The Destroyer of All Darkness
Jesus came into this dark and fallen world as the new creation and to bring about a re-creation of all those for whom He died. He is “the Destroyer of the darkness.” In His death on the cross, Jesus comes under the power of darkness as the substitute of those who once lived in darkness. He put Himself under the wrath of God for the sins of His people in order to give them to light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Him. He is the light of the world who shines in the darkness (John 8:12). By His death and resurrection, Jesus destroys the darkness and disseminates the light of God’s grace and truth.
Anyone who has read the book of Genesis and the gospel of John will immediately notice the similarity of the opening words of each book. Genesis opens with those astonishing first words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;” while John opens in this way: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” As a boy, I remember seeing that parallel but not understanding what it meant. I only came to understand it when the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, at the creation of the universe, shone into the darkness of my heart to give me the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Significantly, that is the point of the parallel. In redemptive history, we are meant to understand that the coming of the Son into this world was the breaking in of the light of God’s grace and truth to bring about the re-creation of a world that lay in darkness. B.B. Warfield captured this in a profound way, when he wrote,
“The obvious resemblance between the prologue to John’s Gospel and the proem of Genesis is not a matter of mere phraseology and external form. As the one, in the brief compass of a few verses, paints the whole history of the creation of a universe with a vividness which makes the quickened imagination a witness of the process, so the other in still briefer compass traces the whole history of the re-creation of a dead world into newness of life. In both, we are first pointed back into the depths of eternity, when only God was. In both we are bidden to look upon the chaotic darkness of lawless matter or of lawless souls, over which the brooding Spirit was yet to move. In both, as the tremendous pageants are unrolled before our eyes, we are made to see the Living God; and to see him as the Light and the Life of the world, the Destroyer of all darkness, the Author of all good. Here too, however, the Old Testament revelation is the preparation for the better to come. In it we see God as the God of power and of wisdom, the Author and Orderer of all; in this we see him as the God of goodness and mercy, the Restorer and Redeemer of the lost. Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”1
In Christ, the triune God becomes “the Destroyer of all darkness.”
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“Christian Nationalism”: Dump the Term While We Still CanBy Larry Ball — 8 months ago
The term Christian Nationalist sends the wrong message to both those outside the church and those inside the church. Therefore, I simply do not use the term. I prefer the term Christendom. When I speak of Christendom, surprisingly most people in the church today have never heard of it. I find this ironic because America (with all her warts) at various times in history could be judged as an example of Christendom. We have been living off that borrowed capital for years, but it is hastily running out.
America is at war—not literally as in the shedding of blood. At least, not yet. However, we have not been this divided since the advent of the Civil War. History does tend to repeat itself. It appears to me that total anarchy is on the horizon, and the 2024 presidential election could easily trigger this event.
On the one hand, we have a political party (with a president in the White House) that is pro-abortion up to the point of birth, a proponent of homosexual marriage, and an advocate of the mutilation of children in the name of transgenderism. With this party in power, we are now a nation that is known for Drag Queens teaching children at public libraries, open United States borders, and monetary inflation that steals purchasing power from every household.
On the other hand, we have a second political party in this country that is pushing back on some of these issues, although not all of them. For Bible-believing Christians the present political and social disorder is very appalling. Most biblical Christians have lost hope in both political parties.
Some Christians are looking for a rapture very soon. They believe they will escape what could be a coming calamity. Others, like myself, believe that this is simply the judgment of God on our nation, and this is something we all must face head on.
The issue before us is very simple. America has changed religions. From a nation where political laws were based on the Ten Commandments, our nation has been commandeered by those who despise God’s law. This new religion controls almost all landscapes of our country including the political, the educational, the military, the media, and even the arena of large business corporations. It is quickly infiltrating the church.
The Evangelical Church is a mess and unable to respond. Most pastors are silent from the pulpit in order to avoid conflict. Other pastors in the name of the separation of church and state (or the separation of two kingdoms) believe that only the church should be under the law of God, and it is alright if the state legalizes abortion, homosexuality, and the freedom to choose one’s sex. They promote the idea that the church is spiritual and the Bible has no authority over civil magistrates or unbelievers. Persecution is our calling and we should welcome it. It is the way of glory.
Thus, out of desperation and grief, there has arisen a new movement calling itself Christian Nationalism. It is a backlash against the current war against Christianity. It is partially a replacement movement for a silent church. Leaders include Marjorie Taylor Greene, a U.S. House Representative from Georgia, and Lauren Boebert, a U. S. House Representative from Colorado. Al Mohler, who has spoken against the use of the term in the past, now seems to be warming up to it.
For several reasons, I am opposed to adopting or using the term Christian Nationalism as a response to the present anti-Christian crusade. I believe the term will do more harm than good. My reasons are as follows.
First, no one has defined the term Christian Nationalism. There is no consensus on what it means. Cultural theologians, both liberal and conservative are attempting to give it meaning, seeking to be the first in line to claim that honor.
Secondly, it is all happening so fast that it makes my head swim. It may be time to just sit down and do more thinking about it rather than bellow the term in frustration. Proverbs 25:8 tells us to be cautious about arguing our case too quickly. This is wisdom that is needed in our day.
Thirdly, the term nationalism will be associated with the Nazi Nationalism of Germany before World War ll. Since the mainstream media is pushing this narrative too, and since they control much of public opinion, biblical Christians who are vocal will be called Nazis. In the case of our present President of the United States, he has already called people like me Semi-Facist. The FBI has become a political arm of the present regime, and many vocal Christians will likely come under considerable scrutiny (like the My Pillow Man).
Fourthly, no one that I know believes that the church should rule the state. In the Old Testament there was a separation of the realms of Moses and Aaron. In the New Testament the power of the sword belongs to the civil magistrate and not to the church. This idea of the church ruling the state is simply a false conflagration to scare the ignorant and to create a false phobia.
The separation of church and state is biblical. However, no one can separate religion and state. Every state will be dominated by some religion, whether it be Christianity, Islam, or (now in the case of America) Neo-Marxism (see my book Critical Race Theory and the Church – A Concise Analysis).
I have the same frustration as both Representatives Greene and Boebert, but I have a better name for what they want to see. It is called Christendom! It is a word that has been in use for hundreds of years. It does not have a pejorative connotation tied to it. It simply refers to a nation that, either by a consensus of the people (democracy) or by royal inheritance (Great Britain), is a culture governed by Christian principles and as such will be blessed with peace and prosperity.
In Christendom the church-state separation is respected. The ten commandments are the basis of a civil society. The laws of the state should reflect in principle the laws of God. No one is forced to go to church. After working six days, God gives us a day of rest. The dignity of life is to be protected, even those in the womb. Adultery is treason against the family because God created the family for security and protection. Opportunity is based on merit, and not on race or color.
The term Christian Nationalist sends the wrong message to both those outside the church and those inside the church. Therefore, I simply do not use the term. I prefer the term Christendom.
When I speak of Christendom, surprisingly most people in the church today have never heard of it. I find this ironic because America (with all her warts) at various times in history could be judged as an example of Christendom. We have been living off that borrowed capital for years, but it is hastily running out. The bank account is almost empty.
Only a full-orbed gospel can create a true and lasting Christendom. The hearts of the elect must first be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christendom, good Christian men will become leaders in all the domains of life. This is the only way to stop the present slide toward insanity and suicide. Remember, all who hate God love death (Prov. 8:36). Not all men in a Christian nation will be Christians, but in spite of their rebellious hearts, they will reap some of the blessings of God.
There is much that could be said about this topic. I cannot deal with it all here. I am not sure that I am capable. But I plead for my Christian brethren to dump the term Christian Nationalism and use the term Christendom. Then, let the real conversation begin.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.
Faithful Shepherding In The Midst Of Suffering – Part 3By Alexander Strauch — 2 years ago
My dear friends, glory is our reward with the Lord. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of the glory of God rests upon you.” We need to get our eyes off of this earth and off the temporary problems we have, and on the eternal reward day that is coming. The payday is coming. And God is no man’s debtor. whatever you have suffered, however, we have been faithful to him, that will all be brought up at the judgment seat of Christ. Again, eternal rewards are ours. Let us be faithful.
So far, we have pondered on the reality of suffering in the world, and have seen from the Bible that suffering is to be expected for Christians, especially since we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Remember that we are not only to teach these truths faithfully, but also to model them in our own lives.
The third thing we need to continually teach our people about is the divine perspective on suffering. If you have your Bible, I do want you to see this yourself. I want you to open 2 Corinthians 4. Now, here’s a passage of Scripture, that I am not exaggerating when I say I’ve used it hundreds of times in my life, it could even be 1000! And I want you to use this when we face suffering and when we help other people, because we do not just deal with our own suffering, as shepherds. Along with that, we have to be faithful to help others through suffering. In fact, I think we spend more time helping other people through suffering than ourselves. And we need to know what Scripture text to go to.
I remember I was training this young man in our church about visitation, going to hospitals dealing with people’s problems. And I remember the first time we went out and an issue came up with the people we were talking to, and I took them to this passage. And this young man said to me later, when we left, “You know, I literally had no idea what Bible verse to open to?” He said, “I’m glad you showed me.” I said, “Well, that’s why I brought you along. So you know how to open your Bible and comfort people who are suffering and help yourself.” Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 4. Second Corinthians, is an amazing book. It is the most autobiographical of Paul’s books, and there is no other book in which we get these insights into Paul as a shepherd of the Lord’s people. And you see at one moment his severity and next moment, tenderness unlike anything else So in verse 16, he says, “For we do not lose heart.” Well, my friends, if anyone should lose heart and get depressed and discouraged, it was the Apostle Paul. He had more problems than all of you put together and multiplied. This man had every problem there is. I have never been whipped, I have never been left at sea, never been hungry. I mean, this man experienced everything. He sat in jail, he had people trying to stone him to death, whip him to death. “We do not lose heart!” Oh! I want to find out why he doesn’t lose heart, because I lose heart so easily.
“Though our outward self is wasting away.” Now if you’re over 55 you know what this means. The outer nature is wasted away. Well, you lose muscle, your skin sags, you have to have glasses, you go get hearing aids, some people get wigs (I look better this way!). And then we have knee replacements and hip replacements. Replacements seem to be nowhere near what they can repair in your body. The outward nature is wasting away, and well, it will end in your death. Now, this is my verse for my philosophy of aging. Are you ready? “Although the outward nature is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” If you’re over 50, you better know this verse. Although the outward nature is decaying (you can do some things to slow it down, but it is going to win), the inner man, the new man in Christ, in the Holy Spirit who lives within us, every day he is being renewed. Well, that is an amazing truth, isn’t it? Your inner man is being fed and he is growing, he is expanding, he is maturing. That should be your philosophy of life.
[In fact, I was going to speak to you about this whole thing: About being a growing leader, a maturing leader. Sadly, many stop growing when they get to be about the age of 40 and older. They do not read anymore, they do not go to conferences, they do not have a greater vision for the world. That is a very, very big problem. But this text says, the inner man is being renewed every day. He is growing. He is learning and expanding. That’s what I want to do as I age.]
Now I want you to get the balance hereof words very beautifully balanced. I wish I had a scale to show this but you can imagine a weighing scale. “For this light momentary affliction…” or suffering “is preparing for us…” Well, that’s good to know. “An eternal. weight of glory beyond all comparison.” In other words, these are not comparisons. This is what happens. It is an eternal weight of heavenly glory. Here on earth what we face is a light, momentary affliction. That’s the divine perspective. And he says it is not comparable. So in this life, you have many afflictions, sorrows, heartaches, setbacks, losses, and sometimes very severe, and they really can hurt. But the divine perspective says it is light and it is momentary, lasting a very short time. A whole life here on earth is a very short time. But it is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory.
Now, if you want to know a little bit more about this glory, you go down to Chapter 5 verses 1-10.
Ecclesiastes’ Cure for DepressionBy John Carpenter — 6 months ago
God subjected everything “under the sun” to futility in hope. Hope is the opposite of depression. God made everything vapor under the sun in hope that you’d start looking for what is not under the sun. God is not under the sun and apart from Him, you can’t eat or enjoy anything (2:25). So, stop being apart from Him. Please God, by not living just for what’s under the sun. Get wisdom and knowledge and joy (2:26), and a life that’s not a vapor, not just wind chasing. Everything under the sun is in bondage to futility. So, what’s the use? The use of putting everything under the sun in bondage to futility was so that you would look higher than the sun and have the freedom of the glory of the children of God, through Jesus Christ. Ecclesiastes’ use is to take our depressed stare off things under the sun and set it on things above.
Twenty years ago, I was depressed. I was 37 years old living in a nice home in Kentucky. Just a couple of months earlier I thought I was set up for the life I had been working so hard for. I was driven. After three years of 17 hour days of an MDiv program with Greek and Hebrew flashcards, after a missionary stint in Ethiopia, I bull-dozed my way through a Ph.D. program, while working – walking outside in 30 below degree weather in Chicago, hunched over in my car, writing academic papers at 3 am. I had arrived, finally, I thought, where everything would pay off: church, academics, success. It all turned to nothing. So, I sat in the recliner, staring out the window, staring at nothing, with the tv on but not really watching, a freezer full of ice cream which I didn’t eat because I just didn’t care and thought, ‘what’s the use?’. There’s good news for depressed people in Ecclesiastes: you’re right. What is the use?
First, the facts. What are the facts, you depressed people? The “preacher” tells us. He’s the philosopher king, the wise man and he’s going to tell us the facts.
The facts are “vanity of vanities.” The word literally means “vapor,” like a puff of wind, like that mist that comes from vaping. You see it for a few seconds and it dissipates. Everything “under the sun” is like that. Except, it gets worse. It’s not just vapor, it’s the vapor of vapor. If vapor could produce a vapor — if the whole universe were vapor and in that vapor universe there was its own vapor — that’s what everything is like, under the sun.
Under the Sun
“Under the sun” is the qualifier, specifying what exactly is vapor. Not everything but everything “under the sun.” What is “under the sun” is the world we can see; what can be observed; the horizons of this world; the things we see and touch and taste; the work we can do, the things we can achieve with our bodies or minds. That’s the stuff that’s vanity, vapor, meaningless, for nothing. Of course, for most people, that’s their whole lives. They live constantly for what is “under the sun” and so, for them everything is meaningless and they don’t know it and if they find out, without God’s word, they’re going to be very depressed. They’re going to be staring out the window thinking, ‘What’s the use?’
The fact is, under the sun, you’re getting nowhere. “Sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” What’s the gain if you work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years, to make a life for you and your family and your family doesn’t care? I know a couple who did that, who grew a successful business; were able to branch out to 2 restaurants, move to a nice house near a golf course and their daughter grows up, goes away and never wants to visit. What did they gain by all their toil? (1:3.) “Gain” means profit, end up with more than you began with. Your work has gained you this that you can point to: a house, a bank account, a car. “Under the sun,” people think they’ve gained if they end up with more money and stuff than they started with, than they were raised with. “He who dies with the most toys wins,” they think — except they don’t really think or they’d see that here, under the sun, no one gains because everyone ends up with exactly what they came with: nothing. Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls, no trailers full of their stuff going to heaven. We all end as empty-handed as we started. So, what’s the use?
The fact is we’re never satisfied. “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing” (1:8.) You never watch a movie that is so good, you’re satisfied never to see another movie again. You never hear a song so fulfilling that you’re happy to never hear another song again. It’s addiction. Now with our phones we can feed that addiction. We can be constantly staring down, looking at something, listening to something and we never have enough of it and we never learn that we’ll never have enough.
The fact is that we’re not really getting anywhere, under the sun. “What has been is what will be and what has been done is what will be done” (1:9). The more things change, the more they stay the same. Is there anything that is really new (1:10)? ‘Ah, we might say back, living in an age of rapid innovation, the iPhone is new, the internet is new.’ Maybe, but what we do with it is the same. Nonsense, looking at cat videos, ranting about politics, porn. Archaeologists dig up pornographic sculptures from Pompeii or from the Canaanites and with our smart phones we’re conveying the same content. Same song, different verse.
Maybe, we’ll think, we’ll make a difference. We’ll write a book or an article or a song or build a building or give the money or be the parent who will be remembered. But how many people do you know from the past? Do you know your great grand-parents? How many of your eight great-grandparents can you name? What makes you think your great-grandchildren will know you? I don’t mean to depress you. Those are just the facts.
The facts are that everything, under the sun, is nothing; that it’s going nowhere and try as hard as you can, you won’t change that. You’ll be forgotten just like you forgot your ancestors. You might think that’s brutal, but those are the facts. What I can do, though, is understand it.