2nd Corinthians 4:6-7 (see also John 1:9)
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.
Question: What is the “Light that shines
out of darkness”?
Answer: It is Jesus Himself.
John 1:4-11: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”
John 3:19: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
John 8:12: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
John Calvin: “For there is first the enlightening of the Gospel and then also that secret enlightening which takes place in our hearts.” (Calvin’s Commentaries: II Corinthians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p.57, emphasis mine)
What is this “secret enlightening” to which John Calvin refers?
John Calvin: “For as in His creation of the world God has poured forth upon us the brightness of the sun and has also given us eyes with which to receive it, so in our redemption He shines forth upon us in the person of His Son by His Gospel, but that would be in vain, since we are blind, unless He were also to illuminate our minds by His Spirit. Thus his meaning is that God has opened the eyes of our understanding by His Spirit to make us able to receive the light of His Gospel.” (Calvin’s Commentaries: II Corinthians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p.57, emphasis mine)
Calvin infers that the preaching of the Gospel is “in vain” apart from the Calvinist belief that certain people are preemptively made Born Again in order to believe. First of all, prior to repentance, no one is made Born Again. A person must first hear and believe in the Gospel before he is sealed in Christ, as per Ephesians 1:13. However, this definitely sheds light on the Calvinist perspective of evangelism. To the Calvinist, the preaching of the Gospel is vanity, unless God sovereignly regenerates someone, and if God does in fact sovereignly regenerate someone, then there is nothing that can stop them from believing. Thus, the role of an evangelist is pure pageantry. In contrast, to the Arminian, the Gospel has power, as per Romans 1:16, through which the Holy Spirit kicks, pricks and convicts the lost.