Illumination: A Primer

How does one come to see the things of God as wise, rather than foolish?

Along these lines, Augustine, in the Confessions, writes, “I neither wished nor needed to read further. At once, with the last words of this sentence, it was as if a light of relief from all anxiety flooded into my heart. All the shadows of doubt were dispelled.”1 This response after reading a single verse in Romans 13 and after years of wishing he could come to believe in the faith of his mother. What happened that Augustine was finally able to see the truth clearly?

Paul in 2 Corinthians 4 gives us a clear answer: God gives light to the eyes of His people so that they might clearly see His glory as displayed in the face of Christ (v. 6) . Anyone who does not come to see, how does not receive the light, has been blinded by the god of this age (v. 4). Not but by the grace of God, the same God who, in the beginning said, “let there be light,” does one come to faith in the wisdom of God rather than the foolishness of the world.

For those in ministry, it is texts like this which provide immense relief because it means that we are not the one’s who bring salvation; instead, we remain faithful to the task of proclaiming the word boldly and trusting that God will do His work of giving light to those who are living in darkness. A text like this also ought to bring us to our knees in prayer as we recognize that it is only by God that people will come to believe. We may be the worlds best communicators and yet our rhetorical flourishes do not save: only God does. In my experience, it is the times when I feel least prepared that God, by the Holy Spirit, opens eyes and warms hearts to know and love Him more. He uses us in our weakness to shame the strong; He uses us in our foolishness to same the wise. He uses us as His agents; but the light of salvation alone comes from above.

  1. Augustine, Saint; Henry Chadwick. The Confessions (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 153). OUP Oxford.

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