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After Ye Were Illuminated

by Brother Carl Birt

Hebrews 10:32-33, “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”

Do you remember the day you got saved? Can you remember what it was like being a new convert? It does us good every now and then to pause and remember. Time passes and has a way of fading those memories. The finer details can easily become effaced by the erosion of time. 

This is an exercise that can benefit us in three ways. First, it helps to keep our love for God fresh. A stale experience leads to formalism and lukewarmness. It helps to keep the fire burning in our hearts. Secondly, it can help to keep the present in perspective. The trials we faced in those early days can help us see that what you or I may presently be facing still pales in the light of eternity. Too many miles lie behind us to entertain thoughts of turning aside. Lastly, there are lessons we have learned and stories that need retold. Why? There are still new converts today that need solid examples to follow.

There was a time before we were illuminated. We walked in darkness. We had no clue of a life of salvation or of spirituality. Being illuminated is a life changing event. Nothing can compare with it. In a life of sin, we were many things. We were worldly. We thought and acted like the world, we talked like the world, we went to worldly places, and took part in worldly pleasures. We were fully ensconced in the world. Many of us were not only worldly, but we were religious too. We were down in Babylon’s confusion, using a profession to cover our sins and ease our guilty consciences. We thought like them, talked like them, and acted like them because we were one of them. We tried on our own many times to reform and turn over a new leaf. But we failed every time. We came to the point where God so graciously dealt with our heart. We realized we had no power or strength to change on our own.

But then the light of the glorious gospel shined in our hearts. Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” We were illuminated. God turned on the light and we could finally see. In John 3:3 Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see….” Light enables us to see things. We see things that were there all along, but we were in darkness. Light reveals the hidden things. We were made to realize very quickly that we had opposition. We had an enemy. Light revealed to us the battle. 

Revelation 12:7-11, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Our conscience was made very sensitive and tender towards God and our fellow man. We wanted to please God. The enemy tried his best to get us back. This is how it is with a new convert. New converts can be very vulnerable. The dragon still seeks to devour them. Often the accuser gets turned loose. Do you remember those days? The accuser still comes around every now and then to accuse tenderhearted saints. One precious lesson we learned in those early days was the value of our testimony. There is power in the spoken testimony. 

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We found this scripture to be true on many levels. All things—everything was made new. We were born into a new family. Many friends and acquaintances we had in sin and in false religion either turned against us or faded from view. We may have been aware of it, and then again, we may have been oblivious to it, but we became the topic of many conversations among unsaved family and religious circles. We were truly made a gazingstock. Taking your stand for the truth and coming out of Babylon caused a few earthquakes.

There were many fiery trials, but then there was the smile of God. God help us not to lose that smile—that approval. Getting settled in truth and in a life of salvation takes time and experience. Emotions and feelings can be all over the map. But faith takes root and begins to grow. Spiritual maturity is a process. At times, we feel like we are in the furnace. But the furnace is not meant to destroy us, but to refine us.

In this issue, we celebrate spring, renewal, growth, and the love of God for us.

For our centerpiece, we have highlighted a message preached by Brother Nathan Price. Its title is “Why Did Christ Come?” While a very simple message, Brother Price has us think about what it was that so moved God to send His only begotten Son. 

Next, we have an article for young people titled “The Ungovernable Tongue.” While written with young people in mind, everyone can benefit from it. We also have a children’s article titled “Plants Grown Up.”

Lastly, we have selected from our archives two timely articles in keeping with growing into spiritual maturity. One is titled “The Family Of Feelings” and the other is “Two Trees.” Both are allegorical in nature, with deep spiritual lessons.

Our prayer is that the contents of this issue are a blessing to every reader and strengthen their spiritual roots.