5. Illumination and Transformation


1 a) Illumination has to do with understanding, enlightenment and applying the scriptures. The Spirit opens and unveils our minds, hearts and attitudes so that we can understand (Eph.1:17-18; 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:14-16; 4:6). The Holy Spirit helps a believer understand the truth in scripture. It helps us to grasp and love revelation. It is an awareness of spiritual things.

b) Illumination comes when we read or hear the Word of God or when it is explained by gifted Bible teachers and writers. By inspiration he provided the truth by illumination he interpreted it for us. Illumination is applying God’s revealed truth to our hearts so that we grasp the reality of it for ourselves. It is a life long ministry of the Holy Spirit to Christians

c) Illumination starts before we are Christians when the Holy Spirit “convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. Of sin because they believe not in me”. (Jn.16:8-11). General illumination or enlightening that Christ brings to all men especially through the gospel (John 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:10).

d) “Without the Spirit” the natural man cannot receive what Christians tell him. Jesus speaks of “blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. 15:14). The enlightening experience of salvation only comes by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Searcher of “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10) can bring realisation to the darkened minds and hearts of those who are “dead in sin” (Eph.2:1-5). He brings the enlightening experience of salvation (Heb. 6:4; 10:32). The natural man is “blinded” and in “darkness” since the fall of Adam. Since he is “dead spiritually” and does not “welcome” God’s truth and cannot “understand” he needs to become alive by the Spirit of God in order to see and understand “spiritual things.” (1 Cor. 2:9-16).


2. The Holy Spirit Illuminates the Scripture.

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to com”(John 16:13). The searching character of future judgment (1 Cor.4:5). “Spiritual understanding is “Spirit given” (Col. 1:19; Lk.24:25; 1 Jn. 5:20). N.B The Spirit still illuminates today.

3. Four Forms of Blindness (Lewis Sperry Chafer Vol 1 Systematic Theology).

a) The Jews are in darkness and are blinded:- (Isa. 6:9-10; Matt. 13 :14-15; Mark 4:12; John 12:40, 2 Cor.3:14-15). Christ explains it to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn.3:3).

b) The Gentile are in darkness and blinded (John 1:5; Eph.5:11; 1 John 2:11).

c) I All unbelievers are blinded. Satan has “blinded the minds of those who believe not” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). And “…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John14:17. Men have wilfully turned from the truth of God and He gave them up to a “reprobate mind” and “Vile affections” (Rom.1:19-32).

d) Carnal believers are in darkness. The carnal man is a brother but is limited to spiritual truth because of his sinfulness or immaturity. (1 Cor. 3:1-2; Heb.5:12-13). The unspiritual living hinders the normal illuminating work of the Spirit of God in the mind and heart of the child of God.

The writers of the Bible had illumination by the Spirit in writing the books they wrote.

Inspiration described God’s Word written. Illumination is understanding God’s Word through the Holy Spirit.

3. The Difference between Revelation, Inspiration and Illumination.

a) Revelation occurs when God “unveils” it is God revealing Himself to man. Revelation has ceased.

b) Inspiration occurred when the writers if Scripture received and recorded His truth and Holy Spirit superintended the writings of Scripture. It involves the writing of the Word of God. It is a completed canon and cannot be added to. Inspiration involved the Holy Spirit moving specific, chosen men. Inspiraiton has ceased.

c) Illumination is the Holy Spirit causing the believer to clearly understand and apply the truth today. It involves the reading of the Word of God and happens on a daily basis. Illumination has not ceased. Neo-orhodoxy confuses revelation and illumination. To them the Bible’s becoming God’s Word for the sake of man’s discovery of truth and locus of revelation.

4) The Holy Spirit Illuminating Believers.

a) Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came He would guide believers into all truth (John 16:13-18), and this includes the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:9-10). The believer has understanding of Christian truth (Eph.1:18; 3:9).

b) Those who receive the “anointing” from the Holy One know the truth ( Jn. 2:20) and the truth sets them free. The Holy Spirit enlightens the mind of the unbeliever for salvation, the believer towards Christ and His truth (John 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 6:4; 10:32; Eph. 1:18; 3:9).

c) Jesus “opened” (explained) up the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus and they understood (Luke 24:27, 32).

d) This is only possible as the believer stays in fellowship with the Spirit and goes on to maturity. Or else he will be carnal and hinder the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.3:1-3).

e) Believers benefit form the Spirit ministering through others who have a gift of teaching (Rom. 12:6-7). Those who say “I need no man to teach me,” are going against scriptural principles. God has chosen teachers to teach us, orally, through printed page or various other media. But ultimately it is the Spirit working through the Scriptures by men.

f) We are not to accept all we are taught without checking things out. The Bereans searched scripture to check out what was being said was true to God’s Word.

g) Believers have been enlightened and Illuminated (Heb. 6:4; 10:32).

5. Illumination and Knowledge (Jer. 9:24)

In 1 Timothy 6:20-21 Paul warns against “What is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in doing so have wandered from the faith.” “He is attacking the theosophical and religious tendencies that developed into Gnosticism in the 2nd century. Teachers of those beliefs and practices told believers to see their Christian commitment as a somewhat confused step along the road of “knowledge” and urged them to take more steps along the road. They viewed the material world as worthless and the body as a prison to the soul and they treated illumination as the complete answer to spiritual needs. They denied sin was any part of the problem and the “knowledge” they offered had to do only with special, celestial passwords and disciplines of mystical detachment. They classified Jesus as a supernatural teacher who had looked human though he was not. They denied the Incarnation and the Atonement”. (J.I Packer Concise Theology page 154). Knowledge replaced Christ’s call to a life of holy love with either asceticism or the permission of licentiousness. Paul opposed such teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 4:1-7; 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:1-9). Peter opposed it also (2 Peter 2:19-19.) John the disciple of love spoke out against it (1 Jn. 1:5-10; 2:9-11; 18-29; 3:7-10). Jude warned of it (Jude 4.)

6. Application

a) God the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to each believer’s heart. For example, when the Word of God is preached different people are ministered in different ways.

b) It is not enough to read and study the Scriptures they must be applied. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (Jas. 1:22).

c) The Word of truth sanctifies us (John17:14-17).

d) “…the word of God performs its work in us” (1 Thess. 2:13).

e) The word of God purifies us. (1 Peter 1:22-25).

7. Transformation

Transformation occurs when the Holy Spirit uses of the Bible to change and transform a person’s life from condemnation to salvation and from sin unto Godliness.

1. The Bible is a Sword (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17)

a. The Holy Spirit’s offensive and defensive weapon is the Bible (Eph. 6:17). God is speaking by no other means today.

b. According to Heb. 4:12, the Bible as a sword is:

(1) “For the word of God is living” ( alive or quick) (2) “and powerful” (3) “and sharper than any two edged sword” (it comforts and nourishes those who believe and judges those who don’t believe) (4) “piercing” (penetrates) (5) “even the division of the soul and spirit” (it is a divine scalpel able to penetrate into the whole man) (6) “and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (It knows and convicts the deepest thoughts and intents).

2. The Bible is a Mirror (James 1:23-25). It reflects the mind of God and the true nature and condition of man.

3. The Bible is a Seed (Mk. 4:1-20 v. 14). As a seed, the Bible produces life, growth and fruit.

4. The Bible is water (Eph. 5:26). The Bible cleanses and quenches thirst.

5. The Bible is a Lamp and Light (Ps. 119:1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 105)

It offers protection from danger and guidance into the right way.

6. The Bible is a hammer (Jer. 23:29). It has ability to tear down (humble) and build up (edify).

7. The Bible is a Fire (Jer. 20:9; Lk. 24:32). It convicts, judges, and purifies.

8. The Bible is Nourishing Food

a) It is milk that causes growth (I Pet. 2:2)

b) It is meat that gives strength (Heb. 5:14; I Cor. 3:1-3)