From a Darkness to the Light
by ScVerlin Barton
WestBowPress (October 28, 2013)
It is always a joy to receive a copy of a new book authored by one of my former students. ScVerlin (“Lin”) Barton sat in just about every Bible class I taught during his Master’s Degree program here at Western Seminary. I know that Lin learned a lot from my classes, but I also learned a lot from him! It was in a paper that Lin wrote for one of my classes that I was introduced to his insights on the God-Satan conflict. As I interacted with Lin regarding his interpretation of some key concepts in Scripture, I was impressed with the biblical and theological foundation he set for his views.
Lin believes that God and Satan are engaged in an on-going conflict and that we as believers are on the front lines of that dispute. Ignorance of this conflict and its implications for believers has led to lots of confusion, disappointment with the church, and spiritual defeat. Lin’s book is a “call to arms” for believers to recognize that we are in a battle and to view our earthly experience from a heavenly perspective.
Barton’s book is not a commentary on any particular passage of Scripture, but rather a presentation of the “big picture” of God’s great plan for the ages. The focus of his presentation is not eschatological in the sense of embracing an amillennial, pre-millennial or post-millennial perspective. It is a completely different approach to God’s plan to reassert His rule over all creation.
Drawing from many different Scripture texts, Barton shows that Satan wants to take God’s place as supreme ruler. In the beginning of his rebellion he defied God’s rule and is still defying God’s rule today. Satan wants to rule everything—this earth and the entire universe–angels, people and nations. And he wants to rule over God’s entire creation forever! With this big picture in mind, Barton goes on to show our place in the God-Satan conflict. Simply put, our place in God’s plan is to choose to follow God rather than His enemy Satan. This makes believers very significant.
While God and His glory are at the very center of His plan, the present focal point of His plan is His relationship with all humanity. All the heavenly beings are watching to see if humanity will be obedient to God’s rule or to Satan’s rule.
As disciples we are on the front lines of the battle. We are to be responsible active agents for our Savior through daily obedience only to Him. This obedience also prepares us to occupy specific places of rulership in His new eternal system of rule. Presently we are in training for future, eternal reigning. (45)
This book is not just a lot of theological theory. Lin offers practical suggestions for living a biblical faith (chapter 5). In chapter six, Lin identifies four provisions God has made for believers as we face our front line conflict with Satan. These include the written Word of God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God’s spiritual family and gifts, and trials which test and perfect our faith.
Lin’s book is an easy, but thought provoking read. It helps individual believers see that they have an important place in God’s great plan. The book is amply illustrated with Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. I enjoyed From a Darkness to the Light (WestBow Press, 2013) and am happy to recommend it to you!
About J. Carl Laney
J. Carl Laney teaches Biblical Literature at Western Seminary and is an instructor for Western's Israel Study Program. Carl has authored numerous books, including most recently, “Loving Your Enemy: A Biblical Alternative to Revenge” (Ministry: International Journal for Pastors, July 2011).