Whenever I can, I visit the world-famous Newberry Library in Chicago, a research library known for its collection of rare manuscripts. I’ll never forget a 2017 exhibition in which I viewed a copy of the very first Bible published in the Americas. It was not in English or any European language, but in a language spoken by Native American tribes. Called the Algonquian Bible, it was translated by Native American converts led by Puritan missionary pastor John Eliot.
Down through the ages, God has preserved and spread His Word. This includes the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination. Jesus put it this way: The Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (v. 13).
Jesus would send the Holy Spirit—also called the “Advocate,” the “Helper,” or the “Spirit of truth”— to believers after His ascension or return to heaven (v. 7). The Spirit would work on behalf of Christ and the gospel by, for example, convicting people of sin (vv. 8–11). People need to see themselves as sinners to know they need a Savior. Just as Jesus did only the will of the Father, the Spirit will speak only God’s words (v. 13) and give only what Christ gives Him (vv. 14–15).
The Holy Spirit would help the disciples recall the words and actions of Jesus so they could perfectly record them in the Gospels. He would also help them write the other books of the New Testament, including “what is yet to come” (Revelation). In addition, the Spirit helps believers interpret and live out Scripture by opening our spiritual eyes. Illumination, then, is a work of the Holy Spirit which enables us to understand, interpret, and apply God’s Word. As we saw yesterday, there’s a dual responsibility in Bible study: God works and we work.
>> Praying for the Spirit to open your eyes and heart should be a regular part of your Bible study and daily devotions. After all, asking for the Author’s help in reading His Book makes perfect sense!
Holy Spirit, who can better understand Scripture than the One who inspired each and every word? Grant us understanding to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) and apply it to our lives.