I'm talking about what happens in the heart when God first engages us...when He first causes us to believe.
Today my heart was blessed by a post over at While We Sojourn. Writer John Bird quoted Robert Murray M’Cheyne, minister of St Peter's Church Dundee in Scotland from 1836-1843.
I'm going to copy and paste the quote here (and thank you to John Bird for bringing it to my attention) and then I will explain why this strikes home to me. So here's the quote...
“I do not feel that there is anything more in coming to Jesus, than just believing what God says about his Son to be true. I believe that many people keep themselves in darkness by expecting something more than this. Some of you will ask, ‘Is there no appropriating of Christ? no putting out the hand of faith? no touching the hem of his garment?’ I quite grant, beloved, there is such a thing, but I do think it is inseparable from believing the record. If the Lord persuades you of the glory and power of Immanuel, I feel persuaded that you cannot but choose him. It is like opening the shutters of a dark room; the sun that moment shines in. So, the eye that is opened to the testimony of God, receives Christ that moment.” ...Robert Murray M’Cheyne
Several years ago I looked back on my own faith in God. I looked back to when I first believed.
It was 1949 and Dad had moved our family to a small hilly farm in western Iowa. We had no running water and no electricity. We lived a considerable distance from town on a gravel road that turned to mud every time it rained. I don't know how my mother managed with four kids and one more on the way.
That summer two neighbor women drove down our long driveway every day for a week (maybe two) and took my two older brothers to town for Vacation Bible School. I don't remember going myself...perhaps they didn't have class for four-year-olds.
Some days later, early in the morning, one of my brothers and I were out playing underneath the clothesline. It was one of those hazy summer mornings. In my mind's eye I can still see the mist rising from the grass. My brother was dancing, barefoot in the grass, and singing this song, "Jesus Loves Me."
That seems like a simple, quaint song today and you might not be impressed much with that little song. But you see, this was the late 1940s. We had no television. Our radio operated with a large battery. Batteries were expensive when you have little cash. So we turned the radio on only for the farm report and weather. You may think I was quite deprived when I tell you that I knew only one song at that time.
But I did. I knew but one song. And when I watched my brother dancing on the grass, singing "Jesus Loves Me", I was quite impressed that he knew a song. Any song! You might be amused that it took so little to impress me. But there I was. Not yet five years old. I was hearing this little song, hearing that Jesus loved me.
I figured if this Jesus loved me, then I wanted to know who this Jesus was. And I believed. And I've never stopped believing.
That's the Gospel simplified. God loves us. That's how God works. He reaches out and touches us, placing light and life into our hearts and making us alive. And when He does that, we believe. And it is our belief that is proof already that we belong to Him.
Jesus said in John 5:24 "He who hears my word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life." Our eternal life begins the moment we believe. And we believe because God has initiated the process by causing us to hear and to see. He is the causal agent. We are the recipients of His work. It is not something we do that gives us salvation. It is something God does. It is His work in us.
God works in us to give us "life". And we believe. It's as simple as that.
(This post in no way negates important Christian doctrine. That is another and more indepth topic. Nor does it negate God's call for us to be obedient in our daily lives as Christians. This post pertains only to that moment that God makes us spiritually alive...that moment when we become born anew."