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Keeping the Light

• Greg Boyd

Keeping the Light. Throughout the biblical narrative, we see that Jesus is the light of the world. And that light is shared with humanity in order that we may shine the light. In the Old Testament, Israel was called to be the light to other nations. With the Incarnation, Jesus came as the light of the world. And today, the family of God is to bear witness to the light of the world. Greg shares with us how we are blessed to be conduits of light, to shine and share the light.

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Within the prophecy of Isaiah 60:1-3, we encounter 3 different applications.

First, this prophecy was for the people of Israel. Ever since the rebellion, humanity is under a cloud of deception. But God doesn’t leave us enveloped by this cloud. Rather God is about bringing light into this dark world. This mission of dispelling the cloud, God works slowly and faithfully, in small intentional ways. God covenants then with Abraham, and the decedents of Abraham, that is the nation of Israel. Israel was called to be the light to the other nations. They were blessed in order to be a blessing. But more often than not, the Israel lights failed to share their blessing. Isaiah 60 was originally prophesied for Israel, yet they could not fulfill the vocation to be a light to the world. Therefore, God continued the mission of dispelling the cloud of deception by coming into the world. God Incarnate, Jesus, becomes the one true Israel in order to faithfully live out the light.

The second application is Jesus Christ. Jesus is Israel, bringing salvation to the world. All the promises for Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ! Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 601:3.

But, if Jesus totally fulfilled this prophecy, then why is there still darkness? Jesus did, in fact, fulfill the prophecy, but it is not yet completed. This leads us to the third application of the prophecy.

The church is called to fulfill the prophecy! This is the third application. If we are united by faith in Christ, we are decedents of Abraham and therefore we are called “The Israel of God”. The true Israel is all who believe, not the nation. We are those who are to fulfill the vocation that was given to Abraham and Israel! We are the people through whom the glory of God is to shine! The vocation of the church is to put on the beauty of God. The blessing and the vocation of Christ pertain to the church. Since Jesus is the light of the world, we are called to bear witness to that light. We are blessed to be a blessing. The prophecy of Isaiah 60 is fulfilled when the entire world sees the light, and we are to share and shine that light. Jesus is THE light of the world and we are the conduits of that light.

The purpose of light is to dispel the darkness. It is not designed to be hidden under a bowl, but shine on a lampstand. Like a city on a hill, the church is to shine the light that is Christ. The purpose of the light is to be seen, to be heard and to shine for all to see. This is our vocation.

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Topics: Community, Discipleship, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Across the Universe

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Focus Scripture:

  • Isaiah 60:1-3

    Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

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9 thoughts on “Keeping the Light

  1. Megan Romero says:

    Fyi, the video is not loaded on You Tube. It says it’s being edited. Not sure if you were aware. The downloaded versions are working. You Tube is just easier and I can watch that one on my tv. Was just curious if you knew and when it will be up? Thanks!

  2. Sorry Megan, the video should be working now. Sorry for the glitch!

  3. Megan Romero says:

    Thank you Charley! It’s running smooth now: )

  4. Peter says:

    From the theme of this message, one is reminded of the words of Jesus in John 8:12-19,

    ‘Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees then said to him, “You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true, for I know whence I have come and whither I am going, but you do not know whence I come or whither I am going. You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge, but I and he who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true; I bear witness to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness to me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father; if you knew me, you would know my Father also.”’

    This is further reinforced by John 14:6, ‘ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.’

    Although the truth is something we know, it is much more as it is something we do. Jn 3:21 says, ‘But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.’ And from the opposite viewpoint, we are told in Rom 1:18 that, ‘men who by their wickedness suppress the truth’. They have to actively suppress the truth…not just think about it…and, of course, they killed the prophets who declared God’s truth….and no less, nailed Jesus to the Cross.

    When Greg gave his testimony, the elements of his conversion may be similar to our own. Greg didn’t have a tick sheet of a list of questions to determine whether he wanted to be a believer or not. The truth was preached and his ‘living the lie’ was exposed by the Spirit of Truth (1 Jn 5:7, ‘ And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.).

    With the conviction of sin and the application of the Truth of the Cross through forgiveness usually produces in a convert an immense feeling of love…as a prodigal returning to his father…and nonetheless in Greg’s own description and his ongoing walk in the Truth – Jn 16:13, ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth’.

    Returning to the opening quotation above indicates light and darkness are symbolic of living in the truth or, living in the lie. At the beginning of his gospel, John also says, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’…inferring that the truth is stronger or vanquishes the darkness. In fact, I think it was Augustine, who spoke in terms of evil being a ‘parasite’ on good. That is, evil is not self-existent but requires good as a ‘host’.

    Therefore, since the Fall, man lives the lie or in darkness as his guilt requires him to ‘shun the light’ or be exposed for his failings, and to face shame/judgement…like the first couple did.

    As Greg explained in the message and through the ‘Focus Scripture’ that Israel was to be the light (or the Truth) amongst the nations that other nations would come to. In part, this is both symbolic of that time (although there were many reasons where Israel failed in this area) and proleptically or foreshadowing future events viz the Incarnation.

    In relation to the Incarnation we find John speaking of Jesus in 1:14, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth’.

    Therefore Jesus was truly a man or human being, against the fallen state of mankind around Him. As such, we can see His actions as being the ‘light’ or truth in the darkness. Or, effectively in a slightly different way, a true man is full of grace and truth. This reflects the true image of God in the outworking of life

    Considering another statement of John in 1 John 4:8 where he says. “…..for God is love”. If we relate this back to Genesis 1:26 where “…God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”, then man, as a human being, expressed this love as part of his true character before the Fall. So if we are to regain our true humanity or, light in the darkness, we not only live the truth, that is part of the renewed life, but our expression of love is also part of that truth we live.

    We find the impact of this renewal in redeemed man mentioned in a number of New Testament scriptures including,
    1Thess4:9 – “But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another”
    2Thess1:3 – “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”
    1Peter1:22 – “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart.”
    1John3:14 – “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”

    We see in the teaching of Jesus Lk 6:35, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.” This also resonates with my post for the previous week concerning working in the Kingdom whereas fallen man hates his enemies and would receive no reward for helping them, in the Kingdom it is the opposite viz love your enemy, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great. Additionally, we also see how God expresses His love ‘to the ungrateful and the selfish’.

    A believer’s personal development is probably summed up in Eph 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”…or, as Greg mentioned, (Matt 5:15-16) “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Your good works proceed from truth and love.

    While there is much more that could be said on this important theme of truth and love (my apologies for the length), being a podrishioner, I can’t help but reflect on the work at WHC that provides an oasis of light or truth and love to the surrounding darkness…but that is not to diminish the (net)work of God through the Church locally, nationally and internationally.

    So as we come to celebrate the Incarnation and the end of another year, it’s blessings to all the workers at WHC (that, of course, includes everybody who attends) and fellow podrishioners and contributors to the blog.

  5. kevin says:

    Dr. Boyd aptly points out that for the past 2900 years Israel has failed miserably in fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 60. He then goes on to say the truth that ‘the church’ or ‘body of Christ’ is today’s Israel that is to bring the light of the glory of God to this present darkness. Given the population growth and the surmounting darkness in the world, how many of us ‘light shiners’ will be needed to Actually light up the world? The Church has had Jesus for over 2000 years and i’d say that we have failed as miserably as Israel has in that vocation, yeah? How much longer will the process take; because it looks like we are fighting a losing battle? How much longer will it take before ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.’? Lastly, is the ‘Invitational model’ the means by which this will be fulfilled? I may need to repent because i have mocked the invitational model as the primary way of ‘winning souls’ for years. thanks

  6. Dave PRITCHARD says:


    Not to create a controversy at Christmas – Ha! But you might find the link below interesting as it ties into a strong juxtapositional theology concerning “Israel”. I’m not saying I agree with everything he says of course, but its worth having a look at between the cranberries and pumpkin pie!


    Mark Biltz: The Origin of Replacement Theology – YouTube
    Video for Mark Biltz: The Origin of Replacement Theology▶ 1:17:55
    22 Oct 2014 – Uploaded by Frank Hobson III
    Mark Biltz at Jim Bakker Show http://jimbakkershow.com/watch-us-live/ . The devil has been at it a long time …

  7. Peter says:

    Kevin, I’m not sure whether you are really asking a question that you want answered…at least by a mere mortal. However, if I relate a somewhat similar scenario to what you are thinking in the first part of your post, it may assist your thought processes.

    In Revelation we read (Rev 12:10-12),

    “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

    From my previous post above, we know that God is true and that the above prophecy is coming to pass. We also know that you and I and those reading this post, at this stage, do not necessarily fall into the category that, “they loved not their lives even unto death” but it may be a more serious option in the future. However, noting your comment,

    “Given the population growth and the surmounting darkness in the world, how many of us ‘light shiners’ will be needed to Actually light up the world?…. How much longer will the process take; because it looks like we are fighting a losing battle?”

    While this is a rhetorical question, we have in the verses just quoted earlier, where believers have, “loved not their lives even unto death”. One would observe that they may have more to complain about while you and I sit behind the relative comfort of a keyboard. This leads to next quotation from Revelation 9:11,

    “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

    As I indicated earlier, while this may not directly answer your questions or what you are necessarily after, however, it places us in the “ballpark” and essentially says it’s in the hands of our “Sovereign Lord, holy and true”…and something that we should not directly concern ourselves with apart from being obedient to God’s vocational call on our lives.

    In relation to the ‘invitational call’, there are numerous ways and situations that this can happen and God honors, it’s just that this is perhaps one of the more ‘formal’ ways…mine occurred with a Christian brother at a party and is nonetheless just as real as being in a church. And what about all those saved in a witnessing coffee shop or outdoor meetings? The location is of little importance…but the outcome is of greatest importance.

  8. kevin says:

    I’ll take a look at that material David; thanks

  9. kevin says:

    Thanks Peter; you’ve given me much more to reflect on.

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