A Guide for Young Christians
John W. Robbins
When God saves us sinners, he causes us to believe certain propositions about himself and about ourselves—ideas that we formerly thought were not true. In an instant, God resurrects us from the spiritual death of unbelief and makes us understand and believe the truth about both Jesus Christ and ourselves. Scripture refers to this event by using several figures of speech: being born again, being born from above, enlightening the mind, being resurrected from the dead, and giving us a heart of flesh for our heart of stone. What this figurative language literally means (and if you do not know what figurative language literally means, you do not know what it means) is that God affects our minds directly, causing us to accept as true, ideas we formerly thought were not true. He gives truth—figuratively called “light” in Scripture—directly to our minds.
Jesus had a conversation with his disciple Peter that illustrates the point: Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). Now Peter had traveled and lived with Jesus, and certainly he had heard Jesus preach many times. But Jesus says that it was God the Father who revealed these truths to Peter’s mind. Jesus explicitly denied that Peter had come to know and believe these propositions on his own steam, for “flesh and blood did not reveal” these truths to Peter—God the Father had revealed them to Peter directly. We are all in the same situation as Peter in this regard; Peter’s answer is every believer’s answer; and Christ’s response to Peter is the same as his response to all believers. Just as Peter is not the unique recipient of this truth, so he is not the unique recipient of direct revelation. All believers get the truth they know directly from God. We are not aware of the Father’s work, just as Peter was not aware, but had to be informed by Christ. The truth just “dawns” on us. (This figure of speech is also used in Scripture: See