1Th. 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
Do you ever remember trying to read the Bible before you were born again? I remember as a teen when my dad shook the Bible in the air at me and told me I needed to ‘read this book’. I was headed down the wrong path and my dad was trying to get my attention. I actually did try to read it, starting in Genesis; I also remember not getting very far. The book can’t be understood without the Spirit’s illumination, it is closed to the lost. Actually, it is the work of the word and the Spirit together that begin the work of awakening in our soul. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word”. It is the Holy Spirit acting upon the Bible that gives us a glimpse of the glory of God, that is where spiritual awakening happens. John Piper explains this work of God using a quote from John Calvin. Here is Calvin’s quote and Piper’s explanation.
“ ‘Therefore illumined by [the Spirit’s] power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men.’
When Calvin says, in the above quote, that our certainty about the Scriptures comes from a sight of God’s glory, as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself, the words “as if” are simply meant to distinguish the “gazing upon the majesty of God himself” immediately, without Scripture as the prism in between, from gazing upon the majesty of God in Scripture. We really do see the majesty of God with the eyes of the heart; but we see it in the Scripture…”
Thinking back about that encounter with my dad and the Bible all those years ago makes me realize the importance of divine enlightenment. I didn’t understand it right then but over the next few years I opened that Bible up again and again. Finally, one day, the light turned on. It was just one verse of scripture that changed my world found in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the father except by Me”.