Thursday, January 29, 2015

Light Shines in the Darkness

During the trial of our Lord just before His crucifixion, He made the statement, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, in order that I might bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37 my translation). In this series of articles we will begin to explore this idea of truth.
             When God the Son became flesh and was born as a babe in Bethlehem, something astounding happened. Life and Light came into the world. No doubt people thought that they know what life was, and no doubt they thought they knew what light was, but they were mistaken. John describes the incarnation in this way, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it” (John 1:4-5 my translation).  Likewise Isaiah, in prophesying of the coming Messiah said, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). Do you notice how Isaiah describes the people? They walk in darkness and dwell in the land of the shadow of death. That pretty well sums up this world; darkness and death. Paul reminds the Ephesian believers of their former state, “And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph 5:8). The world would know nothing about what life really is, apart from the revelation of the Son of God. We tend to think that we have things figured out. We may need help from time to time, but all in all we generally feel that we have a pretty good grasp on reality. The Son of God came with a different message. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not grasp it.” The thing about darkness is that we can’t see the reality of the situation. When light shines in the darkness, the truth is made known. This is the state of the world. As hard as it might be for us to accept it, we are (naturally speaking) in total darkness when it comes to the truth, but as hard as it might be for us to accept that, we must go one step further and realize that when the light shines, we are not even able to grasp it. This is my translation of John 1:5. The word “grasp,” like its Greek counterpart, can convey at least two meanings. We sometimes use the word in a intellectual sense. Thus, the darkness cannot (naturally) comprehend the truth that the light reveals. The word “grasp” can also be used in a physical sense to conquer or overcome. Thus, the darkness, though it might seek to squelch the truth that the light reveals, is powerless to do so. Both of these uses can be seen in examples recorded in John’s gospel. We see that though Christ reveals on many occasions the truth, those who walk in darkness seem unable to comprehend. We also see that ultimately the powers of darkness seek to “put out” the Light of the world, but in the end it is demonstrated that they are powerless to stop the Light.
Where does this leave us? I believe we have answered one very important and foundational question regarding truth; namely, “Where does truth come from?” No matter what we in our pride might convince ourselves of, if we want to find the truth we cannot look inward. We cannot even look to this world. Darkness is incapable of producing light. This principle can be seen all the way back at the beginning of creation. The Earth was formless and dark. Light came from the Word of God. In the words of the Light of the world Himself, “If the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14). We must abandon this idea that we are capable judges of truth. There is perhaps no lie of Satan so insidious as the lie that there is no greater truth than that which your heart tells you. The truth is that our hearts are so filled with darkness that we have a natural aversion to the light even when it does shine in. The Son of God has come to bear witness to the truth. The true light which shines on every man, has come into the world!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Foundations of Truth

During the Lord's trial before Pilate He made what I consider to be a deeply profound and incredibly important declaration. He said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice" (John 18:37). This appears to give us insight into the foundation of the incarnation, the gospel and the very reason God sent His Son into the world. "To bear witness of the truth," He said. In what way does truth, and the need to know the truth, lie at the heart of everything that Christ accomplished on earth? In what way did He bear witness of the truth? What did our Lord have to say about truth? Or perhaps we ought to ask the question that Pilate asked in response to the Lord's declaration, "What is truth?"
My hope is to explore these questions and any others that may come up as we seek to inspect the foundations of truth.