Revelation vs. Illumination
Revelation vs. Illumination

Revelation vs. Illumination

theology

Revelation refers to new information from God, while illumination refers to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to believers. We conclude that revelation has ceased while illumination is ongoing.


Revelation refers to new information from God, while illumination refers to the prompting of the Holy Spirit for the sake of a believer's sanctification. We conclude that revelation has ceased while illumination is ongoing.

Cessation

The concept of Cessation refers to the “signs of a true apostle” referenced in 2 Corinthians 12:12, including tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, and healings that have ceased with the original apostles' passing. Although God can do whatever He wishes, it should be assumed that cessation is the rule.

Books that have propelled the revelation movement:

  • “Experiencing God” – Henry Blackaby – the start of the movement.
  • “Jesus Calling” – Sarah Young – best seller with thousands of 4-star reviews on Amazon - read some of the 1-star reviews to see the accurate picture of this false teaching.

How to know God's will?  

One of the primary reasons many feel God speaks to them is the need for guidance on life issues that are not covered in the Bible. The second reason is that this has become part of “Christian Talk,” which is commonplace and not challenged.

To obtain this type of guidance, it is recommended that we:

  • Read, study and obey God's word, pray for wisdom, and seek Godly counsel;
  • Comprehend Prov 3:5-6 He will make your paths straight, and
  • Understand Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This means if you are in God's will, He will answer your prayer.
  • This again states be in the will of God 1st John 5:14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

God clearly defines His will. Some examples of God's will for us;

Saved – 1 Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Spirit-Filled – Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Sanctified – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality...
Submissive 1 Peter 2:13-15 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God…”
Suffering – 1 Peter 3:17 “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
Thankful – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “..in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Verses on revelation and illumination

  • 1st Kings 19:11-14 “still small voice” is often used as a proof text that God speaks to us. He certainly did in the Old Testament, but “still small voice” is also translated as: "sound of a gentle blowing" NASB, “a gentle breeze” CEV, “a gentle air” Douay-Rheims, and “a light silent sound’ NRSV. This is hardly a solid precedent for God's individualized revelations.
  • John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life...” this verse is also used as proof that God is still speaking to us. Still, the verse is about salvation and the effectual call, not individualized revelations of God speaking to believers.
  • In other verses such as 1st Cor 2:12-16, we have received the Spirit who is from God - we have the mind of Christ and Ezekiel 36:27 I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes – these clearly refer to illumination by the Holy Spirit.

There are a few examples in the NT of the Apostles receiving a word from God. God spoke directly to Paul on the Damascus Road to save and make him an Apostle. In Acts 1:26, lots were cast to determine the replacement of Judas as an apostle. This was a common practice in the Old Testament (Prov 18:18, Lev 16:8-10) but occurred before the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, which can be deemed the final act which commenced the Church age. Of course, both Paul (2 Corinthians 12:104) and John (Revelation 1:10) record being caught up in Heaven; however, these truly are examples of revelation as they wrote parts of the New Testament.

Summary

God speaks to us in His word, and we speak to Him in our prayers.

The decisions the New Testament apostles and saints made were without “a word from God” and acted upon with the confidence that God would redirect them if need be.

Although it is impossible to deny or confirm one's claim to have heard God's voice, it is clear that New Testament saints are to rely on the Bible as the finished revelation of God and read, study and obey that alone. Furthermore, the more one is immersed in God's word, the more the Holy Spirit illuminates.

Post Script: In Romans 1:10:13, Paul says, “always in my prayers earnestly asking, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you...often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far)...” Even Paul, the great Apostle, didn't ask or receive a word from God as to what he should do but prayed earnestly, seeking God's will. 

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