Three Reflections to Consider By Keith J. Thomas, Quest Ministries
When we think about the Christmas one cannot avoid the celebration of lights. There is something special about sitting alone in a completely darkened room silently reflecting while watching the glow of the lit candles around your advent wreath. The surrounding darkness permeates the room but the glowing candles that fight through the night penetrate the ever- present blackness. We live in an age of spiritual and moral darkness. Darkness in many respects is the prevailing force in the present world. As I write this article I know of several families who are experiencing significant personal challenges, deep days of darkness, sickness, loneliness, seeming hopelessness situations and to some degree mounting despair. One would like to think it has not always been this way but history tells us the forces of darkness have been the ruling force. Man has had to endure the pain of sin and the pervasiveness of spiritual darkness for eons. The evil acts of tyrannical despots and the wickedness of groups like ISIS are easy to identify. But sometimes it is the acts of people we know in ministry that can be so disappointing. If these are not bad enough, just look in the mirror if you need to see that we all fall woefully short. For centuries, mankind has been longing for darkness to be overcome. Since the fall of Adam in Genesis 3, darkness has prevailed but God promised shortly after the garden ordeal that darkness would be overcome. Jesus is the light that will prevail the spiritual darkness. Christmas is the realization of that promise - the celebration of light.
This Christmas be sure to take some time in solitude and reflection, preferably in a room that is lit with a candle or perhaps an advent wreath. Crack open your Bible and take some time with God to reflect on his word remembering this brief study on the word light. The word light appears 82 times in the New Testament. Fifty-eight of those use the Greek word "phos" the most common is used. As you see Christmas lights around your home, neighborhood or city remember the promise, the plan and the purpose of this Christmas and the Advent of our great Savior Jesus.
From the beginning God knew of Mankind's great dilemma. Shortly after creation was completed, sin entered the world due to the choices of Adam and Eve. Their sin corrupted the entire universe. Sorrow, adversity, evil and death entered the world all because man disobeyed God. The perfect creation realized in Eden was fully corrupted. Today we experience the compounding effect of sin. Not just the negative aspects of natural fallenness but the haunting impact of volitional sinful choices. Everywhere we look, the corrupting aspect of sin overwhelms us. Sin personally haunts our families, our communities, our Nation, our world and us. However, God made a promise that is recorded in Genesis 3:15. God promised that he would provide a solution for man's great dilemma. The solution is found in the long awaited Messiah and scripture records no less than 15 references where the Messiah would come providing a solution for sin once and for all! John records the actual fulfillment of The Promise!
John 1: 4-5
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
It was the eternal God who made a promise to rescue man from darkness. The darkness of a fallen world and the sin of mankind can only be conquered by the one who provides new life and the one who created the universe. The great news is that the darkness cannot overcome the light that shines in the darkness. Jesus is the long awaited promise and the victor over darkness. Even better, he will ultimately create a new heavens and new earth thus eradicating the effects of the fall on nature. Because of the love of God, He fulfilled the promise to overcome darkness in every dimension. Celebrate His Unconditional Promise!
Just as God made a promise, he also had a plan. The plan was to provide a means of redemption for men. A solution for the universal sin problem. The problem with sin is that it is normally committed individually. Sure there are times when an organization or a nation violates people but most often, sins are a matter of personal commission or omission. Sin is destructive. It destroys relationships, it destroys trust and it is also an overt form of rebellion against God. God hates sin and rebellion against him incurs his wrath and judgment. How does God's wrath and judgment become satisfied so that men can be forgiven and restored? God's plan was to send his son to the world to pay the price for man's sin. This is available to everyone who believes! Although men hate the light because they love darkness, John clearly states that those who simply believe is not condemned because he believes in the name of Jesus - the one and only Son of God!
John 3: 16-21
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.
The plan of salvation is the forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life to those who believe. Although men love darkness and hate the light - God makes a means for people through belief in Jesus' sacrifice in our behalf on the cross! Those who believe enter into the light! God provided a plan. A plan of salvation for all who respond by faith believing that his provision is sufficient. They move from spiritual darkness into the spiritual light! Jesus left no doubt or no question that He was the light of the world and that those who follow him will never walk in darkness. Celebrate His Impeccable Plan!
Since the beginning God has sought to redeem people. Because of sin we all are in desperate need of forgiveness. The consuming implications of darkness and its penetrating tentacles into every aspect of life has no limit. People need good news! John the Baptist came to tell people about Jesus! His primary purpose was to point people to Jesus - the Savior!
John 1: 6-8
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.
There is little doubt, Jesus made it perfectly clear what his purpose was during his ministry (Luke 19:10) and when he completed his ministry. Spiritually lost people matter to God! The disciples were commissioned to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world (Acts 1: 4-8). God's purpose and command becomes the A-1 purpose of the disciples! This was their purpose. In fact, the angel appears to them immediately after the ascension and asks "Why do you stand looking into the sky?" as if to say.... you have a job to do... get busy! Go out and be the case-makers you were instructed to be!
For centuries, mankind has lived in the abyss of sin without hope. During the angel's announcement to the shepherds in the fields was "Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great news that brings great joy to all people; for today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11) Now the light - the good news of the gospel is available to all people! No longer do people need to be a slave to the darkness of sin and separation. God's purpose is to redeem as many as would follow him (John 1:12) so too, it is our purpose to take the message of "the light" into a dark and dreary world. Taking light into darkness - what a royal privilege!
John 8: 12
Then Jesus spoke out again, "I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness.
As you reflect on scriptures this Christmas season take some time to reflect on God’s wonderful promise. His plan was to provide a redeemer as well as the wonderful plan. Christ, the light of the world is our means of salvation and our purpose for taking the good news of the gospel to every nation. Perhaps the greatest gift you could provide someone is the light that takes away the sins of the world!