One of the core beliefs of Christianity is:
The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all persons: (a) the requirements of the law are written by God on every heart, (b) Jesus Christ knocks at the door of every heart, (c) the Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person and (d) God's eternal power and divine nature are evident in the world around us. Nevertheless, many resist the grace of God. (I)
- The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all persons (Titus 2:11):
- (a) the requirements of the law are written by God on every heart (Rom. 2:15),
- (b) Jesus Christ knocks at the door of every heart (Rev. 3:20),
- (c) the Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person (John 16:8) and
- (d) God's eternal power and divine nature are evident in the world around us (Rom 1:20).
- Nevertheless, many resist the grace of God (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).
The grace of God that comes before salvation is called prevenient grace. Prior to salvation, God initiates, advances and perfects everything that can be called good in man. God leads the sinner from one step to another in proportion as He finds response in the heart and disposition to obedience. Some men allow God to quicken, assist and nudge their free will to facilitate confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience so they may receive the great gift of salvation (1 Pet 1:9). Other men choose to resist and reject the grace of God (2 Thes 1:8-9).
The fourth bullet item states: the Holy Spirit calls and convicts each person (John 16:8). This is the singularly unpleasant aspect of the Christian salvation experience, an aspect that has no counterpart in other world religions. The Holy Spirit begins by calling your soul; you may choose to ignore the phone and let it ring. But until He senses a response in your heart He will go no further. If you eventually answer the call, He will try to awaken you to the idea that there is something wrong with your soul. As weeks and months go by while you ponder this thought, He is gradually drawing you closer to Himself. Then comes the hard part! You must confess your own sin nature and sinful behavior. You must confess that your heart, intellect and will are corrupt beyond measure. Only by acknowledging the poverty of your own soul can you enter the kingdom of God; those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit have a sense of absolute unworthiness. You must be convicted of your own sin nature and behavior. Without conviction, it is not possible to have true remorse in your heart. Without remorse, it is not possible to repent. Without repentance, there is no faith; belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Without faith, there can be no obedience. Conviction of sin is an unpleasant experience, particularly when you realize that, although God will forgive your sin, the consequences stand!
The Holy Spirit works through a process; it may take years or it may take minutes. He calls, awakens, draws near, convicts, saves and empowers and the offer is made to us all.
(See also Sections 1.3, 1.24, 3.13, 4.5, 8.15, 10.13 and 11.7 of Theology Corner)