Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 2)

July 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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In a previous post I showed that, Biblically:

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity
II. Illumination Initiates Interest
III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Now we will see that:

IV. Illumination Imparts Insight

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:9-10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and He teaches the principles and the precepts of the Bible to whose whom He indwells.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Psalm 119:130

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He leads us out of error. He teaches and reinforces correct doctrine.

V. Illumination Inspires Intimacy

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

We draw close to God and get to know Him better by various means, but the main way we get to know – not just things about Him – but actually intimately know Him – is through the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-13

We experience intimate fellowship, through the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination, not only with God, but with other believers.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:7

Now that I have discussed what Biblical illumination IS, I want to point out:

VI. What Illumination Is Not

A. Illumination is not inspiration.

Illumination does not give us private revelation apart from Scripture – and especially not contrary to Scripture. It is not a synonym for imagination: Beware of these commonly espoused idioms: “God told me;” “God spoke to my heart;” “God wouldn’t let me do what I had been preparing to do.” Let’s be careful about our language. There is a great danger in saying “thus saith the Lord” when He hasn’t really saith anything of the sort.

B. Illumination is not inner enlightenment.

Illumination is not transcendental meditation. It is not the emptying out of your mind. It is not the achievement of knowing the self or emotional peace. It is not mysticism – or chanting or channeling or tantric yoga. It is not “blind” (dark) faith; it cooperates with rational, intelligent, logical learning, application, and wisdom.

C. Illumination is not immense intelligence.

Jesus and the Apostles were accused of ignorance or illiteracy, or lack of education or formal learning.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:26-27

Paul acknowledged the simplicity of human wisdom and how the true wisdom of God was counted as foolishness in the world.

Illumination in not merely academic. It is a supernatural impartation of understanding specifically related to Bible study. Plenty of classically trained and tremendously educated scholars have made a lifelong study of certain Biblical subjects without ever being converted, and therefore without ever having experienced true illumination.

Poisoning the Wells

May 30, 2019 at 10:38 am | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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“Poisoning the well” is a term that refers to the attempt to strike first in an argument by creating a false dichotomy in which anyone who disagrees with a position has been labeled as having ill motives or some character defect by which they should be prejudged and should have their position disregarded. It is a type of logical fallacy – a sort of ad hominem attack-in-advance, and is often used – especially on social media – by those who are overly defensive and passive-aggressive. Here are some examples in the context of someone who is trying to start a new Christian ministry by attacking and dividing an existing one:

1. “We should pray for people, not criticize them.” This statement is intended to create the false and illogical assumption that anyone that criticizes anyone else’s ministry or ministry position can not be praying for them at the same time when, in fact, prayer, correction, and even rebuke, often go hand in hand in the Bible, and were often used by Jesus and the Apostles themselves (Luke 9:29, 55; Jude vv.17-20).

2. “I’m too busy praying about my sins to gossip about yours.” This piece of self-righteous drivel combines hypocrisy with virtue signaling. You are “too busy” to gossip, but not too busy to graphically design a sophisticated social media meme every day in order to proclaim your piety in comparison to your critics, who you’ve prejudged as idle gossips? This imaginary get-out-of-pride-free-card insults not only the motives, but the intelligence, of those with the ability to address division and false doctrine in a Biblical way. This is the equivalent of a spoiled elementary school brat folding his arms, pooching out his pouty lower lip, and saying, “If I criticize you it’s because I’m a humble and deeply repentant servant, but if you criticize me it’s because you’re just a mean old gossip-monger!” Double standard much?

3. “Some people just like to find fault!” Not the person who says this, though, right? Certainly this innocuous and bland statement of practical observation is not directed at those who are criticizing your methods and ministry, is it? Because if it were, then you would be quite the little fault-finder yourself, wouldn’t you? News flash: people who are serious about applying God’s Word in Christian ministry are capable of spotting, identifying, calling out, and warning against fault without “liking” it one bit. In fact, it grieves them to do so, although it is a clear Biblical calling for those with discernment (Matthew 16:22-23; II Timothy 2:14-19).

4. And, speaking of “calling,” a common tactic for those who are very selective in their use of “D words” while poisoning one ministry’s wells in the attempt to start a new ministry is to claim a divine mandate that overrides any opposing views. Among our Charismatic friends, this is called “having the anointing” or “getting a rhema word.” The Roman Catholic church calls it “papal infallibility” or “speaking ex cathedra.” Even the Blues Brothers adopted a form of it:

Blues Bros

But in Baptist and more conservative evangelical circles, those types of statements are deemed just a tad too outre’, so instead they are disguised under statements like: “God gave me this burden;” “God told me to start a new church;” “God laid it on my heart;” “God gave me this vision,” and so forth. Who are you to criticize God? This poisons the well of Biblical debate and criticism because it claims a special divine revelation to which only one party is conveniently privy. What if the Bible says you are disqualified from the title you’ve given yourself? Too bad, God told me it was okay. What if you are in rebellion against God’s visibly ordained pre-existing spiritual leaders? Too bad, God spoke to my heart, I’m just an aw-shucks country preacher trying to start a sketchy seeker-sensitive “temple,” “chapel,” or “worship center” (the best marketing studies show that flaky Christians absolutely hate the word “church”) in the local strip mall. How dare you question God’s anointed!

A Timely Word

June 13, 2011 at 11:37 am | Posted in Hebrews | 10 Comments
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In the New Testament, there are different Greek terms for “word,” which are translated into English. Two of these are logos and rhema. The Greek word logos is used 330 times in the New Testament. The Greek word rhema is used a paltry 70 times. However, so-called “televangelists” absolutely love to use the term “rhema word” to refer to specific instructions spoken by God today. They contrast this with the “logos word,” which they take to mean the Words of God written down in the Bible. The implication is that “rhema words” are somehow fresher than “logos words.” This implication is simply wrong.

A quick glance at Ephesians 6:17 and 6:19 may help clarify the matter. 6:17 says: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Traditional Christian doctrine holds that “the sword of the Spirit -” the offensive weapon wielded by believers who wear the armor of God – is the Holy Bible. Yet the Greek word used here is rhema.

6:19 says: “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,” The “utterance” given to the Apostle Paul in this verse is the Spirit-controlled speech which the Lord will grant him as he boldly preaches the Gospel. Yet the Greek word for “utterance” is logos.

The desire for a private revelation from God may be very tempting. All true Christians want to be guided in an immediate way by God. However, it is always a mistake to denigrate the Bible by making it seem stale. I do not know who may or may not claim to have a “word from God” for you, but I do know that God’s Holy Book is alive and well, and is as fresh and powerful as it has ever been.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Danger of Presuming to Speak for God

September 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 16 Comments
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Jim, somewhat of an impulse buyer, came home with a new Corvette. It was the envy of his friends for a few weeks, but then, one day, Jim had to trade it in for a less expensive, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

His wife wanted to know why. “Honey,” said Jim, “I realized that car was a gas guzzler, and we couldn’t really afford it. I guess I just came to my senses.”

Later that evening, Jim’s neighbor came over. “Hey old pal,” said the neighbor, “I’m glad to see you got rid of that Corvette. With the way you drove that souped-up sports car, I was afraid you might lose control on a curve, and make your wife a widow.”

Jim’s wife was upstairs vacuuming, so Jim said grudgingly, “It was people like you that caused me to give up on my dream car. You spoke a spirit of fear into my life, and I panicked.”

Sunday morning Jim brought the family to church in their station wagon, only to be greeted by his pastor in the parking lot. “Good morning, Brother Jim,” said the pastor. “What happened to your Corvette?”

Jim dawdled until his family was out of earshot, then confided piously, “Oh, Pastor, the Lord spoke to my heart. He told me it was time to stop being so prideful, and to get a less-showy automobile, so I could better witness to my less-wealthy neighbors on their level.”

A once-familiar hymn proclaims, as evidence for the resurrection of Christ, the fact that He must be alive if He speaks to men today:

He lives.
He lives.
Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.

“He Lives,” Alfred H. Ackley

Certainly Christ Jesus does speak to His people today. But what does He say? The answer may be different for each and every person, but we must beware of the temptation to justify our own actions by rashly claiming out loud that the Spirit of the Lord gave us a special private instruction.

This was a big problem in Jeremiah’s day. Jeremiah was a true prophet, and he was faithful to repeat exactly what God told him. The false prophets spoke lies and then attempted to give them credence by claiming they came from God. However, God put an end to their party when He proclaimed:

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.

Jeremiah 23:30-34


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