February 8th 2019 – Ephesians 5:8-14

"for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”"

Ephesians 5:8-14

What was said in the previous Note tells us something important about the sheer attractiveness of holiness, in the biblical sense and meaning of the word. We have before pointed out that the biblical word has a twofold etymology - on the one hand, it contains the idea of separation; on the other hand it contains the idea of brightness. And it is this latter idea that is so often forgotten and at a discount. But it certainly was not so in the New Testament Church. Here is another quote from James Denney, who says in one of his sermons:

'Before the gospel came, despair had fallen on the ancient world; society had abandoned the very idea and hope of goodness; "deep weariness and sated lust made human life a hell". But suddenly a change came. Men appeared in that lost world with an infinite hope in their hearts - an assured and triumphant hope, to be holy as God is holy; and it spread from heart to heart till in the Christian Church a new people of God became visible upon earth, a society which with all its imperfections was a communion of saints. What was it that made the change? It was the sense of a divine call that had come to men. And how had it come? It came through the revelation of the love of God.'

It was this irresistible attractiveness of the Church of Christ that was one of the great evangelistic impulses in the early days of the Christian Faith. Holiness - yes; blazing purity was their only standard, as witness the condign punishment that fell on Ananias and Sapphira for their sullying of that standard; but it was a fire that warmed as well as a fire that burned, and proved immensely attractive to countless people in the ancient world. They had never encountered anything like it.