God’s Glorious Orchestration of Each Conversion
Conversion to Christ is a celebrated event in the church around the world and throughout history. Only the elect of God, appointed to eternal life and redeemed by Jesus Christ will be converted by the Holy Spirit.
There are two component parts to conversion. The first is repentance. The second is faith. Both repentance and faith are works of God’s grace. They are necessary for salvation. With aspects of salvation preceding conversion and aspects following this one-time event, conversion sits at the point of radical change for the person being converted.
This point of spiritual juxtaposition may be preceded by years of Christian education, which tends to soften the conversion event. Some conversions are immediate, almost violent events, where the Spirit’s work is fast and furious. We must never reduce God’s work of Christian conversion to some predictable method. Each Christian’s conversion testimony is unique and should be celebrated regardless of the usual or unusual employment of means.
The means of conversion will always be the Spirit and the Word. It is the Holy Spirit who brings the Word to the convert. This may be a one-time encounter, but more often the conversion testimony includes a number of exposures to God’s Word being preached. The preached Word is often used to cultivate the ground in which the seed of the Word will be planted for a later harvest.
As the Word of God (Bible) is preached, the Spirit of God brings conviction of sin. The elect hearer is made aware of his lawless, criminal status before the righteous Judge of all the earth. The guilty status is uncomfortable for most people. The awareness of just punishment may also have a strong effect. Most will turn to some kind of religious resolution purported by one group or another.
True conversion is all of grace and is the exclusive work of God’s Spirit causing repentance and granting faith. The evidence of true conversion is a change of heart and mind. A new heart for God is given to the convert (Ezek 36:26). The new mind is the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), who is now indwelling the converted soul (Gal 2:20).
God’s providence is at work in every conversion. This is the idea of God directing people and events to accomplish His will, including the conversion of His chosen people. In the Gospels, this was seen in the encounters people had with Jesus. The man born blind was made to see. The man at Bethesda for almost four decades was made to walk. The woman with the issue of blood was immediately healed. These are all pictures that point to the spiritual healing in conversion.
Today, the convert has the providential encounter with the Spirit of Christ. This is similar to what we observe in the Acts of the Apostles. One’s encounter with the Spirit and the Word via people and circumstances is never by chance or luck. One’s response to the Spirit and the Word is also telling.
Not everyone who encountered Jesus became a believer in Jesus, but those who belonged to Him did believe. Despite an encounter with the all-wise omnipotent Spirit of God, not everyone will repent and believe. Salvation belongs to God and Christ’s sheep belong to Him. He will lose none of His own because nothing can separate them from His love.
The irresistible grace of God the Father will draw all of those He predestined to adoption unto Christ. They will indeed hear His voice and follow Him. Jesus came into the world to save His people from their sins and He seeks lost sinners until they are converted/brought into His sheepfold
Consider each noted conversion in the Bible. The complexity of events that surround each conversion should assure us of God’s providence in the lives of each of His elect, redeemed, regenerate people. Not one will be missing on resurrection day.
Paul will be there with his Damascus Road story. The Philippian jailer will tell of that providential night when two prisoners were used of God. These were the same two who happened upon Lydia on the Sabbath Day. Zacchaeus will speak of climbing trees and being called by name. The Samaritans will tell of the thirsty Jew who stayed with them a couple of days after they figured out He was the Savior of the world. None of the converted in the biblical account can bear witness to anything other than God’s providence in their conversion.
No born again believer would ever boast in themselves and their conversion experience. Only seeing themselves on the precipice of hell and being plucked from the devastation of eternal punishment is reasonable to account for as one’s pre-conversion status.
Granted the grace of repentance and faith, we boast in Jesus Christ who pursued us while we were ungodly, unjust, unrighteous, unholy, and not seeking for God at all. Through His marvelous orchestration of people and events, He converted us at His appointed time. Whether He did this in quiet and elongated labors or with a momentous event warranting awe and wonder — He is to be acknowledged, credited, honored, and glorified for making it happen in His gracious providence and according to His perfect, eternal will.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 15, 2021