Even though you cannot see me you can probably hear my voice, and that is for a good reason. I am standing behind this building in order to demonstrate the difference between light and darkness. Behind this building there are shadows, it is rather dark, I cannot see everything clearly; it is rather cool as well. I don't like being behind the building. I don't like being in the shadows or the darkness. I would rather be out here in the sunshine. I would rather be here where I can see everything going on in the world around me. I can see the people and the animals and the vehicles that go along the road. It is much warmer, as well. And as I think about the contrast between darkness and light, I am reminded of Jesus' ministry and the words that He oftentimes shared. He spoke this in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." I don't know where you are spiritually, but Jesus invites you to come out of that spiritual darkness and to experience the light that He offers to us. Yes, in spiritual darkness we are in the shadows. We are influenced by Satan and by the evil things of the world around us. It is much better to be in the light of Jesus Christ. For it is here that we can experience His goodness and His blessings. We can experience the light and the right direction in which we are to go, as we follow in His footsteps. I would encourage you, today, to recognize how Jesus Christ delivers us from a world of darkness, and He brings us into a world of light. And if you have never experienced that I hope that you will. Know the difference between living in darkness and living in the light of the Lord, who loves you so very much.
Perhaps, there are more illustrations and contrasts in the Bible between light and darkness than anything else. It goes all the way back to the beginning, when God created light out of the darkness. Job even felt as if he was living in darkness when he suffered so much loss. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah announced good news about the Messiah coming to take the place of darkness. The apostle Paul even reminds followers of Jesus that we do not belong to the night or darkness, rather we are children of the light. Yes, many teachings about light and darkness are found throughout Scripture. They revolve around this one thought, darkness is bad, light is good. Well, in our study today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will notice what that means for us. We will look at how Jesus came into the world and brought light to those who sat in darkness. We will also notice how we can receive the light of salvation, which He so freely offers. As we study together for the next few minutes, I invite you to carefully consider your spiritual life. Is it consumed with darkness? Do you feel like there is little hope of ever receiving the light of the Lord? Well, if that is the case, know that Jesus is the Light of this world and in Him there is no darkness. That is good news for all of us. There is a solution to sitting in a dark world where there is no hope. Jesus is the one who delivers us out of a world of darkness and transfers us into His world of light. I invite you to be a part of this Bible study as we seek to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Light of this world.
There are over 200 passages in the Bible that contrast the difference between light and darkness, 75 of those are found in the New Testament. Many of those statements were made by Jesus Christ, Himself. Others emphasize the effect His words and ministry and sacrifice on the cross have on people. As Jesus began His ministry, He traveled to various towns and villages, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom. And in doing so, in part, He fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament from Isaiah. Listen to these words in Matthew 4:16, "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." Jesus referred to Himself as the one who came to bring light into this world; and over 2000 years ago, He did just that. He offered hope to those who sat in darkness. He came to open their eyes and to change their world. The Gospel of John records the majority of Jesus’ statements about being that light. One of the most familiar is found in chapter 8:12 when Jesus said this: "I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life." That statement to some may appear rather bold and prideful and yet Jesus did not say that by His own authority. He always reflected the light and the glory of God, His heavenly Father. Yes, everything He said, everything He did was a testimony to God and in obedience to His will. So Jesus came to bring light into darkness, and people followed Him. They followed Him out of the shadows and out of that darkness to experience the light of the Lord. And even though He made that statement a long time ago, Jesus is still the light of the world in whom we can put our trust today. Here's another statement from Jesus. He told His disciples this in John 12:35-36, "You are going to have the Light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the Light while you have the Light, so that you may become the children of Light." How many times did Jesus say the word light in just those two verses? Yes, Jesus would not be with His disciples much longer. There was coming a time when He would die upon a cross and resurrect from the grave and then ascend to His Father's right hand, but He told the disciples to believe in Him while they still have the opportunity to do so; to believe Him, to become the children of Light, to become a part of God's family so they would not be overtaken by the darkness any longer. Oh, at times we may lose our way in this world. We may not be able to see the right road to take. We might get off track and go in the wrong direction. Just like these disciples of Jesus, we still have the opportunity today to believe in Him as the Light of this world. And when we follow Him, as that light, we can trust Him to lead us in the right direction. We become the children of Light, we become a part of God's family. And so Jesus is the Light of the world, in whom we can still trust today. Here is one more statement, found in John 12:46. “I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” Oh, the Bible records many reasons why Jesus came into this world. He came to fulfill prophecy. He came to die upon a cross. He came to rise again from the grave. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. But He also came, as we just noticed, to bring light into a spiritually dark world. Yes, there was no value to living in spiritual darkness, as much as Satan might entice us to believe that. There is a better way to live. And when we leave that spiritual world of darkness we can experience the light of the Lord. We can see clearly the way we are to follow. We can stay on track and we can move in the right direction. Yes, Jesus Christ is still the Light of the world, in whom we can believe today. Well, there are a number of other passages that remind us of this very truth, that there is nothing good that can come out of living in a world of darkness. And as we believe in and as we trust and as we follow Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then we will be walking in the light of the Lord; and, in Him there is no darkness. In the state called Alaska, there is darkness for the majority of any 24-hour period during the winter time. Oftentimes, during those times, the winter time, there is power failure. People have to stay inside for extended periods of time because it is too dark and too cold outside. As a result of that they may even experience health problems or emotional problems because they are not exposed to the light. And with few exceptions, most people try to avoid such places and such darkness. And yet in that very same state of Alaska, there is light for the majority of any 24-hour period during the summertime, and things get much better. People are able to go outside and to experience the light of the summer and the bright sunshine, and to enjoy all of the wonderful things that the state of Alaska has to offer. And with few exceptions, most people look forward to enjoying the light of summer. You know that is a small contrast, the light and the darkness of the state of Alaska, but it is nothing compared to the contrast between the spiritual world of darkness ruled by Satan and the kingdom of light that Jesus offers to all of us. Well in these three statements that we just read from Jesus, here in John's Gospel, He refers to Himself as; being the Light of the world, following Him as the Light of the world, and believing up on Him as the Light of the world. Now, that idea is carried out by some of Jesus' followers, or disciples. They, in their writings, write about light and darkness -Peter and John and also the apostle Paul. Let's notice a few of those statements. In 1st Peter 2:9 we find these words: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." In the Old Testament the nation of Israel was God's special people. He loved them. He protected them. He blessed them in some very wonderful and unusual ways. And even when He punished them, by sending them off into captivity, His presence never left them. In fact, He even brought back a remnant from that captivity to start all over again. Well, in the New Testament the ‘spiritual’ Israel are those who believe in Jesus Christ. They are the ones who have been called out of darkness and into the wonderful light of the Lord. And as we believe in and trust and follow Him, we experience all of these blessings. In fact, as Peter writes, we are God's special possession. He also writes that we are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We belong to God, He belongs to us. We are a part of His family. And as a result of that, we spend our days praising God for that deliverance out of darkness and into light. Oh, there is something very unique about being God's special possession. There is something very unique about following God's son, Jesus Christ. It's a transformation process. We go from Satan's dark kingdom into God's kingdom of light, that is ruled by Jesus Christ. When we do that, we experience love and salvation. We experience a new and a better life, that is not offered anywhere else or by anyone else, and especially not by Satan in that kingdom of darkness. Yes, it is a life changing process that is certainly worth telling to others. Here is another statement made by one of Jesus' disciples. This one comes from the apostle John. Listen to his words in 1st John 1:5-7. “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 do not live out 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 His Son purifies us from all sin.” Well, John points out in the passage that God is light, and we know that to be true. We also know that Jesus is God's representative upon the earth, and He is the one who has brought God's light into this world. He is the one who represents the Father in heaven, and He brings that light into your life and into mine; just like He did with the people in the New Testament. Yes, God is the light, His Son is the light, and we have the opportunity to experience that Light in our life. We also see that through Jesus' death and resurrection our sin is removed. It is washed away. It is forgiven and forgotten, and it is then that we begin to walk in the light of the Lord. We live with Him. We live with our Father in Heaven. We experience that fellowship, but that fellowship goes beyond just our relationship with the Father and the Son. As the text says, "We have fellowship with one another;" and in Him and with them, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, there is no darkness there is only light. We are part of the same family. God is our Father. He belongs to us. We belong to Him. And we experience the fellowship, as this big family that belong to the Father, that have been saved by His great love, and we experience that fellowship and that light as we have been rescued from the world of darkness. And even though we might sin on our life journey, we know that the very same blood that forgave us at the cross is the same blood that continually washes us clean and pure and holy in the sight of God. What a beautiful passage, what a beautiful statement by John. He wrote something else for our consideration, about the light and the darkness. It's found in the last book of the Bible the Book of Revelation. You might remember that John received this vision of what heaven is like. He receives a vision of that throne room scene, it's a beautiful book, the Book of Revelation. And in it, he describes what we can experience. Listen to these words that are found in Revelation 21: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.” As John sees what heaven is like, that Heavenly Kingdom he said there is no reason to shut the gates at night because the enemies aren't going to come in. They're not going to come in because it's too light, and that light comes from God. He is the source of light. And then the lamp is Jesus Christ, who reflects God's light throughout the entire Heavenly Kingdom. And there is no need for a sun or for a moon because the light of God will shine far greater. There is no night but there is only the light of the Lord and His son Jesus Christ. And that is what one can experience in heaven. And then finally we go to the words of the apostle Paul. On one occasion he wrote to some people who had recently received the salvation of Jesus Christ. They had put their trust and faith in Him. They were baptized into Jesus. Now, they were living a brand new life; and, no doubt they needed that. They were looking for a change. They needed a new direction. And so, Paul writes a letter of encouragement and praise to them. He commends them for living a life of faith and love and hope. He also reminds them of the difference that Jesus has made in their life. Listen to these words he writes in Colossians 1:13-14. "For 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." Paul makes it very specific that God has rescued us through His son Jesus Christ; rescued us from that kingdom of darkness, and now we have the forgiveness of sin. We have been redeemed and set free from sin and darkness and now we can experience the kingdom of His son Jesus Christ. Yes, these people knew they needed a solution to their sin problem, and it was found in Jesus Christ. Once they receive that, Jesus brought them that light and that salvation. Yes, they heard the Good News. They received His free gift of salvation. They left their spiritual darkness. They entered into the kingdom of light, and that changed their life, forever. What a beautiful description that Paul gives of that transformation, that rescue, here in Colossians 1. Well, let us know today, Jesus still forgives sin. He still sets people free from Satan. His blood still redeems those who are separated from God. He still invites us to live in His light, where there is no darkness. And being in Jesus' kingdom of light is far better than anything Satan's dark kingdom has to offer. Jesus spoke about being the Light. John reminds us of the fellowship we have with the Light. Peter encourages us to represent the Light, and Paul shares with us some of the blessings of living in the Light. Yes, through Jesus Christ God rescues us from Satan's dark world and brings us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Now, some people know what it is like to be held captive. My father-in-law, who is no longer living, served in World War II, and he was a prisoner of war. And during that time of imprisonment, he was abused, he was mistreated, he was hungry, he was cold; he was a prisoner of war. But one day there was an airplane that landed in the potato field in which he and his other friends were working, and they ran to that plane; they jumped on board and that plane took them to freedom. I know some people who have messed up and made some mistakes along the line, and they've had to spend some time in prison. They serve out their sentence because of the laws they broke, but after they served that sentence they were set free to enjoy freedom once again. I know some people who have experienced a great addiction in their life, and that addiction affected them and their family members in various ways. But through some careful counseling and an intervention and a decision to change, that person is now free from addiction and living a clean life. I also know some people who have lived a life of sin and rebellion in the past, but their eyes were opened up and they made the decision to no longer go in that direction. They made a change in their life and now they are living a life that is holy and right and pleasing to God. In all of those situations there appears to be no hope, no future. And yet, by the grace of God, He provided a deliverance. He brought hope and He brought a rescue. And still today, there are some who live sad and depressing lives. They live as if there is no hope for their life. They cannot see a better direction and a better life. There is no future for them, and, sadly, some of them even choose to end their own life. And that is tragic, because they cannot see that there is any hope beyond what this world has to offer. But I want you to imagine for just a moment, what it would be like to live without any kind of spiritual hope? What would it be like to be enslaved or trapped or imprisoned by Satan in his dark world? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? But in that dark world there is no freedom, there is no hope, there is no eternal life, there is no rescue. It's a darkened world ruled by Satan himself. But thanks be to God, once again, He sent His son Jesus Christ to provide a solution and to provide hope and a rescue. And maybe you can relate to that. Maybe you find yourself in a dark place, spiritually, and you're looking for a rescue. There are many reasons why Jesus came into this world, and we noticed that a moment ago. But perhaps the greatest reason why Jesus came into this world is to deliver us from Satan's dark world and to deliver us into the Kingdom of Light. If you have never experienced that rescue and that deliverance, I hope that you will. Recognize God's love for you. More than anything else, He wants to bring you out of that spiritual darkness and into the light of His Son.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” It truly is a blessing to know that Jesus is the Light that leads us into a right relationship with God. This lesson about how Jesus delivers us from a kingdom of darkness and transfers us into a kingdom of light is available on our website. Please go to keytothekingdom.com, where you can access it in a variety of formats, without any cost or obligation. Other lessons are there as well. Feel free to view any that might be of interest. One minute devotional thoughts, along with two-minute messages are also available. They offer practical ways of applying God's Word on a daily basis. You can also download our free app onto your smartphone. It will take you directly to our website and to the lessons and information about our ministry. I especially invite you to find “Key to the Kingdom” on Facebook®. Through social media, we are seeking to reach many people with our short inspirational messages. I hope you join so many others who are already following us on a weekly basis. If you would like to talk to someone in our ministry, please call the number on the screen. Leave your name and phone number, and we will be happy to return the call very soon. You can even contact me by email, which you will find on the website; and, I would love to hear from you. Each week we offer these lessons for your consideration and spiritual growth. Hopefully you find them to be a blessing in your walk with the Lord. Please consider joining us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”