The salutation to children of the light.
Grace and peace to you beloved in the name of Christ. I pray your soul is prospering in the Lord on this day that He has given us to glorify and enjoy Him. Thank you for joining with us in our Bible study today. This is our final study in the beatitudes and the similitudes; twelve studies in all. I hope they have been helpful for your walk with Jesus Christ.
The scripture is a light to our path.
Let’s read God’s word together, the word of life, given by God to conform us into the image of the Living Word. Read Matthew 5:1-16.
Today’s passage is verses 14-16, the second and final similitude. Christians are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
The prayer for increased light.
Before we proceed, let’s pray and ask God to bless our time in His word. Pray.
The metaphor of light.
Jesus Christ tells His disciples that we are children of light. (Eph.5:8, Phil.2:15)
Light in the Bible is a fairly common metaphor or figure of speech. Clearly Jesus uses this one word to denote a deeper and more spiritual truth. Christians are like the light of the sun or of stars, which are just distant suns.
The opposite of light is obviously darkness. Darkness in Scripture is often used for evil or wickedness or the power of sin, even of the devil himself as the prince of darkness. The apostle John is particularly fond of using these metaphors of light and darkness.
John 3:19. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
I John 2:9. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. (Eph.5:8)
Light stands for holiness, righteousness, moral purity, the truth of God, and the absence of sin and wickedness.
The source of our light.
God Himself is all of these things essentially. (James 1:17)
God is holy. God is truth. God is justice. God is goodness. God is morally perfect and pure. Brighter than ten thousand suns. God’s light is essential. It is part of His uncreated essence. It is immutable and incorruptible and eternal. Perfect holiness. (Ps.44:3, Ezek.1:27-28, Lk.2:9, Ezek.10:4, Rev.18:1)
Listen to how the apostle John puts this in his first epistle.
I John 1:5. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
What this means for us is that God is our source of light. He is our light. The light we have in us is His life and light in us. Of course, this is what Christ has been speaking to all along on the Beatitudes. Disciples of Christ live Christ-like lives because we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
The Mediator of our light.
Another way to put this is that we have the light of God to us and in us via God’s Mediator Christ Jesus the God-Man Immanuel.
We become the children of God by believing in Jesus Christ. Not only does God now call us His children, but He also calls us children of light. (Jn.1:10-13, Eph.5:7-14, I Thess.5:5, Jn.8:3-11, Phil.2:14-16)
Remember what we said earlier God is the light essentially. God is all purity and holiness essentially. God does not derive His light from anyone or anything else. And this very truth also applies to Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is also God. God the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Listen to the apostle whom Jesus loved – John.
John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John the Baptist called Christ the light of the world. (Jn.1:1-14) Christ called Himself the light of the world. (Jn.8:12)
John 8:12. Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
The recipients of His light.
We can’t say it enough. Christ is our light. Christ is our holiness. Christ dispels our darkness. Christ cleanses us from all darkness, all sin, all evil. Christ breaks the power of the prince of darkness over us. Christ has set us free from death and darkness. Jesus illumines us with His moral purity. (Jn.9:12, 12:35, Isa.49:6, 60:1)
Philippians 2:15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. (Eph.5:8)
Christ is in us. Christ comes out of us. That is our light. Glory to God in the highest!
Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (I Jn.1:5-7)
Now let me point out something that may not be apparent. Look at the kinds of people Jesus says are the lights the world! Rag-a-muffins (as we used to say when I was a child). Jesus says to the low born, the nothings of the world – you (we) are the lights in the dark world! Stunning. (I Cor.1:27-31)
You see the world says we are nothing. Narrow minded bigots. Ignorant hypocrites. Christ says we are the light of the world.
Oh beloved let’s only be concerned with what God thinks of us.
The realm in which we shine our light.
Next, let’s consider the realm in which Christ says we shine our light. Jesus says we are lights in the world. (I Jn.3:1)
The world here is taken for the realm of sin and unbelief; the realm over which the devil rules. Paul calls the world, this present evil age. So the realm in which evil reigns.
John 15:18. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (Jn.17:14-19, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Jn.2:15-17, Col.1:13, I Pt.2:9-10, Phil.3:20-21, Rev.18:4)
Romans 12:1. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (I Cor.2:14-16, Eph.2:1-2, Dt.7:6-8, Amos 3:2, Mt.13:1-13)
Ephesians 6:10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The world can mean the realm outside of the visible church. But fundamentally the world means the realm apart from Christ. Meaning those spiritually separated savingly from Jesus Christ.
That means the ‘world’ can be in the church. The world is the realm of spiritual darkness, sin, anti-God, anti-truth, anti-Christ, pro-sin, pro-Satan. This exists outside of the four walls of the church building. This exists, sadly, in both pulpits and pews.
But the true Believer is the salt and the light of Christ in the realm of darkness and sin. We are. Christ says we are. Christ makes us such.
Just as a brief aside please consider the scope of our light – in the world. We might say from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, the four corners of the planet as it were.
In this way, because we exist in the newer and better administration of the covenant of grace, the realm of the NT church or the NT Christian is much greater than the OT church or the OT Believer. In the OT the scope was confined to a small nation, the nation of Israel. And in one sense, they were not called to be evangelical. But in the NT our realm is the whole world. To make disciples of every nation!
Matthew 24:14. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mt.28:18-20)
Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus then says His disciples are like a city set on a hill. This means that Christians are visible to the world. This means that the world can see, hear, touch those that love Christ.
By extension Christ is teaching us as His followers that world is watching and listening to Christians. (Isa.42, 49, 54, 60) Listen to what God says through His prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 2:2. Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. 3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. 5 Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Christ is teaching us that this is by God’s design, the intent of our Lord is to make us light, and then use us as light. (I Jn.3:12-13)
This is a Scripture that refutes Christian monasticism and all forms of Christian isolationism, which would be akin to putting the light under a bushel. Christ sends us out into the world. Christ does not call us away from the world physically. Christ calls us away from the world spiritually and religiously and morally. Yes. But He keeps us in the world. Because the darkness needs the light. (Jn.17:1-17, 2 Cor.6:14-18)
If we go off to live on a quote-unquote “Christian” commune we are burying our gospel talent in the sand. (Mt.25:18, Lk.19:20)
It is contrary to the precept of Christ. It is contrary to the practice of Christ Himself. He is the great Evangel come into the world. And it is contrary to the example of all the apostles. Read Hebrews chapter eleven. God keeps His children of light in the dark world. He only takes us out of it when He calls us home.
No isolationism. What did Isaiah say? Here I am Lord send me. (Isa.6:8)
The exhortation to shine.
Now let’s consider Christ exhortation to His children of light to let our light shine in the dark world. So Christ has given us His light. Christ has made us children of light. Now He calls us to use that light. Live out the faith we say we believe.
I will say that there are two general recipients of this exhortation. Christ’s ministers, His preacher-pastors. And then all true Believers.
Preachers are to shine.
As regards to His ministers the primary way that they shine their light is to speak forth the law and the gospel to the world. God’s preachers are His heralds. Heralds are called and commissioned and equipped to speak. God has placed His heralds in the Body as a mouth, as God’s spokesman. (2 Sam.21:17)
Acts 26:15. And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
2 Timothy 4:1. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Also Christ’s herald must not only shine in doctrine – in his teaching but also in his moral life, in how he lives.
Titus 2:7. in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. 9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (Jas.3:13, I Tim.4:12)
It has been remarked that an un-holy minister is the most awful servant of the devil, he does the most damage to the cause of Christ.
All Christians are to shine.
Of course, we can say that all Christians are to shine forth the gospel and holiness of life. We shine by our good words and good deeds. Listen to the apostle Paul.
Philippians 1:25. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. 27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Eph.5:8, Phil.2:15)
The hindrance to our shining.
I think it might be helpful to mention a few things that diminish our light in the world. And this is so we can acknowledge them and stop them and reform.
What are some ways in which Christians do not shine, that we do hide our light?
Sometimes our lives are indistinguishable from the unbeliever, our speech, our affections, our actions, etc. Culture and the world creeps into us, rather than the other way around.
You see Christ is saying Christians are supposed to be different from the world.
Part of the modern Christian methodology is that we are to be like the world so as not to make them nervous. And to give us an opportunity to witness, to influence, the world. This is trying to be darkness so as to witness to darkness.
Christ’s method is to be as different as light is from darkness.
The purpose of our shining.
As salt is a preservative for a rotting world, so too light illuminates a dark world, a world filled with children of the darkness moved along by their fallen prince. (Eph.5:8, 2:1-3, I Jn.3:10, Rev.2:23)
The light of the Bible, the law and the gospel dispel the religious and moral ignorance, error, and opposition to God, to Christ, to truth. (Eph.4:18, Mt.24:11)
Christ clearly shows us that part of the purpose or end of our light is to dispel the moral and religious darkness. Conviction, indicting, guiding, leading, teaching. etc. (Jn.16:8, Jude 1:15) We are the light of Christ to them. (Isa.9:2)
Related to this, as light attracts, so too part of the purpose is so that we might attract sinners to Christ.
Romans 11:13. But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
1 Corinthians 9:19. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (Jude 1:23)
The world needs Christians shining the Bible to them. To show them the true nature of God, the true nature of Man, the true nature of sin, the true nature of Christ.
The final and the main reason we are to shine our light in the world is to glorify God. (WSC 1, 2 Cor.4:6, 1 Pt.2:12) And I will say, by doing so, this is our enjoyment of God.
The ‘reward’ of our shining.
If I could copy the scheme that Christ uses with the Beatitudes adding a promise to every trait or good deed of His disciples – the meek shall inherit the earth, peace-makers shall see God. Well like that, children of light shining in a dark world will soon be translated to a realm of light and glory.
Heaven is the realm of light. It is the place of God’s immediate presence.
I Timothy 6:14. keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time– He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
This is heaven beloved, the place of God’s immediate presence. All holiness. No sin. All light. No darkness. Because God is there immediately. A place of light and purity. A place where sin cannot enter. Since no sin can enter there, the product of sin cannot enter either, no misery! Only joy!
How our lives haven fallen to us in beautiful places in Christ!
- What do the metaphors of light and dark mean in the Scripture? (Eph.5:8, Phil.2:15, Jn.3:19-20, I Jn.2:9, Eph.5:8, Jn.1:5, Jn.12:46, Ps.18:28, I Jn.2:9, Eph.5:8, Exod.14:15-20, Gen.1:1-4, Isa.45:7)
- How and why is God light? Does God have darkness? What lessons do we learn by this? (James 1:17, Ps.44:3, Ezek.1:27-28, Lk.2:9, Ezek.10:4, Rev.18:1, I Pt.1:5-7)
- Through whom do we become children of light? Where does our light come from? What lessons do we learn by this? (Jn.1:1-14, Jn.8:12, Jn.9:12, 12:35, Isa.49:6, 60:1, Phil.2:15, Eph.5:8, Gal.2:20, I Jn.1:5-7)
- What kind of people does Jesus address as light or as children of the light? What are we in the eyes of the world? What does God call us? What does the world call us? What lessons do we learn? (Mt.5:1-16, I Cor.1:27-31, I Tim.1:12-16, I Cor.6:9-11, I Cor.4:13)
- We shine our light in the world. What does the ‘world’ stand for? What lessons do we as Christians learn about the world? About our relationship to the world? (I Jn.3:1, Jn.15:18-19, Jn.17:14-19, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Jn.2:15-17, Col.1:13, I Pt.2:9-10, Phil.3:20-21, Rev.18:4, Rom.12:1-2, I Cor.2:14-16, Eph.2:1-2, Dt.7:6-8, Amos 3:2, Mt.13:1-13, Eph.6:10-12)
- Christ says our light is set on a hill. We are to be visible to the world. Why are we to be visible to the world? Are “Christian” communes or monasteries Biblical? Use Scripture for your answer. What are some dangers associated with Christian communes? (Jn.3:16, Mt.28:18-20, Mt.5:1-16, Jn.17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17)
- What are some ways in which preacher-pastors are to shine their light? What are some ways the ministers hinder or hide their light? (Rom.10:1-17, Acts 26:15-18, 2 Tim.4:1-5, Titus 2:7-10, Jas.3:13, I Tim.4:12)
- What are some ways all Christians should shine their light to the world? What are some ways that we hinder or hide our light? (Phil.1:25-27, Eph.5:8, Phil.2:15)
- What are some effects our light has on this dark world? What are the purposes for which Christ has us shine our light in this dark world? (Eph.5:8, 2:1-3, I Jn.3:10, Rev.2:23, Eph.4:18, Mt.24:11, Jn.16:8, Jude 1:15, Isa.9:2, Rom.11:13-14, I Cor.9:19-23, Jude 1:23, WSC 1-2, WSC 1, 2 Cor.4:6, 1 Pt.2:12)
- Why is heaven a realm of light? Why is hell a realm of darkness? What lessons do we learn by this? Who will occupy each realm? And why? How then shall we live?(I Tim.6:14-16, Rev.21:22-23, James 1:17, I Pt.2:9, Mt.22:13, 8:12, 25:30, 2 Pt.2:1-17)