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Establishing Believers in the Christian Faith

from the book Why I Love God

6: Two Reactions to God's Conviction

Now ultimately my faith and repentance did not originate with me, as if it was something I would have done on my own apart from God’s supernatural activity. Apart from God drawing Me, I would never have come to Him. It was He who wrought conviction. And my broken spirit was the result of His moving forcefully upon my hardened, deceitful heart. Apart from His breaking me, I would never have been broken and called upon Him.

God moves upon all people to draw them to Himself, for He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But people react differently. This is clearly seen in two incidents recorded in the book of Acts. When Peter preached and labeled those who assented to Jesus’ crucifixion as murderers, they were greatly convicted and asked “What shall we do?” Peter replied they needed to “repent,” and the result was over three thousand people repented and were saved. In contrast, when Stephen preached to the religious leaders, He pointed out they were “always resisting” the Holy Spirit, and he likewise called them murderers. But when they were greatly convicted, instead of asking “What shall we do?”, they all rushed upon Stephen and murdered him. So God moves upon all people to draw them to Himself. But some resist, while others repent. And those who repent have no basis for boasting, for even their repentance was a work of God.

Now at the very moment I trusted Jesus Christ, from my human perspective nothing happened. There were no tingly feelings or warm sensations in my body. There was no audible voice from heaven, no blinding light emanating from the risen Christ manifesting Himself. There were no visions in my mind, no signs in the sky, no supernatural manifestations, or anything else. These sort of things may happen to some people in accordance with God’s will, and scripture even records some such instances. But none of these are the necessary or common indication of saving faith, and they certainly did not happen to me. I was among those whom the risen Christ spoke of when He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

So God’s working faith in Me is the first blessing I received, and it was all His doing. It is He who sent His Son to die for me, even before I was born. It is He who lovingly pursued me despite my rebellion and hostility against Him. It is He who showed forbearance by not condemning me, even though it was completely within His rights to do so. It is He who sovereignly worked through various people to bring me the message of salvation. And it is He who through His Holy Spirit brought conviction on my soul.

And I believed — I simply believed in the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, to save me from judgment for my sins.

from the book Why I Love God

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