As we continue our study of Jonathan Edwards’ “Religious Affections” let us consider the fourth mark of authentic conversion: The regenerated person does not just gain new doctrinal knowledge about God, but his or her soul is awakened to have a new taste for the beauty and sweetness of Biblical truth which leads to experiential knowledge of God.
This is very similar to J.I. Packer’s argument in “Knowing God” where he asserts that there is a major difference between knowing “about” God and actually knowing God. He writes, “Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are.”
Edwards calls this an “enlightened mind” to the truths of Scripture. A non-believer can read the Bible and understand its content and possibly assent with head knowledge to what the Scripture says. But a non-regenerate person cannot have an enlightened mind to truly both understand and love the Scriptures, nor does he or she have the capacity to obey.
1 Corinthians 2:14 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned
On the other hand, a truly converted person doesn’t just cognitively understand the principles of the gospel, he or she relishes and savors them in Christ. This is not just a new acquisition of Biblical knowledge or doctrinal truth (which is extremely important), but in regeneration, believers have a new taste to enjoy the beauty and sweetness of the truths of Scripture. They don’t just agree with Scripture, but their souls have been awakened to love, obey, and cherish the truths of Scripture.
It is having the mind enlightened to truth through the powerful grace of the Holy Spirit invading our hearts to understand and delight in God’s Word especially as it reveals the glories of Christ.
Matthew 11:27–30 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Both the understanding of and the enjoyment in Biblical truth must be revealed to us in sovereign regeneration. Only a converted person truly understands, loves, and can obey the Scriptures because God alone has opened his or her mind to the truth.
On the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, Jesus spent some time teaching those two disciples how the entire Bible points to Him. He started back in Genesis and unfolded for them through Scripture how everything finds its ultimate culmination in Christ. How did they respond when their minds were opened by Jesus?
Luke 24:32 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
When God sovereignly converts a human soul, He opens the mind to truth so that we can now see the beauty of the Scriptures. Our hearts burn within us as we see how the entire Bible points to Jesus.
This is not something that comes naturally from within us, but has to be implanted within us from the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
Do you long for God’s Word? Has your mind been opened to the truth of His Scriptures? Do you have a hunger and thirst for the Bible? Do you yearn to obey what you read?
1 Peter 2:2–3 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Have you tasted that the Lord is good? If so, this is evidence that God in His sovereign grace has caused you to be born again!