E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 64.

Light is in itself invisible,* but it illuminates everything. What we see around us in the physical world is not the light, but matter lighted up by it. The very canopy of heaven (that is, the air) is made visible by the light shining upon and through it, and if we could be transported into empty space, traversed as it is by the light, we should not see the light itself, although it would shine upon and manifest ourselves or any substance that might come in its way.

*It is a mere figure of speech to talk of the visible and invisible rays of the spectrum. This does not strictly mean that the rays themselves are visible, but that [to our eyes] they have the power of illuminating surfaces, or not.

The word of God uses this as a beautiful illustration or rather image. "God is light" is the message that we have received of Him, "and in Him is no darkness at all." "God is light," it is His nature, and He was eternally light before ever there was a universe to be illuminated (just as He was eternally love before ever there was ever a creature to be loved). "Light," to quote the words of one no longer amongst us, "is perfect purity, invisible in itself, and manifesting everything as it is before God." It is likewise said that God dwells in light that no man can "approach unto," and this is light inaccessible in itself.

But the light came into the world, into the midst of the darkness, when the Son of God appeared upon earth in the form of a servant, as man. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." And nothing is more interesting, though at the same time nothing more humiliating, than what is recorded in John's gospel of the presence of the light in this world of moral darkness, and the effect of that presence upon men. Nothing could escape manifestation, and though eyes to see were wanting, though the general blindness of man perceived naught, yet the light shone, and showed so clearly the state of man, that no one was able to pass before it without intercepting its rays. Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, proud blasphemers, or Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile, no matter what the character might be, all was lighted up and manifested before God. "The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not."* The blessed Lord left a world of dark, blind souls, insisting that they could see, and that they loved darkness rather than light. See the wonderful termination of the twelfth chapter of John's Gospel.

*Notice the change of tense in verses 4 and 5 of John 1. Space does not allow us to go further with so interesting a passage: "The light shines in the midst of the darkness" is in the present as an abstract, existing fact; but then it is said "the darkness comprehended it not" - a past tense.

The true light was that which, coming into the world, shines upon every man. This has nothing to do with the conversion of men, but refers to our subject; that is, the outward lighting up of men. Do not talk of "inner light," or any such thing, but rather contemplate with wonder the presence of the Son of God upon earth, in the midst of the prevailing darkness, and see everything illuminated by that presence, though the darkness comprehended not the light. What a field for study are the eighth and ninth chapters of John, and indeed the whole book!

Thus far we have noticed briefly the effect of the presence of the light in this world when Jesus was here.

But it is said, as to the present time, in Ephesians 5, that we believers are light. "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (v. 8); and we might compare this wonderful passage with 1 John 2:8, where we are said to possess the divine life in virtue of our union with Christ. "True in Him and in you" (this could not have been said before His death and resurrection): "the darkness is passing away [not passed] and the true light now shineth." In Ephesians 5 the truth is most clearly stated; we were darkness, but now are light in the Lord. How wonderful, and at the same time how blessed, that the divine life in us should be so presented! The exhortation to walk as children of the light is founded upon this; for the fruit of the light (not "Spirit," as in our translation) consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, proving that which is acceptable to the Lord. The essential difference between the darkness and the light is here clearly presented, and practical separation from the unfruitful works of darkness insisted upon. In verse 13 we find again the true character of light stated, as we have noticed in other passages, "That which manifests everything is light;"* and, notwithstanding all the feebleness of the present testimony, it has often been noticed that the true characters of people come out when they take their place with those who are endeavouring (with all their failure) to walk as children of the light. How many, if the bare truth were known, have retired because the light exposed their motives - their selfishness, ambition, etc. - till then concealed in a world of darkness! Ye are light in the Lord, says the Word; and the fruit of the light is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Righteousness and truth have never been popular, any more than the light itself. May we enter more fully into the fact of possessing the divine nature in the midst of a dark world, judging in ourselves all that is not practically consistent with it. We might compare 2 Corinthians 4:6 with this interesting passage, praying the Lord to give us to understand these great truths.

*This is the true sense of this passage.

Thus, during the present period of grace, the saints are the light of the world, and make manifest by their walk the sad moral state of things around them.

So much has been said of the future, that one hesitates to proceed; but it may be noticed that the darkness is now passing away, that the true light shines already; and when our blessed Lord shall be revealed in glory, the perfect day will have come. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand, and we are called children of the day, as well as children of light; for we belong to Christ, and that glory shall be ours. During the reign of Christ, the light will be displayed in a far different manner to that which we have been noticing. It is a solemn but blessed thought, that we, the redeemed heavenly saints, shall see the Lamb as the luminary of the interior of the holy Jerusalem,* and be in the very presence of uncreated light (there is no need of sun or moon) undazzled, seeing Him as He is. Blessed are they who understand our present position in the light as God is in the light; but what will it be then? It has been pointed out that the light will be shed in a modified form upon the millennial earth and nations. They shall walk in the light of the holy city, where all the glories of redeemed creation, the precious stones, shall separate and modify the rays that no creature not glorified could bear for a moment, so that the earth itself shall be illuminated by that most glorious though subdued light.

*The exact words are, "The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light (the 'lampstand') thereof." (Rev. 21:23.)

It will be said that even this display will not change the heart of man, and to this we fully agree. Our subject is the light, and we have very briefly noticed its display under different circumstances. May we be found walking in a path of true separation from all that is of the darkness, and ever remember that we are (now) light in the Lord. E. L. B.


A Sequel.

E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 191.

We have noticed briefly, in a former number, the exterior effect of the light, if we may use such an expression; that is, its effect in illuminating surfaces; the presence of the Lord Jesus as Light upon earth, the actual presence of the saints as light now, and the future millennial day, when the nations shall walk by the light of the heavenly Jerusalem.

But there is another aspect of the effect of light; that is, not merely the outward illumination of persons and things, but the inward lighting up of the heart, and its results, as we shall find in 2 Cor. 3:, 4. And first of all let us look at 2 Cor. 4:6, where we find the following: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to cause to shine forth the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same God who first caused the light to shine out of the midst of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, and if we turn to the first chapter of Genesis we shall find the illustration here employed by the Holy Spirit. In the second verse of Genesis 1 we find the state to which things had been brought upon this earth a long time after the creation; and it has been rightly pointed out that things were not created so, and that there is a long interval between verses 1 and 2. Darkness and desolation were there, and in verses 3, 4, and 5 God caused the light suddenly to shine, and "separated the light from the darkness." Some one asked the other day how God had separated the two; a question which may well be reverently left with the almighty Creator of the glorious wonders of creation.

The light shone forth at the word of God: "Let there be light: and there was light;" and the Holy Spirit refers no doubt to this passage in 2 Cor. 4:10. It is with this shining in our hearts that we are now occupied; these hearts were black and desolate enough before the light shone in them, and we bow with reverence and adoration before the God who caused the light to shine in by His sovereign power, where all before was dark.

But we have here several expressions in connection with this that claim our attention. The light shines in a certain definite manner, so that in verse 4 of 2 Cor. 4 it is called the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, and this leads us back to the third chapter, where the apostle Paul speaks of the glorious Christ with great liberty, and of our perfect and blessed liberty in the very presence of His glory, as having been justified through His work, as having received the Holy Ghost, and as being able to gaze upon the glory of Christ with uncovered face, and as being changed from glory to glory by the Lord the Spirit.

Volumes have been written about this, and our great fault has been to have talked much of light and of glory, when our testimony as an existing fact upon earth has been anything but glorious; but the blessed truth of God cannot be changed, and the God who has shined into our hearts has illuminated them in order that the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ may shine out of their into this world. This was carried out in so wonderful and simple a manner in the apostle Paul that he could say, in preaching the gospel, that if it was hid, it was by a special Satanic action, the god of this world having blinded men's thoughts, so that the light of this glory should not shine for them.

But this wonderful subject - that is, the light shining now in our hearts; light proceeding from a definite and well-known luminary, the face of Jesus Christ - must not be neglected because we have failed; the luminary itself has not grown paler than when it shone around Saul of Tarsus, and shone into the dark heart of the misguided Pharisee, disclosing to him the glory of God. The career of this wonderful vessel of God's grace and power is that of a man whose heart is filled with the light that had shined in. Those who accompanied him (Acts 22:9) may have been dazzled for a moment by that flash that was brighter than the sun; but with Saul of Tarsus there were two things to be noticed, that is, his being blinded by the light that shone about him, his being blinded by that light in which no mortal can stand, and at the same time illuminated as to his heart by the shining in of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This inner effect of the light (and this is our subject) may be observed all through his life, from Damascus, where he begins by praying, to the last thing that we hear of him, where, still looking up confidently to the Lord and counting upon Him, he speaks of Him and His glory to Timothy, as having Him in full view. Surely we may say that the light of the glory of God shone as steadily as ever in him there in the midst of the increasing gloom; and if we follow his history between these two extreme points, i.e., its wonderful beginning and end, we find a man changed from glory to glory. We find a heart fixed upon the Lord Jesus by grace, and shining forth from that heart the glory of God; and that in a life of true patience, meekness, self-denial, where the moral glory of the Lord Jesus may be seen in His apostle.

That which is thus true for the great apostle in his immense service and labour, is true for each one of us in our little measure. Poor and feeble as these words are, they will not be lost if any be led to enquire prayerfully what is the meaning of the light shining in our hearts (and not merely on men, as we noticed in John 1), so that they may be led to a deeper communion with our blessed Lord, to a truer knowledge of the glory of God, and to a fuller manifestation of it in a patient life of self-denial in this world. May God graciously lead us all in this same direction! E. L. B.