Tonight as I was working a random thought came to mind. I don’t know why, but I know it has stuck with me all night long.
People are fine to let Jesus save them, the problem is they don’t want Him to change them.
It’s a simple thought but one that has the potential to cut us to the heart. The theological term for this is regeneration. In short, it is the process that a persons heart and mind goes through as the Holy Spirit changes them from an enemy of God to a son or daughter of God. It’s the process that changes our greed to generosity, hate into humility and lust into love.
I see it all the time in those around me and also in myself. We love the idea that Jesus would save us from hell. In fact many a person has said a prayer or gone to an alter at a service and asked for just this thing. Their one prayer is that Jesus would save them from hell.
However there is a problem with this.
That’s all they want. To be honest when I was younger and went to the alter at the end of a sermon at teen camp that’s all I wanted. I simply didn’t want to go to hell. I had no desire to really love God and let Him change me. I wanted to be able to keep my attitude, stuff and hobbies and just let Him take me to heaven when I died. It seemed like a really good deal to me.
However this is not how it plays out in scripture. We don’t get to ask God to save us from hell and He lets us keep all of our junk. We don’t get to live our lives and be greedy, lustful and arrogant and expect Him to be O.K. with it. We can’t even play that “I’ll live a good life” card and hope that we are “good enough”.
Our hearts and minds MUST be changed by Him in order to really be able to love Him and live out all He has for us. So how do we know that our hearts of being regenerated by the Holy Spirit?
1. Jesus Means Something
When the Holy Spirit is doing a work in ones heart it is apparent. One might not even acknowledge that Jesus is Lord yet but they can’t stop coming to church and reading the Bible. There is this desire to know more about this Jesus and this eventual understanding that He is more than just a good moral teacher. He is, as He said He was, God. This changes everything in a persons life because they begin to understand that if Jesus is King then they are His servant.
2. Passion For Lost
When one receives a great gift is is a natural reaction to tell others about the gift. The days following Christmas people show off the things they received. This comes partly due to their excitement about the item. They want others to know the joy and share in it. The same is true of salvation and regeneration. When ones heart is being changed it is a natural out pouring for that to show up in ones life. This can be in a number of different ways and isn’t the same for everyone. However if one claims to know Christ and to have been saved, yet never speaks Jesus name to those dying in their sin I believe they should wonder if they have been changed.
3. Split Personality
It is a natural reaction to always want what’s best for us. We learn this as children and bring it with us into adulthood. This idea that if it doesn’t make me happy it’s not worth doing will appear in everyone’s life. However, for the one being transformed by the Spirit we see a split personality. There will be times when ones sin nature will fight back. In these times the believer will witness what others hopefully have already seen. They will see themselves choose the things of God over the things of this world. Not out of a begrudging sense of necessity, but out of a love for the things of God over the things of man. This at times will be a fight, but by God’s grace he will lead a believer on.
“Men will trust in God no further than they know Him; and they cannot be in the exercise of faith in Him one ace further than they have a sight of His fullness and faithfulness in exercise.”
― Jonathan Edwards,