Illumination: Who does that?

Hmmm“I’ve read that passage 10 times in my life, heard several messages in church, but never understood what God was trying to teach me until your message. Thank you.”

This is something that most Bible teachers and pastors hear from time to time. It’s meant as a compliment to the preacher… and it is. It is a compliment to preparation, creativity, and delivery. When I receive that compliment it always helps validate the hours of work that go into everything from simple lessons to the most complex sermon to a weekly youth group talk. But the primary compliment goes to God. When I hear that comment I know that the Holy Spirit has done something in that person’s life.

Here is the definition of illumination I learned in college:

The Illumination of the Bible (also relates to pneumatology) That supernatural help of the Holy Spirit which enables man to understand and comprehend the meaning of God’s revelation.

Illumination has two aspects as it relates to us. First for unbelievers, illumination is the Holy Spirit helping the person to understand God’s truths for the purposes of salvation. Practically, this is what makes the difference between someone who has heard the gospel message 20x’s and not responded and responding to the 21st time. Second for believers, illumination is the action of the Holy Spirit when you understand God’s revelation to you. (99% of the time that revelation is the Bible)

Practically, what does illumination look like or feel like?

  1. Illumination may illicit emotion, but is more intellectual than emotional. In other words, when a person understands deeply what God is asking them to do… it generally manifests itself emotionally to an action. Let’s say you are sitting in church and the pastor is preaching about being honest in all areas of your life. As he is teaching the passage, you sense strongly that you are not being honest about how you report your time at work. Privately, you make an intellectual decision to change. The pastor may not of even said “Are you lying about your work hours?” but you have decided to make a change. Since you feel guilty about what’s happened in the past, the message has brought about emotions. This is an action of illumination. It is something the Holy Spirit did with you during a message.
  2. Illumination never contradicts the Bible. We are a symbolic people. We look for symbols and signs in everything we do. And sometimes people will come to me and tell me something like, “When you were teaching this message, I felt convicted to _____.” It is hard to argue with a persons feelings, isn’t it? But sometimes that ______ is actually a something irresponsible or even sinful. Let’s be clear. Illumination is an action of the Holy Spirit. And God cannot, by His definition, contradict His written revelation to us. So the Holy Spirit would never tell you to abandon your family or cuss someone out or run away from your problems.
  3. Illumination is not independent of the council of wisdom. In the past, some denominations have used illumination as a way to do whatever you wanted. I am a big fan of people studying God’s Word on their own. The only danger of studying God’s Word on your own is that sometimes you take action on what you are learning without consulting any other source. (Like a commentary, talk to your Christian friends, etc) So, if you are reading 2 Samuel for your morning devotions and you notice that David did something… and you think that since David did that, that you should look for an opportunity to do that… that may not be what God wants for you. In actuality, this “false illumination” has led to the creation of many cults of Christianity.

Illumination of God’s Word is one of the most exciting things in the world! My prayer before every Sunday morning and every youth group and every time I study God’s Word personally is that the Holy Spirit would reveal to me what I should do.

As a new believer, one of the very first verses I ever memorized was James 1:22. I hope I am a catalyst to putting faith into action!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22



One response to “Illumination: Who does that?”

  1. Sid Williams Avatar


    The “receiving of the Spirits by Prayer,” and the “operations of the Spirits” have been discussed in another file. Now we will look at various lists of the “holy seven,” from the Bible, in side-by-side columns. This will demonstrate the fact that each one of the seven Spirits of God has a multifaceted personality. For instance, “Faith” is represented as the “Teaching of Jesus” (One Faith), and as “the answer to Prayer” (Counsel), and as “Trust” and “Prayer” (Faith). The other seven Spirits will be seen in different lights also.


    1) Righteousness Face of Man Love One Body
    2) Counsel Face of Lion Faith One Faith
    3) Knowledge Face of Ox Joy One Hope
    4) Fear of He Is (Yahweh) Face of Eagle Meekness One Dipping
    5) Wisdom and Holy Spirit before
    Understanding the throne Lonsuffering One Spirit
    6) Judgment Jesus on the Peace and
    throne Self-control One Lord
    7) Might God on the Goodness and
    throne Kindness One God

    1) The Spirit of Love is represented as “the Face of a Man,” and as “One Body,” and “we (the Body) are the Righteousness of God in Him (Jesus).” If we do not Love man whom we have seen, how can we Love God whom we have not seen?

    2) The Spirit of Faith is represented as “the answer to Prayer” (Counsel), and as being “Lion-hearted,” in our Belief in God, and as “One Teaching.”

    3) The Spirit of Knowledge is pictured as “the Ox plowing to sow the Seed,” and represented by the Joy of “sowing the Seed,” and as “the Hope of the message of the Seed sown, which was the resurrection in AD 77.” Our Hope today is in the promised resurrection at the End of the World.

    4) The Spirit of Forgiveness is the result of Meekness, and the Fear of the Lord; for many are too proud to submit to the One Dipping. The Eagle is the symbol of “Urgency” in the Old Testament, for God and the pagan nations, are predicted to swoop down like an Eagle destroying the enemies of God. Jesus taught that “unless you forgive your brother, you will not be forgiven.”

    5) The One Spirit of the Body represents Obedience to One Lord and One God; this is the Spirit of Obedience “on earth.” The seven Spirits before the throne are from God in “Third Heaven;” and also, the Spirit is Longsuffering.

    6) Jesus on the throne is the One Lord, and “He is our Peace,” and He demonstrated Self-control in going to the cross, for “He opened not His mouth.” Then, “all Judgment is committed to the Son,”
    and in a general list (which follows), Jesus is our Atonement.

    7) Our Heavenly Father is the One God on the throne with One Lord, and He has the Spirit of Might, or Strength, to destroy nations and individual men; or to deliver nations and men, and Body and Soul. The “new Body of man is immortal; or, incorruptible.” God is also the Spirit of Adoption; this is into the Body on earth first, and then, into Third Heaven finally.

    Now we will observe another chart of parallel lists of the seven Spirits of God.


    1) Love Blessing Blessing Love
    2) Faith Honor Honor Faith
    3) Knowledge Glory Glory Knowledge
    4) Brotherly
    Kindness Power Power Forgiveness
    5) Perseverance Wisdom Wisdom Wisdom
    6) Virtue and
    Self-control Riches Thanksgiving Atonement
    7) Godliness Strength Might Adoption

    By means of these two charts we have brought together some of the various lists of the seven Spirits of God. These seven Spirits of God are represented by the symbol, “Lampstand.” See: Zechariah 4.2 and Revelation 1.12, 20; 2.5; 11.4.

    [In Revelation 11.4, “two Lampstands” is an error in translation, and should read: “the two Olive Trees and (7) Lampstands BOTH standing before the God of the earth.”]

    For additional lists, see: Ephesians 6.14-18, Jude 25.

    Saved by Dipping; Lost by Failing to Receive the Spirit:

    “When an unclean spirit [sin] goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
    Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
    Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits [sins] more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of the man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation” – Mt 12.43-45; NKJV.

    This story is repeated:

    “Therefore many of His students, when they heard, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ … From that time many of His students went back and walked with Him no more” – Jn 6.60, 66.

    Missing Factor:

    “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from Water and of Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of the God” – Jn 3.5.


    Most people “saved by dipping go to Hell!”
    This is because, as stated above, “their saved bodies remain empty” (meaning without the Spirit).
    The Scriptures quoted above, and dozens of others, make perfectly clear that, “No one can be saved without the presence of the Spirit.” Congregations are “dead” without the Spirit!

    “For as the Body [local congregation] without the Spirit [of God] is dead, so faith without works is dead also” – Jas 2.26.

    And – where do “works” come from, but from the Spirit?

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