I shared how Hebrews 6:4 details the process of the born again experience, starting with a person “enlightened, and tasted the heavenly gift…” Clearly, the heavenly gift is Jesus, but before we receive Jesus we are ‘enlightened’.
What Jesus said
In John 6:45 Jesus said this: “Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me.”
First we hear and learn of the Father, and then we come to Jesus. That may be a shock for some, to suggest that the Father was showing you things and speaking things into your heart before you were born again. We first hear and learn from the Father, and then we come to Jesus. That is the period of enlightenment I’ve been talking about.
Last week I shared how Peter was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew, with the claim, ‘We have found the Messiah.” Some time later, we don’t know how long, Jesus borrows Peter’s boat to speak from, thanks him with a huge catch of fish, and upon seeing this miracle Peter falls to his knees and expresses his faith in Christ.
The time in between his introduction to Jesus and him leaving his boats to follow Jesus is when Peter was ‘hearing and learning of the Father’. Jesus said it this way in John 6:40 ”Everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, has eternal life.”
First we see the Son, then we believe. We see the Son in our hearts as the Father through the Holy Spirit deals with us about who Jesus is, and about core things: Why was I born, what is my purpose, what if God is real and Jesus IS Lord and I will one day stand before Him?
We start ‘seeing’ Jesus for who He is, and then we come to Him to be born again. ‘Seeing’ the Son is the enlightenment.
You went through this too
Last week I shared how my friend Janny shared Jesus with me, and her sharing along with the answered prayer I observed in her life, led me to believe on Jesus. During those several months in the fall of 1974 the Father was dealing with my heart, though I didn’t fully realize it mentally at the time it was the Father through the Holy Spirit dealing with me.
Somehow in the back of my being I was vaguely aware that the Father God Himself was asking me these questions about what I believed and what my purpose in life therefore, was, but that awareness was in the background like a whispering but persistent voice, continually pushing to the forefront of my mind the issue of who I believed Jesus to be. It seemed every free moment of thought would be directed to the question of Jesus.
How about you? Was the time of your own enlightenment period long or short? Did the revelation of who Jesus is coming rushing at you like an unstoppable wave at the sea shore in a brief period of time, or did the Father deal with you over months or years? Either way, we first ‘see’ the Son, then we believe. We first ‘hear and learn’ of the Father, and then come to Jesus.
What enlightenment does
We have many terms for this ‘enlightenment’. Some would say they were receiving a ‘rhema’ word from the Lord as He dealt with their heart. Some might say they were receiving revelation about whom Jesus is and what they had to do about it. I think all of us understand it was a time of grace that led to salvation. No matter the words we use to describe how the Father brought us to the decision to believe on Jesus, we all went through it.
Warning: Opinion to follow
My opinion is that much of our church culture ignores this time of enlightenment, and is so eager to see a raised hand and add those hands together to say ‘x number got saved tonight’, that we have people making decisions for Christ who have never really gone through this time of enlightenment. We try to close the deal like heavenly car salesmen before a person really considers what he is buying in to. A person can make a show of salvation, doing and saying all the right things, but my observation is that many times though a person repeats a prayer, they aren’t really born again.
What I mean is this; Just having an experience with the Holy Spirit does not make one born again. Judas was a member of the 12 who were sent out to cleanse the lepers, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Yet he betrayed Jesus. So experiencing the Holy Spirit isn’t the same as being born again. For salvation to ‘stick’, it is clear a person really needs to go through a time of being able to ‘see’ the Son, and hear and be taught by the Father BEFORE they come to Jesus.
Additionally, much of the educational system doesn’t teach people how to think for themselves. Being a sight and sound generation, culture teaches knee-jerk reactions rather than careful examination of facts.
The time of enlightenment causes a person to come face to face with their deepest beliefs, and causes them to examine their ultimate destiny. To short circuit this process is to make for shallow believers.
I also suggest that one reason we have so many believers living like the world is that they have never sought such a time of enlightenment for themselves. They believe on Jesus because mom and dad said so, or grandma, or an aunt or uncle, or the youth group leader said…but at some point they must make the faith of others, their own. And that only happens when they allow the Father to show them Jesus, when they allow the Father to bring up their core thoughts and beliefs: Why am I here, what is my purpose in life, who is God and why should I serve Him?
Enlightenment: Not just for salvation
While enlightenment is needed before we ‘taste of the heavenly gift’, Jesus told Peter his enlightenment that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is what the whole kingdom of heaven is built upon. Jesus called it a ‘rock’ of revelation.
That means enlightenment from the Father about Jesus starts before salvation, and everything else in the kingdom continues in that way – the keys of the kingdom flow from and are part of continual revelation from the Father.
Is it no wonder then why Paul prayed this in Ephesians 1:17-18: “That the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know the hope of his calling…”
I pray this prayer for myself nearly every day, for it is my heart’s continual cry to the Father – teach me wisdom and your ways! Any who have heard me in person know that I pray this before nearly every time I teach…and the Father is ALWAYS faithful to give that Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Once a person ‘sees’ something with the eyes of their understanding, as far as the Father and Lord Jesus are concerned, they are responsible for it. That knowledge forces them to deal with that revelation.
What we’ll cover next week is how to receive that enlightenment, and not just once, but as a lifestyle, for it is the key to walking with the Father throughout our lives. It’s how to have not just a relationship with Him, but fellowship. It’s how to feel His presence inside, and be able to commune with Him there. Until then,