A two-year-old boy was once staring at a heater, fascinated by its bright orange glow. His father saw him and warned, “Don’t touch that heater, son. It may look pretty, but it’s hot.” The little boy believed him, and moved away from the heater. Some time later, after his father had left the room, the boy thought, “I wonder if it really is hot.” He then reached out to touch it and see for himself. The second his flesh burned, he stopped believing it was hot; he now knew it was hot! He had moved out of the realm of belief into the realm of experience.
Christians believed in God’s existence before their conversion. However, when they obeyed the Word of God, turned from their sins, and embraced Jesus Christ, they stopped merely believing. The moment they reached out and touched the heater bar of God’s mercy, they moved out of belief into the realm of experience. This experience is so radical, Jesus referred to it as being “born again.” The Bible says that those who don’t know God are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18). We are born with physical life, but not spiritual life. Picture unbelievers as corpses walking around who, by repenting and placing their faith in Christ, receive His very life. There is a radical difference between a corpse and a living, breathing human, just as there is when sinners pass from spiritual death to life. The apostle Paul said if you are “in Christ,” you are a brand new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Those who now have God’s Spirit living in them will love what He loves and desire to do His will; they will have a hunger for His Word, a love for other believers, and a burden for the lost. The Holy Spirit also confirms in their spirit that they are now children of God (Romans 8:16). Those who believe on the name of the Son of God can know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:12,13).
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4,5). What Paul was saying was, “I deliberately didn’t talk you into your faith, but I let God’s power transform you.” He didn’t reach them through an intellectual assent, but through the realm of personal experience.
Suppose two people—a heater manufacturer and a skin specialist—walked into the room just after that child had burned his hand on the heater. Both assured the boy that he couldn’t possibly have been burned. But all the experts, theories, and arguments in the world will not dissuade that boy, because of his experience. Those who have been transformed by God’s power need never fear scientific or other arguments, because the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. “For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance . . .” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).