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Do You Remember Your Conversion?

The personal testimony has gained considerable significance in American Christianity. So much so that some people insist that you remember the precise date and timing of your conversion. But is this biblical?

Erik Thoennes has written a good article for Christianity Today titled, “Hour of Decision.” Thoennes briefly describes the prevailing approaches to conversion (basically, revivalism and Reformed) before arriving at an apt conclusion:

We must allow for the varied experiences God uses to bring people to himself. As C. H. Spurgeon said, “The Spirit calls men to Jesus in diverse ways. Some are drawn so gently that they scarcely know when the drawing began, and others are so suddenly affected that their conversion stands out with noonday clearness.”

For those who question their salvation, the best evidence is not the memory of having raised a hand or prayed a prayer. Nor is it having been baptized or christened. The true test of the authentic work of God in one’s life is growth in Christ-like character, increased love for God and other people, and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25; James 2:18). A memorable conversion experience may serve as an important referent to God’s saving work in one’s life. But the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in making a person more like Jesus is the clearest indicator that one has been made a new creation in Christ.

I greatly appreciate this conclusion and believe that he is right on.  Having heard many testimonies, there is no prescribed manner in which people are saved but one: it is always a gracious act of God.

  1. Doug
    December 28, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    We who have been affiliated with a church for a long time have in recent years been told that the way we worship is not quite right. New scholars with better insight and perhaps new revelations have steered us on a better path. We no longer ask people to come forward to “accept Christ.” We do, however ask them to come forward in front of the congregation to be baptized as a symbol of their inward change or conversion. If they really can’t remember or pinpoint a specific point in their past life perhaps their baptism is taking place when they are only one half or three quarters converted assuming that as they look back it was a gradual process, no specific date needed. Then perhaps we can assume that God offers salvation to some at a specific point in time like He did to Paul whose conversion was dramatic. Certainly Paul did not forget the time or the place when his life was turned around. I doubt if later in life Paul said “you know I really can’t remember when I made a conscious decision to become a follower of Christ but as I look back it must have been sometime in the last ten years or so.” Are we to say then that other specific times and dates also really don’t mean anything? Tell your wife that when you forget your wedding anniversary. People know how old they are, the date they were physicaly born, the date they hired in to the company where they work, how many years they have been there, how much vacation they have accrued but then we tell the same people that something more important than their date of birth or their wedding anniversary or the number of years they have worked for at a specific place, we tell them that the date, place, time of their decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ is really not important to know or remember as long as over time they have “grown closer to God”. New “scholars” of the faith are quick to point out the “errors” of saints gone on. They assume that they have a more correct understanding than anyone before has ever had. We write about what so and so said in their latest book, their latest comment on what some other so and so said about some one elses book etc, etc. We need to focus on the Word and not so much on words about the Word.

  2. brianmcl
    December 29, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Doug’s comments are greatly appreciated. Particularly the last one regarding the Word…it is the Word of God that is inspired and infallible, not other people’s thoughts on the Word. If we ever miss that, then we’re really missing it all. Point well made.

    Also, we would be doing a great disservice to our evangelical heritage if we stopped focusing on conversion. Conversion by God’s grace through faith in Christ is the only way to enter the Kingdom…we must never forget to emphasize conversion. Another point well made.

    But on one final thought: The point of the article referenced is not to criticize those who remember a specific date (as Paul certainly did), just to state that not everyone does. This is not new, as is evidenced from Spurgeon’s quote included in the article’s summary.

  1. December 28, 2007 at 10:27 pm

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