Early in 2017 I was preparing to request a ministry license through the Evangelical Free Church of America (also known as E.V.Free or EFCA). Part of the process is writing a twenty page paper that needed to be read by a group of pastors. The paper had a question guide that told me what topics to write about. One of those questions said, “Describe what the Illumination of the Holy Spirit is and why it’s important.” Well, after a Bachelor’s degree from a Bible college and a Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, I was not sure what the “illumination of the Holy Spirit” was. Thus, my studies began!
The doctrine of “illumination” can be applied and focused to different areas of theology. A quick look at the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says there are four definitions of illumination: “(1) A general enlightening that Christ brings to all men especially through the gospel (John 1:9; 2 Tim 1:10); (2) the enlightening experience of salvation (Heb 6:4; 10:32); (3) the understanding of Christian truth (Eph 1:18); and (4) the searching character of future judgment (1 Cor 4:5)” (Ryrie, “Illuminiation” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 590-591). This blog post will focus on the third definition: the understanding of Christian truth.
If you are reading this post and you are a Christian, you have already participated in and benefited from the illumination of the Holy Spirit. But, in this post I hope to show you what it is and why it is important.
Photo Credit: Ritesh Man Tamraker
Bibliology: The Illumination of the Holy Spirit
I. UNBELIEVERS ARE DECEIVED
Before looking at how the Holy Spirit illuminates believers, it is first important to see the state of people before they become Christians.