The 18th century, French Philosopher, Voltaire, was a prolific writer, known for his wit and biting criticism of Christianity. He believed in “reason.” And thought there was no need for God.
Voltaire once wrote, “If in the market of Paris, before the eyes of a thousand men and before my own eyes, a miracle should be performed, I would much rather disbelieve the two thousand eyes and my own two, than believe it.”
This period in which Voltaire lived was ironically called “The Age of Enlightenment.” It dominated Europe in the 17th to 19th centuries.
Our word of the week, “enlightenment,” has to do with imparting knowledge, giving insight, and providing intellectual and spiritual instruction. To enlighten to shed light on something.
In a metaphorical way, when someone comes to an understanding of something previously unknown or misunderstood, they remark, “I finally saw the light.” Or “It suddenly dawned on me.”
In Ephesians 1 Paul prayed for the spiritual enlightenment of these Christians.
“…That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…”
Enlightenment requires an open mind and a receptive heart. Some like Voltaire refuse to believe. They have made up their minds that there is no God. The Bible is a hoax. Christianity is corrupt. And that religion, as Karl Marx wrote, “is the opium of the people.” Unfortunately, we’re unable to connect with those who reject divine enlightenment.
For those willing to explore the evidence and consider rational arguments, enlightenment is possible. For Believers, enlightenment is not a destination, but a journey. An honest heart is always open to further investigation. Enlightenment is not a single event. It’s a process. We grow in our enlightenment as our faith is rooted deeper, our hope grows stronger, and our love for God becomes sweeter.
Enlightenment may come through observations in our world. Or through our experiences. But most definitely it must be based and built on our increasing knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.
The Word enlightens and increases our knowledge of God. We mature in our appreciation for who He is. How He operates. And in His providential care in our lives. Expanded and elevated enlightenment allows us to fully trust God. That feeling soothes our souls. Calms our fears. And alleviates unnecessary anxieties.
The Word enlightens, informs and reminds us regarding the nature of our calling. The Bible says this a high calling. A holy calling. And a heavenly calling. We’ve been called from weariness to rest; from death to life; from bondage to liberty; from darkness to light; and from the servitude of Satan to the fellowship of His Son. This calling places us in the family of God. Allows us to be workers together with God. And identifies us as saints of God.
The Word enlightens and reveals the riches of our spiritual inheritance. The riches of God’s wisdom. The riches of His glory. The riches of His grace. The riches of His mercy. And the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Indeed this world’s “uncertain riches” pale in comparison to abundance of riches God bestows on His people.
The Word enlightens and demonstrates the mighty power of God in our lives. It begins with the Word’s powerful ability to convict us of sin and correct our course in life. Through God’s power we receive spiritual strength. Overcome infirmities. Minister our God-given gifts. And can defeat the devil. Indeed God guards us by His power. So, we confidently affirm that God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
What a wonderful blessing to receive spiritual enlightenment from the Lord. But it’s also a great responsibility and special privilege we’ve been given to share our insights with others.
In the word of the hymnist, Clara Scott, may our prayer be:
Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman