The Review and Herald


January 24, 1882

The Light of the World


“I am the light of the world.” The feast of tabernacles had just passed when our Saviour uttered these words in the temple at Jerusalem. Around the court were the golden lamps whose brilliant light had illuminated the city. Pointing to these, and beyond them to the glorious sun just risen in full-orbed splendor above the Mount of Olives, he declares himself to be the light of men. RH January 24, 1882, par. 1

Jesus sought to make every object around him the medium of divine truth. As the day previous he had likened the Spirit's power to the refreshing, life-giving water, so now he compared himself to the all-pervading light, the source of life and gladness to nature and to man. The only light that can illuminate the darkness of a world lying in sin must come from Christ, and this light is granted to all who will receive it. “For,” said the great Teacher, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” RH January 24, 1882, par. 2

Those who receive the divine radiance are in turn to become light-bearers to the world. Thus our Saviour taught his disciples: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” It is not merely the conviction of the mind, it is not the acceptance of a theory, however correct, that can make us Christians. It is the indwelling of Christ in the soul, the development of his spirit in the life. The Christian experience is a constant effort to conform the human will to the will of Christ, and to form the character according to the divine model. RH January 24, 1882, par. 3

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Religion is not to be held as a precious treasure, jealously hoarded, and enjoyed only by the possessor. True religion cannot be thus held; for such a spirit is contrary to the very principle of the gospel. “Freely ye have received, freely give,” are the words of our Master; and again he bids us, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If Christ is dwelling in the heart, it is impossible to conceal the light of his presence; it is impossible for that light to grow dim. It will grow brighter and brighter, as day by day the mists of selfishness and sin that envelop the soul are dispelled by its bright beams. RH January 24, 1882, par. 4

The world lies in darkness. There are all around us souls going down to ruin and to death. As Christ sheds the light of his love upon his followers, they are to reflect this light upon others. God's word declares that the children of this world are wiser in their day and generation than the children of light. The zeal and steadfastness of the light-house keeper, in his efforts to save men from temporal destruction, put to shame the faith and devotion of many a professed Christian. RH January 24, 1882, par. 5

“The watchman at Calais light-house was boasting of the brilliancy of his lantern, which can be seen ten leagues out at sea, when a visitor said to him, RH January 24, 1882, par. 6

“‘You speak with enthusiasm, sir, and that is well. I like to hear men tell what they are sure they have and know; but what if one of the lights should chance to go out?’ RH January 24, 1882, par. 7

“‘Never, never! Absurd, impossible!’ replied the sensitive watchman, in consternation at the mere supposition of such a thing. ‘Why, sir,’ he continued, and pointed to the ocean, ‘Yonder, where nothing can be seen, there are ships going by to every port in the world. If, tonight, one of my burners were out, within six months would come a letter, perhaps from India, perhaps from Australia, perhaps from some port I never heard of before,—a letter, saying that on such a night, at such an hour, at such a minute, the light at Calais burned low and dim; that the watchman neglected his post; that vessels were consequently put in jeopardy on the high seas. Ah, sir,’ and his face shone with the intensity of his thought, ‘sometimes, in the dark nights, and in the stormy weather, I look out upon the sea and feel as if the eye of the whole world were looking at my light. Go out? Burn dim? That flame flicker low or fail? No, sir, never!’ RH January 24, 1882, par. 8

“Shall Christians, shining for tempted sinners, allow their light to fail? Forever out upon life's billowy sea, are souls we see not, strange sailors in the dark, passing by, struggling, it may be, amid the surges of temptation. Christ is the light, and the Christian is appointed to reflect the light. The ocean is vast, its dangers are many, and the eyes of far-away voyagers are turned toward the Calais light-house—the church of Jesus Christ. The church is set to be the light of the world. Are its revolving lamps all trimmed and brightly burning?” RH January 24, 1882, par. 9

Think of this, professed Christians! A failure to let your light shine, a neglect to obtain heavenly wisdom that you may have light from God, may cause the loss of a soul! What is the life lost at sea, in comparison with the eternal life which may be lost through your unfaithfulness? Can you endure the thought? Can you go on from day to day indifferent and careless, as though there were no God and no hereafter; as though you were not Christ's servant; as though you had no blood-bought privileges? It is of the highest consequence that you stand at your post, like the faithful watchman, that your light may shine out before others. You should be so impressed with the importance of your work that to the question, “What if your light should go out?” your whole soul would respond, “Never, never! for then souls would be lost!” RH January 24, 1882, par. 10

You may never know the result of your influence from day to day, but be sure that it is exerted for good or evil. Many who have a kind heart and good impulses, permit their attention to be absorbed in worldly business or pleasure, while the souls that look to them for guidance drift on to hopeless wreck. Such persons may make a high profession, and may stand well in the opinion of men, even as Christians, but in the day of God, when our works shall be compared with the divine law, then it will be found that they have not come up to the standard. Others who saw their course fell a little below them; and still others fell below the latter class, and thus the work of degeneracy went on. RH January 24, 1882, par. 11

Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, and another, and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until they reach the very shore. Thus our influence, though apparently insignificant, may continue to extend far beyond our knowledge or control. It is as impossible for us to determine the result as it was for the watchman to see the ships that were scattered upon the sea. RH January 24, 1882, par. 12

We are dealing with stern realities. Our life record will be what we make it. What are we now doing with our God-given abilities and privileges? Are we making the very most of the blessings that are granted us here? Are we abiding in Christ, and is He in us? Is our light, kindled at the divine altar, shining out as a guide to tempest-tossed souls upon the sea of life? RH January 24, 1882, par. 13

“Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.”
RH January 24, 1882, par. 14