8/27/17 ~ DARKNESS

From the Preacher’s Pen… 

RacineBuildingThis past Monday we saw here in Casa Grande a partial eclipse of the sun. For a short time, the moon covered a portion of the sun. While it never got completely dark, it did make for an eerie orange color to the daylight.

Of course in other areas to the north of us, there was a strip across the continent of totality, total darkness. It was a good time to remember a bit about the subject of darkness and light and our God…

Darkness

This world began in darkness (Genesis 1:2) but with the actions of God, light was created and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:4). As creation continued God created the sun to govern the day and separate the light from darkness… and it was good (Genesis 1:18).

As human beings experienced life on this earth they understood that night and darkness were more dangerous times. Harm could hide in the darkness and be unseen until too late. But they also learned that with God it was not so. The Psalmist would write: If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. (Psalm 139:11-12) And darkness would increasingly be associated with sin, Satan and the wicked (Proverbs 4:19).

When Israel, the northern kingdom of God’s people, was destroyed for their sin the prophet Isaiah would continue to preach to the southern kingdom of Judah about the dangers of that darkness (Isaiah 8:22). But there was always hope, always the promise of God that one day… The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them (Isaiah 9:2). And, On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, And out of their gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see (Isaiah 29:18).

Even as the storms gather and difficulties seem to take over, the promise would always shine through: For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you (Isaiah 60:2). Years later as the darkness overwhelmed the nation Jeremiah would echo the same lessons.

And darkness fell

Yes, there would be a return from captivity for many of God’s people but even then they recognized that their real hope, their real light was still to come.

And then one day the light came into the world… and they missed Him. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5) God would even explain it to them (Matthew 4:12-16) and yet they would not see.

They refused to see the light until one day it was extinguished again: Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)

Darkness! Darkness over all when there should have been only light for you to see, it was NOT an eclipse. By the laws of nature that the Creator Himself had hard coded into His creation there simply cannot be an eclipse of the sun at Passover. Never. Not going to happen. And yet there was darkness… and fear… and wonder… and then it was over.

The darkness actually failed as the Christ was seemingly extinguished, the light of the world supposedly gone out.

In so many ways darkness seemed to almost win. For three days a unique spiritual gloom seemed to reign. And then the Great and Glorious Day of the Lord came (Acts 2:20). The light was victorious!

In the coming years the sermons of God’s spokesmen would ring with the reminder:

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (Ephesians 5:8).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

The darkness is gone

The light, the Light of the world is here. And He has called you to live for Him… now and forever.

— Lester P. Bagley

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3/6/16 ~ The Teaching the Church Can No Longer Neglect

From the Preacher’s Pen ~

One of the things that it is impossible to do is please all people. It’s a huge challenge to prepare a meal for several people without making something that someone doesn’t like and leaving out the preferred food of another.

Nowhere in the church is that principle more evident than when it comes to preaching and teaching. Jesus could not please everybody with every lesson or topic. Perhaps we should learn from Him the simple fact that we should not try to please people but God!

Here’s an excellent article by brother Jack Wilkie concerning one of those vital areas:

The Teaching the Church Can No Longer Neglect

One of the lessons that has stuck with me most in the years since preaching school is the idea that it is not just the preacher’s job to teach the truth, but to teach it in a way that makes it connect to the world the listener lives in. It’s not enough to teach the truth if you don’t help people see how it relates to their day to day lives.

Of course, sometimes that’s an easy task. For example, the basic Gospel message of redemption from sin applies to every one of us every day. But sometimes those things in the Bible that aren’t as immediately relevant can fall through the cracks and be neglected. From recent statistics, one such area seems to be standing out as one in which the church is falling behind.

That area would be the issue of apologetics. A recent Pew Research poll found that 50% of highly religious people (those who attend weekly) believe that the Bible and science contradict. What that tells you is that on any Sunday in your average American church, half of the people in the pews believe that God’s Word is incompatible with science. In his book “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church – And Rethinking Faith,” David Kinnaman found that 52% of churchgoing 13-17 year olds want to go into a science-related career, and yet only 1% of youth leaders had discussed science and Christian evidences in the year leading up to the study.[1]

Is it really that big of a deal, though? Well, tell me if it’s okay for someone to write off Genesis 1-11 and still claim to believe in God. If God isn’t to be taken seriously on the accounts of the creation, the garden, the flood, and the tower of Babel, why should we stop there? Can’t we just erase any other Bible teaching that is inconvenient or that makes us look bad among the culture? If those verses can’t be trusted, but Jesus cited some of them, why would we think that He is credible? While the number in many of our congregations may not be as high as 50%, it’s a major issue if we have anybody sitting among us who sees the Creator as being scientifically illiterate.

With all the things we have to address, it’s easy for apologetics to fall behind other subjects as a secondary issue sometimes. But if we’re truly going to connect the truth of the Bible with the lives of the people in the pews, we have to teach on these issues of science and Christian evidences. We might assume that we’re all on the same page about God in the building, but as soon as everyone walks out the doors and into the world for the week, they’re going to be bombarded with peer pressure that pushes them to compromise their faith. Young people in particular are favorite targets of those who want to create the false “science vs. the Bible” dichotomy and force them to choose. A church that doesn’t teach their members how to defend their faith against these attacks is failing every last one of them.

— Jack Wilkie, from focuspressblog.com, October 26, 2015

[1] – David Kinnaman and Aly Hawkins, “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church – And Rethinking Faith,” Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. 139.

Focus Press (a great publication written by some outstanding men of God) deals with many topics and is well worth your time. You can read many of their articles at the website above.

The prophets challenged God’s people of old with the reminder that God’s people were being destroyed for lack of knowledge. Make the effort to keep growing and learning that it may never be said of you!

Let’s be those that actually teach and appreciate the “whole counsel of God” this week and always!

— Lester P. Bagley