John 16:12-14 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bearthem now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you."
Introduction: Briefly defining the Spirit's illumination
In today's post we are interested in understanding an important ministry of the Holy Spirit to Christians that we can term "Illumination". The illuminating work of the Spirit simply has to to with the insight and understanding He gives to Christians concerning the observation, interpretation and application of God's Words. Jesus of course promised this to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. Following His resurrection and even moreso His ascension, the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost included the Spirit's work of illuminating Christians to the truths of God's written Word - the Bible, and God the Living Word - Jesus Christ.
Illustrating the Spirit's illuminating ministry
When I walk into the church on a Sunday morning before anyone's arrival, as I turn on the lights I will often say to myself: "illumination". Why? Because in that building that is dark, shadowy and un-illuminated lies rooms that are empty and difficult to navigate in low light. We need lights turned on to see and to know our way. Furthermore, as a pastor I know that in the proceeding hours, the hallways and rooms of the church building will be bustling with physical life and spiritual life. The Bible will be taught and preached, and those sitting under the physical illumination of those lights will also receive a measure of spiritual illumination from the same Holy Spirit who authored the sacred scriptures. Unless He shows up and attends the teaching and preaching of God's Word, no insights, meaning, application nor change will occur.
Relating the Spirit's illumination to four other vital concepts: revelation, inspiration, canonization and preservation.
The work of illumination lies at the end of the process by which the Holy Ghost brought to us the scriptures. He began of course revealing it to His Apostles and Prophets - or what is called "revelation" (2 Peter 1:21). Then they wrote it down of their own accord as so directed by the Holy Spirit, producing error free original documents - or what is called "inspiration". (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Then The Holy Spirit providentially worked through His people to recognize what had been written as inspired scripture - or canonization. As each book of the Bible began to circulate and be used, those documents had to be hand copied, translated and used throughout the centuries of church history. Today in our English Bibles we see the words and message of God still with us in what is called "preservation". (Matthew 5:18; John 10:35) Those four consecutive works: revelation, inspiration, canonization and preservation, function as the Holy Spirit's train of authority, carrying the entirety of inscripturated (written down) revelation in the 66 books of the Bible. So then what is the caboose? Illumination.