Walking in the Light | God is Light | Study Series | Part 2 of 8

Scripture: 1 John 1:5

There are two important aspects of this verse: (a) the message, and (b) God is light. Let us begin with the words per se. The Greek root for the word message in Strong’s concordance is epaggelia[1]; which is further rooted in another Greek word epaggellomai[2]. To simply put, the meaning of the message in this verse can be reduced to: (1) an announcement of a promise, (2) that elicits an act, (3) that the promise finesses the skill to act upon. Now let us put this into the perspective of the scripture.

In the preceding verses (1 John 1:1-4) we find, the Apostle John revisiting the gospel. The message here is the same that the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:8), and others vehemently pressed believers to believe, obey, and guard it as true doctrine.[3] And John here, keeping true to his words re-asserts that Christ is indeed – YHWH. And just as in his account of the Gospel, he re-emphasis that Christ is the LOGOS – the sole principle of life (John 1:1). Christ is He, God himself, incarnated as man to absolve our sins and unite us to the Father. And the promise is this: He is true. And in Him is life.

[Note: We will discuss the act and the skill aspect of the message in the succeeding verses.]

Proceeding to the second aspect of this verse – God is light, the word light, i.e. phōs[4] is used here in both literal and metaphorical sense. Here, phōs is ascribed to God as a noun – He is the light. He is not a light, or of light, but simply, God is light. God is spoken here in the most literal sense, as to say, the apple is red. Metaphorically, phōs here means, the truth; again – not a truth, or of truth – but, the truth. Meaning, God is light means God is truth. This is in perfect alignment with all the earlier revelation of YHWH’s identity in the Bible. And this is also, the exact introduction of Christ that John himself gave in his account of the Gospel.

God is truth means, there is no duality in Him. God is not like yin and yang. Meaning, YHWH is pure. There is no blemish, or error, or any kind of falsehood in Him. It also means, He is not the origin of sin and suffering. It further means, He is Holy. Therefore, what YHWH has revealed about Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the scripture is true. What YWHW says about sin and salvation is true. The fact that John emphasizes God is light is to remind us that the message is true, and it should be taken without any further speculation. Because YHWH does not lie, because He is the truth.

As mentioned in the introduction, the audience of this epistle had swayed into the realm of speculation, and false doctrine. They had departed from believing the gospel as a spiritual fact. Religion was dominated by speculations influenced by culture, education, society, social quo, struggle for dominance-leadership, et cetera. This error in religion is not unique to John’s audience, it is one quite common to believers. We are often led into a speculative understanding of God, and His decrees. Because this is the same pattern Satan has been deceiving us with from the very beginning. To Eve, he asked, did God really tell you you’ll die if you eat the fruit, subtly raising speculation in God’s commandments. (Gen 3:1) To Jesus himself, he asked, won’t God send His angels to save you if you were to throw yourself off the height. (Mt 4:6) In short, it is known throughout the scripture that Satan has a way of leading people to speculate on God by playing on their will.

John hereby reminds his readers that God is light, and in Him is no darkness. He focuses on light as to both literally and metaphorically, to remind us that God is Holy and there is no duality in Him. He is who He says He is. There is no darkness in Him, no sin and evil. He does not speak in the language of secret or hidden meanings. Therefore, there is no room for speculation in Him or about Him or in His Word. God leaves nothing to the realm of human intelligence. He has revealed everything. The revelation of His identity is the True Doctrine. Therefore, those who are in Him know Him for who He is – they take the message of His Gospel as it is – the exact way it is revealed in the scripture. And so, those who are in Him believe Him for who He is; and they do not stumble in the darkness of speculation or confusion. They grow in purity and truth, because the God who leads them is able, because the God who leads them is YHWH who Himself is Holy and true; He is the God that John here repeatedly calls to remind us – God is light.  


Series Index: (1) Introduction


Further Reading: Below is a brief comparison of light vs darkness as seen in the scripture.

LIGHT VS. DARKNESS[5]

In many places in Scripture, the realm of God and the realm of evil are contrasted by the differences between light and darkness:

DarknessLightReference
Despairing conditionHopeful conditionIsaiah 9:2  
Inability to recognize the lightAbility to enlighten the worldJohn 1:4-5, 9
The Power of SatanThe Power of GodActs 26:18
Evil DeedsGood DeedsRomans 13:12-14
Natural Heart ConditionCondition of a Born – Again Heart2 Cor 4:6
Fruitless worksSource of all that is goodEph 5:8-11
Spiritual forces of evilArmour of GodEph 6:12-13
Powerful Captivity, enslaved to sin, sinful livingFree from the power of sin, redeemed, forgivenCol 1:12-14
Inability to exist in God’s presenceFellowship with God1 John 1:5, 7
Transient naturePermanent nature1 John 2:8-11

References:

[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1860

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1861

[3] https://www.biblestudytools.com/nirv/passage/?q=1-timothy+6;+2-timothy+1;+2-timothy+2;+2-timothy+3;+2-timothy+4;+titus+1;+titus+2;+titus+3;+philemon+1;+hebrews+1;+hebrews+2;+hebrews+3;+hebrews+4

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5457

[5] Bruce B. Barton, Philip W. Comfort, Linda Chafee Taylor, David R. Veerman, Len Woods, “1 John 1:1-2:11” in Life Application Bible Commentary: 1, 2 & 3 John (USA, Tyndale Publications, 1998), page 20


Feature Image: The Transfiguration of Christ (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai) Copyright: Public Domain

Mourning into Joy | Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 4 of 10

As the days settled in Jerusalem, Jesus won’t stop talking about morbid days ahead. What erratic lunacy it must have been, for the disciples to witness their messiah brooding over his death. These few days was hard for Christ, but it must have been utterly confusing for the disciples. Here is the messiah, who they believed would grant them great health, wealth and happiness – one who was going to overthrow the Roman rule. And yet they kept hearing Him say, He was going to be killed by His own people?! When Peter rebuked Christ, he confirmed these sentiments. But Christ had a different objective. Jesus did not come to satisfy our shortsighted, glory-hungry whims and fancies. He came to grant us salvation. But Jesus knew, the kind of God they imagined Him to be – one that takes their side, grants them comfort, and overthrows their enemies. And therefore, He asked: Who do we say this Jesus is?

There are three important points to be noted here. First, joy could only come through mourning this sinful life. Because eternal life could only come through the Cross. Second, we are not to seek comfort in this world – which the scriptures rightfully deemed, the Kingdom of the Evil one. (1 Jn 5:19) And lastly, we are to forgive one another. (Mark 11:25) Marshal Segal writes,

“Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2–4), not comfort… If we come to the crucified one expecting him to make life easier and more comfortable, we’re not listening to him. Jesus says, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34).” (Pg. 38-39)

The mark of a true disciple is suffering. A world that rejects Christ, cannot accept His followers. (John 15:19) But our confidence lies in that fact that God forgave us and called us His own. Therefore, as forgiven people, we ought to forgive.

For Jesus, it was important that the disciples know that a life of suffering awaited them, and they were not to hold any grudges nor hatred against anyone. Because the failure to do so posed a greater problem. But ultimately, none of this could come through until and unless they could do away with their false imagination of who Christ was. Because for Jesus, His desire for His followers were not for them to become rich, comfortable, and enjoy great authority in the world. Christ desired His people to be driven by a self-sacrificial love. Because love alone was/is the category of His Kingdom – not riches, not conquest, not political power – none of that which resembles this fallen world. Therefore, for Jesus this question was really important. It was important that they know Him for who He really is – before He could lay down His life. So that they could follow Him to the kingdom of eternal life, He was preparing for them.

Dear readers, I wonder if Christ was to ask us – who do we say this Jesus is? Would we have the correct answer? Or will He find us riddled by the god of our own imagination? Will He find us desiring a god that grants us great health, and takes our side against people who treat us unfavorably?! There is only one thing I can say: life is full of suffering as it is, why not suffer for good. To God be the Glory.


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love

Mourning into Joy | Holy Monday: Tough Love | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 3 of 10

Love is not always meek. My mother loves me a lot. I know this, not only because she is good to me. But because she scolds me, and corrects me when I need correcting. Christ demonstrated this bolder side of love, post His meek entrance into Jerusalem. He cursed a healthy-looking fig tree. And raged through the various vendors at the temple. Because the Israelites had lost the plot. They were more concern with being religious superficially, than knowing God authentically. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Sam 15:22) If the Israelites really cared, they would have known what their patriarch David himself wrote: “you do not desire a sacrifice (oh! LORD), or I would offer one”. (Ps 51:16) But the whole pretext of littering the temple with various vendors was to facilitate the ease of offering sacrifices; as Israelites came from various different places – travelling long distances. From that perspective, what a reasonably noble thing those vendors were doing. But that’s not what YHWH desires. But beyond that, the superficial religiosity was keeping foreigners away from God. Jonathan Parnell wrote:

The great sadness of this scene wasn’t so much the rows of product and price-gouging, but that all this left no room for the Gentiles and outcasts to come to God.” (Pg. 27)

This scene was sad, because according to Isaiah’s vision foreigners and outcasts were to gather with His people. (Isa 56:4-8) Do you understand now, why Christ did, what He did? He cleansed the temple – because He loved us. He corrected the Israelites because He loved them; and most importantly, He loved us – foreigners and outcast, who without Christ’s intervention would have remained outside of His covenant.

So – dear reader, do you understand, Christ’s bold move wasn’t a reaction against an unexpected sight – seeing corrupt money lenders in the temple. No. He is sovereign, and omniscient. He knew it already.

This was a lesson He wanted His disciples to learn, and for us to know. It is not a bloated religiosity that He wants. A fig tree no matter how healthy, without good fruits, is only destined for condemnation. What Christ wants – what YHWH wants is our hearts. And no one, absolutely no one can bear good fruits, until He is planted in the one who says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5, ESV)

So dear readers, this is why Christ cleansed the temple. So that we could be gathered into Him; so that we could abide in Him, and bear good fruits. Let us take comfort in knowing that this same Christ, is willing to clean our hearts and make us a temple that glorifies His name. Because nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love, that is manifested through Christ for us. (Rom 8:38-39) To God be the Glory.   


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy