Is there anything on earth quite as amazing as genuine conversion?
I am not sure, but perhaps because we have gone to church and have been around so many who say they are Christians, that we forget how absolutely remarkable it is to truly be saved. One way to get a picture of how significant salvation is, is to think of what a person’s life was like before it.
Before salvation all was dark. We couldn’t see the hateful nature of sin and the great and shining beauty of God was surrounding us, and we saw and enjoyed none of it. What a horrible condition! How we would feel for someone who goes through life physically blind. Imagine standing next to Victoria Falls with a blind man. To stand so close to something so stunning and not be able to really enjoy it! At least the blind man has ears to hear and other senses, however. Spiritually, before we were saved, we had none of those. We could have stood in the most beautiful place spiritually, and still, we would have had no capacity at all to enjoy it.
In salvation however, God enlightens us through Christ.
This perhaps is why one of the most common images to describe Jesus Christ is that of light. He is the light of the world.
First, Jesus gives light to our soul and enables us to see beautiful and amazing things that we never saw before. The person who is saved, as one man puts it, “is like one that was born and brought up in a cave, where is nothing but darkness, but now is brought out into the lightsome world, enlightened by the beams of the sun, and greatly admires and wonders at those things which he never saw before, looks and gazes with sweet astonishment on the pleasing variety of things that are discovered by the light unto him.”
Second, for someone who is in the darkness, light is beautiful and refreshing. Picture again the joy of a blind man, being able to see for the first time. Or of someone whose been locked up in a dark cellar, the moment the basement door is opened and he’s led up and out into the light. This is Jesus to the Christian. Again, quoting Edwards, “When the soul is enlightened by Christ to behold him, the soul is greatly delighted with the sight of him, as a little infant is delighted when gazing at the light.”
And third, light revives and refreshes. To get a picture of how Christ does this, one might think of the way in which the sun refreshes the earth.
Before we were saved, we were like the world while it is asleep. You might imagine a village in Africa without electricity in the middle of night. How different things become at sunrise. When the sun rises, the “world that was before all still and silent, and seemed to be dead, now is revived and raised up the by the new life put into them,” roosters start crowing, dogs barking, children crying, women making breakfast, men getting ready to go out into the fields. So it was with us, before God saved us, we were asleep, in the dark, but when we are saved, we start to wake up, our minds begin to move, our desires start working, and we are moved to do what God created us to do.
Or to use another related image, before we were saved, we were like the world in the middle of a very cold winter. In the winter the sky is gray, the river is covered with ice, the earth with snow, the air is sharp and cold; but when the sun begins to warm the earth again, the world around us comes to life once again. So our souls, in their natural state, “are like winter; perpetually disturbed with the storms of lust and vice, and a raging conscience; their souls are all beclouded with sin and spiritual darkness. But when Christ comes with his warming influences, things are far otherwise: their minds are calm and serene, warmed with holiness and religion and the clear sunshine of spiritual comfort.” This sweet shining of Christ’s lights upon our hearts, revives us and enables us to begin bearing all sorts of spiritual fruits. “In conversion, graces do spring forth in the soul which are like the sweet flowers that adorn the face of the earth in the spring, and like the sweet melody of singing birds. The soul of one upon whom Christ has shined differs as much from the souls of the wicked as the earth, beautified…” by the sun in spring differs from the cold, dead, ice-covered ground of winter.