(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Let light shine out of darkness
19th January 2008
In last week's column "We do not lose heart", we looked 2 Corinthians 3v18 - 4v5. We saw that:
And we saw that, if we realise that this is true, we will not lose heart.
Paul was writing about these things because he was tempted to give up. One reason was that some of the people who listened to his teaching didn't understand what he was saying. Paul refused to speak anything other that what was true and straightforward, but he explained that:
1 Corinthians 14v3-4
And now - this week - we get to verse 6. For me, this is one of the most powerful and beautiful verses in the whole Bible. It says:
1 Corinthians 14v6
Paul is recollecting Genesis 1v1-3:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
When there was NOTHING, God made the light shine. So, in our hearts, when there is no real understanding of the nature of God, God can shine His light. And when He does, we receive ďthe knowledge of the glory of God in the face of ChristĒ. Letís look at that in a bit more detail.
Before God shines His light in our hearts, we have no real idea of what God is like. We may have studied RE at school. We may have come from a Christian family. We may even be able to pass exams in theology. But until God shines His light, we donít really get it. We donít see how glorious, how loving, how good, how faithful, how real, He really is.
This is why there are some things that seem obvious to a Christian, but which his closest friends or family canít understand. Itís not that a Christian is naturally more discerning, or better, than them. The difference is that God has not yet shed His light in their hearts.
If you want to pray for your loved ones, pray that God shines His light into their hearts. And if you want to affect the world for good, let His light shine through you:
Also, the passage says that we receive "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ". That is, when God teaches us about Himself, He does so by teaching us about Jesus. When we look at Jesus, we see God - because He is God - and because he came to teach us about God. He is The Light of the World (John 1 and John 8v12).
And Ė if youíve already experienced Godís light shining in your heart, and if youíve responded to Him and now youíre a Christian, there should be a sense of deep gratitude within you. It is nice to know that youíre one of Godís chosen people.
But Iíve got a question for you: Are there areas of your hearts that have not yet been illuminated by Godís light? To put that another way: Are there still gaps in your understanding?
Itís easier to say ďyesĒ to the second formulation of the question. But itís definitely true. I've received some revelation from God. You've received other revelation from God. Of course, thereís a lot of overlap Ė weíve both seen the gospel, for a start. But there are also differences in our understanding. That's one reason why Paul wrote:
Not one of fully understands all of what God teaches us in the Bible. And just because I havenít seen something, that doesnít mean itís not true.
I want to encourage you to seek new revelation. Not new in the sense that no-oneís ever seen it before Ė if youíre the first to see it, youíve probably got hold of something thatís not true. I mean revelation thatís new to you. And, for each one of us, thereís a lot of that out there. Letís not fall into the trap of thinking that anything we don't already know must be wrong, or at least dangerous. Letís actively seek to grow in our understanding and in our love.
Ask God to teach you things you donít already know. Ask Him to deepen your knowledge in the areas where you do know something. And ask Him to save you from thinking you know it all.
God has already done amazing things for each one of us. He has already shown us amazing things. But thereís more.
And we do already make some difference in this world for Our Lord Jesus Christ. But we could make more of a difference. Letís ask God to show us more of His truth, to give us more faith, more determination, more revelation. So we can serve Him better, so we can reach the lost for Him.
It's amazing that God shines His light in our hearts. What an amazing privilege! But part of our responsibility is to remain humble. So Paul continues:
The reason we have the understanding we do is the grace of God. He shone His light in our hearts. But we are "jars of clay". The light is in us, but it's not from us - it's from Him.