On Conversion

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
~ Psalm 40:8

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
~ Psalm 143:10

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
~ Matthew 15:19

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
~ Matthew 7:21

But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
~ Acts 15:20

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
~ Revelation 21:8

Additional Thoughts on Revival, by J.C. Ryle. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Holiness: For the Will of God Is Your Sanctification – 1 Thessalonians 4:3”.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
– 1 Thessalonians 4:3

Additional Thoughts on Revival

I would like to explain a little bit about true revivals, for which I am deeply grateful. If Christ is preached, I rejoice, whoever the preacher may be. If souls are saved, I rejoice, no matter where this occurs. But it is a sad fact that there are sometimes false and defective aspects that occur during a true revival of God. There can be a disproportionate magnifying of some points. Some of these points are instantaneous conversion, the invitation of unconverted sinners to come to Christ, and the possession of inward joy and peace as a test of conversion. Instantaneous conversion, no doubt, ought to be encouraged, but people should not be led to suppose that there is no other sort of conversion, and that unless they are suddenly and powerfully converted to God, they are not converted at all. The duty of coming to Christ at once, just as we are, should be urged upon all hearers. It is the very cornerstone of gospel preaching, but people ought to be told to repent as well as to believe. They should be told why they are to come to Christ, what they are to come for, and from where their need arises. The nearness of peace and comfort in Christ should be proclaimed, but people should be taught that the possession of strong inward joys and high frames of mind are not essential to justification, and that there may be true faith and true peace without such very triumphant feelings. Joy alone is no certain evidence of grace. The work of the Holy Spirit in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously like Saul and the Philippian jailor. Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God’s law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be constantly telling a sinner to “come to Christ” is of little use unless you tell him why he needs to come and fully show him his sins. Faith is often not properly explained. In some cases, people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners, they have faith! At this rate, the very demons are believers! The possession of inward joy and assurance is often made essential to believing, yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There can be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once “rejoicing” as soon as they believe is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot immediately rejoice. Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners and the absolute necessity of preventing grace are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man’s pleasure and as if there were no such text as this: It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that has mercy (Romans 9:16). The harm done by the theological system I refer to is very great. On the one hand, many humble-minded Christians are totally discouraged. They think they have no grace because they cannot attain the joyous emotions and feelings that are urged upon them. On the other hand, many graceless people are deceived into thinking they are converted because, under the pressure of excitement and temporary feelings, they are led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt and find new reasons to neglect Christianity completely.

There are two passages of Scripture that should be frequently and fully expounded in the present day by all who preach the gospel, especially by those who have anything to do with revivals. One passage is the parable of the sower. That parable is not recorded three times without good reason and a deep meaning. The other passage is our Lord’s teaching about counting the cost and the words that He spoke to the great multitudes whom He saw following Him. It is very noteworthy that in that occasion He did not say anything to flatter these volunteers or encourage them to follow Him. Instead, He saw what their case needed. He told them to stand still and count the cost. I am not sure that most modern preachers would have adopted this course of treatment.