The Sunlight of the True Gospel

THE WOMAN CLOTHED with the sun, the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1), is generally understood to be a symbolical picture of the true church in apostolic times. The overcomers in the early church (the “chaste virgin” espoused to Christ in II Corinthians 11:2), especially through the ministry of the Apostle Paul, enjoyed the full, clear light of the Gospel shining upon them. They were bathed in the Gospel ‘sunshine,’ and the Old Testament “moon,” especially its types and prophecies, which proved a continual support to their faith and their standing as New Creatures.

The Early Church, also, enjoyed the ministry of the twelve apostles—“twelve stars.” Since the apostles fell asleep the church has continued to have the benefit of ‘the twelve’ whose teachings have come down to us in written form.

Favor and enlightenment was enjoyed by this company who took their place. As they went everywhere preaching the word, they were indeed “a great sign … in heaven” (American Standard Version), that is, in the religious world of that day. They attracted the attention of all classes as the Master pictured the matter, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”—Matt. 5:14

This happy condition of things did not long continue, however, as the Lord had plainly foretold. After the apostles fell asleep a great apostasy took place. Referring to this, Paul says, “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (I Tim. 4:1) As a result of these ‘doctrines of devils’ which began to be disseminated among the Lord’s people, the organization of the church became sadly deformed. A thoroughly worldly class, resulting from the threats of the terrible calamity which would overtake them if they died ‘outside’ of Christ, began to crowd into the precincts of the church as our Lord had foretold.—Matt. 13:25,38

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven [symbolizing false doctrine], which a woman [influenced by false leaders in the Christian church] took, and hid in three measures of meal [representing the spiritual food of the Lord’s household], till the whole was leavened.”—Matt. 13:33

God was not taken by surprise at this apparent victory of Satan, the prince of darkness. He saw fit to allow these apparently unfavorable conditions for the testing of the faithful. The three cardinal errors which corrupted the faith once delivered unto the saints are the ‘trinity,’ ‘eternal torment,’ and the ‘immortality of the soul.’

These grievous errors and sad hindrances to the enjoyment of the full, clear light of the Gospel, in spite of the efforts of earnest reformers, remained an integral part of the beliefs of the majority of God’s people down to the harvest, or end, of the age and the Second Presence of the Master.

As soon as this time was reached, however, the darkness began to pass, and the true light started to appear and God’s people began to be translated out of darkness into light. This is pictured by the Revelator using a symbol similar to that used to represent the favored position of the Early Church.—Rev. 12:1

As in the days of the Early Church, not all of God’s people enjoy the light of Truth in its fullness. Witness the confusion concerning the covenants experienced by the Galatian brethren; the spirit of division among the Corinthians, with its consequent obscurity of much teaching of practical import, and the misunderstanding of the Truth relative to the Second Advent and its bearing upon Christian conduct of the Thessalonians. The wholly faithful were able to overcome these differences.—Phil. 3:15

So, at this end of the age, not all Christians have enjoyed the light of ‘present Truth,’ nor have all of those once enlightened continued to walk in the light. May we, who have been so signally favored by the Lord, never declare by word or action, “Our lamps are going out.” (Matt. 25:8, Marginal Translation) May we seek to be like John the Baptist, burning and shining lights.—John 5:35

A faithful holding forth of the Word of life means sacrifice of the flesh—a using up of the potential energy of the justified human nature. This must be our privilege and experience if we would glorify the God of truth, and faithfully follow our gracious Redeemer. “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”—Phil. 2:17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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