Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Conversion

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
In this new monthly column we wish to highlight experiential matters in the life of faith. GodÕs Word is experiential. GodÕs Word is per definition Scriptural-experiential. What do we mean by this term? That man experiences GodÕs Word. For example, a love relationship in marriage is something which does not only affect the outward walk. Neither does it merely affect the mind or the understanding, but it has a much deeper impact. Husband and wife experience this love for one another. That is also how the relationship is between the Lord and His children. They experience God and His attributes in His personal dealings with them in their life. It is a deep relationship of love, fear and awe towards God. This experience is something that is described in GodÕs Word. GodÕs Word comes to man with power and man experiences His Word in his life and soul. This is Scriptural experiential religion. In this new monthly column we will try to give some direction to the vital experience of GodÕs Word in the life of faith.
Let us now explain a few matters concerning the experience of conversion. This is not to say that conversion always takes place along these lines, but there are certain characteristics of conversion which are always present. Some of these are humility, awareness of guilt and unworthiness, love to God, desire for Christ, longing for GodÕs righteousness, faith, hope, and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is experienced in true conversion? GodÕs Word focuses on the inner change of man which I conversion. We must be brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. That means God must bring you to come to an end with yourself. That involves a struggle. This struggle sometimes can be a severe struggle as we are brought to an unfeigned surrender to the Lord and find peace with God. What we need is to be uncovered to our sins and to receive a view of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It can very well be that a church member assumes that he or she is converted, but that it is only self-righteousness. It can very well be that you pray much and that you perform certain religious duties. It can even be that a person meditates on sermons at home and reads religious books, but that all along he is build on self-righteousness. He thinks he is child of God, but in reality he does not know grace. In spite of all his religious impressions he is still lost and outside of Christ.

A person can easily rest on self-righteousness until it pleases God to show him his sins and that he is still outside of GodÕs grace. When that happens you become painfully aware that you are still under GodÕs wrath. Then you can still do all kinds of good things, but you become aware that this is nothing more than self-righteousness.

This is experienced when God gives the soul a sense of its vileness and guilt. Then you are brought into great distress and you are afraid that the anger and vengeance of God will overtake you. You will envy the birds and the animals because they have no soul to lose, for if you are not led to a saving knowledge of God, you will be damned forever.

The natural response to such an awakening is that you will pray and try to please God. Some will even try to persuade God by their prayers and devotions to work a new life in them. You can even think that there is some merit in your prayers and in your mourning for sin. When prayer increases you can think that you are converted and that you know saving grace. But you are still deceiving yourself. For salvation is not based on your own works, prayers, or emotions but only on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore GodÕs Holy Spirit leads the sinner to see more of his own vileness and of his own sinfulness. One starts to see also the worthlessness of his own prayers and affections. Then you begin to see that there is nothing that can make up for all your sins. On the one hand you dread to lose these convictions and return to your former old carnal life, yet on the other hand these convictions are unbearable to the soul. It becomes a burning issue: I have grieved God and greatly offended Him and there is no way I can ever make up for my sins. A struggle arises. You realize that your outward righteousness cannot save you. You see that God is very strict; He demands perfect obedience. You know that you need faith and that faith is a gift of God and that faith is given to the humble. So you try to humble yourself before God. You try to give yourself the dispositions, which are needed for faith and conversion.

Moreover, the thoughts of GodÕs sovereignty can bring great struggles. Thoughts of election and reprobation can assault you. You are brought to an end with yourself. You see that you cannot save yourself nor can you give yourself the necessary qualifications for grace.

Then the Holy Spirit leads your soul to look unto the Lord Jesus. Christ is preached in all His fullness and willingness. You see that He has fulfilled all the demands of the law. He has fulfilled all the qualifications for grace. He merited grace for needy sinners. God is not pleased with the sinner, but only with His Son. That becomes very clear to the soul. Then that sinner is led to fall down before Christ Jesus, not to work and cover up his sins, neither to try to make up for them. Then infinite beauty is seen in Christ and you are led to embrace Him for Who He is and what He has done. In faith you fall down in complete surrender to Christ. You desire no other righteousness than the righteousness of Christ. You renounce your own self-righteousness and adore Christ and His finished work on the cross. You rest in His perfect obedience. You see that in Christ there is peace with God. You rest on His righteousness alone.

Then you see great glory in God the Father for giving His Son; you see great glory in God the Son for coming down to earth to save sinners by His blood; and you see great glory in God the Holy Spirit because He gives these views of Christ. The sinner is melted by the love of such a Saviour. You wonder why the Lord would have such dealings with you, unworthy sinner. His grace becomes exceedingly abundant for you.

You realize that the way of salvation is one of infinite wisdom, suitability and excellency. You see exceeding beauty in Christ and you wonder why the whole world does not close with Christ, for His righteousness is perfect and He is sweet.

That is conversion or entering into the kingdom of heaven. Christ is the Door; He is the entrance. He gives rest and sweetness to the soul. In spite of struggles and afflictions, GodÕs children do not desire to return to their former life for anything in the world, because only the Lord Jesus gives rest, love and peace. They desire Him above all. How necessary it is to enter in through this Door Christ. Have you experienced this yet?

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