Published Manuscript

Das innere Licht (The Inner Light)

zu EA 14/5a

Additional Information
Author Eberhard Arnold
Date July 01, 1914
Document Id 20126059_27_S
Available Transcriptions English

The Inner Light

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]

zu EA 14/5 (a)

Evangelisches Allianzblatt

end of July (?)

The Inner Light

God is light. There is no darkness in him (I John: 5). In God everything is clear. In him there is nothing blurred, nothing uncertain or ungenuine. Light has nothing in common with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). Yes, it must overcome all darkness as the morning must be victorious over night. For life is light (John 1:4). And life is stronger than death. But death fights against life. Darkness hates the light (John 3: 19-20), and so the glory of the Lord is truly terrible to those who are estranged from his light (Job 37:22). It burns in their eyes and consciences like fire. Therefore a prophet such as Moses had to fear death when his unclean eyes had seen the Lord God of Hosts (Is. 6:5; Ex. 33:20. “You cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live.”)

His glory is streaming radiance (Ez. 10:4). His garment is light (Ps. 104:2).

That is why Jesus shines like the sun in the radiance of his glory (Heb. 1:3) and his clothes shine like light (Mat. 17:2). He appeared to Paul as a light from heaven, shining more brightly than the glory of the sun (Acts 26:13). His face was like the sun shining in full strength (Rev. 1:16).

The man of faith in early Israel had already declared “The Lord is my light,” (Ps. 27:1, Micah 7:8). “Let your face shine upon me (Num. 6:25, Ps. 31:16, Ps. 67:1, Ps. 80:3, 7, 19, Ps. 199:135). He knew of walking in the light of the face of God (Ps. 89:15, Is. 2:5). He let himself be led by God’s light and his truth (Ps. 43:3). Yes, he reached the tremendous witness, “Only in thy light do we see light.” And in his prophecies he spoke of the greatness of the light there will be in the future. “Arise! shine! – for your light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you” (Is. 60:1)

But the faithful follower of the old covenant did not know the mystery that was entrusted in a special way to be spread by the apostle of the nations: the mystery of the wonder and glory of the personal, inner side of “Christ in us” that means there is an inner light for us (Col 1:27).

Paul prays for the inner life of the believers. He prays that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith (Eph. 3:16 – 19). Jesus Christ, the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3) sheds light into the heart of each one who is reborn. Jesus is the true light who gives light to all men (John 1:9, Luke 2:32). This light shines into the darkness around humanity (John 1:5), and brings each person to the great decision whether he loves darkness more than light (John 3: 19): whether he wants with his whole heart to turn from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). In the lives of those who truly and actually do the latter, a wonderful and complete reversal takes place which exposes the opposites in sharp contrast to each other: Those who were once darkness, are now light in the Lord (Eph. 5:8). They are rescued from the dominion of darkness (Col. 1:13) so that from this time forward the spirit of the Lord with his light of peace may rule in their hearts (Col. 3:15). The new way of living in the light is brought into practice when this inner light rules, which is bound to exclude sin and the works of darkness. (I John 1: 6, 2: 9 -11).

The inner light, which is nothing other than the mystery of “Christ in us”, means clear insight for the enlightened heart—glorious clarity about the Lord himself and about his work, and clear insight about our own inner self and all the evil in us—and clarity about how to lead our life and follow the Lord’s way.

What is fundamental and decisive, and at the same time noble and glorious, the highest of everything possible to attain, is the clear insight of the Lord himself. For our hearts this always comes from the contradiction described above, which is impossible for us to fully grasp, and which we also accept and allow to work upon us. (Col. 1: 15 – 20). As our innermost selves grow clearer and clearer in our perception of the shining glory/majesty of the Lord himself, this leads to an always increasing grasp and experience of the whole Christ, all that Christ is. We cannot reach this in its fullness until we see him as he is (I John 3:2). In this glory not only our inward eyes but our body too will be changed into his likeness (I Cor. 15: 49; Phil. 3:21). Until we are transformed in this way, our inner enlightenment, like all knowledge, must remain imperfect (I Cor. 13: 9), and therefore our likeness to him remains imperfect too (II Cor. 3: 18). But how it fills us with overflowing joy and thankfulness that we see him transformed from glory to glory, and this happens to the same extent that we look with clear eyes upon his unveiled face (II Cor. 3:18). This clear vision, just like the transformation to his likeness, is brought to us through the Lord, the Spirit, as a truly personal revelation in which he reveals himself to our innermost hearts in his wonderful light.

The same God who through his son let the light shine out of the darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4: 6). This inner light means all-surpassing power (II Cor. 4:7) which belongs to God alone and could almost break apart such weak vessels as we are. The bright light here receives clear testimony as the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We need this glorious light of the Lord himself to be constantly with us on our path of life. Even with the best teachings about Jesus and his message—indeed, even with all formal Bible reading and all outward obedience, our picture of his glory must pale and our first love weaken as soon as we cease letting our inner self receive light from his countenance. The more we grow in grace, the deeper our need will be for this inner recognition of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter. 3:18). The clearer our inner sight, the more open we will be for his enlightenment, for the overflowing light of the power and glory that he sheds on us (Eph. 7: 18, 19). It is very significant that when Paul made this prayer for the enlightened eyes of understanding, he was praying on behalf of the faithful believers in Ephesus! There is no one among us who is not in need of this. And the one who stands up most loyally in the Lord will be the most ready to receive it.

This foundation for inner enlightenment, which the Lord Himself reveals to us, has the inevitable consequence of a growing clarity about the evil in our inner selves and about a truly practicable way of living in the light of the Lord. In Ephesians the Spirit’s great call to wake up is

“Wake up, O sleeper,

rise from the dead

and Christ will shine on you.”

It has the closest connection with the practical admonition to the believers to lead their lives as children of the light. Yes, as children of the light. Yes, as a light in the Lord. (Eph. 5, 8:16). The inner light of the Lord will allow no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (v.11). It uncovers everything that is hidden for shame in the deepest places of the heart. “For everything becomes clear when it is revealed and judged by the light” (v. 13). This is the way that the Holy Spirit shows most clearly that the inner light is at work. When Christ gives us light in the practical sense of a light active within us, this means that everything that was kept secret is now revealed. Light is clear vision, a clear sight of the majesty of the Lord and at the same time a clear recognition of one’s personal life and the way it is going. The believers of the old covenant were already aware of this. “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Ps. 8 NIV).

But it is Jesus, the true light, who through his divine words is the first to give us a complete clarity about the inner light and its activity. He tells us plainly that each person is plunged in utter darkness as long as inner light is lacking. “If the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!” (Mt. 6:23). But as soon as the inner eye receives light and is fixed decisively and alone on Jesus and no other, then all will become light and clear (Mat. 6:22). So everything depends on us having our eyes open and taking care that the inner light is not darkened. “See to it, then that the light within you is not darkness. If your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be completely lighted, as when a bright shaft of lightning shines on you” (Luke 11: 35, 36). Inner enlightenment takes place with the same elemental power. Those are unforgettable moments when a brilliant flash of lightning tears away the dark black mask of the night, shines into every hiding place and brings every bird and creeping creature of darkness into the light. “Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light, for fear that his deed will be exposed” (John 3:20). But still more glorious is the sight of the sunrise in southern lands where our northern twilight does not try to veil the contrast between day and night. Life awakes with the light. The birds sing, the flowers open, and the whole countryside shines in the light of morning. So it will be at the coming of the Lord as the Morning Star, the Rising Sun of life. And the inner enlightenment through him is an awakening and the result of life from God. “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).

Only where a life in God is brought about through the inner light is it possible to expect a person to walk in the light. A leading by the inner light can be hoped for and believed in only when everything in our inner selves is placed clearly before the radiant countenance of Christ and remains under the light of his forgiveness. Only when the heart is and remains renewed through the light of the Lord can there be hope and belief for a leading by the inner light. “A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees the light of this world. But a man who walks by night will stumble, for he has no light” (John 11: 9, 10). The light of the Lord plainly shows us our inner condition and finally results in actually directing our life and conduct. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Walk while you have the light, before the darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. Believe in the light while you have it, so that you may be children of light” (John 12: 35 and 36).

This divine leading by the Lord who is our light belongs to the most certain experiences in the life of all living believers, for it gives a real protection from the disappointments and false directions which result from following nervous reactions in place of the true light, the one and only Lord. God, in the welling source of his light also gave us the criterion that keeps us from all wrong paths. The word of God is the light which shines in a dark place (II Peter, 1:19) until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts! It is only through the Word that Jesus reveals himself as the inner light in the heart. “The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps. 119: 105). All true inner enlightenment and all divine guidance takes place through this lamp of the word. And from this firm, objective truth of the light is drawn the second criterion/principle in the community of the mystery in the church to which God lets his wisdom be proclaimed (Eph. 3: 9 – 12).

Paul tells us that it is the especial grace allowed to him to explain to everyone the meaning of the mystery of the church, which is indissoluably linked to the mystery and riches of Christ himself (Eph. 3: 8, 9). On the basis of the word, the inner light of the Lord reveals to us the glory and unity of his church. True inner enlightenment has the unmistakable characteristic of leading us on this basis to continual development, growth and progress, nearer and nearer to heartfelt unanimity and harmonious accord with all true members of this church.

Dr. E. Arnold