“Come Out of the Darkness”
Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. Have you ever experienced a power outage? In the midst of a storm filled with thunder, lightning and rain, all of a sudden the lights go out. There is no power, no electricity, and no light. Well, that can be a little bit frightening and cause a certain amount of anxiety. We realize it is quite a storm and there can be some severe damage. And as we sit in the darkness, we hope and pray for the power to come on again, soon. At the root of the problem, we simply do not like the dark. Bad things seem to always take place in the dark. There is uncertainty and danger and we long for there to be light. In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will look at the difference between living in a dark world and living in the light of Jesus Christ. We will think about the blessings that can be found in Jesus, the Son of God, who is the Light of the World. I hope you will join us for this lesson and be inspired by God's Word to come out of the darkness and begin to enjoy the light of Jesus Christ, His one and only son. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible with me, as we study together.
In the gospel of John, chapter 10 verse 10, we find these words from Jesus Christ; "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Oh, those are some great words. One of the reasons why Jesus came into this world is so that you and I can enjoy a full and abundant life. And yet perhaps, it doesn't seem that your life is all of that full and abundant right now. Maybe there are some difficult things going on in your life and there is no fullness, there is no abundance, and you wonder when it will come. In fact, your life might be full of everything just the opposite. Nothing good is happening in your life and you might describe your life as being full of darkness. Oh, there are days when I am discouraged. There are some days when everything seems to be dark and gloomy in my life; and no doubt, that is sad and depressing. And those things happen to us because we live in a fallen world. In fact, the Bible tells us that Satan is the prince of this world and as a result of that we experience bad things. As a result of that, negative things take place in our life and throughout this world, and we miss out on some of that full and abundant living. When I think about some of the bad and tragic things we experience on a regular basis, I quickly can come up with a list; and, I'm sure you can, too. I think about the sin and the evil of this world. I think about the injustice that is carried out from one nation to another. I think about a world of immorality, the attitudes of bitterness, and anger, and ingratitude. I think about the problems of violence and killing, which seem to take place on a regular basis no matter what country we live in. There's the pride and the anger that is built up with in us. And then, I think about the suffering and the loss that many families have to deal with on a regular basis; and, the abuse and the neglect. Oh, we can go on and on talking about some of the bad and negative things that we have to experience in this world, a fallen world, a world full of darkness. When we turn on the television, often times we hear news stories about bad and negative things happening in this world, and that's what they report. Oh yes, there are many good things that are going on, and they report some of those, as well. But, we get tired of hearing that bad and negative news, don't we? And yet, we realize that the darkness of this world is real. It affects not only our world but our communities in which we live, and then it trickles down into our own individual lives. And, we understand that is the reality of life. That is simply the way it is. We find ourselves in the midst of all of that and we begin to ask ourselves the question, where is that full and abundant life that Jesus promised? How can we ever get out of that and experience the light of this world? Well, we don't like talking about darkness, do we? We don't like to focus on the bad and the negative and the evil of this world. We want some good news. We want something that lifts us up and gives us hope. We want to hear something that is encouraging, something that is positive. And, perhaps that is the reason you tuned in to "Key to the Kingdom," today. You need something good in your life. You need to hear that good news message from Jesus, about the full and abundant life He offers. With that in mind, I want to begin reading with the very first verses of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1 beginning with verse 1. <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. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.> Out of the darkness, God created light. Darkness hovered over the face of the deep. It was without form, without void, and yet God spoke in the midst of that darkness and He called out light. That's what happened, and that was the beginning of light. When I think about that passage of Scripture, I realize that if God could bring light out of darkness then, in the very beginning, then He can certainly do it in your life, and in my life, as well. No one is better at changing the darkness into light. We've seen it time and time again, perhaps in our own life or in the lives of other people, how He reverses the course of people's lives. He opens up the blinds. He raises the shade. He flips on the light switch. However we want to describe it, we know that God is in the business of bringing people out of a world of darkness and into a world of light. I think about the words of David in the Old Testament, in 2nd Samuel 22:29. <"You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turned my darkness into light."> David praises God for delivering him from his enemies. It seems that time and time again, David was constantly pursued by people who did not like him, especially King Saul. Saul thought that David was a threat to his throne; and he wanted to get rid of David and so he pursued him, over and over again. Yet in the midst of those dark days, David cries out in praise to God and he says thank You for being my lamp in the midst of darkness and delivering me from my enemies. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, in chapter 9 and verse 2, foretells the coming of God's son, Jesus, into this world. <"The people living in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned."> Those very words are found again in the New Testament part of the Bible, in Matthew 4:16, and they are referring to Jesus, as He began His public ministry here upon the earth. And no doubt, Jesus' ministry changed many people's lives. He brought people out of darkness. Those who were sitting in the land of the shadow of death, He brought them into the light. He made a difference in the way they were living: He healed them; He loved them; He showered His Father's compassion upon them; He blessed them; He forgave them. Oh, the list goes on and on of the various ways that God's son Jesus transformed people's lives. He would even say, in the gospel of John chapter 8 and verse 12, <"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,"> and again, in chapter 9 and verse 5, <"While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."> Oh, it is true; Jesus brought light to those who sat in darkness. To those sitting in the shadow of death, He gave life. He gave people a reason to live, a purpose to live for. He blessed them and He transformed their lives. Jesus' Father, God himself, knew what it was like to experience darkness. You might remember the day of Jesus' death upon the cross of Calvary. His Father was there. God was present. God knew exactly what was going on in the darkest day of history. When Jesus hung there upon the cross and He died that very humiliating and painful death, His Father saw what was happening. And, no doubt, it broke His heart. He grieved about what was being done, the way His son was being mistreated. And yet in the midst of all of that darkness, God knew that a brighter day was coming. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, Jesus died on a Friday, but Sunday was coming; and, that was true. It was a sad and dark and gloomy day on that Friday when Jesus went to the cross, but Sunday was coming, the day when Jesus rose victoriously out of the grave. He conquered death, and that was the brightest day that has ever been recorded. And when Jesus rose up from the dead, He changed the course of this world. And, that was the day He turned our darkness into light. That was the day when He offered the opportunity for us to join Him and to be a part of the light that He brings into this world. While dying upon the cross, several statements were made by Jesus. And one of them, to His Father, was this: "Into Your hands I commit My spirit." Before He died, Jesus trusted His Father to do something with the darkness. He did not know what it would be. He did not know, for sure, what would happen. But, He trusted His Father to have a solution, and God did. God raised His son Jesus from the dead on the third day, on that resurrection Sunday, and with that He brought hope to people's lives. And through Jesus' resurrection, we too can experience a brand-new day. No longer do we need to sit in the shadow of death. No longer do we need to be a part of a world filled with darkness. And no matter how dark our world might be, Jesus provides us the opportunity to move from it into a world of light. I want to encourage you to watch this short video clip, I've entitled it "Coming Out of the Darkness," and see if it illustrates the point of our lesson today.
Whoa! No; don't adjust your television set. It's supposed to be dark right now. And, it's really dark, isn't it? And that darkness makes us just a little bit uncomfortable, but why is that? Well, it makes us uncomfortable because we don't like to be in the dark, whether figuratively or literally. We cannot see what is going on in the world around us when it's dark, and we might even feel a little bit afraid. We look forward to moving from the darkness to the light, and we do a number of things to make that happen. We might open the door, or go outside, perhaps even flip the electrical switch, or change a light bulb. But, can you imagine what it is like to live in a spiritually dark world? Can you imagine what it's like to live in a world where we cannot see the right way to go, or the best thing to do? Well, that describes one's life without Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is a struggle to find our way in this world. We are on the outside looking in, and that's a little bit scary. And yet, that is one reason why Jesus came into this world. He came to shed light on our lives. He came to open up a new and a better way to live. He came to bring us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. Maybe you are looking for some light to come into your dark world. If that is the case, I would encourage you to begin seeking the Lord Jesus Christ. Begin by deciding to move out of darkness and into the light. And, know this about the move: Jesus is on the other side waiting for you to do just that. Yes, it takes courage and faith to make the move; but, know that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Oh, it is good news to know that no longer do we need to live in a world of darkness. No longer do we need to sit in the shadow of death, but we have a new hope and a new beginning that Jesus provides for us. Today, if you are tired of living in that dark world, I would encourage you to make the move and to find Jesus Christ and the light that He brings into this world; and, that begins by crying out to God for help, recognizing that you cannot do this on your own. The wall is too great and the barrier is too strong to overcome by yourself. But when in humility you cry upon God, and trust Him, and depend upon Him, He is able, through His son Jesus Christ, to bring you out of that world of darkness and into the light of His son. Oh, how many times have we heard people say, "Well, I can do this by myself. I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps. I don't need any help. I've been here before, and I've overcome these problems, and certainly I can do it again." Oh, all of those are signs of still living in a world of darkness. They provide a false sense of self sufficiency; that we think we are powerful enough to overcome the world of darkness. And yet, it is only by the power of God through His son Jesus Christ that we truly can experience a world of light and that full and abundant life He offers. Perhaps you have also heard the phrase "God helps those who help themselves." I understand, perhaps, some of the thinking behind that. And yet, that phrase is never found in the Bible, in God's Word. In fact, the teaching is just the opposite. When we are too weak and powerless to do anything for ourselves, it is then that God steps in and He provides a solution through His son Jesus Christ. And when we come to the Lord in a spirit of humility, recognizing our weakness and depending upon Him, it is then that He will rescue us from that darkness, and through the light of Jesus Christ we can begin a brand-new life. Oh, I love the words of 1st John chapter 1, beginning with verse 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. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.> God takes us out of the darkness. We have fellowship with His son Jesus. His blood purifies, or cleanses, us from all of our sin; and that's what it means to walk in the light of Jesus Christ. And that redemption, that forgiveness of sin was provided when Jesus died on the cross and then rose up from the grave. He was buried in a tomb for three days, but then He conquered death. And because of what Jesus did on that occasion, we are set free from sin. We are set free from a world of darkness, and now we have the opportunity to embrace the new life Jesus has in store for us. Oh, in the same way as Jesus died, and was buried, and then rose again, we too can do the very same thing. And, we have talked about that before, from Romans chapter 6; how that we died to the sin in our life; we are buried with Jesus in baptism; and then, we rise up again to begin a brand-new life with Him. Yes, then our old life of sin and darkness and sadness is put to death. It is over. It is no more. And now we await the many wonderful blessings and privileges of being a part of God's family and living a brand-new life in Him. I love the way the apostle Paul puts it in 2nd Corinthians 5:17. <If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come!> When we are united to Jesus Christ in our death to this world, and burial and baptism and resurrection from that, the old is gone. We embrace a brand-new life with Jesus. We are a new creation in the Lord. Here's one more passage for us to consider. It is found in Colossians chapter 1 verses 13 and 14. <He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.> God, through Jesus His son, rescues us from a world of darkness and then puts us into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of His son Jesus Christ, where we have the forgiveness of sin; where we are able to have fellowship with Him; where we no longer live in a world of darkness, but we live in the world of light. And when we make that transition, it is important for us to do two things. First of all, we keep one eye on the past, and the other eye we keep focused on Jesus Christ. First of all, as we think about the past, we remember that from which we have come out of. We remember the pain, and the sorrow, and the loss of days gone by, and we don't want to revisit it again. We don't want to go back to that kind of lifestyle, to living in that world of darkness, and we remember what that was like. We remember the pain and the difficulty, and we say, "I'm done with that. That world of darkness is no longer a part of me." And then with our other eye, we keep it focused on Jesus Christ, the author and the finisher, the perfecter of our salvation. We know that He is the one who transfers us out of that darkness and into light, and so we celebrate that. We sing His praises. We keep our eyes focused on Jesus and the new life that He provides for us. I think about the words from Colossians chapter 3 verses 1 and 2. <Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.> As we move out of a world of darkness, we think about Jesus Christ. We think about Him sitting at the right hand of the Father on High. We think about all of the good that surrounds Jesus, and the goodness that He puts into our life, so that we can now live that full and abundant life in Him. That's what we focus on. We don't focus on the world of darkness, any more, but we focus on the world of light that we are able to experience through Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son. As we keep one eye on the darkness and one eye on the light of Jesus, let us be reminded of what He has done for us and live a life of thanksgiving. Join me now, as we go to our Father in Heaven in a prayer of thanksgiving. <<O Holy Father, we thank You so very much for sending Your son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. And through that death and burial and resurrection, we now have the promise and the hope of a brand-new life with Him. No longer do we dwell upon a world of darkness but we dwell upon a world of light. We dwell upon being a part of Your family and enjoying all the blessings that are given to those who are Your children. Thank You Father, through the name of Jesus Christ, that You have moved us out of a world of darkness and into a world of light. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.>> One of the reasons why Jesus came into this world, as we identified at the very beginning, was to bring a full and abundant life to people. That was one of His purposes. He knew that we live in a world of darkness and He gave us the opportunity to get out of that world and into the world of light. My encouragement and my prayer for you today is that you will recognize what Jesus has done for you and that you will put your faith and trust in Him. Get rid of living in that dark world and embrace the world of light that Jesus has in store for you.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. I trust this message from God's Word blessed you. Oh, to live in the light of Jesus, instead of living in the darkness, changes one's life, and I hope you have experienced that light for yourself. If we can help you in your search for the light of Jesus Christ, we would be happy to do so. Consider calling the number on the screen to request a free Bible study. It will be sent to you without any cost or obligation. You might also consider going to our website. There you can download the same Bible study and work through it at your own pace. Take time to look at some of the other things that we have to offer on the website, as well. Hopefully these will bless your own personal study. Our greatest desire is that you will want to walk in the light of Jesus Christ. And if we can help you do that, please do not hesitate to contact us. Once again, thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. And please, join us again next time, as we study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."