Coming Into God’s Light: Part One
April 7, 2019
Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1383 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text
— Brother Phil Enlow:
Praise the Lord! That’s an awesome setup for the things I believe the Lord has helped me to see, in a measure. I’ve had thoughts running around in my head for the last three or four weeks and yet still feel like I can’t hardly put them into words adequately. I appreciate what was just said. That was exactly along the lines — in the songs that were sung.
But the scripture, the passage of scripture that’s just come to me over and over again is in 1st John, the first chapter. And it’s an extremely simple truth and simple language.
You know, I took a couple of years of Greek in college and it’s interesting that right from the very beginning of our first course, we used the first letter of John as kind of our basis. It’s almost like, “see Dick, see Jane, see Jane run, see Spot run,” or whatever. I mean the language is just about that simple.
And it’s because the truth is simple, if we really get down to it. We’re the ones who complicate it, who get ourselves in the way and get our unbelief in the way. But I believe God wants us to come back to some simple things that we walk in more than we do, and that’s starting with me. I confess my need of what I’m talking about this morning.
But you know we have to start where we’re at, every single one of us. We can’t be what we’re not, in one sense, but at the same time, we can certainly do exactly what was just expressed, that we can give ourselves to the Lord, because He’s the Savior. I can’t fix what’s wrong with me, but He can. And that’s what the cross is all about. Praise God!
So, John begins his letter by basically laying down the groundwork for what he’s saying. Because John is not going to be expressing some new philosophy, some better way to live and all of the — some human thing that’s just come on the scene. He’s expressing something that is eternal. He’s expressing truth, reality that goes back to before the beginning of time. He refers to it as the beginning, but goes on forever.
And what he says is this, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (NIV).
When God sent His Son into the world, it was meant to be an expression of Himself. He’s referred to as the Word, but the Word is a way by which we express something. When God expresses it, it’s not just a bunch of ideas. There is something of His own being that flows forth from it.
And when He came and lived and dwelt in His Son, who had become a man — I mean, people were confronted with God every single day. But the disciples, among others, were those who not only encountered Him but began to have an understanding of who He really was and what it was they were encountering.
I mean, they went through all that they had seen of His miracles, hearing His teachings, just experiencing the blessing of being in His presence, and yet they come to the end, right before He was to be crucified, and Jesus is talking about the Father and — was it Thomas, somebody, anyway, spoke up and said, Lord, show us the Father and we’ll be satisfied.
What did Jesus say? He said, have you been with Me so long, and yet you don’t know Me? “…He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (KJV). I mean, there was a human encounter with God, the God of the universe, who had come down in mercy to creatures who had no qualifications whatsoever, to be loved by Him, to be accepted by Him. I mean, it was just totally beyond reason that we would have any hope for that kind of a God. And yet, there He was.
And so, what John is about to express is what grows out of that reality. I’ve been there. I’ve touched Him. I have seen Him. I was on the mountain, I saw His glory! I mean, this is not—this is not hand-me-down religion. This is not some human philosophy that has sort of captured my imagination. I want to tell you the truth. I want to tell you how it is. I’m gonna give you something you can build your life upon, that makes meaning—gives meaning to life!
And he said, “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life…” (NIV). I mean, just that expression alone: we’re familiar with life. We know what life is as opposed to death. But this is a life that doesn’t die. Everything we know about here is corruptible and it dies. Talk about getting old?
( congregational response ).
Yeah! That’s part of being alive in this world. But I’ll tell you, there is a life that doesn’t end, doesn’t get, doesn’t get old, doesn’t have — anyway — it’s perfect! Praise God!
“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard….” Now he’s getting to the reason for this sharing of this information. This is not simply educating people’s minds, but it is for a reason, for a purpose.
And that reason is, “…so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”
And I think it’s worthwhile to just focus, for a moment, on the word “fellowship.” We use it in such an incomplete way that doesn’t really express what he’s trying to say here. We talk about having fellowship as though it’s an activity. But an activity like fellowship that isn’t based upon a relationship is just, is nothing at all.
And we have human relationships that we call fellowship but it could be fellowship around a whole lot of things. But this is an ongoing, enduring relationship that he’s talking about here. I want you to come into such a oneness with God that there is a — there’s no barrier anymore. We are absolutely one with Him. We have a fellowship with Him and that also gives us a fellowship one with another.
Now here’s a rather silly illustration. You could have a fellowship of people who like grapes. It’s just something — a taste they share and so they come together periodically and they eat grapes and talk about the different kinds of grapes and then they go their separate ways and live their separate lives.
But there’s another kind of fellowship that Jesus talked about in John chapter 15, didn’t He, where He’s talking about, not people who just like grapes, but people who produce grapes, as it were, uses the illustration of the vine and the branches. Now you’ve got a different situation there. You’ve got a shared life, don’t you? You’ve got an organic connection. You’ve got branches that are equipped to bear grapes. And yet, they still cannot bear grapes by themselves, can they? There has to be a living connection to a source of life that empowers them to produce grapes. That’s a whole different deal.
And you talk about a fellowship of people who are literally connected to a life and are able to produce something that they cannot produce in themselves. That’s what He’s talking about. Folks, if all we have is a fellowship around a tradition, or a set of doctrinal beliefs, or a way of life, or a way of doing church, folks, that’s a dime a dozen in this world.
( congregational response ).
There are people who meet together on that ground. There is only one kind of fellowship that John is talking about and that is the fellowship when God’s life is present. And it’s present with people who share that life and who share it, not only in relationship to Him but in relationship one to another.
It is a supernatural business. It is as supernatural as Jesus, the life of Jesus, who walked the shores of Galilee so long ago, but it was God that was in Him. And so, there was something more than just a man with great teachings, a moral teacher, as some people try to make Him no more than that.
But there is a supernatural thing to which God has called us. And that’s what’s in John’s mind. And I don’t know — somehow I’ve just caught a glimpse of this in a different way and I’ll tell you, I know it’s right because the Devil has fought it like nobody’s business. Just trying to reinforce every lie he has ever embedded in my heart and mind. I know I’m not alone.
Folks, the Devil is scared to death that there will be a people who will come to understand their standing before God, their relationship to Him, the foundation of that relationship, and their relationship one to another, because if that happens, God will dwell in human flesh, and man, he is going to lose some ground in lies and we’re gonna have a people that He can actually use that God can express His life through. That’s what this is about. This is a supernatural deal where a people have a relationship not simply with each other, built around religion and tradition, but a living relationship with God!
And I’ll tell you, it’s more than activity, it’s more than a lot of things. How many of you remember the church in Laodicea? See, there’s no hint in what’s said that they were believing wrong doctrines, that they had embraced some kind of an error. It’s simply they had become so complacent in the practice of their religion that Jesus was no longer really present in the middle of it. They were going through the outward motions of it and yet Jesus was not there.
What did Jesus say? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” (KJV). If you open to me, I will come in and eat and drink with you and you with me. I mean, there’s an ongoing, literal relationship. I’ve got stuff that I want to share with you. You can’t just get it out of a book or by following a tradition and think that somehow that’s gonna accomplish what I want to accomplish. There’s a living relationship that is real!
( congregational amens ).
And the fellowship, for example, that God is talking about is the same fellowship that all the parts of my body have with one another. Now, one fist might fight another but that would be kind of silly, but I mean, we share, we’re all part of one whole. We share the life that’s in me, whatever, aging as it is.
But nonetheless, you get the picture, because we are the Body of Christ, folks. We share something that is Eternal. And that has got to be front and center with this church, with this work, with everything that we are about, it’s got to be Christ, literally living in the center and in the hearts and lives of His people! A relationship that happens! Praise God!
So this is what John is after. So what does that look like? That’s what he’s going to be developing as he goes on into this. What does it look like?
Well, first of all, he wants to establish something. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (NIV). Man, there’s got to be a ground for this fellowship, ‘cause we’re dealing with the Eternal God. We’re dealing with Somebody who is pure beyond pure, Someone in whom there is no darkness at all!
It’s not like He’s a bigger version of us where He’s mostly good but He’s got His bad side. He gets up one day and He doesn’t feel like doing this or doing that. There is nothing — He is absolutely pure!
And I think the implication, right off the bat, is if we are going to have a relationship with Him, it’s gonna be on His terms! He’s not gonna come down and conform to us. You know, there’s a lot of message being preached today that almost paints God as such a friendly, indulgent Santa Claus, who just wants to come down and help us fulfill our dreams, help us live our lives more effectively in the world, do what we want to do with His help. I mean, that’s literally being preached in pulpits this morning.
But God has called us out of a world that is ensnared in darkness, has He not? There is nothing, there is no light in this world apart from Him! This world is in gross darkness! Did not the prophet say that? “…Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (KJV). But His promise was that upon you light is going to arise.
That promise was fulfilled when Jesus came into the world. Look back at what is said in the beginning of John’s Gospel. This is the same writer. Praise God! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (NIV). So he goes right back to some of the same themes. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” So you talk about Jesus, you’re talking about our Creator. Okay?
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” And of course, it talks about John coming as a witness to that light. I’ll tell you, there is a light and it is the very life of God that is the only thing that is light. Light is not simply correct information.
There are plenty of places where — I mean, one of the things that people have fallen into religiously is to equate light with correctness of doctrine. And of course, it’s their particular tradition of doctrine, whether it’s Calvin or whoever it is. And they’ll come together and give you lectures trying to make sure your doctrine is — you’ve dotted every “I” and crossed every “t,” and you’ve got it exactly right, and we’ve got it, we’ve got it, we’ve got it! And it could be totally dead because God’s life is not in it at all!
Folks, that’s not what life is or truth is. Truth is life! You can’t separate the two. If you don’t have the life of God in something, it’s not true—in some fashion, it’s not true, because it doesn’t help. It doesn’t do anything, anymore than you plant a dead seed in the ground and expect it to bring forth something. It doesn’t do it. Oh, I’ll tell you, we need, I need, the Lord! Do you?
( congregational response ).
Yeah! But that’s exactly what John is — that’s the burden of his heart is to share that simple truth. And so, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” That’s just something beyond our imagining.
And how many times have we used the example of Isaiah, who thought he was pretty — prophet of God, given the message to straighten out those bad people over there, until he met the glorified One, who was later to become Jesus. He met Him in His glory and all of a sudden every other — his consciousness of everybody else’s fault and shortcoming just disappeared.
All of a sudden he was in the presence of absolute perfection and purity beyond imagining! He had been saying, woe to this one, woe to that one, now it’s woe to me! I’m undone, I’m ruined. I’m so glad that story didn’t end there! Thank God! The Lord had to bring him to an awareness of that, but He immediately met the need, didn’t He? Praise God!
That’s central to what John is saying here. And so, you’ve got people who make claims, spiritually speaking, there are three different claims that are made in the course of this. One of them comes in verse 6. “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
Now, right off the bat there’s the word that’s really central to everything that he’s talking about. He’s not talking about our religious profession. He’s not talking about what we do and profess on Sunday. He’s talking about our walk. He’s talking about our moment by moment life. What is our life like? Because it’s so easy for us to come and to profess something and to affirm truths that we believe here and we know intellectually that they’re true, but you go and follow us in our life and it’s like there are two different things going on.
I’ll tell you what God is concerned about with me, with you, with every one of us is bringing us into a place where our relationship with Him and with each other absolutely defines everything about our lives all of the time. Every single moment!
And I believe God is seeking to bring us, and bring me, into a greater understanding of that, a greater appreciation for that, ‘cause I’ll tell you, there are some barriers to that. There are some things that are — that keep us, I believe, from that place of blessing that God has for us. I just pray that God will help me to express — I’ve had so many awesome thoughts, over the last few weeks. I guess I probably should have written them down.
But, I don’t know, I just never felt free to try to build a sermon. I want something where God can communicate His heart and He’s the only One that can do that. I certainly have no — I don’t have the power to do that. But I sense His heart wanting to bring us out of a place of weakness, out of a place of relative darkness, if you want to call it that, into a place of greater freedom, greater blessing.
How many of you think this relationship is one where we just constantly feel beat down and worthless? Is that what He wants? Is that His…
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah! But I’ll bet a lot of us struggle with that, don’t we? Yeah! See that’s what — but here’s somebody who is a bit clueless. They claim to have fellowship. There’s this, “Yes, I’m His, I’m a servant of God,” but somehow there’s a blindness to the reality that their life doesn’t match up with what they’re claiming.
And so, obviously, what God is concerned about is the fact that it is our walk, it is our daily life, but He wants to bring us to a place where if people see us, not just sitting in a pew here but they see us out somewhere, they’re not seeing us, they’re seeing Him. They’re seeing a reflection of the relationship that we have with Him. I pray God will bring every one of us to a greater place.
But man, there are some awesome promises in this passage. One of them is in verse 7. “But if…” in contrast to walking in darkness, “…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.”
There are songs that we sing. One of them comes to me in particular. “There is a place in God where rest is complete, there is a place in God where we sit at His feet,” and so forth. But I bet if we went around the room, there isn’t a person here, despite the fact the number of times we’ve sung that, who could say, yeah, I’ve really — I’ve got a hold, I’ve finally got a hold of that.
But does that mean the truth that is expressed in that song is wrong, or rather that we have just not quite got a hold of it? And that’s what I sense the Lord trying to bring me to, ‘cause I’ll tell you, coming into the light, the idea of coming into the light is in itself, a pretty scary thing. I mean, it is totally contrary to human nature to want to come into the light. Why?
( congregational response ).
Because it exposes, and we know that we’re not all that we could be. We know there’s many things that are wrong with us and we don’t want to face them, we don’t want them to come out into the light. And so, automatically, as soon as you think about coming into the light, Satan is right there to say, man, you don’t want to do that. You’re — look at you!
I mean, you go right back to the beginning. What was the first reaction of Adam and Eve after they’d sinned? They became conscious that they were naked. And their response was, number one, to cover it, number two, when the Lord came around, they hid! They weren’t gonna come. I mean, they had a relationship that was unbroken. Now, there’s a barrier that’s come in, and it’s fear, it’s pride.
Oh, think about the barrier of that. I mean, there’s something, there’s just something scary about wanting to come into the light. You go back to what Jesus said to Nicodemus. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light….” Why? They won’t come to the light, “because their deeds were evil.” They don’t want them reproved.
It’s interesting what He follows up with though, that those who come to the light, they come to it that their “…deeds may be made manifest…” (KJV). God’s gonna show up something in that light, and what is that? That I’m a good person? No! That my deeds are brought by God.
( congregational amens ).
This is where God is going with all of this. He wants us to actually be an expression of Him so that what comes out of us is not us but Him!
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