Illumination, Not Imagination

I recently read an old blog post from John Piper where he encourages all pastors to set up a blog. One of his reasons for advocating blogging, is that the platform can be used for teaching. About this point he writes, “Here is where a pastor has an outlet for whatever he didn’t get to say on Sunday.

I thought his post was helpful and have found it especially practical this week. This past Sunday I preached from Luke 24:44-49. In the course of my studies, I came across a quote from John Calvin about the giving of the Holy Spirit to believers. I meant to hit on that quote on Sunday morning, but as all pastors probably understand: When you preach, you don’t always say everything you mean to say, and you very often say a lot of things that you didn’t mean to say.

So here I get a chance to say what I meant to say Sunday.

In Luke 24, Jesus is risen from the dead and is taking His disciples to school. He is giving them a crash course on Biblical Theology. He is schooling them on how He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament.

In order for anybody to grasp His teaching (and all divine instruction, for that matter), the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit is needed to open up blind eyes to comprehend divine truth.

Verse 45 tells us, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,”. Luke is describing the divine brain enabling that is being given to the disciples. On this truth, John Calvin made an important observation in his commentary on the the Harmony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He wrote:

For God does not bestow the Spirit on his people, in order to set aside the use of his word, but rather to render it fruitful.

This is a crucial point. The Spirit certainly does many jobs, but one of the most important jobs He does is illuminating the Scriptures. He lights up the scriptures so that we might understand them. He is not given to us in order to take us beyond the truth of God’s word. Instead, He is given to us to cause God’s word to bear fruit in our lives.

The Spirit does not liberate us from our need and dependence on Scripture. He never negates God’s word. He actually leads us to feast in the green pastures of the Bible. He helps us to chew, savor, and digest God’s truth in a way that our own efforts never could produce.

The Holy Spirit did not come to set us free from the boundaries of the written Word of God. He did not come to bring us new revelation from God. No. The Spirit has come to open our minds to what has already been given to us, so that much fruit might abound in us.

Let us pray for divine illumination of God’s Word, and beware of any freedom beyond it.

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