Vol.XI No.VI Pg.3
August 1974

God's Persuading Power

Dan S. Shipley

Coming to a right relationship with God involves change, and genuine change is brought about by persuasion. Only persuaded people turn from serving sin to become servants of righteousness; only the persuaded have the kind of courage necessary to acknowledge and renounce past wrongs. None but the persuaded give themselves to the Lord. But if conversion is essentially a matter of persuasion, how is it to be accomplished? How does God persuade men to change?

Contrary to popular opinion, the persuasion that brings men to Christ comes from being informed. "Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me says Jesus (Jn. 6:45). This principle is made apparent in every case of conversion recorded in the NT. What was done was always in response to what was heard and learned. Look at the Pentecostians. They were pricked in their heart by what they heard (Acts 2:37) and were baptized in consequence of having received his word (v. 41). So with Cornelius who was to be persuaded by certain words he would hear from Peter (Acts 11:14). The jailor learned what he must do to be saved by being taught the word of the Lord by Paul and Silas (Acts 16), not by a direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. The faith that led these early converts to obedience had come through hearing the word of God from men who were being divinely directed into all truth (Rom. 10: l7; Jn. 16: 13). The conclusion is inescapable! These converts did something; what they did was right and it was the result of their being persuaded by gospel truth and it alone! Hence, it is imperative that the gospel of Christ be recognized as Gods exclusive persuading power for changing sinful men. Not miracles, not experiences, but the gospel! It took a miracle to bring Philip to the eunuch, but it took the gospel to bring the eunuch to Christ (Acts 8:26-39), which included baptism. Likewise, miraculous visions prefaced the meeting of Peter and Cornelius, but once together, Peter instructed in the way of salvation (Acts 10:33; 11:14) —which included the command to be baptized (Acts 10: 48). Saul had the amazing experience of seeing Christ on the Damascus road, yet even this was not a saving experience for he was told to enter the city where he would learn what he must do (Acts 9:6). There, God sends Ananias who tells Saul to arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name (Acts 22:16). No NT convert ever considered his experience as evidence of being saved. Like the Romans, they were made free from sin after being persuaded by and becoming obedient to that form of teaching that had been delivered unto them (Rom. 6:17, 18).

Truly transformed lives are the inevitable result of sincere hearts being united with gospel truth. The Thessalonians "turned unto God from idols because they received the gospel as being the word of God (1 Thes. 1:9; 2:13). Feelings, experiences or circumstances may turn people to religion, but only the gospel can turn men to Christ. Armed with only that gospel and a consecrated heart, Paul said, we persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11). We can too.