They amake night into day: ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’
(Job 17:12 ESV)
Darkness comes in many figurative forms. One symbol of darkness in Scripture is that of suffering, or sickness of the soul and/or body. In the Old Testament Scriptures, Job is an exemplar of such suffering. Job describes his suffering in terms of the darkness of night. Amidst his suffering, Job prays to God for relief, hoping that God will soon dispel his misery with a cheer of liberation, cheer in terms of hope, hope symbolized by the light of day.
Another prominent symbol of darkness in Scripture is spiritual blindness. Scripture tells us that both the world is in darkness and that all people in the world (that is unconverted, unregenerate people), are blinded by the spiritual darkness of night, a night ruled by “the god of this world,” the Prince of Darkness. Paul says:
And even aif our gospel is veiled, bit is veiled only to cthose who are perishing. 4 In their case athe god of this world xhas blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing ethe light of bthe gospel of the glory of Christ, cwho is the image of God (2Co 4:3-4 ESV).
But what about the Church, the visible gathering of God’s people in history? Can the Church experience spiritual darkness? The Old Testament Church (the Church of Israel) sure did. A cursory study of the history of Israel is replete with copious examples of spiritual darkness. Case in point is the Nation of Judah during the reign of King Josiah (Southern Israel comprised of the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah). Josiah was a godly King during a time of spiritual darkness. The reason for the spiritual darkness was because the light of God’s Word had been lost, quite literally. We read: “And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found athe Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it” (2Ki 22:8 ESV). The Bible (Hebrew Bible) had been missing along with a thorough knowledge of its contents. Hilkiah, the Hight Priest, was cleaning the treasure room in the Temple, and he found their missing bible, the “Book of the Law.” Hilkiah informed Josiah the King that the Word of God had been found; the King immediately enacted reform. Josiah’s “Reformation” ushered in a spiritual awakening, an awakening from pagan darkness to the light of God’s Word to guide the people of God away from darkness and into the light.
Something very similar happened in the Church almost 500 years ago. For nearly a thousand years or more both the unadulterated Word of God and the gospel had been eclipsed by spiritual darkness: the spiritual darkness of man-made tradition vs. the Scripture, the spiritual darkness of man earning his way to heaven by mixing good works with faith vs. the gospel way of man not earning, but receiving salvation as a gift by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus’ work of earning salvation for us as our one-and-only Mediator between man and God. For over a thousand years there was spiritual darkness, darkness that gave way to light. Protestant historians all agree that the date for when this happened was on October 31, 1517. This was when an obscure German, Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Thesis on the doors of All Saint’s church in Wittenberg; this event was the beginning of a reformation in the church, a reformation that still goes on today. The motto which the first and second generation of Reformers used to capture the spirit of the 16th-century Reformation was Post tenebras lux (After the Darkness Light), inspired by the Vulgate (Latin Bible) translation of Job 17:12.
Over the summer leading up to Reformation Sunday, I will be sharing with you the light that came out of the darkness known as the Five-Solas. The Five-Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Medieval Church of Rome during that time. Sola is Latin meaning “alone” or “only.” The phrases are:
Sola Fide, by faith alone.
- Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
- Sola Fide, through faith alone.
- Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
- Solus Christus, through Christ alone
- Soli Deo Gloria, to the glory of God lone.
Praise God for the hope of both the light of His Word and the liberating truth of His gospel!!
Rev. G. Carl Moore