Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

The Light of the World

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2021 12:01 am

The Light of the World

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1629 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

May 18, 2021 12:01 am

Everything changes when God opens our eyes to the radiance of Christ. Today, R.C. Sproul shows that Jesus came into the world to radiate the glory of God in a spiritually blind world.

Get R.C. Sproul's Teaching Series 'Knowing Christ: The 'I AM' Sayings of Jesus' for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Amy Lawrence Show
Amy Lawrence
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
Kerwin Baptist
Kerwin Baptist Church

Isn't it interesting that in our popular vocabulary when somebody becomes converted, we use the expression, they've seen the light because before they were blinded to the things of God. And all of a sudden when your eyes are opened and you see the full orb sweetness of the radiance of Christ, everything changes. When Jesus said, I am the light of the world, He revealed more truth than we can really understand. He wasn't talking about physical light. He was talking about His true identity.

Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul turns to the Gospel of John as we continue our study of the unique I am statements of Jesus. As we continue now with our study of the I am's of Jesus as they're found in John's Gospel, we're going to turn our attention now to the second of the series of I am's, which is the statement that Jesus made, I am the light of the world. Now, depending on which translation of the Bible you have in front of you, you may find this reference in a little different place from somebody else.

In my Bible, I find it in John chapter 8, verse 12, where we read, Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world, and he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. Now, the reason I mentioned in passing that it may be at a different spot in your Bible is that what precedes this in my text is the account of the woman caught in adultery. And in fact, as a subheading in the New King James Bible, it says this for chapter 8, an adulteress faces the light of the world. But the reason that this is problematic is that in some ancient manuscripts, this text does not occur at the beginning of chapter 8. And so there is this ancient discussion as to where it belongs in the text.

There's virtually no argument that it is apostolic in origin, but there is a dispute technically as to where it actually fits in the narrative. But the normal place that we find it is in the eighth chapter. And so let's work on that assumption that Jesus gives this statement to the people after they have dragged this woman out of the darkness and made a public spectacle of her guilt, dragging her sin, as it were, into the light of day. And Jesus, after dismissing her accusers and granting His grace to her, then He says, I am the light of the world, and He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life. Now the term light is one of the most important terms in all of John's gospel.

John uses the word light, the word life, for example, the word truth over and over and over again. But of course, John's gospel is not the only place in the New Testament where we hear the idea of light being used as a metaphor to refer to the truth of the gospel, to the ministry of Christ, and to what happens to people who are converted to Christ, because we are described in our natural fallen condition as being children of the darkness. And in that sense, the darkness refers to a deficiency, a moral deficiency or corruption of the human heart. I can't help but be reminded of Joseph Conrad's classic novel entitled The Heart of Darkness. That is, the heart of darkness is a heart that lives in a state of corruption. And we talk about the works that are done in darkness.

People who are engaged in virtue are not inclined to hide in dark places. The darkness is the place where unspeakable sins are carried out as they are being concealed from public display. And we remember Isaiah in the Old Testament when he gave his messianic prophecy of the One who would come, the Servant of the Lord, he says that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. And so we see this antithesis throughout Scripture between light and darkness. And though Jesus is the light of the world and radiates the refulgent glory of the light of God Himself, because God is seen as seen as being light. God is viewed as dwelling in light inaccessible that He radiates the refulgent glory of His own character. And when we see God manifesting Himself in Scripture, He does it again and again with these overpowering experiences of light. We think of Jesus appearing to Saul on the road to Damascus when He blinds Saul with a light that is brighter than the noonday sun. We think, for example, of the Mount of Transfiguration where for a few brief moments the deity of Christ burst through the veil of His humanity, and His countenance changes, and His clothes begin to glow as it were, and there's this brilliant light that envelops Him, and the disciples fall on their face as though they were dead. And when I teach my students this, and particularly when I'm dealing with young people, I'll ask people some simple questions, and I'm going to ask some of our folks that are here with us today.

We have some young guys that are being homeschooled. I'm going to talk to you, Samuel. I'm going to make you famous. I'm putting you on television. I'm going to ask you a simple question.

See if you can help me here. What color is an orange? Orange.

Okay, that's like who was buried in Grant's tomb, right? Now, you were quick. Now I'm going to ask your older brother, Tim, a little bit tougher. What color is an orange, Tim, when the lights are out? What?

Thank you very much. Black. See, because orange as a color does not inherit in that piece of fruit. The only time an orange is orange is when the light is on, because color is something that belongs not to shirts or to blouses or shoes or to people or to things or objects. The colors of the rainbow are found in light, and what happens is that certain substances will refract certain colors that are in the prism of light, and others are absorbed. And so when something like an orange only bounces off the orange, then it appears to our eyes as if it were orange. But without the source of light, everything is black. There is no color, because the purity is found in the light itself.

I'm reminded of that every time we have the phenomenon of the rainbow in the sky, where you see the prism going across as an arc, as the bow in the sky, that shows us the beauty of color that is found within the light. And now when the disciples speak of their recollection of the transfiguration in which the light of deity shone out of Christ, He wasn't reflecting it. It was coming from within, unlike Moses, whose face radiated after he had seen the back of God, then Moses' face began to shine.

But Moses was shining with a reflected glory, not with an inherent or intrinsic glory. Christ, when He began to burst forth in this light at the Mount of Transfiguration, was displaying His glory, not the reflected glory, but His internal glory. That's why the disciples and even John himself says, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father. Now though it's not until chapter 8 in John's gospel that we have a record of Jesus calling Himself the light of the world, He's already described in those terms earlier by the author of the gospel Himself. I take you back to the very beginning of John's gospel to these words. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God, and all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Now there's no passage in all of Scripture that more clearly affirms the deity of Christ than the prologue of John's gospel that says of the second person, the Logos, that He was with God in the beginning and that He was God, and that He is also the Creator of all things, that nothing comes to be except through the power of the Logos. And it says, in Him was life, and the life was the light was the light of men. And this is the light now that shines in the darkness as the Logos Himself, the ultimate light source, comes to this world. The great light that comes into the midst of the darkness is not comprehended by the people of darkness. And John goes on to say, there was a man sent from God whose name was John.

He's referring to John the Baptist. This man came for a witness to bear witness of the light that all through him might believe. He was not that light but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world. Now this metaphor of light and darkness is not found simply in the New Testament or in Christian literature, but it's found in other sources and other philosophies, and it was certainly one of the favorite metaphors of the philosopher Plato.

Some of you may remember from your studies in college or even in high school of having read the Republic of Plato that Plato has a famous analogy or a parable. Well, he tells the story of slaves who are confined to the quarters within a cave. And there's a little fire going in the cave, but these men are tied up in there, and the only light that they have is a vague light that reflects shadows on the wall of the cave. And these people who are in this dark cave with this dim light, all they see are the shadows, and they have no clear view of reality. And what Plato calls these shadows that are dancing on the walls of the cave is opinion, and he sees this as being less than true knowledge. And in Plato's analogy, he says that for a person to acquire true knowledge, they have to get out of the cave, out of the darkness, out of the darkness into the noonday sun, where in light of the shining of the sun, they can behold objects as they really are, that it's only in the context of light that reality can be known so that you have knowledge.

Everything else are simply dim approximations, just opinions that don't really matter. This is Plato's philosophy. Now, why is that significant to Christianity? Well, in the second century, the Christian apologist Justin Martyr talked about that not only do we find truth in the sources that God gives to us through Moses and through the prophets and in the Bible, but the light of God's truth shines through creation as Paul tells us in the first chapter of Romans that God's revelation comes not only in the Bible but also through nature, where the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows forth His handiwork. And of course, Justin Martyr goes on to say that some people, even unbelievers, get some glimpse of reality. That's why people who are unbelievers can be effective physicians, physicians, mathematicians, biologists, or whatever, because they work with the light of nature, and the light of nature can reveal certain truths.

And so we can step back and be impressed by the insights of Plato, impressed by the insights of Cicero, impressed by the insights of Aristotle. And Justin Martyr was saying that where they get their knowledge, any knowledge that you find in Plato that's valuable comes ultimately from the supreme source of light, who is Christ. Christ is the one who lights every one who comes into the world. In other words, apart from the light of the grace of God that is given to the world through Christ, there would be nothing but ignorance, nothing but darkness, but that even those who are not Christians participate in some of the flow of the benefits that comes from the light that has come into the world.

Even when we reject that light, we still participate in the benefits of that light. I also think it's important to realize that when we go back to the account of creation in the very first page of sacred Scripture, we are told that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then we read the earth was without form and empty or void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. So that the pre-structured universe, which God describes in the very first chapter of the Bible, before His work of creation begins, all we have is formlessness or chaos. All we have is emptiness and darkness. And you think of those three metaphors, formlessness, emptiness, and darkness.

They are all negative, ominous-sounding words in our vocabulary. But the very first act of creation is what? The Spirit hovers on the face of the deep, and God says, let there be light. And instantly the light comes on. So the very first act of God in creation is to bring light to a universe that is filled with darkness apart from it. And He Himself is described, as I said, in terms of light. That's the beginning of the biblical revelation. When we go to the very end of the biblical revelation in the New Testament to the apocalypse, and we read in the last chapters of the book of Revelation the vivid description that John gives us while he's in exile on the island of Patmos, and he has this vision inside heaven, vision inside heaven, and he sees the new heavens, the new earth, the new Jerusalem descending down from heaven, and he describes the interior of the holy city. And he says, there's no light there, no sun.

Why? Because the glory of God and the Son of God light the heavenly places. There's no night. Because the presence of God radiates this light constantly. And that's what the Bible describes as the glory of God. The refulgence of His blazing purity and brightness comes to us in light. And so all of this is contained in Jesus' claim here when He says, I am the light of the world, and if you follow Me, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but they will have the very light of life. Isn't it interesting that in our popular vocabulary when somebody becomes converted, we use the expression, they've seen the light? Because before they were blinded to the things of God, religion seemed unnecessary, irrational, fanatical, and all the rest, you know, insignificant, and all of a sudden when your eyes are opened and you see the full orb sweetness of the radiance of Christ, everything changes. Behold, the old has passed away and all has become new because now you see what you never saw before. See, the other place where Jesus calls Himself the light of the world is in the context when He heals the man who's born blind, because that man opens his eyes and sees for the first time.

And perhaps the first thing he sees is the very light of the world who gave him His sight in the first place. Well, when Jesus makes this claim in chapter 8, listen to the Jewish response. The Pharisees said to Him, you bear witness of yourself. Your witness is not true. Jesus said, well, even if I do bear witness of myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I'm going.

But you do not know where I come from and where I'm going. You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. And it is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am the one who bears witness of myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me. And they said, well, where is your Father? Jesus said, you know neither Me nor My Father. If you'd known Me, you would have known My Father also. Now, do you see what's going on here is that according to Jewish law, when testimony is given and claims are made for it to be legal, it has to be corroborated by another source.

You have to have the agreement of at least two witnesses. And here Jesus is saying, I'm the light of the world. And the Pharisee says, oh, no, you're not. Who do you think you are to make a claim like that just by yourself? Nobody else is backing it up. Nobody else is corroborating it or verifying this stupendous claim that you are making. And Jesus says, I don't have to have any corroboration because I know who I am. I know where I came from and where I'm going.

This is really an incredible statement. Again, just as He had done when He talked about His being the bread of life, He makes reference to His place of origin. This is the testimony that's required on earth.

You have to have corroborative witnesses. But when God speaks, you don't need human corroboration. I know where I came from. I came from above.

I'm going back there. And if you insist upon two testimonies, let me remind you that my testimony to myself is not something that I do on my own, but the Father on my own, but the Father bears witness to me. And if you listen to my Father, you would listen to me.

Now where does that happen? We see it in different ways in the New Testament. We see it at the baptism of Jesus. When the Father speaks audibly from heaven, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And elsewhere, this is my beloved Son.

Listen to Him. We remember Nicodemus in the third chapter of John's Gospel coming to Jesus at night and saying, teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God, or you would not be able to do the works that you do, so that Jesus' miracles, His signs that He gives, reflect God's attestation, confirmation, and corroboration of the truth claims of Jesus. And so Jesus said, hey, I'm not just bearing witness to myself that I am the light of the world, but my Father, who sent me, also gives His testimony to that truth. When Jesus calls Himself the light of the world, He's saying much more than it appears on the surface. He is in fact declaring that He is God. We have gained great insight today here on Renewing Your Mind from Dr. R.C. 's parole series, Knowing Christ—The I Am Sayings of Jesus. Jesus used seven different metaphors to describe Himself, and R.C.

looks in-depth at each one. We'd be happy to send you the series on a single DVD for your donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. You can make your request and give your gift online at, or you can call us.

Our number is 800-435-4343. The world certainly has its opinions about Jesus. Some say He was a good teacher, or even those who say He was a revolutionary. In order to really know who Jesus is, we need to know what He said about Himself. John's Gospel does just that with these seven I Am statements. So again, we invite you to request a copy of Dr. Sproul's series, Knowing Christ, when you contact us today.

Our phone number is 800-435-4343, but you can also find us online at And let me take just a moment to thank you for your generous donation. When you give, you make it possible for these messages to encourage the Church around the world. Tomorrow, Dr. Sproul will explain what Jesus meant when He described Himself as the door. Jesus is speaking of heaven, of the kingdom, of the presence of God, and He uses a statement that the Pharisees choked on. But I have to say to you, beloved, there's probably no time and no culture in the history of the Christian church more offended by this kind of teaching by Jesus than the culture in which we live today.

What is it that the culture finds so offensive about this teaching? We'll find out tomorrow as R.C. continues his series, Knowing Christ, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-17 18:07:28 / 2023-11-17 18:16:04 / 9

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime