Friday, August 19, 2016
Candle of the Soul – 19 August 2016, Anno Domini
28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)
Let us review the nature of two very different conditions before discussing the Candle of the Soul. The first condition is powerless and not generated as a force, but rather the complete absence of force and power – DARKNESS! Darkness is not generated – it is simply the absolute absence of LIGHT! Light, on the other hand, must be generated and is, indeed, a force. Amazingly, neither light nor darkness can be seen with the human eye. You may object that we see light every day that the sun shines, but that would not be an accurate statement.
We do not see light, but rather the EFFECTS light has in revealing objects to our vision. If we were in an absolutely dark vacuum, and a ray of light was beamed across before our eyes, we would not see it. Outside the vacuum, we might see particles of dust illuminated by that beam, but we would not actually see light. Even looking at the source of Light, we see only the effects and not the medium of light itself. Light REVEALS objects of the environment to us. It lights our path in dark night to keep us from falling into a ditch. That is what physical light does for us. Spiritual light is just the same. God’s Word is our spiritual Light that reveals the good way, and exposes the bad, as a compass and defense of our souls.
The difference between light and dark is more than the difference between night and day. As we pointed out earlier, darkness is simply the absence of light and constitutes no force or power at all. But even a small candle can disperse an entire room full of darkness. Light represents force, and a great Light represents GREAT FORCE. God is Light, and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. (John 8:12) Our Lord is the central Person of the Godhead who came into the World to redeem His elect.
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) Being the Life of all who have been born into newness of life, He is the Light of Life – without Light, there can be no life. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5) There are men whose souls are totally void of light, and they grope about in darkness all the days of their existence. Please observe that the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. That means that the souls of some men are dead to light. There is no spiritual substance by which the light might reveal truth and meaning in their darkened souls even though the light has shined into the windows of their dark soul. An empty room will not respond to light except for the empty walls of it.
When God breathed breath into Adam’s nostrils, he became a living soul. Life is spiritual light. But that primitive light of the soul of man was smothered and extinguished by sin. The moment Adam sinned, his light of life went out. Just as God had foretold, Adam spiritually died the moment he partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He passes that death on to each and every one of his descendants – to include you and me. Though we may bear a physical light in our dead souls, we do not own any spiritual light until our dead souls are revived by the calling and election in Christ. (See Eph 2) The light of the soul is the life of it. As Job has said, 5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. 6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him. (Job 18:5-6) The tabernacle of man is the soul; if Jesus Christ does not abide in the Temple of our souls, our Temples are dark.
The Candle of the Lord is the spirit of man. 27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. (Prov 20:27) The Lord uses our own spirits to search out the thoughts and intents of our hearts and souls. Nothing is hidden from His observation. Our own spirits betray our wicked intent. Even the physical light of wicked men shall be extinguished and they will spend their eternity in utter and outer darkness (Hell). 20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.” (Prov 24:20)
A candle, standing alone, is worthless for providing light unless it is lit by fire. Our souls are likewise dead and without light unless lit on fire by the Holy Ghost. The candle cannot light itself. It cannot even be made aware of its need for lighting. But those whose souls have been made alive (quickened) by the Holy Ghost become lights that are shared from the Master Lamplighter. Everywhere He goes is LIGHT! Once lit on fire by the Holy Ghost, we become lights to others (a reflected light of Christ who gave us the fire). 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16) Of what use is even a lighted candle if it is shielded from giving light. What good is a church full of Christians who remain in the salt-shaker so long that they clog together and can no longer be shaken out. We must put feet on our faith and be light-givers to all who languish in darkness. Good manners and fashionable dress one day in seven is not enough. We must bear our torches beyond the church walls and be about our Father’s business. One fundamental law of learning is this: “Real learning results in a change in behavior.” If we learn the glorious truths of God’s Word, we will demonstrate that learning by good deeds and actions. Though we are saved by grace and not of good works; being saved by grace should be evidenced by good works.
A grand example of the Candle of God is expressed in Scripture as a Light and a Lamp: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) We pilgrim on with the Light of God’s Word in this life; but the day comes when the great Light-Source shall appear in blinding light in the Heavens: 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19) That DayStar is the same Sun of Righteousness mentioned in Malachi 4:2 which is the Personification of the Word – Jesus Christ!
In every traditional and reformed church, one will observe two candles on the Lord’s Table either side of the (altar) cross. The candle on the right side (facing out) is called the Gospel Candle. It represents the Light of the Gospel which Jesus spoke to us during His earthly ministry. The candle on the left (facing out) is called the Epistle Candle. That candle represents the work begun, and continuing, by the apostles and the doctrine to which they adhered, and which they taught and preached, in conformity to that of the Gospel of Christ. It is for this reason that the Gospel reading is conducted from the right side of the sanctuary (facing out) and the Epistle from the left side. Of course, the central area of the cross belongs to Christ alone. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt 18:20) Christ is never relegated to the fringe of worship, but rather the very center of it.
All true believers are candles of light to the Lord. Our candle may be thin and short, or tall and muscular; but all are candles according to the respective abilities and light of each of us. John the Baptist was such a candle as to excel all other mortals and was like unto a torch: 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. (John 5:35) But even John the Baptist was not that Promised Light of God which he heralded: 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:7-9)
Our churches should be filled with more than wax candles. They must be filled with spiritual candles, too, so that the church walls cannot occlude the Light of Christ which beams from the heart of every Christian soul. That light must be born beyond those walls of the church. If we are social Christians, then we are not spiritual Christians. A mere social Christian is as good as dead – the same condition of all sinners who know not Christ.
A few years back, a Baptist clergy friend of mine accused me of being too Romish by having candles on what he called my ‘altar.’ I replied that, in the first place, unlike many Baptist churches, we do not have what the Roman Church calls an ‘altar’ but rather the Lord’s Table. We do not make any sacrifice which would require an altar, for that sacrifice was made for us, once and for all, by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary’s Mount. And in the second place, a church without candles does not have any tokens of the light of the Gospel. I referred my friend to the Book of Revelations: 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Rev 2:2-5) I reminded my Baptist friend reformed Anglican churches STILL have their candles! We parted on good terms though his church still has no candles.