Sunday School Notes: Church 2

THE CHURCH: A Light

The Light Source:

John 8:12

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Gen. 1:3-5

 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Matthew 7

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

–        Notice the mixed metaphor, light and city. The reality is too complex and other-worldly for a mere one-to-one relationship with the things of this world. The author must take of several things and bring them together to convey the fullness of the reality.

Gen. 1:14-18

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

–        The light does not burn of itself. It is set on stand, it is spoken into existence by God. The Church has its origin outside of itself being lit, as it were, by a greater light (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus as the light exposes the ancient sin of man as a rebel against God and sympathizer to the enemy. So in the book of Revelation it is he who is depicted the as a shining one among the lampstands which are in his power (1:20) and can be removed (2:5).

–        Note the parallel between creation and salvation, the two economies mirror one another; they fit together as the productions of the same author and finisher. Both begin with an initial light which is subsequently distributed to or dispersed through other entities.

 

The Reflection of the Light:

Ye are the light of the world (like the sun, moon, and stars)…it gives light to all the house… let your light shine before others so that they may see and give…

–        What does this mean exactly?

o   It is first important to reiterate the previous point – our light is not our own. We can only be lights in as much as we take part in and reflect the light of Christ. The church is only a light in as much as it is Christ’s. It is God that works in you… Philippians 2:13-15.

o   Secondly light makes distinctions. It divides as it reveals – it is there to separate light from darkness.  We are like Jesus in this way, think not that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword...

o   Notice, too, the language. This light is for all the house and before others causing them to see and actively respond giving glory… Luke’s gospel is slightly different here writing of the light as being for those who enter. He then follows this passage with a reference to the body and its relationship to the eye which he calls the lamp of your body. [1]

 

Ephesians 5:1-2; 8-20 (see also 1 Thess. 5:4-11)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God… At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

  • – Isaiah 9:2 – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,on them has light shone. The light is the light of the Lord. Emmanuel has come bring light and life. In order to be the light we must walk in love, as Christ. Notice that. It reads as Christ. He has defined it for us and then it further tells us how… gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    • o The Church is light as it is an offering, but a living, walking

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

  • – Again the mixed metaphor, light and fruit bearing; also children and fruit. The light begets fruitful children – there is no such thing as a barren Christian. It looks like Joseph’s grain silos (in combination with his desire to bring his bones into Canaan), Abraham’s burial plot, and Noah’s ark, by which recall, he is said to have condemned the world (Heb. 11:7).[2]
  • Discern, that is, examine carefully to know what is pleasing to the Lord. How does one examine but by sight? And how does one see except there be light? Therefore, we have here a command to look upon the things we encounter in the world by the light of the Gospel, or more specifically under the light of Christ’s life (see Rom. 12:1-2).
    • o Secondarily we refuse to join hands with the world (Ps. 2:1-3; Is. 8:9-15, Rev. 18:4) in its fruitlessness thereby exposing them for what they are – vain and hopeless.
      • Think of all the deeds done to Jesus in the dark of night (Judas betraying with a kiss, the Sanhedrin plotting, etc.).
      • Apparently there was even a goddess (Demeter) in Ephesus who was known as “the fruit-bearer.”[3] Giving credence to the fact that the deeds of darkness are often religious or pious in their appearance, hence the need to expose them.
    • Expose, see Matthew 18:15; John 3:20; and Revelation 3:19
      • o This is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11).

Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

–        Notice how closely the exposure is connected to the light of Christ. The Gospel exposes sin at its root and in all its pervasive forms.

–        As in the beginning this light serves to demarcate night and day; and through intermediaries to measure time and locate seasons within in these realms.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time [literally, “redeeming the season”], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery [Greek. ασωτια], but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

–        Look carefully is similar to the command above to discern. It is a call to observe the reality of God in your midst, to notice his saving activity.

–        Worship and submission are the two main elements of our self-offering and these two correspond to the seeing and glorying described in Matthew 5 above.

o   Worship: Loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength (and your neighbor)

  • Addressing one another may refer in part to antiphonal singing.
  • Giving thanks is central here always and for everything (see Eph. 5:4 as well). It is one reason why we give thanks before we eat.

o   Submission: Loving neighbor as yourself (and God…)

  • An affirmation of Sovereignty
  • An affirmation of order

o   There is an element of Sabbath rest here. “True rest is only possible when we realize that we do not create ourselves and the world.”[4]

 

 

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult…  – Isaiah 60:1-5

[1] It seems to me that this passage is making a parallelism between the world and the body, either the world is in darkness without light (without Christ, he being its sight) or it has the light and walks according to it. Jesus is therefore the light and the eye by which we see. John 9:38 is helpful here; Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

[2] They walk in this age in light of the next. Or as S. M. Baugh, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Ephesians, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 435 has it; “Christians walk at once in the shadows of this age and in the light of the consummation.”

[3] See Baugh, Ephesians, 434.

[4] Wirzba, Food and Faith, 46; “Sabbath dwelling becomes possible as people give up the restless search for a more lucrative world and more agreeable friends and instead embrace the places and communities that have been given…”