“Then God said, ‘Let there be light and there was Light’” (Gen. 1:3), and Mary conceived and bare a son and “called his name Jesus” (Mt. 1:25). Jesus, the light of the world, came into a darkened world, filled with sin, corruption, and misery.
“And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness [does] not comprehend it” (Jn. 1:5).
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, he “took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said ‘… [M]y eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel’” (Lk. 2:25–32, emphasis added). Jesus is that light, but the world and all its peoples sit in great darkness. Have we forgotten this?
“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 arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see” (Is. 60:1-4).
Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (Jn. 12:46). R. J. Rushdoony wrote:
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.1
This culture of darkness and death in which we find ourselves hates Christendom and her Savior and loves death. Fallen men, who refuse to come to the light and be saved, will do all in their power to put an end to the gospel and all who live by it. They hate God (Ps. 14).
People of the Light
But what about those of us who love God, who are of the light? What are we to do?
Our task, indeed our calling (Mt. 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 to offer to those sitting in darkness light and life and to bring reformation to our land. Those who love darkness will not come to the light “because their deeds [are] evil” (Jn. 3:19). But “he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life,” proclaimed the incarnate Son of God to His disciples (Jn. 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 (2 Pet. 1:3). It is not a place at their table of death we must seek, but we must bring to our table — to Christ’s Table, to the Supper of the Lamb — those who wish to live. He has prepared a feast, and often we settle for moldy crumbs. He has bid us “Come, for all things are now ready” (Lk. 14:15–24). God will have His people. “Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Is. 60:3). Do not waste time wrestling in the darkness; work in the light as He is in the light.
The Light of Life
So what is the light? The sun shines on the just and unjust equally. 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. The more one reads and studies the Scriptures, “rightly dividing the word of truth,” the more he understands the world and creation around him. 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 and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil, justice and mercy, are not what we say; they are 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.
Understanding is not what we think, nor is it our personal opinion. To truly understand is to believe God and take Him at His Word, for “knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”
“Arise, shine; For your light has come!” (Is. 60:1). For “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 Jn. 2:8, emphasis added). Now that is understanding!
- Chris Hoops
Chris Hoops has been a Bible school instructor, Pastor, teacher and church planter over his more than 25 years of ministry. Currently he is director of the newly formed Chalcedon Institute (one of the hosts of this Symposium honoring the late Dr. R.J. Rushdoony), writing bibliographies and doing research in applied theonomics and Christian Reconstruction and Reformation dogmatics.