I would like to use my personal testimony to explain a (3) phase process that all true believers must go through. First of all, it is because of the fall of man recorded in Genesis that all mankind is born into unbelief. Only the power of God’s Word can lift us up out of unbelief:
Romans 10:17 (NASB)
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
I went through 3 phases in my life that led me into the supernatural experience of being born again, here they are:
(1) Unbelief – born into this
(2) Unbelief to Believing
(3) Believing to Knowing
As you read this please, do not misunderstand my conversion experience; I was converted in the twinkling of an eye. I am in no way trying to say that my conversion happened over a long period of time. Once I crossed that line from believing to knowing it was an instantaneous conversion from death to life. Below I have endeavored to describe the details of this process:
As I think about my own salvation experience and the period of my life leading up to that, there are many numerous biblical principals that I can relate to. First of all I was as Paul described “without God in the world”, or “atheos” in the Greek. This is actually where we get the English, “atheist”. Both words mean the same thing, without God, that was definitely me, godless. I was a spoiled, rebellious child with no respect for authority at school or my parents. At the age of 13 a manifestation of this rebellion surfaced in the form of drug use. From the age of 13 until the age of 21 my life consisted of sin and addiction that progressively became intensified. I became a binge addict, to the point that I would go on binges until all of my money and drugs were depleted. In fact, it got to the point where I would binge for days, weeks and a few times even months. When the latter would happen I found myself waking up in a rehab center not knowing what I had done for the last weeks and months. I would remember some of the details, but for the most part it was like coming out of a total blackout. I would be very sick and it would take days for me to detox and get all of the drugs out of my system. You would think that an experience like that would deter you from every touching a drug again, however for me it was a never ending and vicious cycle. I would always go back to the thing that was destroying me, no matter how bad the consequences became. I ended up going through many “rehabs”, the first starting at the age of 17. In total, I lived in 5 impatient treatment facilities and 2 halfway houses, not including numerous group and outpatient counseling. Also, I literally attended hundreds of A.A. meetings. All of this happened before the age of 21. You know it would be easy for me to criticize the many “secular” programs that I went through, as I have done in the past. The thing is, I do not believe that any of these programs cure addicts, however they were stepping stones that led me to the cure.
You see the first thing they tell you when you arrive at these facilities, is that you have a serious and life threatening disease that is comparable to cancer, it is called addiction. Then they proceed to tell you that some folks can go into remission, just like with cancer. However, they inform you that only those who have had a spiritual experience go into remission, therefore the bulk of time in rehab is trying to use 12 steps that help you to enter into a spiritual experience. The reason that I call these treatment centers that I went to stepping-stones is because prior to entering them, I was in total unbelief. I did not even believe that there was a God. The bible says in Psalms, the fool has said in his heart, “there is no God”. You know what I was a fool because not only did I believe that in my heart, but the way I lived my life was as if there were no God. Coincidently, perhaps “prophetically”, I was born on April 1st, the fools’ day. You can say, I was born a fool. So, I go into these programs in total unbelief and along the way something spiritual does indeed happen to me, I began to acknowledge that there was a possibility that God did exist. I began to believe in God, but not the God of the Bible, just a God.
I did not realize it at the time, but I actually crossed a line, spiritually speaking. I crossed the line from unbelief to belief. For someone who was “without God”, this was a huge step. It didn’t take long after that, just a few years and I would cross another line, a line which once crossed, there is no turning back. The line that I crossed this time was life transforming; I crossed over from death into life, from hell into heaven, from sin and wrath into grace. This transformation took me from believing to knowing. That is correct, it was not good enough for me just to believe, scripture tells us “demons believe in God and shudder.”
Knowing is totally different from believing because you come to a place that you know that you know that you know that God is real and furthermore that Jesus is real! And no one, I mean NO ONE! can convince you otherwise! It is in this place of knowing that the transformation occurs, it is at this place that one becomes genuinely “born again”, that is to say “born from above”. This occurs when the Light of Christ shines on our dark heart and reveals sin, once sin is revealed we have ability to “repent” and lay down all of our known sin at the cross of Jesus and in exchange receive His divine nature, which gives us the power to live a righteous life.
It is because of the way that I became born again that I have been able to recognize many maladies that plague the church. This is one, because the gospel message is defective and adulterated, the outcome is we have defective converts. It is because people aren’t taught how to properly be “born again” that we have a large number of so-called Christians who are not saved. The have not come full circle in the process I have described, many have left the place of unbelief and entered into the place of belief, however they have not been able to cross the line from believing to knowing. This is the reason that sin is rampant in the church, this is the reason that worldliness is prevalent it is because we have only enough truth to make believers and not enough to transform them into knower’s.
John 17:3 (NASB)
3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Hebrews 8:10-11 (NASB)
10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
You may be thinking now: “All of this sounds great, but how do I know that Jesus was not just a prophet, how do I know that His teaching came from heaven, could it not be possible that he was just a man that created his own philosophy and religion. Who is to say that you didn’t just think that you had some kind of experience, after all the mind is a very perplexing subject and it is capable of convincing us of all kinds of things that aren’t necessarily based in reality.” I know that there are people who think like this, because I use to think like this. I thought that conversion was just possible because of weak-minded people who basically needed some type of crutch. To answer this question I will close with the words of Jesus. He spoke these words when the religious leaders of his day were confronting Him and basically asking, how are we supposed to know if your teaching is from heaven or if it is from man? This was Jesus’ reply:
John 7:16-17 (NASB)
16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
Until, the believer becomes willing to do His will, he will remain just a believer. It is once we genuinely become willing to do the will of the Father, that we cross the line from believing to knowing. This is the cure for addiction, it originates in heaven and it can only be discovered by those who are sick and tired of living out their selfish will and have become willing to abandon that and do His will. It applies to the addict and ever believer who is not a knower!