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?

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“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

Readings

Isaiah 43:1-13 · Luke 2:1-14 · Psalm 86

Sermon

Today we celebrate the Advent. The story is a familiar one and always inspiring. Each returning Christmas should bring a deeper appreciation and rejoicing. That Jesus Christ took upon Himself our nature and came upon earth to be our Redeemer and Savior is the vital doctrine of Christianity. The more we examine it the more wonderful it appears, and the more it reveals the love, wisdom, and mercy of our Heavenly Father and His special care for the happiness of every human being. Our text is a part of the angel’s message at the time of the Lord’s birth. It was the most important news that an angel could bring to men. It was tidings of great joy which should be to all people. It was the fulfillment of a prophecy made many centuries before.

The light which shone on the shepherds at Bethlehem and which guided the wise men on their way has increased during the years as the meaning of the Advent became more clearly known.

The birth of the Lord at Bethlehem was the first step toward the restoration of order in the spiritual world, and the first step, too, in the renewal of hope and progress in this world. History records no darker days than those that immediately preceded the birth of the Savior. Tradition has it that the whole world was at peace at the time of the Incarnation. But it was a peace that came not of virtue but of exhaustion.

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“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.” – Luke 1:14

Readings

Zechariah 1:1-17 · Luke1:1-17 · Psalm 37:1-11

Sermon

We are now in the Advent season. The words of our text were spoken of John the Baptist, the promised forerunner of the Lord. He is one of the striking figures in the Bible story. His father Zacharias was a priest offering incense in the temple at the very time when a son was promised to him. Elizabeth, his wife, was of the daughters of Aaron. Both were devout, walking in the commandments of the Lord and waiting for the fulfillment of His promise to Israel.

John was given in fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah and Malachi. The angel who appeared to Zacharias and spoke the words of our text said: “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” Zacharias doubted the angel’s message and was struck dumb until his son was born. Then his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and, filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke the “Benedictus,” “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…” which we use every Sunday in our worship.

John’s message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It was a message that the heart and life should be changed, and that mere formal righteousness would no longer be tolerated. John’s active ministry was very short. He was born six months before the Lord. A single verse, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel,” covers the whole period between his birth and his ministry, and he was beheaded by Herod some little time before the Lord’s crucifixion. But his short ministry was an active one – calling the people to repent and keep the commandments, and baptizing them in Jordan. He said of himself, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” He fulfilled this prophecy. It is the Word itself that prepares the Lord’s way both into the church and into the human mind, bringing joy and gladness.

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“They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” by Louis A. Dole

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“They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” – Matthew 1:23

Readings

Isaiah 61 · Matthew 1:18-25 · Psalm 85

Sermon

Again we celebrate the coming of the Lord into the world. The Gospel story of the Incarnation is brief, and is told in simple terms, yet there never was a more wonderful story. It is the story of the Divine Being reaching forth to men with the purpose of revealing Himself to them, making Himself known, and bringing salvation to a world that had lost all knowledge of Him and that was rushing toward destruction. The more we examine this story the more wonderful it appears, the more it reveals the love of our Heavenly Father and His special care for each one of us.

And the story sets vividly before us the character of the world into which He came, the sinfulness and blindness of men. John writes, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not… He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” God had come to be regarded as man’s most terrible enemy. Now He was coming to subdue man’s real enemies, to rescue him from their power, and to show that He is man’s infinite and unchanging Friend.

It is important to keep in mind the fact that it was God Himself who came into the world. If we lose sight of this, we lose sight of the essential truth. He was not an angel, He was not a son born from eternity, He was not a man filled with a larger measure of Divine love and wisdom. He was God, the only God of heaven and earth. He came to be “God with us.”

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“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek,” by Louis A. Dole

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“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” – Isaiah 61:1

Readings

Isaiah 42:1-13 · Luke 1:1-17 · Psalm 145:8-21

Sermon

The season of Advent turns our thoughts toward Christmas and urges us to prepare for the contemplation of the most wonderful event of time or of eternity.

Christmas is properly a time of rejoicing. The announcement of the angel to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night was, “I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”

The coming of the Lord into the world is not an isolated event in the history of humanity. We celebrate Christmas in commemoration of an event which took place long ago, but our rejoicings at this season should be very personal. For this event of long ago has a very direct bearing on our own life.

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“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10, 11

Readings

Jeremiah 23:1-8 · Luke 2:1-14 · Psalm 89:1-18

Sermon

The history of every individual parallels the history of the human race. So we can see ourselves mirrored in the history of humanity. Every child falls from the innocence of infancy. The same serpent that tempted Eve tempts us as children and with the same illusions and fallacious hopes. The senses and the natural mind are first developed. They lie close to the earth. We pluck fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and we eat it and fall. Again, there is a Cain in every one – the tendency to trust in faith alone, profession of belief without the constant effort to amend our lives in accordance with it. And there is in each of us an Enoch that gathers up the remains of innocence and conceals them in the inner recesses of the soul, preserving them for later use, an Enoch that walks with God and no longer appears in outward life, for God takes him. Every life is beset by a flood of false principles. Everyone goes down into Egypt to get corn to sustain him in intellectual and spiritual famine, and he has to work his way to freedom by the wanderings and temptations of the wilderness.

As in the history of the human race so in the life of the individual, the Lord sends His prophets to warn and instruct. And He Himself comes to us as we can bear His presence and will heed His counsels. In His love He protects, guides, and sustains us in all our ways, withholds from us all the evils that we will permit Him to withhold, and gives us all the blessings we will receive from Him.

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“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed,” by Louis A. Dole

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“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” – Luke 2:1

Readings

Joel 3:1-17 · Luke 1:26-38 · Psalms 75, 76

Sermon

At this time the thoughts of all in the Christian world are turned toward Christmas. The Advent of the Lord has a twofold meaning – its historical meaning and its spiritual meaning. Historically we celebrate an event which took place about twenty centuries ago, an event which was a turning point in the history of mankind. In the light of the spiritual meaning involved in the story of the Incarnation it is possible for us to understand what really happened. The Lord came into the world in human form that He might overcome evil and redeem mankind. It is this deliverance that the Advent season should mean for us. We should celebrate the real event rather than merely the outward manifestation. What we really should celebrate is the beginning of a Divine process by which evil was subjugated, the light of truth brought into the world, and spiritual freedom restored to man.

That process, begun with the Incarnation, was completed on the Lord’s part when His work on earth was finished. His birth was the dawn of a new day and was fittingly accompanied by angel songs. It is important for us to know the historical facts and to believe them, but these facts would have little meaning if it were not possible for the Lord to be born spiritually in the lives of men today. He came into the world never to leave it. He says, “Lo, I am with you alway,” fulfilling the words of the prophet: “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.” The Gospel drama from the Nativity to the Resurrection must be reenacted in individual lives.

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