Personal Illumination: Finally, we arrive at the place where believers read the Bible today, and we must admit that the authenticity of history and the authority of Scripture is not enough to for modern readers to “get” the message. We know this because too many biblical scholars are incredulous agnostics and ardent opponents of the faith. The Scriptures which are “living and active” (Heb. 4:12), must be accompanied by the work of the Spirit in order to be believed. This is process of Spririt-wrought instruction is called illumination.
On the road to Emmaus with two of his disciples, Jesus had to open their eyes in order for them to see all things concerning himself in Scriptures (Luke 24:27, 31), and today Jesus is still opening blinded eyes. Without this spiritual illumination, no one can see to repent and believe (like Lydia in Acts 16). This is the work of regeneration (John 3:3-8) that overcomes the faith-denying blindness of sin and Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). When Paul speaks about this in relation to understanding the Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, he says, “The natural person does no accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (v. 14). However, “[Christians] have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (v. 12-13).
Consequently, the final stop in God’s process of life-giving revelation is that of personal saving faith accomplished by a divine illumination of our souls. Paul captures this re-creative vision in 2 Corinthians 4:6 when he says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In this way, illumination comes full circle. God who originated the world with a command for light to burst forth from darkness, performs the same miracle in every regenerated soul. At the sound of his voice, we who have ears to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ experience the resurrecting, illuminating experience of new creation (like Lazarus in John 11). The result of this monergistic illumination is that all who have eyes of faith to see will place faith in the message of the gospel which has gone into and is now going to the ends of the earth (cf. Rom 10:13-18). Moreover, walking in this light produces overwhelming joy in the revealed message that was initiated in heaven, sent to earth through divine intervention, inscripturated through years of inspired men preaching and recording the words of God, and deposited in hearts as the illumination of God himself (cf. James 1:18). This leads to one final “I”.
Incredible: Rumination on this process of revelation must result in praise and adoration. Remove anyone of these steps and the gospel would be neutered. Its potency would be lost. Apart from God’s redemptive intervention in space and time, there would be no historic foundation for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3); without the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament (2 Pet. 1:19-21) and the New (cf. 1 Thess 1:5; 2:13; 2 Pet. 3:16; 1 John 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19), there would be no sure word in which we could believe; and without the active work of the Spirit illuminating darkened minds, there would be no regenerative vision that induce cries of “Abba, Father.” For only as the Triune God has planned, personalized, and implanted truth in the hearts of believers, is the effect of the gospel sure to bring about salvation to all those for whom Christ died.
Indeed, the message of Jesus Christand God’s method of revelation is incredible! Accordingly, the responsibility of the church to guard this deposit is immense. From all angles, detractors who would limit the Bible’s inspiration, inerrancy, or its authority must be repudiated (cf. Tit. 1:10-16). For if the Scriptures lose their veracity or their infallibility, then the good news they impart is, at best, damaged and, at worst, destroyed. Tampering with or denying the doctrine of Scripture imperils the gospel and all those who believe it. This is the work of Satan and has been seen in every age of the church. Like all those generations who have shed blood for the Bible’s preservation, we too must fight to protect it—its history, its inspiration, its transmission, and its illumination. Only then can forthcoming generations join with us and praise God for his iBible–inspired, inscripturated, infallible, inerrant, illuminated, and incredible!
Sola Deo Gloria, dss.