A New Taste
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.(Hebrews 11:6)
The faith that pleases God is a confidence that God will reward us when we come to Him. The reward we long for is the glory of God Himself and the perfected companionship of Christ. We will sell everything to have the treasure of Christ Himself.
So the faith that pleases God is the assurance that when we turn to Him, we will find the all-satisfying Treasure. We will find our heart’s eternal delight. But this implies that something has happened in our hearts before the act of faith. It implies that beneath and behind the act of faith that pleases God, a new taste has been created- a taste for the glory of God and the beauty of Christ. Behold, a joy has been born!
Once we had no delight in God andChrist was just a vague historical figure. We enjoyed many things…..but not God, He was an idea- even a good one- and a topic for discussion; but He was not a treasure of delight.
Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the go,den dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the soul’s end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever.
And then faith- the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever; the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, He will give me the desire of my heart to share His holiness and behold His glory.
But before the confidence comes the craving. Before the decision comes the delight. Before the trust comes the discovery of Treasure.
It is no wonder that Jesus described this becoming a child of God as the “new birth” and that we must be “born again, not of flesh and blood but by the Spirit”. Life as a Christian does not begin with some act we do on our own any more than a natural born child can birth themselves. I’ve often wondered what that newborn felt and thought that moment when they take their first breath, see and hear for the first time, and experience life outside the womb for the first time. I remember seeing their eyes moving around the delivery room as I held them for the first time and if their wonder was anything in comparison to mine as I saw this tiny complete human for the first time, then I know the amazement that they must have felt. I think it’s sad that we don’t remember that moment in our lives. This is the picture Jesus is trying to paint for Nicodemus and us.
We in the church often talk about “making the decision”, “coming forward”, “being saved”, “joining the church” or “being baptized” as though we were able to do these thing on our own initiative. We attribute these actions to sermons or songs or someone’s encouragement. And we too often leave God out of the equation. It is true that we make a decision, but that decision is not generated by us but through the Spirit of God moving on our hearts. It is equally true that a newborn decides to breathe and to see and hear but all that is possible only after birth over which he has no control. The above acts are only responses to the work of God through the regeneration and cannot stand alone as sufficient acts that satisfy the soul and heart need for a new desire, a new longing, and a new taste.
I suppose we could read a lot of books about love but we could never fully grasp the concept until we ourselves fall into love. The intimacy between a husband and wife may be written about and the writers may try to put feelings into words, but those written words pale in comparison to the experience. I realize this is a crude, at best, illustration but I hope you get the point. We can read about God, we can hear others describe their relationship with God, we may go through all the things mentioned above( decision, coming forward, joining, baptism) but unless we experience the new birth, all we have are events. But when our hearts are touched and our inner being is transformed, our desires and our core values are transformed from seeking the things of earth to seeking the glory of God. When our hearts are transformed, our longing for God and His presence exceeds any other desire.
Ephesians describes the new birth this way:
“And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins, in which you once walked. You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God]. Among these [unbelievers] we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by the sinful self], indulging the desires of human nature [without the Holy Spirit] and [the impulses] of the [sinful] mind. We were, by nature, children [under the sentence] of [God’s] wrath, just like the rest [of mankind]. But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ ( for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment ). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”
May God grant that every human in this world experience the new birth. May every professing Christian have this holy experience. May we never settle for human- generated ritual that leaves us incomplete and joyless, may we be “made alive together with Christ”.
If this new birth is not your story, I urge you to seek God. Cry out to Him and settle for nothing less than being born again and the experience of wonder as you see and feel and walk with a new heart that has been changed. There is an intangible experience that words fail to describe and that experience is for everyone who so desires it.
Dr. John Thompson