From Intellectual Ascent to Regeneration

A teacher writes 2+2=4 on a chalkboard for a small group of rambunctious seven-year-olds.  A handyman works tirelessly through the day to support his wife and four kids.  A husband of forty years sits patiently by his dying wife, waiting for those priceless (but few) small moments of clarity and intimacy.  A professor passionately teaches college freshman of the unbending need for the law of non-contradiction.  A man walks hesitantly into the town square, plants his feet, tenderly opens his Bible and preaches with conviction the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What do all of these have in common?  Quite simply, they speak to truth.  Each of them, in their own way, speaks to something objectively true beyond our world, beyond our emotional reactions, beyond our tendency to adapt our worldview to the upwelling of desires that enslave us.  All around us, there are beacons and sirens telling us to pay attention to the truth that engulfs us.  And yet, despite this, there are those — truly most — who ask us to ignore the signs, to instead place our belief in nothing but the unfathomably astronomical chance that everything we see simply popped into existence.  And yet, if we take the time, we can see that truth can be found in everything we do. 

For years I struggled to be anything more than a boy seeking pleasure and mindless entertainment.  For all I had been taught, I knew nothing beyond my own arrogance.  A point in time came upon me when I was eighteen; having just graduated from high school, I realized all of my schooling was for naught.  I knew something was wrong, but wasn’t entirely prepared to dissect the condition I found myself in.  It was from a small seemingly meaningless springboard of a job making barely more than minimum wage that I began a journey towards truth.  At that time, I took truth for granted.  I was prepared to acknowledge greater truths, but I was wholly unprepared to delve deeply into them, deep enough to be planted in a firm foundation.  I was searching for truth, but as of yet, unaware that there was something that was objectively true.  In that critical time, I was deeply in danger of becoming that all too familiar sound of arrogance coming from many of today’s popular blowhards, filled to the ears with a desire to be known, but not an iota of substance or true relevance.  I would have, if not for the guiding hand of almighty God, become a tragic shell of a human, on the outside what the world calls normal, but on the inside misplaced, confused, and utterly sinful.

It would be easy for me to take credit for this journey, to act like I deserve credit for the path I took — we humans do that quite easily.  However, the truth is that had it been my own path, I would have gone a different direction.  I would be in a very different place right now.  Yet, here I am.  All I can do at this time is point towards God and say He is the reason I am so different now.  Every time I started down the wrong path, God put his foot down and said “No!”  Every time my mind started towards a thought pattern that was utterly anti-Biblical, God shouted, “Wake up!”  All of the credit goes to him.  My point in this is to recognize something that we tend to forget.  Any and all truth comes from God.  And to fully appreciate the truth, we must recognize it in the context of all of the attributes of God.  For instance, beauty in man’s site is merely skin.  If it is thin enough, tan enough, and fair enough, then man sees beauty, no matter how ugly the soul is that takes refuge in that skin.  However, if we aim to see beauty from the perspective of God, we cannot divorce beauty from truth, from Biblical love, and from justice, as well as every other attribute of God.  Flowers are not purely beautiful because of the way the color hits our eyes.  They are beautiful because their magnificence declares the glory of God.

And yet, despite the depths of truth that can be found all around us, as well as most importantly in the sacred scriptures known as the Bible, we as men and women are tragically prone to being plagued by shallow attempts at humanity.  I will not speak here for the motivations of all, but I can speak for my own journey.  I grew up in a church and played the part fairly well.  I would even argue that at certain points, I believed I was quite secure in my faith.  However, the entire time was plagued by shallowness and a lack of any real evidence that my faith was any more than a meaningless action.  I did not read my Bible.  Every attempt to do so was met with boredom and a rather quick falling away.  My life was not really all that different from most pagans.  There was no real reason to believe that anything supernatural had happened to me.  And then, that journey began for me towards truth.  Piece by piece, things became clearer.  And after several years of coming to the table of truth, I came to a point where the truth alone was lacking.  There was still something wrong, something missing.  And to be honest, I do not know exactly how it happened, but in a very short period of time I went from a mere intellectual ascent to the truth to someone who had been completely transformed — I had been truly saved.  Without fully understanding it, I repented of my sins and placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  And since that time, everything has been different. 

It is with this view of my story that I place the context of truth.  We live in a fallen state.  And as such, we play games with the truth.  We see truth all around us and we explain away things to the extent that we can live the life we want to live.  As I said, had it been up to me, my path would have been very different.  It would have been quite easy for me to live a life of sin.  It is quite humorous when I hear atheists talk about the Christian conversion story and call it a delusion and a way of escaping the harsh reality of a meaningless world.  For me, it was quite different.  Despite being raised in a church, it would not have been difficult to live that life of sin.  I desired it, and but for the social norms of my cultural religion, it would have been quite likely that I would escape to that life of sin.  That life of sin would have been the escape for me, not the conversion that came to be.  My heart was quite ready to suppress the truth, especially in places where it benefited me most.  My heart was wicked.  My heart was dead.  My heart was in need of something that I could not provide.  That something is regeneration.  Jesus said that unless a man be born again, he will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  The conversion of my heart was that rebirth, a supernatural act of God.  It was not something I did, but something God did.  I was not capable of it.  God saved me.


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