Scripture And Divine Guidance

Old Dusty Book

Who do I marry? What work or profession must I take on? Where should I live? etc. are some of the legitimate questions Christians ask. Believers must seek to please God in all they do and hence these questions are commendable. However, these questions tend to be answered in ways that I believe are dangerous to believers. Many books, supposedly answering these questions inundate the shelves of Christian bookshops. One such title reads, “Are You Still Single? Prayers to Locate Your Divine Spouse.” These and many more are bestsellers because people are indeed looking for answers to life’s questions and somewhat these titles promise to offer them their answers. But are they the right answers?

As believers, God has given us his Word as the means by which we will please him and every other “How Tos” not faithful to Scripture are to be avoided. And many of these “How Tos” are indeed unfaithful to Scripture. The Old and New Testaments; that is the whole Bible has been given to us “to be the rule of faith and life.”1 A rule, by dictionary definition, is “a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct over an area of people”. It is also “control of or dominion over an area or people” Following from this definition, the Word of God then becomes our explicit or understood regulations or principles governing our conduct. The word of God has control of or dominion over us. This simply a means Scripture has an overarching authority over the believer. If Scripture is the word of God (and it is), then we are to submit our whole lives to its obedience, for in the obedience of Scripture we obey God.  Everything we need to live lives pleasing to God is addressed in Scripture. Is this not an over-stretch you may ask? No, it is not. The Bible indeed has all the answers for our lives.

Perhaps one of the places in Scripture where Scripture testifies of itself is Psalm 119. In this Psalm, David speaks of all what the word of God does for the believer. He places a premium on the Word and in this Psalm, David celebrates the Word of God. The Word keeps us pure, he says. There are wondrous things in the Word to behold, he beckons. The Word is to be treasured above all riches, he admonishes. How relevant all these are to someone who wants to please God by his word! The question remaining unanswered so far is how the word of God gives us guidance. To this I turn to the Westminster Confession of Faith:

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.2

There are two important things to be noted in the words of the confession in terms of knowing those things which please God and serve as a guide for our lives. Firstly, there are those things expressly set down in Scripture and secondly, there are those things by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture. In other words, there are things that are so plain in Scripture we don’t need second thoughts or opinions to obey them; and there are those things we cannot clearly see stated in Scripture but can know them as we study and apply Scripture.

I will describe this as moving from the known to the unknown: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)

Expressly Set Down In Scripture

Whatever is expressly set down in Scripture simply indicates things that are clear and unambiguous. They are things that are revealed and ought to be obeyed. They are so plain it will take only disobedience not to see them. One of the characteristics of the Bible taught by the sixteenth-century Reformers is what they call perspicuity of Scripture. “What they mean by that technical term was the clarity of Scripture. They maintained that the Bible is basically clear and lucid. It is simple enough for any literate person to understand its basic message.”3 Of course, this doesn’t mean everything in Scripture can be easily understood. But at least, the very important things we need are explicit.

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.4

One of the clear teachings of Scripture about our conduct as believers is in 1 Thess. 4:3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” God demands nothing but a sanctified life; that is, a life separated from any form of ungodliness. The text actually goes on to list all that is in view here by our sanctification: “that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” (vv.4-7) The list here is not exhaustive, albeit it tells us clearly what God demands from us. It guides our conduct. The popular verse, Romans 12:1-2 is another place we see an explicit teaching of Scripture: “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

There are indeed many other teachings of Scripture on money, relationships, employment, marriage and any other thing we may call practical issues of life. We are to be good stewards of our finances. We are to love one another as ourselves. As Christians, we are to marry Christians and of course we are to marry from the opposite sex and not same sex. In matters of employment, we are to firstly work and work as unto God and not as to men. These are basics indeed and if we commit to obeying these, other areas of our lives would be less blurred.

Deducing from Scripture by Good and Necessary Consequence

The Scriptures are to be studied and its lessons applied to our life. Any believer who doesn’t make the study of Scripture a part of their life will surely walk about not knowing what God requires of them in any sphere of life. All Scripture, Paul tells us, is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (1Timothy 3:16-17) If Scripture is profitable, then we are to study it and apply it to our lives. For example, studying Scripture will lead us to make a good choice of a marriage partner. God’s word has already laid down many things to look out for when one is considering marriage. As I mentioned earlier, first consideration for marriage is that a believer marries a believer of the opposite sex (this emphasis is important as marriage has taken on an unbiblical outlook). This is a non-negotiable and anything contrary to it is unbiblical. This is a general rule, but how does one narrow down to specifics? Well, if you find a Christian and you both love each other, nothing prevents you from marrying.

Many believers are postponing important life decisions because somehow they want to hear God speak to them. Well, God has spoken in Scripture (Heb. 1:-2), they are simply not listening. Stop postponing life decisions. Make decisions as long as they don’t violate what God has clearly revealed in Scripture.

Waiting for this will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do5

I will conclude with the last part of the Confession which is very instructive: “according to the general rules of the word.” (1.6). Whatever decisions we must make should be guided by what Scripture clearly teaches and we will not go wrong. Let Scripture be your guide in your decision-making. Say with David “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Notes:

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) (1.2)
  2. WCF (1.6)
  3. R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009), Kindle edition
  4. WCF (1.7)
  5. Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), Kindle edition

—originally published on The Gospel Network by author as Divine Guidance

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The Great Work Of Salvation

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Israel was carried into captivity from their land of habitation into foreign lands. (Ezekiel 36:16-20) because of sin. Ezekiel as a priest and prophet of God was among those carried into captivity hence the scene of his prophecies is that of captivity (Ezekiel 1:1). In Ezekiel 36, God announces a restoration of the nation Israel despite their sin and rebellion: “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land” (v.24). In these prophetic words of restoration, we learn many lessons about how God restores and reconciles sinners unto Himself.

1: Salvation Is A Work of God

God speaks through the prophet Ezekiel saying “I will…” In this phrase appearing about six times in the text, we notice that every action towards the restoration of the Israelites was solely a work of God. Salvation is monergestic as opposed to synergistic. God was restoring Israel for the sake of His name not because of any meritorious deed by them.

In an earlier verse, He told Ezekiel “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name …” (v23). God acted in the interest of Israel “for the sake of [His] holy name”. David in Psalm 23:3 echoes this same truth: “He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake”. (see also Ps.115:1).

No Place For Boasting

“For His name sake”

Here is an overarching theme of the Bible. Everything God does is to “the glory of God alone”—Soli Deo Gloria (Rev 4:11). There is no room for boasting in ourselves and our good deeds because salvation is “not a result of works” (Eph 2:9). It is by “grace” we “have been saved through faith”, It is not our own doing (v8). We owe our salvation to the glory of God. We are saved “to the praise of his glory”(Eph. 1:12, 14). The grace of God strips us off of all avenues of boasting. God saves on the merit of His grace. John Piper rightly noted: “When it comes to being a candidate for grace, your background has nothing to do with God’s choice.

Simply, we contributed nothing towards our salvation.

2: Cleansed By The Water Of The Word And Of The Spirit

Like the Israelites, we are also a people unclean by nature and in captivity to sin. We need cleansing and restoration. The Bible records that God created Adam and Eve and gave Adam a commandment to keep (Gen 2:16-17). Adam disobeyed God and by his disobedience, sin entered the world (Gen 3). Now, Adam in the garden of Eden was acting as a federal head for all of humankind therefore his fall became the fall of all who will ever walk this earth (Ps 51:5, Rom 3:23, 5:12), except Jesus who lived a perfect life without sin. In Adam, we are all separated from God by virtue of an inherited sinful nature and total depravity. As Adam was driven away from the presence of God (Gen 3:23-24), sin has driven us away from the presence of God and like the Israelites, we are under captivity and bondage to sin.

To The Rescue

However, despite our captivity and bondage to sin, God didn’t leave us in a hopeless state. He sent Christ to die in place of sinners to reconcile us unto Himself. God cleanses us from our sin by the water of the word and of the Spirit. Wherever the word of God goes forth, the Spirit of God follows to do His work (Acts 2:37). In John 17, what is termed Jesus’ High Priestly  Prayer, He prayed that the Father sanctifies the disciples in the truth, because His word is truth(v17). Peter taught that, we are “born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God”(1Pet1:23). The Spirit convicts sinners of sin when the word is ministered. The sinner is brought to a point of self-awareness of their sinful nature then they are brought to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

3: Regeneration

As said previously, all humankind are sinful, born in sin from the womb. The Christian, prior to his salvation was “dead in…trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) If we were indeed dead in trespasses and sins and separated from God then the sinner can’t save herself. Dead men have no life neither can they inject life into their deadness. To be dead in sin is to not possess the ability to choose God; the inability to come to life by ourselves: To be alive therefore and come to salvation, we need an external influence to resurrect and give us life from our deadness (Jn. 6:44).

4 Alive To God

What God does in regeneration is to infuse life into our dead heart through His Spirit. Our cold, dead, unresponsive heart to divine truth is made alive to divine truth. Our unyielding heart now willingly yields to God. God’s Spirit then indwells the sinner as a guarantee one has been born of God and they belong to Christ (Eph1:14. Rom 8:9).

If God doesn’t intervene in a sinner’s life, there will be no spiritual life and spiritual birth. We must therefore pray that God will intervene in the lives of unbelievers so they will come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

Number Your Days And Live Wisely

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Today is 1st January, 2018. Happy New Year to you dear reader. I have no doubts we all have plans for this new year and most importantly plans to please God if you are a believer. Indeed this is the period of the year many resolutions are made towards that.

In this article, I want us to briefly look at a prayer prayed many centuries before our time, yet with profound lessons to aid us in this new year. The prayer is Psalm 90. It is one of the wonderful prayers in the Bible from which we are able to glean some lessons useful to go through this new year.

I will attempt to address what I mean by number your days and live wisely.

Psalm 90

Live Coram Deo

Living Coram Deo is simply living our lives with the consciousness of the presence of God that our everyday lives are open to God. This therefore calls for a life of intergrity and wholeness in Christian attitude. For the believer and even the unbeliever; we cannot live anywhere but in the full glare of God’s presence.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where y shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me ( Psalm 139:7-10).

In Psalm 90, the Israelites have been wandering in the wilderness enroute to the Promised land since they set off from Egypt. A lot has happened during these times. Moses in vv. 1-11 acknowledged God’s hand and presence in their sojourning all those years: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (v.1) Here is an affirmation of God as the Israelites’ very existence and a truth we must acknowledge and live by with the understanding that our whole lives are before God; the Creator to whom we owe our lives and to whom we must seek for direction.

Dependence On God

To live Coram Deo also necessitates dependence on God. He knows what we don’t know which calls for us to seek his guidance. In verses, 12, Moses aptly captured this when he prayed; “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” and this verse is where the title of the article comes from. Now this prayer is one for direction and guidance from God. It was a prayer of dependence on God. God created us and until we have learnt to depend on him, we will forever live a self-destructive life. It was St Augustine, in his Confessions who said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” This is a good place to ask “What place has God in your life?” Since God created us, we must live our lives to please him.

Consider That Life Is Fleeting

Wisdom demands we acknowledge the brevity of life. 2017 has just passed with the speed of light. Some of those we started the year with have passed on into eternity. Life is short. We are not here to stay forever. We are on borrowed time. Human life is so fragile; like leaves, today we are, tomorrow we are gone. Moses tells us this brevity of life in v.5: “You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.” Not oblivious of humanity’s frailty, Moses prayed for wisdom to number their days.

Be Wise

Moses’ prayer is a prayer asking for wisdom not to be wasteful of the few days humankind has on earth. Our days are limited and we must not lose sight of this. Every passing day brings us close to eternity. Wisdom is the right application of the knowledge we possess, in this case our understanding of the brevity of life and living accordingly. When we pray for God to teach us to number our days; we are in effect praying for wisdom: “that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (v.5). Proverbs 90:10 tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Do you fear God? Do you have a relationship with him or you are only living your life to please your self? Let not this year be a self-pleasing life for “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&41).

In the New Testament, James tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God. ” He didn’t stop at that; he assured us that that prayer would be answered: [God] gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). Paul in his letter to the Ephesians admonished them saying “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph.5:15-16 KJV).

Your life is not your own. You are accountable to God who made you. In 2018 and beyond, make it a point to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

Revelation: Hearing God

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The word revelation is used loosely in our time in relation to Christian theology. Some speak of God speaking to them, giving them a revelation through dreams, visions and prophecy. Someone may approach you and say God has revealed something to him about you. How are we to respond to such extra-biblical revelation?

The answer is to understand what revelation is, how God has spoken through the ages and how he speaks today. Such an understanding will free us from the error and danger of men and women who come with what they term revelation. One place in Scripture we can turn to in further answering the question about revelation is Hebrews 1:1-2.

Long ago, at many times and a in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,  through whom also he created the world.

When we say Revelation, we are speaking of how God has made himself known in human history. R.C. Sproul aptly says “Everything we know about Christianity has been revealed to us by God. To reveal means “to unveil.” It involves removing a cover from something that is concealed.” [2] Theologians identify two avenues by which God has revealed himself in human history, namely, General Revelation and Special Revelation.

General revelation, is, as named, general and is available to all. This revelation of God manifests in the world around us. God has revealed himself to all human beings through nature and no one has an excuse to deny the existence of God. Any denial is actually a suppression of the truth (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-21).

Special revelation on the other hand is how God has revealed himself to humankind apart from nature and through special means unavailable to all. Special revelation is therefore salvific; that is, it leads to salvation. The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) highlights the inability of people to come to faith through General revelation: “Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation” (WCF 1.1). Special revelation varies in nature and this is precisely the point of the text when it says “at many times and in many ways.” Some of these many ways include theophanies, dreams, visions, and through prophets.

Clearly, we note that God is not a silent God but a God who has through human history revealed and made himself known specially: “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” This sets a contrast between the prophets of long ago and Christ in these last days as God’s means of revelation.  Prophets held a high place in Jewish religion for it is through them God spoke to the Old Testament people. “Our fathers” also in the text is to be understood as the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, who are the progenitors of the recipients. So God at a certain point in history; the past, revealed himself to the Jews by Prophets all recorded in the Old Testament.

In the the Old Testament which is also the Hebrew Bible or Tanak, the Jews have three main divisions — Torah (Law), Neb’im (Prophets) and Ketubim (The writings). You will recall when Jesus spoke with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he preached to them about himself from Moses (the Pentateuch or Torah) and all the Prophets (Luke 24:27). Prophets indeed held a high place in Jewish religion. When Paul said in 2Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”, he was speaking primarily of Old Testament Scripture made up of the writings of prophets–Major and Minor. It is in the same sense Peter’s words were written in 2 Peter 1:20-21.

Now moving from a lesser argument, that is, God speaking through the Prophets at different times and many ways, the author turns to a greater argument–Christ as the final agent of God’s revelation. Sinclair Ferguson in his book From The Mouth Of God identifies how God’s revelation of himself moved progressively to its culmination in the person of Christ.

First, it is historical: God has been active in history in order to show his power and love. Second, it is verbal: God has provided his own interpretation of his actions. He has given us a permanent record of his words … through…the pages of Scriptures. Third, it is progressive and cumulative. God gave his revelation in different ways and at different times. But now he has given his final revelation in these last days. Fourth, it is Christ-centred: God’s revelation reached its fulfillment when he spoke his final word to us in his Son, Jesus Christ. [3]

As we have seen, God’s revelation in the past (long ago) has been through agency of prophets through various means. But in these last days (the very day Jesus touched down to the earth until now) God’s revelation of himself culminated in the person of Christ: the God-man, the Immanuel. Christ is superior over all other forms of revelation. God has spoken his final words to us through Christ.

Since God’s final revelation has come, the implication therefore is that revelation has ceased for there is nothing new to reveal about God that has not been revealed in the person of Christ. And all of God’s special revelation has been recorded in Scripture to teach, reproof, correct, and train us in all ways necessary to please and glorify him. We therefore don’t need a prophet to speak into our life for direction or even a dream or vision to guide us. God’s written word is sufficient for in it we hear God’s word revealed through the Son: “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Luke 9:35 KJV). Hearing the Son is only possible through the written word.

…therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased (WCF 1.1)

I will finally conclude with the words of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones as quoted in John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire:

Again, we must note that often in the history of the Church trouble has arisen because people thought that they were prophets in the New Testament sense, and that they had received special revelations of truth. The answer to that is that in view of the New Testament Scriptures there is no need of further truth. That is an absolute proposition. We have all truth in the New Testament, and we have no need of any further revelations. All has been given, everything that is necessary for us is available. Therefore if a man claims to have received a revelation of some fresh truth we should suspect him immediately. [3]

Notes

1. Sproul, R. C.. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith ( United States Of America: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), Kindle Edition

2: Sinclair B. Ferguson, From The Mouth Of God: Trusting, Reading, And Applying The Bible (Edinburgh: The Banner Of Truth, 2015), 7

3. John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending The Holy Spirit With Counterfeit Worship (Nashville: Tennessee, Nelson Books, 2013), Kindle Edition.

—- Adapted from article originally posted by author as Christ:God’s Final Revelation  on Sovereigngracegh.org

In Memory Of The Man R.C Sproul.

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Those thinkers who are most widely regarded as the titans of classical Christian scholarship fall heavily on the Reformed side. I am persuaded, however, that this is a fact of history that dare not be ignored.

—R.C.Sproul, Chosen By God

In memory of Dr R.C. Sproul, tonight, I will listen again to Election, preached from Rom. 9 by Dr. James Montgomery Boice+ at a Ligonier conference; a message which finally shattered my resistance to Reformed theology and Calvinism. The intensity in Dr. Boice’s voice and the authority in his preaching was like a dagger driven into my heart. I will afterwards look for every message I could lay hands on preached by Dr. Boice.

One day, I was heart broken to have learnt Dr. Boice had long gone to be with the Lord. Perhaps, he would have been my favourite preacher if he were alive. Now God, through Ligonier, led by Dr. Sproul led me to the message which changed my life. Ligonier became a source of spiritual nourishment online. I subscribed to TableTalk Magazine, I registered as a student on Ligonier connect, I bought and read a number of books by Dr. Sproul (kindle editions) —What Is Reformed Theology?, Chosen By God, Everyone Is A Theologian, Essential Truths of The Christian Faith, Knowing Scripture (my favourite) and many of the free crucial question series. I also received as a gift, Reformation Study Bible from a St. Andrews Church member whose Pastor was Dr. Sproul.

Far away in Africa without the benefit of meeting Dr. Sproul or sit under his ministry in person, God’s providence made available to me through the internet Dr. Sproul’s rich, biblical expository preaching. At a point in his illness, I personally felt Dr. Sproul should stop preaching. But true to his words —“I’ll retire when they pry my cold, dead fingers off of my Bible ” — Dr. Sproul marched on with the gospel.

Dr. Sproul’s ministry has truly had profound impact in my life. Knowing Scripture, a book by Dr. Sproul opened my eyes to biblical hermeneutics. I learnt the difference between eisegesis—reading into the biblical text what’s not there—and exegesis; reading from Scripture what Scripture teaches. This man is the one who taught me —from a distance— how to properly handle Scripture. Though sad, as believers we know he has gone to be with his Saviour and Lord. He has by now heard the words ” Thou good and faithful servant.”

My prayer goes out for his family, friends, ministry partners that the Lord will comfort them. Amen.

What Has This Got To Do With Christmas?

Genesis 3:8-15

 

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I have been given this text to read as one of the lessons in a community carol’s night organised by our resident’s association. The first question I asked when I had the text was “what has this got to do with Christmas?

However, reading and pondering the text, it is as relevant as any other account of the birth of Christ in the gospels. If you are familiar with Genesis 3, that is where the fall occurred; sin entered the world and thus all of humankind became sinners.

In Genesis 3 also, God announced his redemptive plan for salvation. In that pronouncement, Christ—the seed of the woman was revealed. The seed of the woman shall bruise Satan’s head, and Satan his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). Theologians call this (v.15) protoevangelium; that is, the first gospel. The bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman paints a picture of the passion of Christ and bruising the head of the Serpent is the victory Christ won over the devil in his Crucifixion (1Corinthians 2:8; Colossians 2:14-15).

The point is that Christ’s incarnation which we celebrate as Christmas was for the purpose of destroying the work of the devil and deliver sinners from bondage (1John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15). This is why we celebrate Christmas: the ‘seed of the woman’, prophesied in Genesis 3:15 was born to bring hope to a dark dying world burdened with sin. Of course, we know the date of his birth is only commemorative, but he was born and the importance of the season is that his birth was God’s plan from the beginning by which he will reconcile sinners to God.

Genesis 3:8-15 has everything to do with Christmas. The deliverer from sin and destroyer of Satan’s work was revealed.

The Light Of The World

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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” (John 8:12).

Light dispels darkness. Where there is light, darkness cannot be present. Metaphorically, Christ speaks of himself as the light of the world. This points us to the fact that there is darkness in the world. He goes on again to say whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of the world. This also means is anyone not following Christ is in the darkness which is in the world. Again, anyone who follows him has come out of the darkness of the world.

Here we see a contrast between light and darkness.

Now the ” I am the light of the world” is one of a number of “I am”  statements by Jesus  Christ recorded in John’s gospel. These “I am” statements are not a simple first person pronoun usage; rather, they point us to Christ’s divine identity and his saving relationship with sinners in a fallen world (John 4:26; 6:20; 8:28, 28, 58; 18:5). You may also be familiar with some of these specific metaphorical rendering of the “I am” statements:   “I am the bread of life, the door of the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life and the true vine (John 6:35; 48, 51; 10:7; 11; 14, 11:25; 14:6; 15).

All these words were spoken in various contexts where they addressed specific needs ultimately pointing to our need of a Saviour.  “I am the light of the world” is an identification with divinity –Jesus is God— which we can trace back to John’s prologue : “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9).

Now if Jesus says he is the light of the world, it means that;

The World Is In Darkness.

Darkness here depicts a world of sin and ignorance; lack of knowledge of God. Darkness contrasting with light is the realm of evil; the kingdom of darkness. The whole world, Jesus said lies in wickedness (1John 5:19). In the beginning, God created a perfect world and he saw that all he made was good (Genesis 1:31). However, this perfect world was plunged into sin when Adam disobeyed God’s command subsequently inflicting the world with sin causing a separation between God and man (Romans 3:23). This darkness is a universal darkness. Every human being is affected by the effects of this dark sinful world. It is called total depravity. We are all badly hurt by the sin problem

Life Without Christ Is A Life of Darkness.

If the world is in darkness, it follows that everyone who enters it enters a world of darkness–filled with sin and ignorance of a knowledge of God. We all enter the world corrupted by a sin nature. Burk Parson in a sermon notes that “we enter the world dead on arrival.” Further, there is a kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and any person who enters the world is automatically under the bondage of Satan and until they come to faith in Christ, they are doomed for destruction and under Satan’s rule. Paul says this clearly when he described the former world of the believer which is the present world or reality of the unbeliever. They are dead in trespasses and sins. They are following the course of the dark world which is  sin and bondage under Satan’s rule (Eph 2:1-3).

If you don’t know Christ and have no relationship with him as your Lord and Saviour, this is your world. You are dead in sin and living in darkness.

Life With Christ Is A Life of Light.

Where light is, darkness gives way. Because Jesus is the light of the world, the darkness of the world must give way. So if a person walking in darkness encounters Christ and comes to saving faith in him; they are rescued from darkness and brought into the light; the light of the world, Christ Jesus. Just as darkness depicts sin and ignorance, light represents righteousness and life. When we come to Christ who is the light of the world, our dark; sinful and ignorant life is illuminated with light, which is the life of men.

All human beings are in bondage to sin until they come to faith in Christ. Are you burdened with sin? Are you heavy laden with guilt? Christ calls you to come into his life. He will forgive you of your sins and bring life into your dark world. Come; Christ calls