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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:the Light of life has come into the world
Text:John 1:9 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:The Incarnation
 
Preached:2014-12-14
Added:2015-04-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

2010 Book of Praise

Bible Translation: NKJV

Hymn 12:1,2,3

Nicene Creed (or 10 Commandments)

Psalm 43:3

Psalm 67:1,2,3 (collection)

Hymn 19:1,3,4

Hymn 12:4,5

 

Read:  John 1:1-18

Text:  John 1:9

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the days when ships set sail under the power of the wind, the British coast was notoriously dangerous. According to the Shipwreck Index of Great Britain, throughout the years more than 30,000 ships have been destroyed along England’s coast.  In some ways it is no surprise that ships ran aground or sank with such tragic frequency.  For many years there were no accurate charts to navigate by and rocks, reefs and moving sandbanks lay in wait for unsuspecting vessels.  Violent storms regularly battered England’s shores and pea-soup fogs were the stuff of legend. 

But legend also has it that not all of these ships sank due to natural causes or human error on the part of the ship’s crew.  Persistent rumors have circulated for centuries that some of these ships were lured to their doom by evil “wreckers”, local men who stood to gain much valuable cargo when a ship broke up and her goods were washed to the shore.  Stories abound of lighthouses being blacked out and then false lights being shone out to sea to confuse ships’ captains who then drove their ships into the rocks where the wreckers were waiting to plunder the ship’s cargo and at times even kill the survivors.  Whether or not these wreckers actually did this remains a matter of debate but these stories demonstrate the danger of following the wrong signals, the wrong light, and then of not seeing the danger until it is too late. 

And that is something to think about for it is not only ships that can be wrecked in that fashion: in a sense, so can people. In 1 Timothy 1:18,19 the apostle Paul warned Timothy saying,

“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.”

No, not a physical shipwreck, but their lives ended in disaster.  And that is something that can happen so quickly when we don’t go the right way, when we don’t follow the true Light.

It is, therefore, of greatest importance that we do live our lives in the right manner, that we do follow the true Light.  But what is that light?  How do we know which way to live our lives, and how do we know where we are heading?

There are many people today who say that we are not heading anywhere in particular, that there is no true light to live by, that there is no such thing as objective truth, that there is no greater reason for life than the reason you create for yourself. 

But is that the way how you should live your life? No captain in his right mind is happy to blindly sail his ship in stormy seas unsure of the lights that are shining his way, unsure of where and when he might suddenly run aground on the rocks.  And in the same manner we also are not truly happy, do not have real peace when we do not know who we really are, where we have come from or where we are going.  We need to know!  We need the Light.  We need the true Light, the Light we can be sure of, the Light that guides us home.  And the good news that I may preach to you today concerning that Light is that it has come!  John 1:9 says,

“That was the true Light which, coming into the world, gives light to every man.”

And that is the Light about which I wish to preach to you this afternoon.  I preach to you the gospel under the following heading:

The Light of life has come into the world.

  1. The Light revealed.
  2. The Light received.

1. The Light revealed.

What is it about light that makes it so attractive?  What is it about light that draws us in, that pulls us to itself?  Why do so many people, young and old, love Christmas lights so much?  What is it about the way that they twinkle and dazzle that draws us to them?

There was a time when there was no light, when the world was dark, when all was black.  In the Bible, in Genesis 1:1,2 it says,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep.”

Darkness.  Thick darkness.  A darkness that had no light.  A darkness that was complete.

But then God spoke.  And the first words He said were these:

“Let there be light.”

And there was light.  And the light was good.

It was a physical light that was created, a light by which one can see.  But in the Bible light is not only something physical.  Light also describes a reality that is spiritual.  The Bible teaches us that God is light and that in Him there is no darkness at all.  That’s what it says in 1 John 1:5

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

Further, James 1:17 calls God “the Father of lights” and 1 Timothy 6:16 says that He “dwells in unapproachable light.” 

The Old Testament also describes God as light and the giver of light.  In the Psalms, Psalm 104:1,2 says concerning the LORD,

“O LORD my God, You are very great: you are clothed with honor and majesty, who cover Yourself with light as with a garment.”

And Psalm 27:1,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

And Psalm 36:9,

“For with You [that is God] is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

To walk in the light, therefore, is to walk in the light of God.  And the LORD revealed this light to His people, He showed them the way that they should go.  Psalm 119:105,

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my Path.”

The LORD gave His Word, He revealed His truth to His people.  And that was the light in which they were to walk.

But just as there is a spiritual light, so there is also a spiritual form of darkness.  A darkness that goes beyond the darkness of the night.  A darkness that you can feel.  A darkness that is caused by being separated from the light of the presence of God.  And that darkness is evil.

Although they were created by the God of light, created to live before the face of God in the Light, Adam and Eve did not continue to so.  Rather, Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  By eating the fruit of that tree Adam and Eve did the very thing that God had forbidden them to do.  And so through their willful disobedience, Adam and Eve could no longer live in the Light, that is, they could no longer live with God as they did before.  They were driven out of the garden of Eden, away from the special presence of God.  And then separated from God, separated from the light of His presence, they ended up in darkness.  Thick darkness.  The darkness of sin.  The darkness of hell.

And that is horrible.  That is terrible.  When God made us to live in the Light.  He created us in His image, that is good, righteous and holy.  He created us not only to live in the light but also to reflect that light.  But separated from that light, groping in the dark, in and of ourselves we can no longer find that light, we can no longer see it.  What I mean is, unless He reveals Himself to us, we do not know who God is, we do not know what “good” is and we can not truly do it.  Separated from that light which is God, we’ve lost our moorings and we’re headed for shipwreck.

But the message of the Bible, the message of the Gospel is that God did not want to leave you, His people, in that darkness.  Because of His gracious favor towards us He had a plan to call us out of that darkness and into His marvelous light.  And therefore He never took away the light of His presence away all together.  From the very beginning, when Adam and Eve were first driven from the Garden of Eden, the light was shining in the darkness.

The light was shining in the darkness, it shone all the way through the time of the Old Testament, all the way through until the coming of the Son of God, the birth of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the ages, God saw to it that the light, His light, would always be there, would always draw His people to Himself, would always point to the true Light that one day would come.

And now, John chapter 1 tells us, that Light has come!  And that Light, the true Light which has come into the world is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  In John 8:12 the Lord Jesus spoke to the people who had come to hear Him and He said,

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

And John 12:44-46,

“Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.  And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”

But who is this Jesus?  And how can He make such a claim, that He is the light of the world?  And how can He insist that those who had seen Him had seen the Father who has sent Him?

These are very important questions to ask and the most important questions to have answers to when we celebrate Christmas.  The Christmas season is a big event on many peoples’ calendars.  It is a time of peace and goodwill, a time for family and a time for friendship.  Christmas is the time to exchange gifts and the time for eating and drinking.  And for many it is also a time for singing, also a time to remember the “reason for the season”, the birth of baby Jesus.

But do you know who this Jesus is?  Do you know where He came from?  And do you know what He came to do?  Do you know what it means to believe in Him, and do you know what it means to have life in His name?  Ultimately that is what matters, ultimately those are the questions you need answers to.  And it was in order answer these questions that John wrote his gospel in the way that he did. 

The gospel according to John starts quite differently to Matthew, Mark or Luke.  It does not begin with Jesus’ ministry right away, nor does it begin by telling us about the angel coming to Mary, nor about the virgin birth, nor about Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, nor about baby Jesus being born in a stable and laid in a manger, nor about the shepherds or the wise men who came at the time of His birth.  The gospel according to John does not begin with these things not because these things are untrue (they are true and they did happen), nor because they are unimportant (they are important) but because John wrote his gospel with a very clear purpose in mind.  What John wants you to know from the very beginning of his gospel is Who this Jesus is and how you are to receive Him. 

And so John 1 begins by saying,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

It was this Word, verse 14 tells us, that became flesh.  This Word, therefore, is the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is called the Word because He is the One who both spoke and who was spoken about throughout the ages.  And concerning this Jesus verse 1 says He was both with God and He Himself was – and remains – God.  On the one hand He is distinguished from God and on the other hand He is identified with God.  This then is an important Bible verse that teaches us the truth of the Trinity, that there is One God and that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God.  And not only that, but this has been the case from eternity.  Verse 2,

“He was in the beginning with God.”

And then verse 3 points out,

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

We can find all of these truths back in the Nicene Creed the confession of the church that we confessed earlier in this church service.  Concerning the Lord Jesus the Nicene Creed confesses,

“And [we believe in] one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father; through whom all things were made.”

And this is the One who has come into the world.  This is Christ, Mary’s boy child, the one born in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lain in a manger.  And He has come into this world, He took our flesh upon Himself not just to show us the light, but He came as the Light, the true Light so that in Him we might have life.

But then comes the question.  What then will we do with this Jesus who was born? What will we do with the Light that has come into the world?

2. The Light Received.

The good news about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is that He did not simply come for Israel, nor for the people living at that time, but He came for us.  He came for every man, that is, He came for the world.  This had already been promised throughout the Old Testament, in Isaiah 49:6 for example where the LORD says concerning the Christ,

“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles (that’s us, non-Jews!), that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

And John 3:216,17 –

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

And so the coming of Christ, the coming of the True Light into the world calls you to do something.  This calls for your response, calls for your answer.  What will you do with this Jesus? 

Not everybody who knows about Jesus receives Him.  Not everybody is pleased that He came into the world.  Not everybody is happy to come and live in the Light.  John 1:10,11 –

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

And why not?  John 3:19,20 gives the answer.

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

But what about you?  What will you do with this Jesus?  How will you receive Him?  “The light shines in the darkness” John 1:5 says, but the world does not comprehend it.  The world, that is those who reject the Light and do not receive the Lord Jesus as the Son of God and Saviour of the world, the world does not receive Him.  Oh the world is happy to have the little Lord Jesus “away in a manger, no crib for his bed.”  The world is happy to have a Jesus for as long as He has no real claim to their lives.  But the world as the true Light which has come into the world.

But what about you?  Do you receive Him?

“How do I know?”  you might ask.  How do I know if I truly have received Him as the Light of life?  Well if you are living in the Light that is Christ, then you will have seen the light.  Then everything will be changed.  You will see things like you did not see them before.  For as the Light of life, the Light that is Christ, shines in your heart then you will see your heart – your old heart, that heart of stone – as it really is.  And then seeing that you would well understand Isaiah when he exclaimed in Isaiah 6, upon seeing the glory of the LORD, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips!”  And you would be saying your Amen along with Peter who said in Luke 5:8, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”  And you would understand why Paul, that seemingly good and upright man, would write in 1 Timothy 1:15,

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

But then you would also confess the truth of John 1:12,13 –

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

And then you will live in the Light.  Then you will hate your sin more and more and look to Jesus, the One who came to take away that sin.  Then you will be freed from your sin.  Then you will discover that your heart has been changed into a heart of flesh.  And then you will walk in the Light of life.

And then your life will have meaning.  And then you will have a future.  Yes, you will have a grand future to look forward to.  For then you will never be cast into the outer darkness but in Christ you will be received into the bosom of God the Father, living before His face, living in the light of His glory. 

And then one day the darkness will be chased away all together.  One day there will be nothing but light.  Concerning the New Jerusalem  Revelation 21:23-24 says,

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb [that is Christ!] is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light.”

Brothers and sisters, will you be there with me to walk in that light?

Amen. 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2014, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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