Categories
Theology

Let Light Shine!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)

1. God has given light.
2. Light to see what?
3. Knowledge.
4. What kind of knowledge?
5. Knowledge that reveals God’s glory.
6. Where is that glory seen most fully?
7. In the face of Jesus Christ.

Categories
Theology

God Gives Sight to the Physical and Spiritual Eyes

A physically blind person is helpless. To him, the Grand Canyon is not something to be gazed at with jaw-dropping awe so that he may glory in God’s power and creation. Instead, the Grand Canyon is simply a death trap, because he can’t see the rim that, if over-stepped, would cause him to tumble down over a mile of sharp rocks and cliffs.

A spiritually blind person is helpless as well. They can’t see the person and work of Jesus Christ and that he is the supreme treasure of the universe. They can’t see God’s glory in physical creation, in his word, or in anything else. To him, everything is a death trap because without Christ, everything he does contributes to his condemnation.

The good news of the gospel is that God heals both kinds of blindness, but he heals the physical eyes as a way of showing that he alone has power over the spiritual eyes.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul talks about this spiritual blindness. He says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” People who are not saved cannot see the glory of God. They can’t see Jesus. Their spiritual eyes have a thick film over them that causes all things spiritual to seem nonexistent.

In John 9:1-41, there is a story about Jesus healing a blind man. When they first meet, the disciples ask Jesus why this man was born blind. They think it is a particular sin of his own or his parents that caused it. Jesus tells them, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). Jesus heals the man, and when this happens, the Pharisees are outraged. The blind man tells the Pharisees that Jesus healed him and the Pharisees ask, “Where is he! How did he do it?” They repeat these questions and the man simply keeps saying, “I don’t know how…he just did it. All I know is that I was blind, but now I see.” The Pharisees are so ticked off at this point that they tell this man to leave the temple. Jesus finds the man again and asks to him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man replies, “Who is he?” Jesus says, “It’s me, the one who is talking to you.” The man believed and worshiped Jesus. Then Jesus makes a shocking statement in verse 39. “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Jesus came to make blind people see. He came so that religious jokers, like the Pharisees, who think they see really become more blind. Only God can restore sight to physical eyes. That is from his power alone. Why would it be any different for the spiritual eyes? Certainly when Jesus said, “I came into this world, that those who do not see may see,” he meant, “I came to make people see light of the glory of myself.” Notice Jesus didn’t help the blind man see. He made him see. Jesus doesn’t help us see himself with our hearts. He makes us see himself with our hearts.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul makes this clear for us. He writes, “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God created light at the beginning of the world so that we might be able to see his glory in creation. So we know that God has power over creation and the physical body-after all, he said in Exodus 4:11, “Who makes man mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” So why would it be any different spiritually?

Blind people cannot make themselves see. They need a cornea-transplant. They need a new set of eyes. Our spiritual eyes don’t work unless God comes rushing in with his marvelous light and so graciously orchestrates a great surgery on the eyes of our hearts so that the dark film is removed and the face of Jesus is made clear.

Praise God that he does this at all, because it would be completely fair of him to never make anyone see. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Categories
Life

I Have Nothing, Yet I Posses More Than I Could Ever Imagine

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

– 2 Corinthians 6:8b-10

As I was reading 1 Peter 1:5-7 this morning, Peter said, “In this [the living hope we have], you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in prise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  The Christians to whom Peter was writing were joyful, yet sorrowful.  They were exceedingly glad that God has elected them, caused them to be born again to a living hope and eternal inheritance, and that they are being guarded by God’s power.  Still, they were sorrowful for going through trials and tribulations.

With this dichotomy from 1 Peter on my mind, I flipped over to 2 Corinthians 6 to read about how Paul described himself and the apostles.  Two of the clauses jumped off the page: 1) “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” and 2) “as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” 

The first one is for the obvious reason that it related to 1 Peter.  Is there ever true, undefiled rejoicing in this world without some sort of pain and sorrow attached?  Of course not.  We need to live on the fine line of knowing how to rejoice amidst pain and suffering.

The second for reasons that have become so much more evident to me over the past nine months.  I work for Campus Crusade in Nebraska.  I’ll be in Africa this summer for a month and then again for a year starting in January.  I have to raise financial support.  I don’t make much money.  People in my own family think that I am wasting my life and time with what I’m doing.  Others on the outside hear “ministry” and they think that I’m just some religious nut who will never be able to mortgage a home because I make peanuts for a living.  In the world’s eyes, I have nothing.  I buy clothes from Target and Wal-Mart.  Eating out means going to Subway.  Truly, I have nothing — in one sense.  But in an altogether different sense, I have never been richer in my entire life.  I have seen people go from death to life, darkness to light, and from a purposeless life to a living hope.  I have developed deep, meaningful relationships that will continue throughout my life.  I have grown with the Lord in mighty ways so that I now truly taste and see that he is good.  I might not have a large bank account in this world, but my savings account in heaven is no doubt growing by the day. 

God deserves all glory and praise and honor.  How blessed is it that he invites us undeserving people to be a part of what he is doing in the world.  For those in the economy of God, though we appear as if we have nothing, we are really more wealthy than could ever be imagined.

Categories
Theology

Imputed Righteousness to the Unworthy

To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.

– W.R. Newell

Sometimes we forget that God’s love is unconditional and grounded in who Christ is, not what we’ve done.  It’s easy to accept love from people when we know we deserve it.  But with a holy God, we are never deserving.  For God to love us even in our darkest, most grotesque hour–because of his Son–is what makes following Jesus more utterly satisfying than anything else in this world. 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

– 2 Corinthians 5:21