John

Light

golden-bible

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

-John 1:5

The gentle breeze blowing across Texas brought the summer night air to the perfect temperature, with the low summer humidity making the evening an absolute pleasure. I was on the 8th hole of the miniature golf course at FunSphere in Arlington, Tex. On the other side of Interstate 30, the lights of the newly opened “Ballpark in Arlington” were ablaze, illuminating a packed stadium as the Texas Rangers hosted the New York Yankees.

I was 16 at the time, enjoying an overnight trip with my church youth group, and we were having a blast. The evening included a trip to an all-u-can-eat pizza buffet, bowling, and the Funsphere, which was an amusement park including go-carts, laser tag, and a video arcade. Six Flags later bought it, and thus it no longer exists.

At that time in my life, attending a professional sporting event was a dream, and only a dream. The tickets, travel and parking were too much of a logistical challenge for my rural East Texas family. And despite the great time I was having, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like sitting along one of the baselines at the Ballpark, watching Pudge Rodriguez or Jose Canseco take it to the Yanks.

Beneath those lights were life, excitement, adventure and hope. Beneath those lights was the place to be.

In almost every context, the light is the place to be, whether you dream of being a professional athlete beneath the lights of a big-league stadium, or a performer beneath the Broadway lights. The light is hope. The light is prosperity. The light is victory.

Scripture refers to Jesus Christ as the Light of the world, and His light is far more than the excitement of a major league game, or the glory of a Broadway production. His light brings real hope.

Isaiah 9:2 says “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” In this scripture, the Light is a source of hope and deliverance. It is redemption and restoration.

The people had walked in the hopeless degradation of Spiritual darkness, having spent their lives in idolatry, rebellion, sin and debauchery. The ensuing consequences destroyed their nation and wrecked their lives. Yet, the Light shined into their darkness.

Despite their sin and wickedness, the Lord loved them, and shone His perfect light to redeem them and bring them hope. When the people of Isaiah’s day heard that the light shined, they heard that their condition wasn’t the end. They heard the message of redemption, and had hope. The coming captivity would be temporary, and God would rescue them.

The Light of Jesus Christ works in our lives as well. When you turn from your sins and trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He gives you hope, a confident expectation of the glory of His eternal Kingdom.

Next, the Light cleanses us. In the physical world, certain UV rays and types of lighting can be used to disinfect. In the Spiritual world, the light of Christ illuminates our works, showing our sin for what it is, and our righteous works for what they are.

Thus, Jesus said in John 3:19-21:

Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

If our sin was the cause of our degradation and hopelessness, obviously we would want to escape that pattern. Sin, like drugs, is highly addictive, rendering the individual incapable of stopping an activity that is killing their soul and body.

What Christ does is highlight the sin in our lives, that our mind toward it changes, and our lives change from the inside out. Then, those changes in our lives are illuminated for all to see, which glorifies our Father in Heaven.

If we wish to escape the hopelessness and degradation of sin, then it follows that we should turn to Christ and allow Him to cleanse us of the sin that destroys us.

The problem, stated by Christ, is that man doesn’t want to do this. He doesn’t want to come to the light to have his deeds reproved, because he enjoys the sin, if not the effects. So, he stays away from the light, so that his sin is not reproved, corrected, and that he doesn’t have to see the sin for what it is. This leads to condemnation.

It’s easy to neglect your physical health if you never count calories, or look in the mirror. It’s easy to neglect your financial health if you never track your expenses. It’s easy to neglect your spiritual health if you never evaluate your life in the Light of Christ by reading the scriptures or attending church. Christ calls this staying in the darkness. In doing so, you can deny the harm that you are doing to yourself, but only until the effects are irreversible, or until you see the Lord on judgment day.

Therefore, we are commanded to come into the Light. Enter the presence of Christ through prayer and Bible study. Attend church. Join a church. Accept the Lord as your Savior if you haven’t already, and allow Him to cleanse you with the light of his word.

Finally, the Light gives us life more abundantly. The scripture tells us that night will never fall in Heaven, and we will live in the perfect light given by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Every description of Heaven is one of paradise. No pain, no sickness, no conflict. Just perfect peace and prosperity. This is the Kingdom we anticipate, and to which we look forward.

We have hope of entering this Kingdom because Christ died for our sins on the cross, then rose again the third day. Just like those beneath the lights of the Ballpark in Arlington, we, too, will enjoy the good life.

John 1:5 tells us that the light shines in darkness, and that the darkness couldn’t comprehend, or overtake it. As certain as flipping on a light switch drives the darkness from a room, the Lord’s final victory, and our glorification, is certain. So continue to trust the Lord, believe in the hope that He brings, and look forward to His Kingdom.

For what it’s worth, I did eventually get to go to a Texas Rangers game. I won tickets in 1996, and watched an afternoon game where the Rangers blew a 5-3 lead to lose to the Twins 9-5. Still, it was a fantastic experience.

–Leland Acker has served as pastor of Life Point Baptist Church since its inception in 2008. Sunday, He will bring a special Christmas message from Isaiah 9. Sunday School begins at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m. Life Point meets at the Early Chamber of Commerce at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early, TX. 

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False Promises of Freedom

Do you realize that, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived under one restriction, and one restriction only?

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17

Adam and Eve were told they could freely eat of every fruit of every tree in the garden, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were forbidden from eating of that tree, because doing so would cause death. Other than that, everything went.

In the history of man, I cannot think of another time when man was more free, let alone as free as Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Yet, in Genesis 3, Satan (in the form of the serpent) somehow convinced Adam and Eve that they were not free. He reasoned that they could never be free as long as they were under God’s authority, and God was intent on continuing His “oppression.”

That’s the message within Satan’s statement to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5.

Adam and Eve were led to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would be freed from God’s authority, free to do whatever they felt. They thought they were about to realize a level of freedom never before seen. They were wrong.

Their eating of the fruit brought sin into the world, and the knowledge of sin. So, instead of being freed from God, Adam and Eve were made slaves to sin, its consequences, and its relentless presence in every aspect of life. Consequently, the entire human race has been subjected to such.

In modern times, the Satanic Temple (which denies the existence of Satan, all the while advancing his message), proclaims that its doctrine would liberate people from the bonds of religion and unjust laws. In reality, they are making the same false promise as Satan made to Adam and Eve. Satan promised a freedom from God, a freedom to do with their bodies as they wished. The Satanic Temple lists that concept as one of its tenets. Yet we know that one cannot live in total freedom without impacting the freedom of others.

Recently, the Satanic Temple protested in favor of abortion, saying that pro-life legislation enslaves women to the oppression of motherhood. While motherhood is definitely a rigorous lifestyle (one of which many women have told me is completely worth it), the fact is that a pregnant woman cannot live free of motherhood without denying another person the most basic right to life. And while the Satanic Temple claims to support scientific reason, the fact is genetically, that “fetus” is a human being.

If a woman decides to defy God’s design for marriage, and live a sexually immoral life, then she can do so without the effect of pregnancy, and thus, motherhood, simply by employing birth control. Even if she is successful at this, she still faces the consequences of STD’s, the emotional damage brought on by promiscuity, and the degradation that often follows. (For what it’s worth, men who live sexually immoral lives face the same consequence).

What is promised as freedom from God’s law, the restraints of religion, or the morays of morality, actually presents a bondage all its own. My point? The promise of total freedom is a false promise that Satan has made since the creation of man. It never materializes, and never will.

Whether it was the prohibition of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, the 10 Commandments in Exodus, or the commandment to love each other in John 15, God’s commandments are given to protect us from destruction, and to help us enjoy the most of what life has to offer.

The prohibition against eating of the tree in the garden was to allow Adam and Eve maximum freedom without the fear or confusion over sin. The 10 Commandments guarded us against the self-destructive lifestyles of covetousness, deceit, theft, adultery, stupidity, and idolatry. The commandment to love each other moves God’s law from a list of do’s and don’ts to a check of your motivation. It all frees us. The question is, will you enjoy the freedom God makes freely available in Christ? Or will you choose the slavery that comes with sin?

Choose wisely, for your choice will last you for eternity.