In the book Preaching: How to Preach Biblically (Thomas Nelson), John MacArthur writes, “Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit that opens one’s spiritual eyes to comprehend the meaning of the Word of God. It involves the preacher of Scripture and his audience. God’s objective and historically past revelation in Scripture cannot be understood accurately apart from the present, personal, and subjective work of the Holy Spirit. Illumination, which applies only to believers, is simply the continued work of the Holy Spirit by which He causes enlightened understanding of doctrine and how it should be applied to life…

“Illumination does not eliminate the need for diligent Bible study. ‘The illumination of the Spirit is no prayer-meeting substitute for the hard work of learning Hebrew and Greek and using the standard lexicons, commentaries and other research materials.’ (Bernard Ramm) On one hand, Paul encouraged Timothy that ‘the Lord will give you understanding in everything’ (2 Tim. 2:7). He then exhorted Timothy to ‘Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15).

“This should be noted especially by preachers. ‘The biblical interpreter cannot wait for lightning bolts to hit him. He must study, read, and struggle to be in a position to receive the Spirit’s illumination. It is not enough to open one’s mouth and expect God to fill it at 11:00 o’clock on Sunday morning.’ (Wilber T. Dayton) Paul taught that elders who worked hard at preaching and teaching were worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17). Far too many preachers enter the pulpit without adequate preparation to rightly divide the Word. They have good reason to be ashamed.” (Click here to learn more about the book Preaching.)

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