By Allen J. Huth, President of the Ezra Project |
“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Luke 11:33).
DARKNESS HOVERS AGAIN OVER THE EARTH
After 2020, a global pandemic, riots across American cities, questionable elections and the installation of a far-left Democratic administration, many Christians are frustrated, angry, and rightfully concerned about the future. But what are we to do other than complain to each other?
The Bible tells us these days would come. We just did not want it to happen on our watch; but does this sound like the evening news?
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. . . . For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. . . . We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:3-9, selected verses).
The passage reminds us dark days will come and may be here. But it also encourages us to “. . . ‘Let light shine out of darkness’” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
HOW DO CHRISTIANS RESPOND TO DARKNESS?
I have been wondering exactly how to respond to the darkness around us. I have been praying about what Christians are supposed to do in the darkness and as spiritual darkness gets thicker and thicker (abortion, LGBTQ, gender confusion, Christian intolerance, equality legislation banning “hate speech” when preaching the Word of God, and so on). God, through His Holy Word, revealed the answer in my daily quiet time in Acts 4.
The passage is after Peter and John heal a beggar at the temple, in Acts 3, and are called before the religious, and thus political, leaders of their day. They are chastised for healing the beggar in the name of Jesus and are told to cease and desist. Doubtful you have been called on the carpet like they were, but it could happen in the not-so-distant future. Here is what happened next; and herein lies our instructions as it gets darker.
When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
. . . And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:23-26 and 29-31).
OUR MARCHING ORDERS
- Go to our friends. When released, Peter and John went to their support group of their friends, the other apostles, other believers! We must do the same. Do not fight darkness alone. Stay connected to Christians who are committed to fight darkness alongside you. Join a home group or start one.
- Pray. After understanding the darkness, “. . . they lifted their voices together to God . . .” (Acts 4:24).Pray individually and pray corporately in home groups or online. Christians need to get serious about our prayer life.
- Understand God’s sovereignty. The Acts 4 prayer group started their prayer with, “. . . ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth. . .’” (verse 24). We cannot pray against the sovereignty of God, we must pray, “. . . Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).
- We must pray for revival but understand God’s nature of bringing judgment upon the wicked. If God is bringing judgement on the nation, political leaders, even religious leaders, we must understand and keep praying . . . for what?
- Speak with boldness. We must pray for Christian courage, “. . . to speak your word with all boldness. . . and signs and wonders are performed . . .” (Acts 4:29-30).Do you really think it was any easier for Peter and John? They just saw Jesus violently crucified. They hid in a room with locked doors, then somehow, they gained the courage to stroll out in public and attend church! On the way, they encounter the beggar at the temple and speak with boldness! In our darkness, Christians must be willing and able to speak with boldness! How?
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. The tongue of the Holy Spirit fell on Peter and John in that locked room. They did not go out in public under their own power, nor should we. To shine light in darkness, we must be shaken by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will give us boldness to speak the word of God, nothing else.
In darkness, Christians must be light, and light does not shy away from the darkness, it illuminates it with the warmth of the love of Jesus. You lamp was lit when you surrendered to Jesus. It’s time to shine! “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Luke 11:33). It is not time to run, hide, or move to a safer place (as if there are any). No, it is time to shine from the “stand” God placed you on. Darkness will only be dispelled with light.
And, if someone decides to snuff out your light, so be it. It is time to live with boldness and assurance, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:17-20).
Father, we did not ask to live in darkness. We enjoyed the light. But if You are bringing darkness on the face of the earth again, we bend to Your sovereignty and ask You to use us to help others see the light. We know we can do nothing on our own, so we ask to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so we become willing and able to speak with boldness. Use us, those who have bowed the heart and the knee to You Lord Jesus, to shine Your light into the darkness. We know You do not need us, but we also know like You used Peter and John in their day to shine light, You will use us to do the same for Your glory. Shine through our boldness in the darkness for You! In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.