Light: Inward Illumination

We have noticed briefly, in a former number, the exterior effect of the light, if we may use such an expression; that is, its effect in illuminating surfaces; the presence of the Lord Jesus as Light upon earth, the actual presence of the saints as light now, and the future millennial day, when the nations shall walk by the light of the heavenly Jerusalem.
But there is another aspect of the effect of light; that is, not merely the outward illumination of persons and things, but the inward lighting up of the heart, and its results, as we shall find in 2 Cor. 3;4 And first of all let us look at 2 Cor. 4:66For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6), where we find the following: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to cause to shine forth the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same God who first caused the light to shine out of the midst of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, and if we turn to the first chapter of Genesis we shall find the illustration here employed by the Holy Spirit. In the second verse of Gen. 1 we find the state to which things had been brought upon this earth a long time after the creation; and it has been rightly pointed out that things were not created so, and that there is a long interval between verses 1 and 2. Darkness and desolation were there, and in verses 3, 4, and 5 God caused the light suddenly to shine, and "separated the light from the darkness." Some one asked the other day how God had separated the two; a question which may well be reverently left with the almighty Creator of the glorious wonders of creation.
The light shone forth at the word of God: " Let there be light: and there was light;" and the Holy Spirit refers no doubt to this passage in 2 Cor. 4:1010Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10). It is with this shining in our hearts that we are now occupied; these hearts were black and desolate enough before the light shone in them, and we bow with reverence and adoration before the God who caused the light to shine in by His sovereign power, where all before was dark.
But we have here several expressions in connection with this that claim our attention. The light shines in a certain definite manner, so that in verse 4 of 2 Cor. 4 it is called the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, and this leads us back to the third chapter, where the apostle Paul speaks of the glorious Christ with great liberty, and of our perfect and blessed liberty in the very presence of His glory, as having been justified through His work, as having received the Holy Ghost, and as being able to gaze upon the glory of Christ with uncovered face, and as being changed from glory to glory by the Lord the Spirit.
Volumes have been written about this, and our great fault has been to have talked much of light and of glory, when our testimony as an existing fact upon earth has been anything but glorious; but the blessed truth of God cannot be changed, and the God who has shined into our hearts has illuminated them in order that the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ may shine out of them into this world. This was carried out in so wonderful and simple a manner in the apostle Paul that he could say, in preaching the gospel, that if it was hid, it was by a special Satanic action, the god of this world having blinded men's thoughts, so that the light of this glory should not shine for them.
But this wonderful subject -that is, the light shining now in our hearts; light proceeding from a definite and well-known luminary, the face of Jesus Christ-must not be neglected because we have failed; the luminary itself has not grown paler than when it shone around Saul of Tarsus, and shone into the dark heart of the misguided Pharisee, disclosing to him the glory of God. The career of this wonderful vessel of God's grace and power is that of a man whose heart is filled with the light that had shined in. Those who accompanied him (Acts 22:99And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. (Acts 22:9)) may have been dazzled for a moment by that flash that was brighter than the sun; but with Saul of Tarsus there were two things to be noticed, that is, his being blinded by the light that shone about him, his being blinded by that light in which no mortal can stand, and at the same time illuminated as to his heart by the shining in of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This inner effect of the light (and this is our subject) may be observed all through his life, from Damascus, where he begins by praying, to the last thing that we hear of him, where, still looking up confidently to the Lord and counting upon Him, he speaks of Him and His glory to Timothy, as having Him in full view. Surely we may say that the light of the glory of God shone as steadily as ever in him there in the midst of the increasing gloom; and if we follow his history between these two extreme points, i.e., its wonderful beginning and end, we find a man changed from glory to glory. We find a heart fixed upon the Lord Jesus by grace, and shining forth from that heart the glory of God; and that in a life of true patience, meekness, self-denial, where the moral glory of the Lord Jesus may be seen in His apostle.
That which is thus true for the great apostle, in his immense service and labor, is true for each one of us in our little measure. Poor and feeble as these words are, they will not be lost if any be led to inquire prayerfully what is the meaning of the light shining in our hearts (and not merely on men, as we noticed in John 1), so that they may be led to a deeper communion with our blessed Lord, to a truer knowledge of the glory of God, and to a fuller manifestation of it in a patient life of self-denial in this world. May God graciously lead us all in this same direction!
E. L. B.