What is the doctrine of Illumination?
Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit in our minds, by using the means to enlighten our minds to understand God’s Word and to understand the saving knowledge of God and to taste the pleasure of God’s glory. This is what the respected Puritan John Owen taught regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in our minds.
I realize that some of you who will read this will probably not like what I am about to say. But just to clarify something before you read this: I believe in Cessationism and that may explain a great deal on why I am writing what I am writing (just to note, there are many who have abused the true doctrine of cessationism). But please understand that this is not an attempt to offend anyone who is a continuationist and who is a Pentecostal or Charismatic. I am writing this out of a sincere concern for those who are mainly connected with the sign and wonders movement. I cannot act as if nothing is wrong with the world around us because someone is going to be offended by what I will say. In a loving attempt, I aim to focus on first giving you the reason why we need the teaching of the doctrine of illumination today. Secondly, I will show that this doctrine is true and it has been recognized throughout church History.
Why do we need to know about the doctrine of illumination?
In modern evangelicalism today too many have not focused on this teaching. Many teachers teach that God speaks to them through visions, dreams, new prophecy and new revelations. This way of communication off course has become attractive. The fact that life can be so hard and so busy at times, makes us face this temptation in our thought ‘can God talk me like I talk to my friends?’ I am sure we all desire life to be this way, because it would be so much easier and so much accessible for us to be with God and hear His actual audio voice talk to us’. So we won’t really need the Bible in that case as the sufficient Word of God;.
This idea has attracted those who seek the miraculous. And they believe that it has provided an easier excess of communicating with God in their lives.
But when one examines those practices they are based on the mere practice of new age mysticism. A practice that is only used and encouraged by cults and other New Age religions. Because the emphasis of these groups is on ‘help’ outside from the Bible. So the Word of God has been misinterpreted, misused, confused many and led people thinking that God is speaking to them; in a ‘more sure way’ outside His Word, when in fact He is not. This off course is presented by the evidence of the fruit’s that come out of the movement.
Here is one example I came across on the internet sharing us a story that recently happened in Africa:
“A self-styled Christian prophet reportedly tried to prove himself by charging lions at Kruger National Park in South Africa, under the belief that God would intervene.”
“Instead of being prevented from attacking Alec Ndiwane, one of the lions tore a piece out of his rear end. Ndiwane is expected to recover. According to South Africa’s Daily Post newspaper, Ndiwane and members of his church were recently driving by a pack of lions eating an impala. Ndiwane went into a trance, began speaking in tongues, jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards the pack.
The lions charged.”
“Ndiwane quickly high-tailed it back to the vehicle, but before he could reach safety, one of the lions swatted at him with a clawed paw and slashed his butt.”
The ‘prophet’ said to the reporter:
“I do not know what came over me,” Ndiwane told the Daily Post. “I thought the Lord wanted to use me to show his power over animals. Is it not we were given dominion over all creatures of the earth.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/christian-prophet-attacked-by-lions_us_56e26dc9e4b0860f99d89524)
This is just one example out of the many.
And with their unsound doctrine which they teach it also becomes obvious after Christians examine and test all those things that is said according to the Word of God (Acts 17:11) that it is false. These liberals, false prophets, who claim to be from God, teach even to the point of heresy. False prophets and false teachers have risen in the church and as a result the church has now come to the point of not even practicing Biblical discernment. Instead they trust in what these teachers tell them. What other followers tell them, or what their personal experience tells them about God’s will. It had made many who profess to be Christian (knowing it or not) to reject the Scriptures sufficiency, its inerrancy and its completeness. Their life shows that God’s Word is not enough to make someone meet with God or know God better or even have the taste and pleasure of witnessing His glory.
So as a result we have many who will trust God only if a sign is shown, or if only someone comes and says ‘God spoke to me about such and such situation for you’. They do not believe that God’s word by studying it carefully and meditating on it daily can bring them to a real relationship with Him. They spend more time meditating on the music and running after the experience to find the will of God. And focus on trying to sense that experience they had last night at a worship meeting (which is more like a rock concert) because that feeling spoke to them.
Nor do they trust the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”(Matthew 4:4). Many have become like Philip who said to our Lord “Lord show us the Father and it is enough for us”(John 14:8) and our Lord then answered him saying “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?”.
We have been brought up in this world, having experienced and witnessed these things happening.
We must ask this question: what is the authority in my life?
My experience alone? Or God’s Word?
And if it is the authority in our lives how does God more surely speak to us? Or rather, where has God spoken to us more surely?
If it is God’s Word, then God’s Word alone will be the place where God more surely communes with us.
The other, does not go directly to the Word of God. So I hope most of you have said in your mind ‘the word of God’.
I have clarified in short, the reason why it is necessary to understand why the doctrine of illumination is needed today. It answers the question that someone will ask, ‘how does God communicate with us then’? How can one know what God’s will is for my life?’