4. God is Light

Meditations in 1 John : 4 :  God is Light

1 John  1:5   This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

This verse is so powerful in the light of the condition of the world (sorry pun not intended!) that we must ponder on it and not move on. Ask people what they think of God (outside the church) and mostly they assess Him on the basis of what they see of the world.  What do they see? Violence, illness, infirmity, injustice, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and so on. Not a very good picture and so they say, “Well God can’t be a good God if He allows all this!” Now of course that it s a very short-sighted assessment and it does not take into account that we live in a Fallen World where the free will of mankind is expressed through sin and that sin creates the picture we’ve just observed.

So then they look away from the world and may look into the Old Testament, and then say, “I don’t like this God. He is harsh and judgemental.” Now again that is an incredibly limited and short-sighted view that ignores the teaching and illustrations of the Old Testament that God is loving and good and makes a shallow assessment of those times when God does bring discipline and correction in the form of judgement. Through the eyes of self-centred and godless Sin, the twisted and distorted mind makes poor assessments.

Even when you examine world religions (and I exclude Christianity and Judaism from this assessment) you find a fearful mankind who feel it is necessary to appease in some way this fearful God they seek to worship. Even in world religions Sin distorts thinking to suggest a harsh or angry holy God who is at a distance because he is utterly holy and we are not. (What holy means in their context is questionable).

Now John has been writing succinctly and graphically about Jesus, who he is and how he has come, and how they have been eyewitnesses to all he said and did. So far he has simply focused on the nature of the One they have encountered, this One who has come down from heaven, but now John indicates that Jesus came with a message which he conveyed to them. We may say, in terms of his goals and the significance of them that Jesus’ ministry was in two parts: the first part was revealing the Father to his disciples, and the second part was dying on the Cross to take our sins and the punishment for them. It is the first part that John refers to now. During his three years of ministry Jesus was constantly revealing or reflecting something of the Father through all he said and did.

So what did he do? Jesus himself summarised it at one point: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:5) That was pretty good! At the beginning of his ministry Jesus had applied the Isaiah prophecy to himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18,19). On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter under the anointing of the Spirit summarized Jesus ministry: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.” (Acts 2:22) Later on to the first gentile believers he preached the same thing: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)

It would be a foolish person who would deny that all of this says that Jesus came to bring good from God – because if, as we’ve seen previously, Jesus is the image or reflection of God, then what he does is what the Father does (Jn 5:17,19). Now again and again light and darkness are used as illustrations of good and evil. Jesus’ message that John and the others had received is that God is good and there is no evil in Him.

In his Gospel John wrote, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (Jn 3:19-21)  Note that those verses follow the more famous ones: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16) That famous verse summarizes it all! God is good and His goodness is an expression of His love and His love was expressed by sending Jesus to die for us so that sin would not destroy us but that we would be saved and experience eternal life with Him. That is NOT the description of a harsh, unkind, evil God! No, God is exactly the opposite to those things, and that was the message that Jesus brought and was the message that John was now conveying. Hallelujah!

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10. God is good

Meditations in James: 10 :   God is Good

Jas 1:16,17 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

There is, in the world, a lie that has been generated by Sin and by Satan, that God is a hard and harsh God. It runs from blaming God for minor injuries right through to blaming Him for the Holocaust. With little thought about the matter it blames God for creating evil and it blames God for suffering generally. Rarely does the Bible ‘defend’ God because the foolish will always think and say foolish things and the wise will seek and come to the truth anyway. Yet it is a clear truth that the sinful nature always looks on the black side when it comes to God. People have been deceived by Satan ever since that first deception in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) and have listened to his lies (Jn 8:44) and have thus been blinded to the truth (2 Cor 4:4).  Sin generally has a blinding effect (Jn 12:40, 1 Jn 2:11). When things go wrong sin suggests that it is God’s fault. When we are tempted, we say it is God’s fault. These are the silly things that come into our minds, and out of our mouths, and James warns against these things, warns against being deceived.

James starts his attack on this way of thinking, aware of the struggles we cope with in this Fallen World, dispersed among the world, referring to everything good that is part of our existence. It’s one thing to focus on all the bad things of the world (actually brought about by sin in mankind) but rarely do we hear anyone categorising all the good things of this world. James doesn’t bother to stop to think about what they are, but you might like to do that sometime. Stop and consider the wonderful provision that this planet has for us. Consider the potential for enjoyment that God has given to us. Consider the wonder of such things as love, joy, peace. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the wonder of His goodness in your life. I did that a number of years ago and have been marvelling ever since, as I have started to realise even more how God’s hand has been on my life, throughout it, and that hand has only ever brought good, wonderful good!

No, James simply acknowledges that there are things in our experience that are actually good and faultless and, he says, they come from God. Only good things come from God because God’s character is good. Indeed everything that God does is good. It started, as far as we are concerned, from when He created this world: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31). Before sin entered the world, that was a description of it, very good! When Moses spoke of the land, even though it was occupied by sinful pagans, he said,God is giving you this good land to possess (Deut 9:6). When one of the scribes recorded what happened he declared, Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled(Josh 21;45), i.e. God had promised good for them and all that had come about.  When Abigail spoke to David she said, When the LORD has done for my master every good thing he promised concerning him” (1 Sam 25:30). She acknowledged what was generally accepted, that God had promised good for David. Solomon also, at the dedication of the Temple, reiterated the same thing: Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:56).  David wrote it as a song to be sung, Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron 16:34). This came to be something declared at great moments, such as the dedication of the Temple referred to above, “they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron 5:13). This had practical outworkings, for instance, when Hezekiah reinstigated the Passover and some came not having had time to purify themselves: But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God–the LORD, the God of his fathers–even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chron 30:18-20). He trusted in God’s goodness in the situation and God honoured that.

But even more than that, James says, not only is God like this but He is always like this. He doesn’t change! In the beginning when God made everything He made the sun and the moon and the stars and as fixed as they are, so is His character. Even as He shed natural light on the earth, so it is a reminder of His own glory that shines, ever giving us light, a glory that is unfading in the Gospel (2 Cor 3:11). For ever His love keeps pouring out and will not stop because it is simply an expression of His character. This is what He is and so this is what we receive. No, we don’t need to let the gloom of the world, or the gloom that Satan would bring on us through difficult circumstances, bring us down. From our God come good things, even in the midst of this world, wherever we are. So, if the enemy has been spreading lies in your mind about God, it’s time to refute them with the truth of Scripture. Let’s join with the saints of old and continually be found declaring and singing, “God is good; His love endures for ever!”