The Gospel of Jesus Christ contains four basic or fundamental truths. Remove any one of them and you possess a less than complete biblical gospel. This results is a message fundamentally flawed and incapable of providing salvation for anyone from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin.
What are those four fundamental truths? They are (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) Salvation exits; and (4) One Savior exists to provide salvation: Jesus Christ. To remove any of these four truth statements is to seriously compromise the Gospel.
These four fundamental truths of the Gospel are located throughout the Scriptures. However, the text which I draw to your attention is John 1:1-18. Identified as John’s prologue to his gospel, these 18 verses contain some of the most crucial statements found in Scripture regarding the Gospel and the personal identity of Jesus Christ. The first portion of the prologue is John 1:1-4: God Exists! The second portion is John 1:5-8: Sin Exists.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”
John contrasts the concept of spiritual and moral righteousness, light, to that of its polar opposite, darkness. We are able to comprehend evil in this present world because we humans still retain an understanding, however small and tainted by sin, of what is holy. Evil, or darkness, can only be defined if there is a corresponding opposite which is holiness, or what John calls light. John is not acknowledging that a holy God exists, but also that sinful rebelliousness against the One, True and Holy God also exists.
One author explains, “In Scripture “light” and “darkness” are very familiar symbols. Intellectually, “light” refers to biblical truth while “darkness” refers to error or falsehood (cf. Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23). Morally, “light” refers to holiness or purity (1 John 1:5) while “darkness” refers to sin or wrongdoing (John 3:19; 12:35, 46; Romans 13:11–14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4–7; 1 John 1:6; 2:8–11). “Darkness” has special significance in relationship to Satan (and his demonic cohorts), who rules the present spiritually dark world (1 John 5:19) as the “prince of the power of the air” promoting spiritual darkness and rebellion against God (Ephesians 2:2). John uses the term “darkness” 14 times (eight in the Gospel and six in 1 John) out of its 17 occurrences in the NT, making it almost an exclusive Johannine word. In John, “light” and “life” have their special significance in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word (John 1:9; 9:5; 1 John 1:5–7; 5:12, 20).”
John continues to say that the darkness has not overcome the light. The word “overcome (καταλαμβάνω; katalambano) means to gain control over something, to attack or to seize. It may also mean to understand or to comprehend. What John is saying is that the light of the Gospel of the person and work of Jesus Christ is more powerful than sin and its effects. Sin will not defeat the Gospel. Rather, the Gospel will defeat sin and death, once and for all time.
As one pastor explains, “Darkness is not able to overcome or conquer the light. Just as a single candle can overcome a room filled with darkness, so also the powers of darkness are overcome by the person and work of the Son through his death on the cross (cf. 19:11a).”
John the Apostle says that the message that sin exists, and that God brings good news of sin’s defeat, is the very reason why John the Baptist came. He came to prepare the people of his own day with the message of the Gospel contained in who He would refer to as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). As the forerunner to Jesus, John the Baptist was to bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God. With John’s ministry, the “400 silent years” between the end of the OT and the beginning of the NT period, during which God had given no revelation, concluded. For more on John the Baptist, see Matthew 3:1–6, Mark 1:2–6, and Luke 1:5–25, 57–80.
Isn’t it appropriate that believers in Christ, along with being called salt (Matthew 5:13) which was used as a preservative for food in the ancient world, are also called light (Matthew 5:14-16; John 8:12). Jesus calls us to shine the light of the Gospel in the dark places we live in, work at, and are surrounded by. Shine your light today my friends.
Soli deo Gloria!