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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8am Service, 2009-01-18

Text: John 8:12-30

The New Year began less than 3 weeks ago. Many expect this year to be a significant one in history. Economists believe that 2009 may turn out to be the worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Some predict that a total financial meltdown will take place. Others believe that 2009 will be called the 'Year of the Hungry' as food shortages are expected to increase to historic levels. All these forecasts are however only speculations. Only God knows exactly what the year 2009 holds for us.

But there is one event that I think is quite certain to happen this year: The longest solar eclipse of the 21st century. According to astronomical calculations, which are usually accurate, this eclipse of the sun will take place on Wednesday 22nd July. We in Singapore will only experience a partial solar eclipse at about 8 am on that morning. But those who live in certain parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Japan and the islands of the Pacific Ocean will have a spectacular experience up to 6 minutes and 39 seconds of darkness because the light of the sun will be completely blocked by the moon. 

Those who have experienced a total solar eclipse will tell you that even though they know what causes an eclipse, there is an uncanny feeling of horror and fear that grips them as the light goes out. The sky darkens rapidly; the temperature falls suddenly, and the stars and some planets suddenly become visible to the naked eye. Everything becomes mysteriously quiet as even the birds stop singing and the animals become silent and still. Somehow all nature seems to sense that something has gone wrong when the sun disappears and darkness reigns over the earth. 

Then as sunlight reappears and everything returns to normal, a sense of relief and assurance comes to all. Such events remind us to be thankful for the most ordinary things in life - things that we tend to take for granted everyday, even for the light of the sun. But one day the sun itself will stop shining. What then will provide us with light? The last book of the Bible provides the answer to this question: Revelation 21:23 says, 'And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.' 

The Lamb of God that will illuminate the city which is our eternal home is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The light that He gives will never be eclipsed and will never fail. And therefore those who take Jesus Christ as their Light will not walk in darkness. This glorious truth was foretold by the prophet Isaiah over 700 years before His birth. He wrote in Isaiah 9:2 'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.' Isaiah also revealed that the LORD will make Christ a Light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). 

Since Christ came into the world 2,000 years ago, His light has shone brightly in the darkness of the world, bringing countless numbers of souls to salvation. And that Light has shone upon us as well. It has saved us from sin and from eternal death. According to 1 Peter 2:9 you and I have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light. Therefore we should live as children of light (Ephesians 5:8) We are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Please remember this: We must shine forth the Light of Christ to a world that is filled with darkness - the spiritual darkness of sin. And how deep is this darkness of sin today?

The year 2009 began with the gloom of a deepening global recession. And do you know what the underlying cause of this recession is? It is SIN - the sin of greed and covetousness. God's Word says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Three weeks ago the financial world was rocked to its very foundations by the biggest financial fraud in history - that of Bernard Madoff. He made off with 50 billion dollars. As a result of this a French investment manager committed suicide. The sins of greed, fraud and deceit have certainly deepened the darkness of this world and brought misery and death.

This darkness has deepened even further with conflict and violence. Recently a member of parliament was doused with fuel and set on fire. Four weeks ago the Middle-east conflict erupted into a full-scale war in Gaza - the culmination of years of hatred, revenge and strife. And another conflict is brewing now between 2 nuclear powers - India and Pakistan. 

Besides all this, there is the darkness of piracy, terrorism, and an increased opposition to the Gospel. Do you know that atheism has grown over the last 10 years? Now there is even a church in Pennsylvania that calls itself 'The First Church of Atheism.' All these are clear signs of the deepening darkness of sin in this world. 

There is only one answer and one solution to this darkness - Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. This is what we shall see now, as we study a passage of Scripture in John 8:12-30. You will notice that the passage begins with Jesus saying, 'I am the Light of the world.' Light is something all of us are familiar with. By using light to describe Himself, Christ enables us to understand some spiritual concepts about Him such as holiness, truth and life. We will study these things under 4 main points, as given in the sermon outline. The theme of this sermon is this: If we follow Christ, the Light of the World, we will have Guidance for holy living, Truth for enlightened living, a Relationship with God for wholesome living, and Life for eternal living: 

I. Guidance for Holy Living (v.12)

Let us consider the first main point: that Christ, the Light of the World gives us Guidance for Holy Living. This means that He enables us to see how we may be holy in the midst of a world that is saturated with sin. In v. 12 of our text, Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' Jesus spoke these words at the Temple in Jerusalem, at the end of the Feast of the Tabernacles. In verse 20 we are told that He was teaching the people at a part of the temple called the Treasury. This was located in a court where there was a huge 7-branched lampstand called a Menorah. 

During the Feast of Tabernacles which was 8 days long this lampstand was lighted to illuminate the court for the Jews who came to worship at the Temple. But after the Feast of Tabernacles was over, this lampstand would be extinguished and it would not be lit again until the next year's Feast of Tabernacles. Unlike this lampstand, the Light of Jesus Christ remains lit all the time. It never goes out. It always shines to illuminate our path. As long as we abide in His light, we will not lose our way or go astray.

At the time when the people of Israel left Egypt and journeyed in the wilderness how did they find their way to the Promised Land? They were led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This pillar was a manifestation of God's presence with them, and it guided them day and night so that they would not lose their way. 

Since the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the wilderness journey of Israel, the sight of the huge 7-branched lampstand illuminating the whole Temple court would remind the Jews who came to the feast of the pillar of fire that their forefathers had followed in their journey to the Promised Land. 

Therefore when Jesus said, 'I am the Light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,' those who heard Him would realise that He was using the wilderness journey of Israel as a metaphor for their own journey through life. Just as the pillar of fire provided guidance for their forefathers in their journey to Canaan, Christ now provides all the guidance that they need to stay on the right path. What they must do now is to follow Him faithfully.

Dearly beloved, how well are you following Christ? If you follow Him faithfully, and let Him lead you throughout your journey of life you will have all the guidance you need to avoid sin and lead a holy life. The light of Christ will keep you from going astray into dark alleys that lead to sin and destruction. 

One dark alley it will keep you from is feng shui. Some people are attracted to feng shui because it promises to guide them to make decisions that will guarantee their success. Do you know that on 28 July last year, following the advice of feng shui masters, the Singapore Flyer started turning in the opposite direction? This was supposed to 'make fortune flow towards the financial centre of the city.' But two weeks ago the giant observation wheel stopped turning for 6 hours, trapping 173 people, and it has remain closed since then, incurring huge losses. How misleading it is to follow the dark practices of the world! 

Christ is the only Light you should follow. Please resolve in your heart today that you will follow Christ faithfully throughout this year. Following Him means obeying everything that He tells you to do through His Word. Hence you must read His Word daily - Please keep up the reading of a chapter of the Bible a day, following the reading schedule printed on the back of our weekly. 

Following Christ also means seeking His direction for every decision you make - e.g. for your education, career, marriage and family. Please make it a point to commit every matter to the Lord Jesus, asking Him, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:6) 

Do this faithfully and you will have all the guidance you need to live a life that is holy, a life that radiates the light of God in the midst of the world's darkness. We shall now proceed to the second point of the message. If we follow Christ, the Light of the World then we will also have:

II. Truth for Enlightened Living (vv.13-18)

People in the world today are being misled and confused by a whole variety of different viewpoints, teachings and theories which all claim to be the truth. Three months ago, a 22-year old college student in New York named Jesse Kilgore, committed suicide after reading a book entitled 'The God Delusion' written by Richard Dawkins. This young student had been brought up in a Christian home. When he attended a biology class he disagreed with a professor who taught evolution. So the professor assigned him to read the book, 'The God Delusion' and it really undermined his faith. Before he died Jesse told one of his friends that he had lost all hope because he was convinced through reading that book, that God does not exist. What terrible consequences there are when falsehood masquerades as truth.

We live in an age where information technology is able to rapidly feed minds that are hungering for the truth. But what does the Internet feed them with? New Age concepts, humanistic philosophies and evolutionist teaching. Those who surf the Internet are bombarded with wrong concepts and ideas that lead them deeper and deeper into darkness, rather than to the light. Some get involved in the occult and others are radicalised to become terrorist.

Some years ago I met an international student who said that he had studied all the different viewpoints and philosophies and had come to the conclusion that there are no absolutes. Everything is relative. To him, there is no right or wrong. You can believe whatever you want and do whatever you want so long as it harms no one. Man sets the standards for himself and changes the standards for himself. Therefore according to him the whole truth is, 'There is no such thing as truth.' 

But that kind of thinking denies the most fundamental need that exists in every person's heart: The spiritual need to know why we live and what we should do with our lives. And no one can know these truths unless someone reveals them to him. And there is only One person who knows these truths and who alone is qualified to reveal them - the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus said: 'I am the way and the truth and the Life.' Jesus categorically said that he is the source of all real, absolute Truth. 

But a person may ask, 'How do we know for sure that Jesus has the truth?' Many have doubted that Christ had the truth. We see an example of this in verses 13-18 of text: 'The Pharisees therefore said to Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself; thy record is not true.' By human standards, what these Pharisees argued here was logical - a person's testimony about himself cannot be easily accepted because it might be biased. 

Let us see how Jesus replied to them in v.14-18 'Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father than sent Me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me.'

In His reply Christ said that no one can know more about His origin, nature and person than He Himself. And Jesus had no need for anyone to tell Him who He was or where He was from, because He knew it Himself. Furthermore He also knew where He was going. This means He knew everything about His own future, including how He would die on the cross at Calvary, be resurrected and then ascend to heaven. 

How different this makes Christ from everyone else. If I were to ask anyone of you, 'How do you know who you are?', or 'How do you know where you came from?' you would probably say - 'My parents told me.' And if I were to ask you 'Do you know exactly what your future will be?' - you would probably say No. But Jesus knew all this concerning Himself. He is therefore different from us. And if He is different, then He cannot be judged by human standards. The ordinary categories of measuring personality do not apply to Jesus.

There are only 2 who are qualified enough to make a correct appraisal of the person of Christ, since they do not use human standards to make their judgment:

One is Christ Himself and the other is our Heavenly Father. And only when we accept these 2 testimonies, will we have the Truth for enlightened living. This truth comes only by accepting the Word of God. This book which we possess today has everything that you need to know in order to make sense of life. Do you want to be wiser than the wisest men on earth? Do you want to be educated with knowledge that really matters? Do you want information on living that is reliable, trustworthy and that will never mislead you? If you want this, seek to follow Christ the Light of the World, and take time to learn from Him by reading and studying His Word. And if you do this, you will find all the darkness of ignorance dispelled from your minds; all that was grey in your understanding will become black and white, and you will say: 'I can understand clearly now who I am and what I should do.'

We proceed now to the 3rd point of our message: If we follow Christ, the Light of the world, then we will also have:

III. A Relationship with God for Wholesome Living (vv.19-20)

Let us look at v.19 of our text: 'They said they unto Him, Where is Thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me nor my Father; for if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.' This gives us the most basic reason why Jesus called Himself the Light of the world. Light is the best metaphor that can be used to explain to human minds that Jesus Christ fully reveals God the Father to us. We can know God only through Christ. No one can ever know God without Christ. In John 14:9 when Philip asked Jesus, 'Show us the Father,' Jesus replied, 'Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known Me? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.'

If we liken God the Father to the sun which is 150 million km away from the earth, then Christ would be like its bright shining rays coming to the earth, giving us light and warmth and bringing life to this planet. How do we know that the sun really exists when it is so far away? It is only through the light rays that come from the sun to us. If the sun were to stop giving off light, we would no longer be able to know if it is there 150 million km away, because we would not be able to perceive it at all.

And so since Christ is the Light of the world, He is the only way in which we can perceive God and know Him. You need to know God. 

And when you know God the Father through Christ, and maintain a healthy and loving relationship with Him, you will have a wholesome, complete life. A life of constant joy, power, peace and hope; a life that develops into the fullness of love and holiness. Now, when you follow Christ, the Light of the world, you will not only have guidance for holy living, truth for enlightened living and a relationship with God for wholesome living. You will also have the assurance of:

IV. Life for Eternal Living (vv.21-30)

This is the final point of our message and it is meant especially for those of you who are not saved yet. If you have not yet turned to Christ to salvation, please do not delay any more, or else what Jesus said to the Pharisees in verses 21 and 24 of our text may become true of you: 'Ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.' The phrase 'Ye shall die in your sins' is mentioned 3 times in these 2 verses, and when you hear it, it ought to strike terror in your heart.

Dear friends, will you die in your sins? It does not matter how much good you have done in your life: As long as you have not believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, you are heading for a terrible disaster - If you die in your sins, you will have to pay the awful penalty for all your sins. That means suffering painful torment forever in hell. And once you are there, you have absolutely no hope of deliverance. 

But there is still hope for you right now - if you will repent of your sins and turn to Jesus for salvation now. If you truly believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God who died on the cross, you will not end up in hell. You will go to be with Jesus in heaven forever. You see, it was on the cross of Calvary, that Jesus did His greatest work - His work of making an atonement for the sins of the world. 

This is why Jesus said to the Jews in verse 28, 'When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he' The 'lifting up' here refers to His crucifixion that was to take place 6 months later. The Jews would hand Jesus over to the Romans to be nailed to a wooden cross and lifted up to be seen by everyone a Calvary. 

It was only at the cross where Jesus died that many Jews came to realise who Jesus really is - the Lord of glory, our Mediator, our Redeemer and Saviour who bore the punishment of our sins, the One whose blood alone can wash away our sins and forgive us.

On the cross where Christ was lifted up we see the Light of the World shining in His brightest glory and splendour - beaming forth rays of God's redeeming love and mercy into the world's darkness. Look at that cross and you will see that 'God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' (Romans 5:8). Look at the cross and you will understand why it has become the symbol of our faith - because it exhibits the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ as nothing else can do, and it draws sinners to believe in Him. 

And the last verse of our text says 'As he spake these words, many believed on him.' (v.30) Dear friends, will you also believe in Him? Or will you die in your sins? I trust that the words you have heard today will speak to your heart and draw you to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you will have the guidance you need for holy living, the truth you need for enlightened living, and the relationship with God you need for wholesome living, and the life you need for eternal living.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25