Conversion – The Work of God

I said yesterday conversion was foremost “the work of God in the soul of man.”

Others define conversion as:

Wayne Grudem – “the term used to describe the incursion of divine grace into human life and the transition from spiritual death to eternal life.”

Mark Dever – “a U-turn in a person’s life.  It is turning with one’s whole person away from sin and to Christ for salvation.  From idol worship to God worship.  From self-justification to Christ’s justification.  From self-rule to God’s rule.  Conversion is what happens when God awakens those who are spiritually dead and enables them to repent of their sins and have faith in Christ.”

So you see here what conversion is first and foremost, the work of God in the soul of man to awaken, regenerate the stony heart, bring new life to a dead soul, and the beginning of the work He will one day complete.  Where is this in the Bible?  All over the place.

God raises the dead sinful heart to new life – Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

God opens our eyes we cannot see the His Kingdom – John 3:3 says, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

God grants repentance – 2 Timothy 2:25 says, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…”

God removes the heart of stone within us, to enable us to choose to follow Jesus – Ezekiel 36:26-27 say, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

God’s work in us is a gift, not our own doing – Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

There is another side of this coin which I will return to discuss on 3/1 (break tomorrow for obvious reasons – you’ll see).  This side we’re looking into today is the first and foremost definition of conversion because it is first and foremost the work of God, not the work of man.  If God does not do these above things, we will never repent, we will never say yes to Jesus, we will never choose to follow Christ.  One can therefore rightly define conversion as the work of God and the response of man, not the work of God and the work of man.

There is a distinction here that is helpful: two historic doctrines, one of which is correct while the other wrong.

Synergism: the conversion of man is the result of the cooperative effort of God and man.

Monergism: the conversion of man is not a result of any effort of man, it is active work of God in the soul of man.

Clearly, from what you’ve seen above I believe conversion if a monergistic work not a synergistic work.  Do you?


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