Friday, January 15, 2010

1 John 1:5-10 (Scripture Notebook)

Father of Lights, in whom there is no shadow or variation, please shine the Light of Your Holy Spirit upon our hearts and minds this day so that we may in every way comprehend what You have spoken through Your Son, and through the apostles and the prophets. We desperately need your quickening power to show us our failings and simultaneously reveal yourself as our Savior and strength in our time of need. O Shepherd of our souls, guide us into the green pastures that you have provided for us this day. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Amen.

"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."

Let it not be thought that the "Word of Life" is without content and that it cannot be communicated. For all it's identity with the Son of God incarnate, it remains something that can be proclaimed by human heralds (at least with the hope of a deeper communication taking place, which humans are powerless to supply). The content of this message is to be stated to people plainly and clearly--"God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." The coming of the Word of Life into the world provides material content to all utterances of God--He is Light! It also provides material content to all utterances of humans--we are in darkness! Though the Son of God has come in the flesh (vere homo), there is no sense in which he provides a commendation of us as we are. Rather, he reveals us for the first time as the sinners that we are.

If we say that we have fellowship with Jesus and yet walk in darkness, we have only shown that we are still in darkness. The most pressing question for a solid hearing of this passage is this--what is it to "walk in darkness"? What is it that we can do (or not do) that causes us to be 'liars'? If the coming of the Light reveals that we are in darkness, how is it that we remain in the darkness? More importantly, how may we truly enter the Light? Is this even possible?

The passage goes on to show that, paradoxically enough, we only enter the Light when we embrace (in a certain sense of the word) our reality as those in the darkness. The one who is condemned here and remains in darkness is the one who claims fellowship and claims to have no sin. On the other hand, the one who is in the Light is the one who never claims to be without sin, but "confesses" her sins. This continual place of confessing, this relational location that can only be described in terms of faith and repentance, is equivalent to "walking in the Light as He Himself is in the Light." This human response of faith and repentance is accompanied by the covenant blessings of "walking in the Light" and having "fellowship with one another."

One of the great and recurrent heresies found within the church is the notion that man has somehow come to stand on his own two feet before God--even as the "redeemed man!" This type of theology can only represent a return to darkness.

Let us close with the second question from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things:
first, how great my sin and misery are;
second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;
third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.

Keep close watch on the third thing--it isn't the graduation beyond the first and the second, but the humble and grateful acknowledgment of the liberation found in Christ.

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