Thursday, October 28, 2004

Identifying the light

I contemplated posting the whole eighth chapter of Carl Ketcherside's The Twisted Scriptures, but that would get a little cumbersome in this format.

Instead, I'll just post a clip here and point you to the PDF of the entire book where you can scroll down to the eighth chapter to read for yourself.

I realize Ketcherside's name will turn some readers off, but bear with me. I started reading the book determined that he was wrong and that I was going to prove to myself why. Instead, when I honestly re-examined the scriptures, I found amazingly simple truths that should have hit me over the head years ago. Maybe they'll hit you over the head, too! If not, drop me a line, I'd love to chat about it.


    Identifying the Light

    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

    What is the light? In this context the light is what God is, for God is light. The word "light" is used as a symbol for various qualities or things in the inspired scriptures. Sometimes it is used for divine revelation, and the unrevealed, the mysterious, is darkness. Sometimes it is used for reverence of the living God, and idolatry is darkness. More frequently it is used for knowledge, and ignorance is darkness. Only by studying the frame of reference in which the term is employed can one be certain of its meaning.

    In this connection, we can eliminate from consideration anything which it is not possible for man to possess in the same degree as God, that is, in an absolute or perfect degree. "God is light and in him is no darkness at all . . . If we walk in the light as he is in the light." This immediately excludes knowledge of God's will from consideration. It is obvious that none of us can have the same degree of mental perception as God. The finite mind cannot embrace the scope of the infinite. To walk in the light cannot mean either to perfectly understand God's will or to perfectly do it. This would require something we do not have in the flesh.

    Fortunately, we can determine from this brief epistle what light is, as John uses the word. Light is love. It is not, however, affection, sentiment or passion. The love of which John speaks is agape, the love which God had for us which prompted him to send Jesus to die for us in our unworthiness. It is that active and energetic good will which stops at nothing to achieve the good of the beloved object. It must be expressed. It can never be passive. It is apprehended in its demonstration which is always outreaching and outgoing. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us" (3:16). It is this in which we must walk. This is the light and Jesus was light embodied.

    Light is love and since the opposite of light is darkness, the darkness must be hate. Once this is grasped every sentence in the epistle falls into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and a beautiful picture results. Let us proceed with the proof of our assertion. To abide in the light is to love the brethren. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him" (2:10). If this is correct, hatred for the brethren will be darkness. "He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now" (2:9). This last is the equivalent of saying, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie" (1:6). "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar" (4:20).

    It may be urged that the completing phrase of verse 6 is "do not the truth." This is correct for if we walk in darkness "we lie and do not the truth." But it is by brotherly love that we know we are of the truth. "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him" (3:19). To the Greeks, truth was the reality which was at the basis of all appearance. It was the ideal which was behind every semblance. It was the genuine. John is saying that those who are "in the truth" are obligated to walk according to it, and the reality behind God's whole purpose is love. If we say that we share in the divine nature (have fellowship with God), and walk in darkness (hate our brethren), we lie and do not the truth (miss the reality underlying the whole Christian structure).

    Personification of Love

    On what premise can we conclude that John introduces the theme of love in conjunction with his affirmation that the Word of life was manifested in a visible person? The answer is simply that it was the love of God which made eternal life manifest unto us. Because he loved us thus, we ought also to love one another. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (4:9). "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (3:16). "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (4:11).

    The Son of God was God manifest in the flesh, reconciling the world unto himself. But that which was manifested was the Word of life which was with God in the beginning, and which was also God. But that light which was manifested was eternal life (1:2). It was this Word of life personalized which constituted the basis of the apostolic message. "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you." Eternal life is not extension of time but expression of love! Read the following carefully. "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light" (1:5). "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" (3:11). "This is the message God is light." "This is the message . . . that we should love." There are not two messages. There is simply the message. It defines the nature of God and outlines the expression of that nature in those who are his sons.

    And if it be true that light is love, it must follow that, if God is light, God is love. On this the record is positive. "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (4:16). "He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love" (4:8). To the serious student nothing else should be necessary to identify the light. When a writer says, "God is light," and in the very same letter twice explains what he means by saying, "God is love," it should require little intellectual ability to determine that in the context of that writer, light is love.