Monday, 11 March 2013

The Truth about Life, Pursuit, Purpose and providence

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. “(2 Corinthians 4:6NIV)

In all human minds by nature of fallen state, there is deep ignorance of God, of His Law, and His requirements. According to Scripture, all people are born dead in sin “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph 2:1). This simply means that, as a result of the fall, people are born being spiritually dead and are hostile to God (Rom. 8:7 “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will.” and unable to understand to spiritual things “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”(1 Corinthians 1:21). It means human can do nothing spiritual or redemptive without spiritual rebirth. The entrance requirement for God's kingdom is a new birth. It's in the Bible, (John 3:3, NKJV).  "Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Eternal life begins at the moment of spiritual rebirth.

To be born again or “regenerated” is to start a new spiritual life, one that is from God rather than from a human parent. So bible says in John 3:36, when we receive Christ, we are reborn.  John 1:12-13. Spiritual rebirth means dying to your old life.  Romans 7:4. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17) Rebirth involves new knowledge, new habits, new activities, new loves, and new awareness of the Lord. When we are born again, God "shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6) It imply “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,” (Colossians 1:13NLT)

Have you ever wondered why our modern, affluent, educated, technologically advanced 21st century is the search for peace? Why people and nations cannot live together in peace? World leaders search for peace. Religious people pray for peace. Conferences are held to promote peace. Yet the sobering daily reality for millions of people around the world remains: hatred, strife, violence, war, anxiety, misery and suffering! It is a global problem of darkness. Bible says "Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," (John 3; 19) Bible says "the way of peace they have not known" (Romans 3:17). Paul was quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who wrote: "They have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace" (Isaiah 59:8). Jesus said that human beings do not know the way to peace because, "the things that make for your peace… they are hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42). Scripture reveals that human beings, seeking peace by following their own reasoning, are actually blinded from understanding the true way to peace! Yet that knowledge—of the true way to peace and the real cause of war and strife—is readily available to us if we have eyes to see.
Scripture clearly indicates that “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined." (Matthew 4:16) This is quoted from Isaiah 9:2, sitting in darkness express a greater degree of spiritual blindness they were growing more ignorant and sinful. The region and shadow of death - These words are amazingly descriptive. A region of death - Death's country, where, in a peculiar manner, Death lived, reigned, and triumphed, subjecting all the people to his sway. The inhabitants , who sat or "walked", as in Isaiah; that is, continued in spiritual darkness, in ignorance, blindness, error, and infidelity, "saw great light"; Christ himself, who came a light into the world; A life without God is a faded image, lacking color or life. Our heart is always long for a living God, To deny our longing for Him is to deny who we are in essence. 

In Sanskrit a prayer from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is an ancient prayer from India, This ancient, non-sectarian prayer from the Upanishads is not a prayer for things but the deepest pursuit of human heart which reflects the deep desire of the human heart. The prayer goes like this:
Asatoma Sat Gamaya
Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya
“Lead me from the unreal to the real!
Lead me from darkness to light!
Lead me from death to immortality!”

Just as our body thirsts for water, our soul thirsts for God. Psalmist said “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Psalm 42: 1-2.  The soul pants for God–because God is absent from his life.  All he has left is the memory of a time when God’s presence and favor was real to him, sometime in the increasingly distant past. 

We follow God because; He has first put an urge within us that stimulates us to the pursuit. John 6:40.Jesus said “"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” - No man can believe in Christ, unless God give him power: he draws us first, by good desires. Not by compulsion, not by laying the will under any necessity; but by the strong and sweet, yet still resistible, motions of his heavenly grace. The desire to pursue God originates with God, but the out working of that impulse is our following diligently after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “God draws us by the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). If our will consents, so that we yield to the drawing, we will come to the light of gospel (Christ.) Jesus said "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

The natural man may be alive to carnal things, but he is dead to spiritual things. Hence Most of the people on this earth are searching life thru depressing means as they have never been shown a positive way. They do not know what is right and what is wrong and are ignorant. Paul said, in 2Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” “The god of this age” could mean the Satan “Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot understand the gospel. The same is true with respect to creation and other spiritual truths. The Bible reveals that Satan is the deceiver. Satan has been deceiving mankind since the dawn of creation (Gen 3:13) and will do so until he's locked away at the end of the age (Rev 20:1–3).
It's an act of deception that persuades someone to believe that “things of this world” can help them, and such deception has nothing to do with intelligence. The most brilliant minds in the world cannot understand spiritual truth unless God reveals it to them because they, too, have been deceived. The whole world has been blinded by all kinds of deception that comes from the evil one. Jesus said that the devil is a liar and the father of lies. When he lies he speaks his native language, for there is no truth in him (Joh 8:44). Satan is behind every lie that opposes the truth about God (Gen 3:1–4), and only a revelation of the truth, from God, can set people free (John 8:31–32).

In other words, we changed the truth of God into a lie - In the place of the true worship of God, we established idolatry. We worship the material things of this World, our Way of Life, and our Lifestyle. Whatever you want to say to describe the status quo — things as they are, our comfort zone. Therefore Paul said “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” "the truth of God" is a Hebrew phrase, meaning "the true God." God is called "the true God" in opposition to idols, which are called false gods. There is but one real or true God, and all others are false.
In the Genesis account of the creation, created things are called simply "Things" They were made for man's uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand material things which God had showered upon him. But sin has introduced complications and has made those very things of the world become a potential source of ruin to the soul. Our misery began when "things" were allowed to enter within the human heart "things" have taken over the very place of God. There is within the human heart a corrupted root of fallen life whose nature is to always to acquire things. It covets "things" with a deep and violent passion. God's “things “now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the awful replacement.

Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth”  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19, 21) “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6: 31-33)

According to the prophet Isaiah, light, a great light and a new light is promised for those who find themselves in darkness.  “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.”(Isaiah 9:2) Of course, there are different kinds of darkness. There is the disturbing darkness of guilt, which wakes you in the wee hours of the morning and will not let you sleep because you “have left undone those things we ought to have done” or you “have done those things we which we ought not to have done.   There is the soul-destroying darkness of betrayal, when promises are broken and trust violated.  There is the heavy, burdensome darkness of failure, when hopes and expectations prove to have been nothing more than a mirage and an illusion.  There is the grasping, suffocating darkness of despair, which will not permit you a moment’s peace.  There is the darkness of ignorance, which blinkers a person or a people onto a trajectory ending in their humiliation or even destruction.  There is the darkness of sin and rebellion against God, which is mightier than every one of us and holds each of us its grip.  
Paul also is using an image of blindness, not being able to see the light.  Eyes blinded by the distractions of this age. “Let light shine in the darkness,” Paul said. The amazing thing about light is that darkness cannot extinguish it.  Light can vanquish darkness, but darkness can never overcome the light.  If we’re not blinded by the god of this age, then our lives can illuminate the darkness.  God’s light can shine through us, giving others the ability to see.

The prophet Isaiah declared that for those who find themselves in darkness a light has dawned and hope is at hand.  And the focus of Isaiah’s light and hope was to be found in the birth of a child, a son, who would rule on the throne of his ancestor David.   The prophet saw in vision the darkness and gloom of the nation, and saw also the son that would be born to remove that darkness, and to enlighten the world.: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:6)
This verse tells a lot about the child Jesus. It tells us that he will be born. That is not very unusual! All babies are born. But then it says that the son given by God. The child will be born, the son will be given. These simple words tell us about the special qualities of Jesus Christ. When it says “A child has been born to us” it is telling us that Jesus was completely human. But when it says “God has given a son to us” it is telling us that Jesus was completely God. Jesus had these two nature – He was completely man, and He was completely God.
This is a reason of all that is said in the context of Isaiah 9; of the great light that shone upon and was seen by those that sat in darkness, and in the land of the shadow of death; of the great joy among the people; of the breaking off of the yoke, rod, and staff of the oppressor; and of the burning of garments rolled in blood, so putting an end to war, and establishing peace; all which is owing to the child here said to be born, by whom we are to understand the Messiah;

This story contains the hope and light which can rescue us from our own individual and collective darkness not because it tells the heartwarming story of the birth of an innocent child.  Rather, this story contains the hope and light for which we long because it tells the story of the one child who never lost his innocence--even and particularly when fearful and guilty, despairing and betrayed, burdened and sinful men and women, like you and I, nailed him to a cross.  This story tells of the birth of the one man who remained true to the Love and goodness God intended for the human race precisely because he was the human embodiment of Divine Love and Goodness.  As the prophet Isaiah put it, he is the Mighty God, as well as a Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace.  If you wish to know what the Everlasting Father is like, then you must look to this child and the man he became.  If you want to be liberated forever from your particular darkness, you must come to know, love and follow this child and the man he grew to be.  For in him, God became a man; in him God became an infant, and then a child and then a man, to show us what the love of God is like. 
2 Corinthians 4:6 Paul says “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ” .God who is himself our light; not only the author of light, but also the fountain of it.  To enlighten us with the knowledge of the glory of God and His Glorious love, and  image Christ is the manifestation of the glory of God, as His image (John 14:9). “In the face of Jesus Christ - It is in and through Jesus that we can receive the divine light and it is in and by him that we can be made partakers of the Divine glory. The light, mercy, holiness, and glory of God, are reflected upon and communicated to us through Jesus the Christ; and it is in the appearance and person of Jesus Christ that these blessings are communicated to us. The only true and full manifestation of God's brightness and glory is "in the face of Jesus" (Heb 1:3).

Paul was a brilliant Jewish rabbi, Born a Jew (2 Corinthians 11:22) an Old Testament Bible scholar with an incredible mind and a great facility with words. He tells the Philippians where he placed his confidence before he became a Christian: "...although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless" (Phil 3:4-6). His ancestry was the best, his orthodoxy was impeccable, and he knew and believed his religion. Paul was a religious activist. Born a Roman citizen - He threw himself into being good for God, and lived absolute moral perfection. As far as his own conscience was concerned, he was blameless as to what the Bible said about personal lifestyle. In Philippians 3:8, Paul says “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ”(NLT) Paul eventually learned to count his credentials as worthless rubbish compared to drawing on the Light of Gospel in the face of Jesus Christ.

Ravi Zacharias said it well “The pursuit of the Hebrews was idealized and symbolized by light.  “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”  “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.”  “This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.”  The pursuit of the Greeks was symbolized by knowledge.  That’s why the Biblical writers say, “These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life.”  For the Hebrews, it was light.  For the Greeks, it was knowledge.  For the Romans, it was glory.  The apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, living in a Greek city, had to give to them the ideal of his ethic.  And he says this: “God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.”  For the apostle Paul, the ultimate ethic was not an abstraction, not symbolized merely by light, not merely by knowledge, not merely by glory, but in the very face of our Lord.  “God who caused the light to shine out of darkness has caused his light to shine in our hearts to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Our text says “For God, who said. “Let light shine out of darkness,” The apostle refers here to ,Genesis 1:3 For when God created the heavens and the earth Darkness was on the face of the deep; and God said, “Let there be light,” Paul and his fellow-apostles did not preach themselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, 2 Corinthians 4:5. That reason was, that their minds had been so illuminated by that God who had commanded the light to shine out of darkness that they had discerned the glory of the divine perfections shining in and through the Redeemer, and they therefore gave themselves to the work of making him known among people.
The doctrines which they preached they had not derived from people in any form. They had not been elaborated by human reasoning or science, nor had they been imparted by tradition. They had been communicated directly by the source of all light - the true God - who had shined into the hearts that were once benighted by sin. Having been thus illuminated, they had felt themselves bound to go and make known to others the truths which God had imparted to them. This verse teaches that it is the "same God" who enlightens the mind of the man that commanded the light at first to shine. He is the source of all light. He formed the light in the natural world; he gives all light and truth on all subjects to the understanding; and he imparts all correct views of truth to the heart.

Bible says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. When there was NOTHING, God made the light shine. So, in our hearts, when there is no real understanding of the nature of God, God can shine His light. And when He does, we receive “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. Let’s look at that in a bit more detail.

Before God shines His light in our hearts, we have no real idea of what God is like. We may have come from a Christian family. We may even be able to pass exams in theology. But until God shines His light, we don’t really get it. We don’t see how glorious, how loving, how good, how faithful, how real, He really is. The principle of the New Covenant is a first-hand individual revelation of Christ as the knowledge of God in terms of glory in the heart of the believer. Every individual believer only comes into true Christianity by a revelation of Christ in his or her heart, so that the knowledge of Christ is all their own, and as real as when God commanded light to shine in darkness. But that is not all. That shining must be progressive. Christianity can only be kept living and fresh and full of impact as Christians are living in an ever-growing apprehension of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him in the heart.

This is why there are some things that seem obvious to a Christian, but which his closest friends or family can’t understand. It’s not that a Christian is naturally more discerning, or better, than them. The difference is that God has not yet shed His light in their hearts. If you want to influence your loved ones, pray that God shines His light into their hearts. And if you want to affect the world for good, let His light shine through you: Let God make you the kind of person He can be pleased with.
To be continued…………