Q&A: Illumination and Inward Leading

Illumination and Inward Leading

How do illumination and inward leading from the Holy Spirit help us interpret God's revelation to us?

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Answer

A wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians is his leading or guiding so that we can grasp God's revelation in our life. Acts 16 is a wonderful example of this. Paul and Silas and Timothy and, later on, Luke are a group of missionaries. They've been sent out by the church and they are to engage nonbelievers with the good news of Jesus Christ. And so, they begin their missionary journey and they're moving into a particular area of the world. And the Holy Spirit says, "No, not here." So, they move on to a different area, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, again says, "No, not here." They travel 400 miles to a city by the name of Philippi where they encounter a woman on a riverbank, a woman by the name of Lydia, a very wealthy business woman, and they preach the gospel and the Holy Spirit opens up Lydia's heart to heed the good news preached by Paul, and she becomes the first believer in Philippi. Now, this is a marvelous example of the Spirit's leading in the life of gospel missionaries. These are missionaries who are commissioned to preach the gospel, to announce the good news of Jesus Christ, and yet the Holy Spirit was saying, "No, not here, not yet. No, not here, not yet, Now." And we believe that the Holy Spirit works in our life in a similar way of leading and guiding us so that we can understand God's revelation to our life, what he wants for us. So, we need to pay particular attention, very careful attention to what the Spirit is prompting us to do, guiding us to do, and then we should be quick to obey and trust the Spirit's leading and do what he tells us to do.

Answer by Dr. Gregg R. Allison

Dr. Gregg R. Allison is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.