A Devotion for 15 October 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:17-25; all scripture is quoted from the King James Version)
The leading text of this devotion is, in and of itself, a light unto our understanding revealing a truth and mystery often ignored from our modern pulpits – that is, the obligations of the elect to labor for good, to avoid not only sin, but even the appearance thereof. Light exposes things that have before been borne in darkness. Light exposes the dirt and grime of our lives perhaps swept under our rugs of self-righteousness. An habitual exposure to the Light of God’s Word will also purify and disinfect our souls just as sunlight cleanses laundry on the cloths-lines of hearts. The light of the sun is a powerful resource, but the Light of God, its Maker, is more powerful beyond measure. A two-feet in diameter magnifying glass kept at the National Naval Observatory can burn a hole in a plate of steel eight inches thick in seconds. It is able to do so because the light of the sun is concentrated hundreds of times more intense on a tiny point. On a normal sunlit day, the human body truly absorbs enough sunlight to penetrate that steel plate – only that light is spread over a wider surface enabling the body to tolerate the rays.
God’s Word is nothing less than brilliant Light. The novice could not absorb an intense dosage in one sitting. So, we have Bible study, catechism, and nurturing service to bring the initiate into the Light of God by steps and measure. The bright Light of God beams suddenly on the convert and he is dazzled and overcome with joy. But then comes a time to learn many deep truths and promises of God that require time and study to make the roots of the convert to probe deeper into the soil of faith to better understand and digest those great promises.
Light itself is a unique force. The speed of light, according to Einstein (and later confirmed through experimentation) is the only absolute value in the Universe. It is a constant speed that no material object can exceed without mirroring time itself. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. “12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 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 All who know not our Lord Jesus Christ are in deep darkness. He is that Light that has come into the world. “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 9:2 The Light of Christ is the only absolute truth we can possess in the Universe. No man or woman can traverse the mountain heights and crevices without the benefit of light. Many perish without ever having been graced by the benefit of light. “19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:19
What does Paul mean by ‘a more sure word of prophecy?’ Just before the morning sun breaches the horizon, we have the dawning of light upon the earth. We can walk our market paths and trails of the forest by that light; but we may not be able to yet read by it or to repair intricate instruments such as the pocket watch. We must await the glorious rise of the sun for that level of light, or generate a substitute light for the purpose. God’s Word is like that. When we are first introduced to the Word of God, we may be able to find our way to better verdure. But as we linger in the scope of dawn’s early light, we see that the light grows steadily stronger so that we can discern much finer details in nature. An exciting and more glorious world opens to our understanding as we come to glean the gems of beauty and mystery that had previously been hidden by our lack of understanding of God’s Word and the natural Creation.
From whence cometh the increasing Light that dawns on the serious Bible scholar in his new-found knowledge of God? Of course, it comes from God – the Father and Maker of Lights. All true Light descends from God and imparts life to all who can receive it with open hearts. It germinates the seeds of faith and nourishes the green leaves of service and love. We have two important suns in our lives – the first, the great orb around which our earth orbits. The second, the very Sun of Righteousness within whose magnetic and gravitational pull we move and have our being as His elect children. Both suns can be eclipsed by material objects. The sun of our solar system can be eclipsed if the moon blocks the line of sight between it and the earth. When that material object blocks the light of the sun, the earth is in darkness. The same is true of the Sun of Righteousness. When we allow worldly consideration to come between us and the Sun of Righteousness, our lives and understandings persist in darkness.
When the latter described above happens, we must recall the First Commandment: “2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3 When we allow material wealth, sexual sins, greed, idolatry, drunkenness, or any other sin to come between us and our Lord, we have created our own darkness.
But the Father of Lights is grantor of all true light. There are false lights of the world which, like the ‘Will-o’the-Wisp,’ lead us ever deeper into the dismal swamp until all hope is forlorn. In the end, we at last discover that it was no light at all but rather an apparition of deceit and a false guide.
There is only one source for that True Light of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that can only be mined from the mountain of Holy Writ. Mining those gems from the mountain of faith is comparable to the old miner of the long ago west who saved up his grub-stake and set off to find gold. His success began with a dream, but between the dream and the realization of it, there was much digging and seeking involved. To the old miner, that was a laborious task, but with every newly-found clue of gold, he was sped on in his search. The Bible miner likewise sets off with the mustard seed of faith to discover greater and deeper mysteries of the Word of God. Each hidden gem of truth he uncovers spurs him on in greater joy and excitement of fulfillment. Like the old gold miner, the Christian scholar may begin his search with only the light of his lantern to guide him into the deep passageways of the earth, but when the gold is discovered, it is brought out into the brilliance of the Sunlight of Day, and the Sun of Light and Truth imparts a glitter and an immanence that could not have characterized the metal previously.
The Lord has hidden many beautiful gems in His Word. He intends that our appetites will be tempted by each new discovery so that we continue to seek the solid veins of beauty previously covered by our ignorance. Finally, we will be led to make the glory-strike which enriches our souls beyond measure and eliminates every fear of a physical death as our faith is enriched by our discoveries. We know that we have hit it rich in the Kingdom of Heaven and will be well-received by our Lord and Savior there. No longer will false or manmade lights be necessary for the Father of Lights will brighten that eternal day there. “23 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. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” Revelations 21:23-25