The Light of the World, by Louis A. Dole

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“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

Readings

Isaiah 61 · John 8:12-32 · Psalm 27

Sermon

From the very beginning the Lord’s Advent was associated with light. It was prophesied of His coming, “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.” When the Lord was born, the shepherds saw a great light, and it was a star that led the wise men from the east to the place where the young child lay.

It is clear that the Lord is meant in the words, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee… The sun shall no more be thy light by day… but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” And of the Holy City it is written, “There shall be no night there; for the Lord God giveth them light.” Throughout the Scriptures the Lord is spoken of as the source of light. In the opening verses of the first chapter of John the Lord as the Word is six times spoken of as the light of the world, and in the eighth chapter He declares positively, “I am the light of the world.”

Why is so much said in the Word regarding light, and why is the Lord so often associated with it?

We all know that light is good and makes for health, growth, and happiness. We know how helpless we are in the dark and how unfortunate are the blind. But it is not of physical light that the Word speaks; it is of something much higher. It is a light not seen with the physical eye; it is only for the soul and the soul’s eyes. The eyes of the soul are a man’s rationality and understanding, for it is in this faculty that the light of truth operates and takes effect.

Just as our material sun gives light and heat to our bodies and to the world of nature so the Lord as the spiritual sun, as the inmost center of all things, sends forth His wisdom and love, His truth and good to enlighten and strengthen.

The sun of our solar system gets its light and energy from the Lord, the sun of the spiritual world. Its light is not from itself. And we are told that the light in the heavens far surpasses the light of this world, and we know that in the Word the angels of heaven are called “angels of light.”

“The light of heaven is intelligence from the Divine,” and a man is in the light of heaven in proportion as he is in that intelligence. Spiritual light is truth. It is truth that gives the angels their beauty and glory. It is from truths that the mind gets its light. The pillar of cloud which the Lord caused to come between the Israelites and the Egyptians at the Red Sea gave light to the former but brought darkness to the latter. The reason why it was darkness to the Egyptians was that to those in falsities from evil truth does not appear as light, for falsity is opposite to truth and extinguishes it.

In the very beginning of Scripture it is written, “And God said, Let there be light.” Truth is necessary for the growth and development of the mind. It is necessary for our regeneration. This light is from the Lord, and those who follow Him are called “children of light” and “the light of the world” not from any light that is from themselves but because of the light from the Lord given to them that they may in their own way and place serve others. For the Lord is the source of every true thought and good love. He is the light of the world because He is the light of heaven.

Truth is the light of the mind. In the Lord it is the form which His love takes and the means by which He exercises His power. He came, He says, as the truth. Because He was the truth no falsity could avail against Him. So He can say, “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

His truth is a rock on which we can build our eternal homes which no floods of falsity can sweep away. It is a river of life which can cleanse the soul of impurities, quench its thirst, and bring refreshment and peace. Truth is a covenant between man and the Lord which holds him within the sphere of Divine power. It is the only means by which we may obtain any permanent good.

When the Lord spoke the words of the text, the Pharisees accused Him of bearing record of Himself and said that therefore His record was not true. The Lord answered that His record was true, “for,” He said, “I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.” Truth is from love or goodness. It knows whence it is, and this is the cause of its testimony’s being true. Only the good know what truth is. Those who know the truth but do not receive the good from which it proceeds do not know whence it is.

Truth is infinite. No finite mind can grasp it in its fullness, but we can turn our faces toward its light and know that we are in the right way, and obtain sufficient light to walk in it.

We need truth in every department of life. Young people, when they begin to come into the exercise of their reason, are turned away from the church and lose their interest in religion if the rational mind which is developing in them cannot be satisfied.

In Deuteronomy we read:

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord:
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
“And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart:
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.”

The truths of the Word are to be in the heart that they may be in the life. Mere words are not truth; they are only symbols. Truth is real. We say “the sun shines.” These words are not truth but only the expression of it. The truth is the sun’s shining.

We cannot teach our children by merely using words. This work of teaching children is not left to parents as a matter of choice or whim. It is a command originating in the Divine love and mercy toward us. Many parents who would not think of neglecting to teach their children how to get on in the world have little concern for teaching them the words of the Lord. They are neglecting their children. And the command to teach our children does not refer merely to the use of words. We speak by looks, by acts, a speech far more effective than words. Character speaks in the face, expression, and act. This is why it is commanded, “These words shall be in thine heart” as a preparation for teaching them to our children. Love expresses itself in deed and exerts a power which children feel, and to which they respond.

The same power of example may work for evil as well as for good. If the parents are vain, worldly, and selfish, the same affections will be stirred up in their children. If the parents are deceitful, unjust, and cruel, this will speak in their looks and acts and the child will not be slow to learn and practice the lesson. Like begets like. It is by our example that we show whether or not we believe in the Lord’s words.

Truth is given from the mercy of the Lord that we His children may receive light, power, and blessing from Him.

In recent years many new properties have been discovered in light and its ether waves. Certain kinds of light rays have been found to penetrate with ease solid substances. Others have healing or disease-exterminating properties. No disease-causing germs can stand the sunlight.

The discovery of these unsuspected properties of light is one of the effects on the material plane of the new light which has come into the world with the Second Coming of the Lord. The new ideas of light are symbolic of the possibilities inherent in spiritual light. The light of the truths of the Second Coming can penetrate, heal, and bless us with new thought, new power, and new life.

Amen

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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