“The Light Has Come Into the World”
“This is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light.”—JOHN 3:19.
1. Why should everyone be concerned about God’s judgment?
MOST people today do not worry much about God’s judgment. Some take it for granted that God will judge them favorably if they go to church regularly and do no harm to their neighbors. For many, Christendom’s teachings about hellfire and purgatory have discredited the whole idea of divine judgment. But widespread apathy and Christendom’s lies cannot change the fact that every human will eventually be judged by God. (Romans 14:12; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 20:13) And much will depend on this judgment. Those judged favorably will receive God’s gift of everlasting life, while those judged unfavorably will receive the full wages of sin: death.—Romans 6:23.
2. What is the basis for God’s judgment?
2 Hence, genuine Christians are concerned about God’s judgment, and they earnestly desire to please him. How can they do this? At John 3:19, Jesus gives us the key. He says: “This is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked.” Yes, God’s judgment will be based on whether we love the light rather than the darkness.
“God Is Light”
3. What is the darkness, and what is the light?
3 In a spiritual sense, darkness has to do with the ignorance and hopelessness that exist in Satan’s realm—although Satan often pretends to be “an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:14; Ephesians 6:12) On the other hand, light has to do with the understanding and enlightenment that come from Jehovah God. Paul spoke of the light when he wrote: “For God is he who said: ‘Let the light shine out of darkness,’ and he has shone on our hearts to illuminate them with the glorious knowledge of God by the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) Spiritual light is so closely identified with Jehovah God that the apostle John wrote: “God is light.”—1 John 1:5; Revelation 22:5.
4. (a) How has Jehovah made light available? (b) In what way can we manifest a love of the light?
4 Jehovah has made light available by means of his word, which today is freely available in written form in the Holy Bible. (Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19) Hence, the psalmist was really expressing his love of the light when he wrote: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern. My soul has kept your reminders, and I love them exceedingly.” (Psalm 119:97, 167) Do you love the light as much as the psalmist evidently did? Do you regularly read God’s Word, meditate on it, and try hard to apply what it says? (Psalm 1:1-3) If so, you are seeking to receive a favorable judgment from Jehovah.
“I Am the World’s Light”
5. On whom does divine light focus?
5 Life-giving light from Jehovah focuses on the person of Jesus Christ. In the introduction of John’s Gospel, we read: “By means of [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it.” (John 1:4, 5) Indeed, Jesus has such a close association with the light that he is called “the true light that gives light to every sort of man.” (John 1:9) Jesus himself said: “As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.”—John 9:5.
6. What must a person do in order to gain a favorable judgment leading to everlasting life?
6 Therefore, those who love the light love Jesus and have faith in him. It is impossible to gain a favorable judgment without reference to Jesus. Yes, it is only by looking to him as God’s appointed means of salvation that we can gain a favorable judgment. Jesus said: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36) What, though, does it mean to exercise faith in Jesus?
7. Faith in Jesus implies faith in whom else?
7 First, Jesus himself said: “He that puts faith in me puts faith, not in me only, but in him also that sent me; and he that beholds me beholds also him that sent me. I have come as a light into the world, in order that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.” (John 12:44-46) Those who love Jesus and exercise faith in him must also have deep love for and faith in the God and Father of Jesus, Jehovah. (Matthew 22:37; John 20:17) Any who use Jesus’ name in their worship but fail to give the greater honor to Jehovah do not manifest a genuine love of the light.—Psalm 22:27; Romans 14:7, 8; Philippians 2:10, 11.
God’s “Chief Agent”
8. How did divine light focus on Jesus even before his human birth?
8 Exercising faith in Jesus also means fully accepting his role in Jehovah’s purposes. The importance of this role was highlighted when the angel said to John: “The bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.” (Revelation 19:10; Acts 10:43; 2 Corinthians 1:20) From the very first prophecy in Eden, all divinely inspired prophecies ultimately have to do with Jesus and his place in the outworking of God’s purposes. Similarly, Paul told the Galatian Christians that the Law covenant was a “tutor leading to Christ.” (Galatians 3:24) That ancient Law covenant was designed to prepare the nation for Jesus’ coming as Messiah. So even before his human birth, the light from Jehovah focused on Jesus.
9. What has loving the light involved since 33 C.E.?
9 In 29 C.E., Jesus presented himself for baptism and was anointed with holy spirit, thus becoming the promised Messiah. In 33 C.E. he died a perfect man, was resurrected, ascended to heaven, and there offered the value of his life in behalf of our sins. (Hebrews 9:11-14, 24) This series of events marked a turning point in God’s dealings with humans. Jesus was now “the Chief Agent of life,” ‘the Chief Agent of salvation,’ “the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” (Acts 3:15; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2; Romans 3:23, 24) From 33 C.E. onward, lovers of the light have recognized, and accepted, that apart from Jesus “there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Acts 4:12.
10. Why is it so important to listen to Jesus’ words and obey them?
10 Exercising faith in Jesus also means accepting him as “the Word” and the “Wonderful Counselor.” (John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6) What Jesus says always reflects divine truth. (John 8:28; Revelation 1:1, 2) Listening to him is a matter of life and death. Jesus told the Jews of his day: “He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) In the first century C.E., those who acted on Jesus’ words were rescued from the darkness of Satan’s world and came to life, as it were. They were declared righteous with a view to being joint heirs with him in his heavenly Kingdom. (Ephesians 1:1; 2:1, 4-7) Today, obeying Jesus’ words opens the way for many to be declared righteous with a view to surviving Armageddon and attaining perfect human life in the new world.—Revelation 21:1-4; compare James 2:21, 25.
“Head Over All Things”
11. What high authority was given to Jesus in 33 C.E.?
11 After his resurrection, Jesus revealed to his followers another facet of the light. He said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus was thus being elevated to a preeminent position in Jehovah’s universal organization. Paul gives further details when he says: “[God] raised [Jesus] up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come. He also subjected all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation, which is his body.” (Ephesians 1:20-23; Philippians 2:9-11) Since 33 C.E., loving the light has included acknowledging this lofty position of Jesus.
12. What have anointed Christians gladly accepted right from the beginning, and how have they shown this in a practical way?
12 Eventually, all mankind will have to acknowledge Jesus’ authority. (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7) Lovers of the light, however, have gladly recognized it right from the beginning. Anointed members of the Christian congregation accept Jesus as “the head of the body, the congregation.” (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23) When they become part of that body, they are ‘delivered from the authority of the darkness and are transferred into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love.’ (Colossians 1:13) Henceforth, they earnestly follow Jesus’ leadership in every aspect of their lives, and in our time they have taught the “other sheep” to do the same. (John 10:16) Acknowledging Jesus’ headship is a key requirement for receiving a favorable judgment.
13. When did Jesus begin to exercise Kingdom authority, and what has followed here on earth?
13 At his ascension to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus did not immediately exercise his authority to the fullest extent. Although Head of the Christian congregation, he waited for the proper time to exercise full authority over mankind in general. (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:33-35) That time came in 1914, when Jesus was enthroned as King of God’s Kingdom and “the last days” of this world began. (2 Timothy 3:1) Since 1919, the gathering of the remaining anointed ones has proceeded toward its completion. From 1935 particularly, Jesus has been dividing mankind into “the sheep,” who will inherit “the kingdom prepared for [them],” and “the goats,” who will “depart into everlasting cutting-off.”—Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46.
14. How has a great crowd manifested a love of the light, and what will result to them?
14 Happily, the sheep have proved to be numerous in these last days. A great crowd of them numbering into the millions has appeared on the world scene “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” Like their companions, the anointed, these sheeplike ones love the light. They have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and they cry in a loud voice: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Because of this, the great crowd as a group will receive a favorable judgment. Its members “come out of the great tribulation,” surviving the destruction at Armageddon of those who love the darkness.—Revelation 7:9, 10, 14.
“Children of Light”
15. In what way do our actions show our submission to the King, Jesus Christ?
15 How, though, in a practical way do lovers of the light, whether anointed or other sheep, submit to Jesus as the one enthroned by God as King and acting Judge? One way is by trying to be the kind of people that Jesus approves. While on earth Jesus showed an appreciation for such qualities as sincerity, wholeheartedness, and enthusiasm for the truth, and he himself exemplified these qualities. (Mark 12:28-34, 41-44; Luke 10:17, 21) If we desire a favorable judgment, we must develop such qualities.
16. Why is it vital to put off the works belonging to darkness?
16 This is particularly true since the darkness of Satan’s world is getting denser as the end draws close. (Revelation 16:10) The words Paul wrote to the Romans are therefore very appropriate: “The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy.” (Romans 13:12, 13) While everlasting life is a gift from God, the genuineness of our faith and our love for the light is evidenced by our actions. (James 2:26) Hence, the judgment that we receive will depend to a large degree on the extent to which we practice fine works and shun wicked works.
17. What does it mean to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”?
17 After giving his counsel at Romans 13:12, 13, the apostle Paul concludes by saying: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:14) What does it mean to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”? It means that Christians should follow Jesus closely, clothing themselves, as it were, with his example and his disposition, striving to be Christlike. “To this course you were called,” said Peter, “because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.”—1 Peter 2:21.
18. What radical changes may be needed if we wish to receive a favorable judgment?
18 This has often involved radical changes in a Christian’s life. “For you were once darkness,” said Paul, “but you are now light in connection with the Lord. Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:8, 9) Any who practice works of darkness are not lovers of the light and will not receive a favorable judgment unless they make a change.
“You Are the Light of the World”
19. In what different ways can a Christian reflect the light?
19 Finally, loving the light means reflecting the light so that others can see it and be attracted to it. “You are the light of the world,” said Jesus. And he added: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:14, 16) The fine works of a Christian include manifesting every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth, since such fine conduct provides a powerful witness for the truth. (Galatians 6:10; 1 Peter 3:1) They especially include talking to others about the truth. Today, this means sharing in the worldwide campaign of preaching “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” It means, too, patiently calling back on interested ones, studying the Bible with them, and helping them, in turn, to produce the works that belong to the light.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
20. (a) How brightly is the light shining today? (b) What rich blessings are enjoyed by those who respond to the light?
20 In our day, thanks to the zealous preaching activity of faithful Christians, the good news is being heard in more than 200 lands, and the light is shining as never before. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.” (John 8:12) What a joy it is to share in the fulfillment of this promise! Our lives are so much richer now that we no longer languish in the darkness of Satan’s world. And our prospects are truly wonderful as we look forward to a favorable judgment from Jehovah’s appointed Judge. (2 Timothy 4:8) What a tragedy it would be if, having come to the light, we drifted back into the darkness and received an unfavorable judgment! In the following article, we will discuss how we may remain solid in the faith.
Can You Explain?
□ What is the basis for God’s judgment?
□ What central role does Jesus have with regard to God’s purposes?
□ How do we demonstrate that we are subject to Jesus as the one Jehovah enthroned as King?
□ How can we prove ourselves to be “children of light”?
□ In this world’s darkness, in what way is the light shining as never before?
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Eventually, all mankind will have to acknowledge Jesus’ authority
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We show we love the light when we reflect it to others