By Chris Hoops, Founding Theology Editor (January 29, 1950 – July 17, 2008) for more on Mr Hoops please go here.
“And God said, “Let there be light and there was Light,” and “Mary conceived and bare a son and called his name Jesus.” Jesus came into a darkened world, filled with sin, corruption, and misery. “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
The aged Simeon, living in Jerusalem in the days of Roman occupation waited for the “consolation of Israel.” When he saw Joseph and Mary bring the infant Christ child to the Temple, “took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: … My eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to Your people Israel.” Jesus is that light who “enlightens” the world. And the world and all its peoples sit in great darkness. Have we forgotten this?
If you have a “newspaper theology” and get your views of the future only from headlines and the “Late and Great” bunch you will cower, and despondency is the result. Every day of our lives we experience an eschatology of the moment. It does not take but an instant to become discouraged, despondent, and fearful of the future. If all we do is read the news written and prepared for us by reporters who live, work and play in darkness and in whose own minds there is no light we are sure to become like Christian, who strayed from the path, and for a time forgot God’s promises and lived in the Castle of Despair.
When we go to the grocery store and stand in the check out lines we are inundated with the tabloids. These so called newspapers have adopted an eschatological dispensational jargon. If you believe the headlines, “the world is coming to an end – soon!” or “Jesus is wondering the streets of Seattle as a homeless man before His Second Coming.” “Armageddon is upon us.” “Babylon the great is being rebuilt.” The war with Iraq will “usher in the rise of the beast and the rebuilding of the harlot city of Babylon.”
Our modern culture of death has taken upon itself the language of a defeatist theology and an eschatology of the vanquished. All that is left now is for Jesus to return and “gather His little flock” that are trembling at the thought of “the great tribulation” and “rise of the Anti-Christ.” One recent tabloid’s headlines read, “The Anti-Christ is alive today!” Tim LaHay could have written that caption. Are these people reading the same Bible I am?
“Arise!,” heralded the prophet Isaiah, “shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will rise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light and the kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around you and see…”
Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” R.J. Rushdoony writes, “Jesus Christ, as the Word incarnate, reveals what men are to be in Him. He is the light of the world; apart from him we walk in darkness. Evil men, however, hate the light and love darkness. Light and life are as closely connected as death and darkness. John … says that the world of darkness, fallen men, could neither understand nor seize and take possession of Him. By His resurrection, Christ destroyed the power of sin and death: they could not take possession of Him. He who created all things came to restore and reconstruct all things; the power of darkness sought to prevent this and failed. The world of darkness hates the light and seeks vainly to put it out, but the light is now shining because it cannot be put out.”
This culture of darkness and death in which we find ourselves, hates Christendom and her Savior. They love death. Fallen men, who refuse to come to the light and be saved, will do all in their power to put and end to the gospel and all that live by it. They hate God. (Psalm 14)
The darkness neither comprehends nor understands the light according to the Apostle John. Yet we spend our time and energy hoping, praying and trying to get dead men, fallen men, men engulfed in the world and culture of death and darkness to understand the virtues, principles and culture which spring from the light of the gospel. They can’t. And we shouldn’t try to make them.
Our task, indeed our calling (Matt. 28:19-20), is not to seek a place at the table where dead men discuss the affairs of death and darkness. Ours is to preach the power of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the bold proclamation of the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior. Ours is to shine the light, on the culture of death and dying and offer to those sitting in darkness light and life and bring reformation to our land. Those who love darkness will not come to the light, “because their deeds are evil.” But “he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” proclaimed the incarnate Son of God to His disciples. (John 8:12) When we speak of culture, civilization or social order we must believe, as the saints of old did, that God’s Holy Word addresses every area of “life and living.” It is not a place at their table of death we must seek, but bring them who wish to live to our table, Christ’s Table, to the Supper of the Lamb. He has prepared a feast, and often we settle for moldy crumbs. He has bid us “Come, for all is now ready.” But some go buy cows. God will have His people. “Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Do not waist time wrestling in the darkness, work in the light as He is in the light.
So what is the light? The sun shines on the just and unjust equally. So we are not talking of the sunlight, but the light of God’s holy word. St Augustine said, “Crede, ut intelligas” “Believe in order that you may understand.” Understanding to the Bishop of Hippo meant believing God and taking Him at His word. God’s word alone is the light of life. When one believes, his darkened mind is regenerated and enlightened, and to the degree one reads and studies the Scriptures, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” the more he understands the world and creation around him. But more importantly, we must settle in our own hearts and minds that God’s word, and not our own thoughts and opinions or those of others, is the truth. Truth, right and wrong, good and evil, justice and mercy are not what we say they are but what God’s word declares them to be. They are divine constructs and therefore understanding comes from believing His Word and adhering to it.
When we Believe Christ alone is the ruler of the nations then we have understanding. Knowing that His word to mankind is absolute and His reign as King of Kings and Lord of lords is our law and standard is understanding. Obedience to God’s Commandments, judgments and statutes is understanding. Being doers of the Word is understanding. Feeding the poor and helping the homeless is understanding. Replacing our humanistic grasp on law and justice with that taught in God’s “law of liberty” is understanding. Ridding the Lord’s free peoples from unjust taxation, unsound economic policies and unlawful regulations, which choke civil and religious liberty and freedom is understanding. Adhering to the biblical “rule of law” is understanding. Realizing tyranny is an action taken by men to replace freedom under God with the humanistic government is understanding
Understanding is not what we think, nor is our personal opinion. To truly understand is to believe God and taking Him at His word, for only “knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”