Illumination (1 Corinthians 2:14)

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, AV)

Some time back, I took a team of collegians into a home for kids. We conducted a puppet show followed by a short gospel presentation. A week afterward, the director of the facility wanted to see me. I feared they were upset with us taking a gospel ministry into the facility. However, I discovered that this was not the case at all. They wanted us to come in every week on Sunday and conduct a worship service.

After that meeting I sat with one of the staff members to work out the logistics. During the conversation, he mentioned that he wished he was a Baptist. I asked him why and he stated that then he could know for certain that he would go to heaven. I spent some time with him explaining the gospel. Then he said, “It just doesn’t make sense that a terrible person could repent from his sin moments before dying and be forgiven of all his sin and go to heaven.”

You see, this man demonstrates the truth of which Paul wrote here. The natural man does not receive or understand the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to that person. That is, they just do not make sense to him or her.

To us who believe, we cannot understand why people do not get it. We share the truth. We use the best logical arguments possible. We can even plead with them and yet they just do not get it. They look at us as though we were wearing paper hats. Moreover, the gospel message is the basic message of the faith. If they cannot understand this, how are they to grasp some of the deeper truths of Scripture.

The problem is that these truths are spiritually discerned and can only be understood as the Spirit of God illuminates these to the heart and mind of a person. This illuminating work of the Spirit of God is what took the Apostle Paul from a Pharisee, who trusted in doing good works for salvation, to a man saved by grace. Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as Paul the Apostle, was an expert in the Hebrew Scriptures but could not see that Jesus was the Messiah in them. Yet, after the illuminating work of the Spirit, Paul preached Christ and proved from the same Scriptures that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the Savior.

We who believe all fit in the same mold. We all were going our own way and then we heard or read the truth of the gospel. Yet, we did not grasp this truth through our own intellect. We were not that intelligent. We only grasped it as the Holy Spirit turned the light of understanding on in our hearts and minds, illuminating the truth of the gospel to us.

So, what do we do when we share the hope of the gospel with others and they just cannot accept our message? There are only two things we can do and should do. First, we must not grow weary in sharing the truth with them. You may have to take a break for the moment, but do not give up. Remember Paul’s words, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, AV).

Second be in constant prayer for them. Since these truths must be revealed by God’s Spirit, remember that for a person to understand and believe the gospel is a divine work. Be in continual prayer for the one who does not understand so that the Spirit may illuminate the truth to the heart and mind of that person.

Continue to share, pray, and trust the Lord.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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