the Light of the World
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
The Bible says: "He was in the WORLD, and the WORLD was made by Him, and the WORLD knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received him, to him gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." (John 1:10-12)
During the Gold Rush, a minor lay dying in a little shack in the hills of California. A kind Christian lady came to be with him during his last hours on earth. She read these words from the New Testament: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The dying man asked, "Is that in the Bible?" The woman answered, "Yes it is in the Bible." He asked, "Is He speaking to me?" She answered, "Yes, He is speaking to you."
The dying man asked, "Did He say anything else?" The lady answered, “He said: As many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God." Then, she said softly, “Yes, He is speaking to you.” The dying man answered, "I receive Him. I'm satisfied."
Then, he closed his eyes and went directly into the loving arms of JESUS. How powerful and reassuring, indeed, are the inspired life-giving words of the Holy Bible!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." What an amazing promise! Peace flooded his soul and he died knowing that he had been accepted into God's Kingdom.
God's Word says: "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."
"To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us Accepted in the Beloved; in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:4-6)
CHRIST: GOD'S PASCAL LAMB
LOVES us! He KNOWS about us! He CARES for us! He DIED for our
sins! He AROSE from the dead for our justification! And He will
RETURN for us! The Bible states that Jesus "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our
justification." (Romans 4:25); '
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28)
Our OFFENCES speaks of the sins of unbelief, pride and treason against our God, Maker, Life-Giver and Saviour. Our sins nailed Him to the Cross! He was delivered, meaning: He was arrested, condemned, scourged, crucified and died for our sins! The Bible teaches the substitutionary (vicarious) Death of Jesus the Messiah, for the sins of the entire world!
The Bible states: "Therefore being, justified by FAITH we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. For when we were yet without strength (hopeless), in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"For more then, being now justified by His BLOOD, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:1, 6; Romans 8:10)
The hymn writer penned these amazing words: 'O love of God so rich and pure, so measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song. If you could with ink the ocean fill and were the sky of parchment made and every stock on earth a quill, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry and could the sky contain the whole would stretch from sky to sky.'
GOD IS FOR US: NOT AGAINST US
There are those who believe that God is against us and wants to punish us for our sins. Nothing is farther from the truth. The Scripture states: "As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked TURN from his way and live: Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways for why will die....? (Ezekiel 33:11)
"For I know the thoughts that I have toward you saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (hope and a future). Then ye shall call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you saith the Lord..." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
This Scripture holds out hope for us all, even those who have fallen into gross sins. Israel had sinned by breaking His laws and God judged them with seventy years in Babylonian captivity. His extended hand of love, mercy and grace reached out to them again letting them know that they were still His people and that if they would call upon His name He was ready to forgive and give them a bright future in Palestine as well as an eternal Home in Heaven!
St. Peter writes: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9). So great was the love of God toward us that He sent His only begotten Son into this wicked, desperately evil WORLD to save us all through the SACRIFICE of Himself!
GOD'S LOVE IS UNIMAGINABLE
His love toward us is incomprehensible, inconceivable and beyond the scope of human understanding! That God the Son would wrap Himself in human flesh and come down in our midst and offer Himself as a ransom to pay for the sins of the world - past, present and future - to meet the demands of Divine Justice, exceeds the limits of our intelligence!
The Bible declares: "To wit (that is), that God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the Word of reconciliation. For He hath made Him to be SIN (sin offering) for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 19:21)
The word GRACE means unmerited favor. We are saved by grace and kept by the power of God through His mercy. St. Paul stated: "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9)
It is by Grace alone, through Faith alone and in Christ alone that we enter God's Kingdom!
The Gospel is all about JESUS CHRIST and what He has done to redeem sinful and lost humanity. The mercy, grace and love of God was extended to us in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, "Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the CROSS, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on High." (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus Christ said: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) "I am the Door; by Me if any man enter in, he shall be Saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.
JESUS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN
There is no other road one may travel, no other way one may go and no other entrance into the Kingdom of God, except through God's Pascal Lamb, Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified on Golgotha nearly 2000 years ago.
No one else could have filled the role of the God-man, the Jewish Messiah, and no one else could have RISEN from the dead three days later! He is not only the sole Saviour of the world, but also the King of kings and Lord of lords and the ultimate Judge of all mankind!
That is GREAT NEWS if you are a believer in Christ, but very scary, indeed, if you know not Christ as personal Saviour and Lord. St. John makes this definitive, judicially proper and theologically correct statement:
"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in Himself. He that believeth not hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the RECORD that God gave of His Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us Eternal Life, and this LIFE is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath LIFE, and he that hath NOT the Son of God hath NOT Life." (1 John 5:10-12)
The Bible states: "The Thief (Satan) cometh not but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have LIFE and have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep." (John 10:9-11)
Saul of Tarsus, a rabid enemy of Jesus of Nazareth and His followers, was apprehended by the RISEN LORD on the Damascus Road. The encounter was supernatural and life changing as our Lord appeared in a light brighter than the sun, blinding the murderous religious Jewish Enforcer! (Acts 9, 22, 26)
St. Paul states: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is ABOVE every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)
LOVE NOT THE WORLD
There are three obstacles that impede our ability to receive power with God. The three giants that must be defeated to experience power with God are the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the eyes and the Pride of life! With God's strength in us we can do it, and we will by His grace!
St. John issued this directive to the Church: "Love not the WORLD, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the World, the love of the Father is not in him.
“For all that is in the World, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the WORLD passes away and lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
Satan used these three temptations to snare EVE in the Garden of Eden. The LIAR promised that she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit, but rather become wise. He accused the Creator of withholding something good from her. The word devil means: Liar, slanderer, false accuser.
The DECEIVER convinced her that he was concerned about her well-being. Satan is still the greatest of all deceivers. He promises everything but delivers only death! Eve believed that the fruit which was pleasant to her eyes (lust of the eyes) would be good to eat (lust of the flesh), and it would make her wise (pride of life).
When Satan, which means Enemy and Adversary, tried his three knock-out punches on our Blessed Lord and Saviour, he was soundly trounced and beaten and had to retreat! Jesus refuted and finally rebuked him and he had to back off. WE CAN DO THE SAME!
St. James stated: "Submit yourselves unto God, RESIST the devil and he will FLEE from you" (James 4:7) and St. Peter warned: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil (LIAR), as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the Faith...." (1 Peter 5:8)
Jesus used the Word of God to stop the devil. Three times Jesus of Nazareth authoritatively said: "IT IS WRITTEN." We can do the same! The Bible states: "The Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
The devil confronted JESUS with these words: “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (Matthew 4: 3). The Liar knew full well that Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnated Son of God and the Deliverer that the Almighty God had promised would one day crush his head, yet he tried to seduce the very Son of God! (Genesis 3:15)
HOLY SCRIPTURES FROM GOD'S MOUTH
The Lust of the flesh was a powerful tool to use on a man who had fasted for forty days and forty nights, but out Lord countered: “IT IS WRITTEN man shall not live by bread alone but by every WORD that proceeds out of the MOUTH of God.” (Matthew 4: 4)
The LORD told the Devil and everyone else that He believed the Old Testament Scriptures. What a powerful answer! Jesus said two things: Man is a spiritual being and should not be controlled entirely by his flesh and the reason the Holy Scriptures are so powerful is that GOD Himself is their Author.
The Second Temptation that the Adversary used was the Pride of Life. Again he challenged our Lord’s position as the Son of God, trying to make Him demonstrate the fact that He could cast Himself down and be protected. That would have shown PRIDE. Jesus did not fall for the temptation, but rather quoted the WORD of God: “IT IS WRITTEN again, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4: 7)
Jesus lectured Satan by reminding him that He was the Son of God and deserved worship, and that Satan was only a created being and still under the jurisdiction of the “Lord thy God.” And that he was clearly out of order in tempting Him!
The Third Temptation is called the Lust of the Eyes. Satan took Jesus up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them, saying: “All these things will I give thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4: 9). What possessed him to believe that Jesus would fall down and worship such an Evil one? Why did the LIAR think he could seduce the Son of God, Who had created the universe and every living creature?
PRIDE blinds people and no doubt the Deceiver thought that since he had influenced one third of the angelic host to follow him, he would try it on the very Son of God. He is twisted in his mind and knows no shame! One day he will be cast into the LAKE OF FIRE forever! (Revelation 20:10)
Jesus, the Perfect and Holy Son of God ordered the devil: “Get thee hence, Satan. IT IS WRITTEN; Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4: 10).
The Lord commanded the fallen archangel to “Get away from here.” The contest was over and Satan was gone: “Then the devil leaves him and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.” (Matthew 4: 11)
THE WORLD, THE FLESH & THE DEVIL
The World had no attraction for the Son of God. He had come to EARTH for one purpose only and that was to SAVE the world! The Plan and Purpose of Redemption had been in the heart of God from before the foundations of the world. (Romans 8:29; Eph. 1: 1 4; 1 Peter 1:20)
And Jesus of Nazareth, Who was in the bosom of the Father (John 1: 18), knew His great part in the deliverance of lost humanity! (Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17; 18:37; Luke 24:27). He had come to die in our place in order to save us for time and eternity. He stated: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of God be lifted up.” (John 3:14)
He had witnessed Lucifer’s rebellion and his eviction from Heaven by the Archangels Michael and Gabriel (Revelation 12: 7-14). He had seen him fall to the earth and observed the great carnage that ensued there. (Ezekiel 28:13-17; Isa.14:12-17). He had witnessed the Traitor’s verbal assault on ‘the woman” in the Garden of Eden.
He knew full well the pain, agony and eternal doom that Lucifer had wrought on the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. And He knew the price He had to pay to meet the demands of DIVINE JUSTICE in order to redeem the sick and suffering and lost and dying of the earthlings. (Luke 24: 25-27; 1 John 3:8)
The Jewish Messiah would be rejected by His own people and judged by His Heavenly Father, suffer, bleed and die the most humiliating, ignominious and torturous death upon the cursed cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem, and after three days rise again in power and great glory.
PREACHING & HEALING THE SICK
Preaching and healing the sick is necessary for the proclamation of the Gospel. The miracles of healing confirms the message preached. It proves the love of Christ in His kindness and caring Spirit. It is also a witness to the fact that sickness and disease is the result of Adam's fall. It shows everyone that God is still in charge and one day we will be restored again to the perfect form from which Adan fell.
JESUS had chosen twelve men as His apostles whom He sent out to preach the Gospel and heal the sick and suffering. They returned with glowing reports of great victories that multitudes had received the Good News of the Kingdom of God and that the very same works of healing the sick and casting out of demons had occurred also in the their meetings.
"And when He had called unto His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease...
“And as you go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devil: freely ye have received, freely give." (Mark 10:1, 7-8)
“And they went out, and preached that men should Repent, and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6: 12-13); “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere.” (Luke 9: 6)
“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven.
“Behold, I give unto you POWER to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the Enemy (Satan): “And NOTHING shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.” (Luke 10: 17-20)
JESUS CHRIST LOVED THE WORLD
Jesus stated: "For God so LOVED the WORLD that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16, 17)
JESUS stated: "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12); "My Kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:6). "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10); "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends," (John 15:8);
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hated you."
Jesus Christ said: "Remember the word I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me they will persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep your also. But all these things will they do for My name's sake, because they know not Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken with them, they had not had sin: But now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hates Me hates My Father also.
"If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this comes to pass, that the Word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law, they have hated Me without a cause." (John 15:18-25)
JESUS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The BIBLE states: "Jesus cried and said, He that believes on Me, believes not on Me but on Him that sent Me. And he that sees Me sees Him that sent me. I am come as a LIGHT into the WORLD, that whoever believes on Me should not abide in darkness and if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge but the save the world."
"He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, hath one that judges him. The Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is LIFE EVERLASTING: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak." (John 12:44-50)
St. Paul wrote: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to Life Everlasting. Now unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
The world is that which is sin and rebellion against God. To Jesus, the world was the Jewish religious leaders who rejected Him as Messiah and turned others away from the Truth of who He was, even though they had the writings of the prophets and the Holy Scriptures. He stated: "But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matthew 23:13)
For us, the world is anything that opposes God, Christ and His Gospel. The great preacher James Denney stated: "If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of this world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies or explains it away."
THE FLESH VERSUS THE SPIRIT
St. Paul declared: "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (lustful), idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance (conflict), emulations (jealousies), wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in the past that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections (passions) and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:16-25)
St. Paul again exhorts us to holy living and fruit bearing in God's Kingdom: "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are of the Spirit, the thing of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: And if children of God, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we also be glorified together." (Romans 8:5,6,13-17)
O’ THE JOY OF LOVING HIM
In our Gospel Meetings, we love to praise and worship to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. A song that always blesses my soul says: O’ the Joy of knowing Him. O’ the joy of loving Him, and O’ the joy of praising Him, and O’ the joy, joy, joy of serving Him!
Hallelujah to the Lamb of God! What an honour to know Jesus Christ as our Lord, Saviour, Healer, Master and God! What a joy it is to serve Him and be led by the blessed Holy Spirit.
The secret of a joyous Christian life is to fully dedicate ourselves to the Lord in sincerity and humility and to submit to God’s Word in repentance and faith. Through prayer and intercession, we must seek God for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He will give us the grace to follow the path of righteousness and become living epistles of Christ’s love, mercy and grace! Amen.