The Light of Christ, Not of Reason

Christmas Thursday

John 1:12

“But to as many as received him, he gave the power to become God’s children, to those who believed in his name.”

Now we see who the light is John has been talking about. It is Christ, the comforting light of grace, and not the natural light of reason. For John is an evangelist, not a Platonist. All who receive the natural light or reason receive Christ according to that light; how else should they receive him? Just as they receive the natural life from the divine life. But this light and life do not give them the power to become God’s children. In fact, they remain the enemies of the light of grace, do not know it, and do not receive it. This is why there must be no talk of the natural light in the gospel; everything refers to Christ so that he might be recognized as true God. Now the gospel has become well known; for it says about faith in Christ’s name that it makes us God’s children. These are excellent words that militate mightily against the teachers of works and laws. Good works never change the person. Therefore, even if the work saints change and improve their works–as they think they do–they remain as they were before in their person, and their works only become hypocrisy and covers for their shame. But faith changes the person and turns the enemy into a child, and it does this in such a hidden manner that the outward works, station in life, and way of life remain, unless they are evil by nature, as has often been said. This is why faith brings with it the whole inheritance and the chief possession of righteousness and salvation, so that we must not seek any of these by works, as the false perverters fool us. For if you are God’s child, you also already have God’s inheritance based on this adoption. Since faith results in such adoption, it is clear that the good works should be done freely, only to God’s glory, by those who already have salvation and God’s inheritance through faith.

St. Louis ed., 11:190-191.

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