Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Light of Heaven, the Fire of Hell

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23).
The light of God is His glory, the expression of His majesty and goodness. It is the light of heaven and earth. Jesus is the light, “the true Light which give light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:8). In Him is life, and the life is the light of men (John 1:4).
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ (John 8:12)
Though Jesus gives light to everyone who comes into the world, there are those who would rather have darkness.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21)
In the end, though, it is the light that prevails. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). Indeed, as John says, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). But for those who love the darkness, the light is a torment, and for those who hate God, the glory is agony.

God is light, but He is also a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). I don’t think this is speaking of two different things, but rather, two aspects of the same thing. For those who love God and walk in His ways, the light and the glory are a blessing; but for those who despise God and embrace evil, the light and the glory are a terrible consuming fire.

Everything that belongs to God is gathered in as wheat; everything that does not belong to Him is cast out as chaff for “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19). “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (Matthew 13:40).

Such expressions are traditionally understood as references to hell, and perhaps that is true. However, they do not speak of literal fire but, I think, of the light of God. Those who love evil are totally unprepared to rejoice in the glory of God. To them, the light of God is a fire of judgment that will not relent. Indeed, it cannot relent, for God cannot cease to be who He is — His glory is eternal.

The light of heaven is the fire of hell. Therefore, be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

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