God’s Holy Spirit works through His Word to enliven and enlighten our hearts. He causes us to see, understand, and believe. On Pentecost, God poured out His Spirit on His Church. Pentecost is one of the four great festivals of Christianity.
Let me see my Savior’s face,
Let me all His beauties trace;
Show those glorious truths to me
Which are only known to Thee.
— “Holy Ghost with Light Divine,” Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, 402:2.
When God’s Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us, He is revealing Himself because there is only one God. There are three Persons, but only one God. Jesus is the Word (or the expression) of God personified. God’s Holy Spirit working through His Word causes us to understand His Word, and causes Christians to believe His Word.
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. [1 Corinthians 2:12-14].
Even with the Spirit, God daily enlightens and enlivens Christians through His Word. We could not believe unless His Holy Spirit daily caused us to see, to understand, and to believe. He works this through His Word through which He also works in us to listen, to pray, and to meditate upon His Word. This is why we “work out” our “salvation with fear and trembling,” because our understanding and believing is not within our control. We must trust in God for our daily repentance and forgiveness and belief, “for it is God who works in” us “to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13). God wants us to trust Him for everything.
To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting. For they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness. He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end. [1 Peter 5:10].
Here belong also all the prayers of the saints in which they ask that they may be taught, enlightened, and sanctified by God. By this very act they declare that they cannot get those things that they ask of God from their own natural powers. For example, in Psalm 119 alone, David prays more than ten times that God would give him understanding, that he might rightly comprehend and learn the divine teaching. Similar prayers are in Paul’s writings (Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9; Philippians 1:9). These prayers and passages about our ignorance and inability have been written for us.
They are not written to make us idle and remiss in reading, hearing, and meditating on God’s Word, but that we should first thank God from the heart that by His Son He has delivered us from the darkness of ignorance and the captivity of sin and death.
— Concordia: A Readers Edition of the Book of Concord, “Formula of Concord,” Article II. Free Will, 14-15.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.'” (Ephesians 4:7-8). In Christ we are forgiven freely through faith, and this faith is not from ourselves, “it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).