Throughout the Scriptures Christianity is spoken of as a light. The Christian era is referred to as a day. A day is when the light shineth. In speaking of the beautiful dawning of the Star of Christianity the prophet says: |And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.| |Arise, shine; for thy light is come.| |The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.| Isa.60. It is not meant to say here that Christians have no need of the light of the sun or the moon, but to teach that the light of the sun and the brightness of the moon is not to be compared to the transcendent light of Christianity. Whose heart has not been touched with a feeling of admiration as they beheld the bright dawning of the round, red sun, or the beautiful rising of a full moon? These are not to be compared with the |brightness of the rising| of the gospel day. |To them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.| Mat.4:16. |Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring [sun rising -- margin] from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.| Luke 1:78, 79.
Jesus says of himself, |I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.| Rev.22:16. Christ speaking to the church at Thyatira, says to those that overcome and keep his works unto the end, that he will give them the morning star. Rev.2:28. He will give them the true light and glory of Christianity, or his own light and nature. All will do well to take heed to do his works |until the day dawn and the day star arise in their hearts.|
In the natural world there is a literal solar system consisting of the sun, moon and planets. The sun is the center around which all the planets revolve, and from which they receive their light. The moon borrows its light from the sun. When some object interposes between the moon and the sun the moon is left in darkness. In the spiritual world there is a spiritual solar system consisting of sun, moon and stars. As in the literal system, the moon and stars revolve around the Sun and borrow their light therefrom.
The Spiritual Sun Or Light.
It is not difficult to glean from the Scriptures the knowledge of the true center of this spiritual solar system, or the true source of light. The last writer of the Old Testament Scriptures, in his last chapter says: |But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.| All understand this text to refer to the Lord Jesus. His visitation to this world, through the mercy of God, is termed, |The sun-rising.| Luke 1:78, margin. Christ is the Sun and true source of light of the gospel day. The church of God collectively is the moon of this spiritual solar system, and its individual members are the stars. In the Savior's prophecy as recorded in Mark 13:24, 25, the term |sun| is a metaphor, signifying Christ; the |moon,| the church, as a whole; the |stars,| Christians, or especially the ministry.
This darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars we will clearly explain in part second of this work. The church of God receives its light from Jesus. He is |the light of the world.| In the language of Isa.60:1 the church is addressed: |Arise, shine; for thy light is come.| Christ is her light. The church shines by the light of Christ, as the moon shines by the light of the sun. |Out of Zion [the church of God], the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.| The church as a whole is a brilliant reflector to reflect the light of Christ to this universe. Every Christian is a bright spot in this luminous reflector. Amen. |Let your light so shine.|
A few years ago, one beautiful Sunday summer evening, as we were on our way to an appointed meeting, we observed the moon rising in the splendor of its fulness. It shed its soft, peaceful rays over the earth in marked beauty. After a short time we became aware of a gathering darkness. On looking up we saw a dark object gathering over the moon. Slowly, but surely the dark object crept on until all was darkened. Not one ray of light fell from the moon. The sun had ceased to shine upon her. We understood that the world had come in between the sun and the moon and obstructed the sun's rays. The same is true of the spiritual moon, the church. In the first few centuries of this Christian day it shone with the light and glory of God, but the time came when the |moon [church] ceased to give her light,| and all because, as we will learn, the world came between it and the Sun (Christ).
Christian Power And Purity.
Christianity is a light in this world because of the greatness of its power and the excellence of its purity. John, who is denominated the forerunner of Jesus, or the heralding star of Christianity, said that |he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.| John 1:8, 9. Of whom speaketh the prophet then? The Son of God will answer this question in these words: |I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.| John 8:12. Jesus was the light of the world because of his power and purity. All power was given unto him in heaven and in earth. Mat.28:18.
He was holy, harmless and undefiled. Heb.7:26. The Lord Jesus lived a pure and holy life. |He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.| He had power to open the blind eyes, to unstop the deaf ears, to loose the dumb tongue, to make the lame man leap as a hart, and to heal all manner of diseases, and to raise the dead. There is no sin in heaven; there is no sickness there. He brought the light of heaven to this world in displaying his power over sin and disease. Glory to his name!
We wish to impress this fact upon the reader's mind that he was a light because of his purity and power, and because he was the |Truth.| And now if you will but believe it, that is the true light of Christianity. The Lord Jesus was only a visitant. His stay on earth was transient. He came from heaven, and heaven soon again received him. Referring to his departure he said to his disciples: |Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light; ... while ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.| John 12:35, 36.
Again he says, |As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.| John 9:5. We learn the sad story of his crucifixion, then the glad news of his resurrection, and then his ascension in a cloud to the glory, from whence he came. Is the light of Christianity gone from the world? Is this world left again in darkness? No; thank God! Jesus now says to his devoted followers: |Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill can not be hid.| Mat.5:14. It is the |city of Zion, the perfection of beauty,| out of which God doth shine. |The glory of God is risen upon her.| Jesus told them to believe in the light while they had the light, that they might be the children of light. Paul, in exhorting Christians to a holy life, said: |That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.| Phil.2:15. |For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.| Eph.5:8. |Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.| 1 Thes.5:5.
This is the spiritual moon reflecting the light of the Sun. It is |God that shineth in thee.| They are |light in the Lord,| and they are commanded to |let their light shine, that God might be glorified.| This is beautiful. Oh, what a privilege
To be a vessel transparent,
Clear as the crystal sea,
Letting the glorious light of heaven
Brilliantly shine through thee.
Beloved saints, take heed that there be not one spot in thee to obstruct the light of God. |Let it shine.| Submissively place thyself in the crucible and there be polished and refined and purged and cleansed until thou art |purer than snow, and whiter than milk, and more ruddy than rubies.|
How can the Lord now, since his ascension, shine through his church? The Scriptures make this very plain. Jesus told his own that he would not long be with them, but said, |I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world can not receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.| John 14:16-18.
In verse twenty-six he tells us the Comforter is the Holy Ghost. In the second chapter of Acts we have the account of the Holy Spirit's coming. If you will again look over the quotation from John 14:16-18 you will notice he uses |Comforter| and |I| interchangeably. He will give you another Comforter. |I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.| The Holy Spirit's coming on Pentecost was Christ in another personage. Christ in the Spirit has now come to dwell in the midst of his people, and to be a light in them. Jesus was here in the body on a mission of mercy. He tasted death for every man. He comes again in the Spirit to |reprove the world of righteousness, of sin, and of judgment.| In Heb.10:5 Jesus says, |A body hast thou prepared me.| A body in which to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He now has a body in which he dwells in the Spirit. Christians are |a holy temple in the Lord, in whom they are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.| Thus God inhabits his people, |dwells in them, and walks in them.| The church of God is now the body of Christ. He is the |head over all things to the church, which is his body.| Eph.1:22, 23; see also Col.1:18.
In speaking of saints in 1 Cor.12:27 the apostle says, |Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.| He was the light of the world in his incarnation, and now the church, his body, is the light of the world. Incarnate he was a light because of his purity and power, and he lives the same pure life and manifests the same marvelous power in his body, the church, as when here in his personal ministry. He healed the sick, cast out devils, opened blinded eyes, unstopped deaf ears, and raised the dead. After the Holy Spirit's coming he performs the same wondrous works in his body, the church. Through the apostle Peter he healed a lame man, restored to life a dead woman, etc. He is |the very same Jesus.| When he was here in the flesh he could be seen and his marvelous works witnessed by the natural eye. The Holy Spirit is imperceptible to the natural eye, and therefore can only reveal himself to the world as he works in the midst of his people. It is thus that Christians reflect the light of Christ.
In the sixteenth of Mark the Lord commanded his disciples to go |into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.| Ver.15-19.
In verse nineteen it is said the Lord was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God. In verse twenty it is said, |They [the disciples] went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.| The Lord worked with them; then he must have returned. He did in the manner we have told you. He returned to be a light in the midst of his people by confirming the truth wherever it is lifted up. He did do it, and he now does it. God bears witness to his truth, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Heb.2:4. For Christianity to be a light there must be the performance of signs and wonders and divers miracles. Such is true Christianity, and such is her light, a queen swaying her scepter over the works of Satan, setting at liberty the captives, breaking the bands of Satan asunder, healing the diseased, and scattering peace and bright hopes in the hearts of men. Glory to God forevermore!
The Beauties Of Christian Character.
Not only does the Lord dwell in the midst of his people to perform deeds and signs of wonder, but he dwells in them in all the beauty of his holiness. In their hearts he rules a |King of peace| and purity. Those in whom he dwells |walk even as he walked,| and |as he is, so are they in this world.|
A certain writer speaks thus of the beauties of Christian character: |Live as we may, age dims the luster of the eye, and pales the flush of the cheek, while infirmity mars the human form divine. But while this is true, dim as the eye is, pallid and sunken as may be the face of beauty, frail and feeble that once strong, erect and symmetrical form, the immortal soul, just fledging its wings for heaven, may look out through those faded windows, as beautiful as a dewdrop on a summer's morning, as melting as the tears that glisten in affection's eye, by growing kindly, by cultivating sympathy with all mankind, by cherishing forbearance toward the follies and fribbles of our race, and feeding day by day on that love of God and man which lifts us from the brute and makes us akin to angels.|
Christian character is the same whether it be in Christians or in Christ. The character of the Savior is also the character of those in whom he dwells. Their nature is the same, and their outward life is the same. This is what is meant when it is said: |We should walk even as he walked.| For the clear proof of these few assertions we will arrange in parallel columns a few texts of Scripture describing the character of Jesus and a few describing the character of Christians, and we will find that not anything more is said of the Savior with respect to a holy life than is said of his devoted followers.
Character Of Christ. Character Of Christians.
|His mouth is most sweet: yea, he |Behold, thou art fair, my love; is altogether lovely.| S. of Sol. behold, thou art fair; ... thou art 5:16. all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.| S. of Sol.4:1, 7.
|Take my yoke upon you, and learn |Better it is to be of a humble of me; for I am meek and lowly in spirit with the lowly, than to heart.| Mat.11:29. divide the spoil with the proud.| Prov.16:19.
|For as by one man's disobedience |Wherefore gird up the loins of many were made sinners, so by the your mind, be sober, and hope to obedience of one shall many be made the end for the grace that is to be righteous.| Rom.5:19. brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient
children.| 1 Pet 1:13, 14.
|But when he saw the multitudes, he |Finally, be ye all of one mind, was moved with compassion on them, having compassion one of another, because they fainted and were love as brethren, be pitiful, be scattered abroad as sheep having no courteous.| 1 Pet.3:8. shepherd.| Mat.9:36.
|Faithful is he that calleth you, |And the things that thou hast who also will do it.| 1 Thes.5:24. heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful
men, who shall be able to teach
others also.| 2 Tim.2:2.
|Whom God hath set forth to be a |Forbearing one another, and propitiation through faith in his forgiving one another.| Col.3:13. blood, to declare his righteousness
for the remission of sins that are
past, through the forbearance of
|Take my yoke upon you, and learn |But let it be the hidden man of of me; for I am meek and lowly in the heart, in that which is not heart.| Mat.11:29. corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in
the sight of God of great price.| 1
|And account that the |With all lowliness and meekness, long-suffering of our Lord is with long-suffering, forbearing one salvation.| 2 Pet.3:15. another in love.| Eph.4:2.
|And being found in fashion as a |Likewise, ye younger, submit man, he humbled himself, and became yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all obedient unto death, even the death of you be subject one to another, of the cross.| Phil 2:8. and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth
grace to the humble.| 1 Pet.5:5.
|But with the precious blood of |Pure religion and undefiled before Christ, as of a lamb without God and the Father is this, To blemish and without spot.| 1 Pet. visit the fatherless and widows in 1:19. their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.|
|The Lord is merciful and gracious, |Blessed are the merciful: for they slow to anger, and plenteous in shall obtain mercy.| Mat.5:7. mercy.| Psa.103:8.
|For such an high priest became us, |That ye may be blameless and who is holy, harmless, undefiled, harmless, the sons of God, without separate from sinners, and made rebuke, in the midst of a crooked higher than the heavens.| Heb. and perverse nation, among whom ye 7:26. shine as lights in the world.| Phil.2:15.
|Who did no sin, neither was guile |Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, found in his mouth.| 1 Pet.2:22. and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no
guile!| John 1:47.
|For we have not an high priest |Whosoever is born of God doth not which can not be touched with the commit sin; for his seed remaineth feeling of our infirmities; but was in him: and he can not sin, because in all points tempted like as we he is born of God.| 1 John 3:9. are, yet without sin.| Heb.4:15.
Thus we could go on to a much greater length, showing by the Scriptures that the character of a Christian, or his nature or life is the same as the life or character of Christ. Christianity is Christ in us. The life of a true Christian is one of great beauty. It is a light in this world. It is far above the ways of sin and worldliness. It is the Christ-life in man. The self-life of man has ceased, is crucified; nevertheless he lives, yet not he, but it is Christ that liveth in him. The Christian life is inspiring, ennobling, clothed in humility. It points the way to Christ and heaven. It is a brilliant ornament, which in the sight of God is of great price. God places great value upon a Christian life. It is worth more than ten thousand worlds. Is it not a shame that it is trifled with as it is? Thousands are taking the name of Christian, when it is impossible to distinguish them from the world; they emit not one ray of light.
Esthetics is the science of the beautiful, and treats of the feelings produced through the senses by objects of beauty. The most vile and dishonest admire honesty in others; thus gentleness, kindness, meekness, produce pleasant feelings and are called beautiful. God is the source of meekness, gentleness, and love. He is the source of the beautiful. Christianity is God in man, exhibiting his beauty. |Lord, let thy beauty be upon us.| The dewdrop sparkles like a diamond as the sun's rays fall upon it. The life of man sparkles with an unsurpassed beauty as the rays of light and salvation fall upon it from the throne. As we behold the beauty of God assimilated into the life of man and thus revealed we think what a pity that all in the world are not Christians.
Christian, oh, may thy tribe increase,
Thy light and glory ne'er decrease;
Shine on and magnify the Word,
And point the world to Christ and God.