines upon us with strength and clearness—do we love and delight in God; and just in the same proportion do we sympathize with and strive to benefit our fellow men. The light that enlightens the Gentiles, always disperses ignorance, guilt, misery, and cruelty; and produces knowledge, peace, purity, and love. Light of life, shine with clearness and power into every reader's heart!
Reader, has Jesus shone upon you at all? Have you discovered your true state and condition, as revealed in God's most holy word? and have you fled for refuge to the cross of the Son of God? Do you hate and abhor sin, because it is filthy and abominable? and do you desire and pant for holiness, because it is pure and beautiful? You were in the dark once—if you are not now. Can you look back and see that you were once in darkness? Can you contrast the past with the present, and so conclude that you are now in the Lord? Can you say with John, in reference to your own state and experience, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shines?"
Is this world to you a dark place, and do you look upon heaven as the land of light? If so, you daily seek grace to make "you fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." Blessed, for ever blessed be the Lord, that we ever enjoyed this light, and that we have the prospect of a period before us when "the sun shall be no more our light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto us; but the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and our God our glory. Our sun shall no more go down, neither shall our moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and the days of our mourning shall be ended."