Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.7
January 1980

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Will you please discuss what really changes a person? What takes place in the conversion of a person? L.P.


There are many answers to this but not many explanations. The religious world generally leans toward mysticism, saying God does the changing in a direct or immediate way. They call it grace, Holy Spirit, etc., and say we have nothing to do with it. This, of course, denies free agency and any human implementation, and makes us but puppets or pawns of God. I can not believe the Bible teaches this.

It seems to me the Bible shows God dealing with man as a creature of choice, capable of understanding and acting upon divine instructions. If this be true (and there is no space here to argue such a subject) then we are changed by our response to stimuli. We are moved by external forces, but being intelligent creatures we can subject ourselves to some forces, move away from others. To the extent we can perceive destinations, we can seek and move in that direction.

As respects spiritual and eternal goals, all this would be meaningless without revelation of the divine will. Man seems to have a yearning for something higher than himself, but he must have guidance from that higher plane if he is to attain to it. I believe the Bible is an unfolding of the divine will — God's plans for His creatures — and that God guides man by an appeal to the intellect, emotions, and will of man. He teaches us to desire, and to come to Him. Man's sin separated him from God and made salvation a matter of love, grace, and mercy. God gave His Son as our Redeemer; but gave Him in such a way as to appeal to the heart of man. He is the perfect manifestation of Deity to man. Our sin is dark and accusing against His purity. His unselfish sacrifice on our behalf draws us to Him, and His resurrection assures us of His power to give a new life. As faith grows our attitudes change and we hunger for further instruction. We are taught, hear, learn, and come unto God (Jn. 6:44-45). Yes, God draws us; and Christ said, "I, if I be lifted up ... will draw-" (same word). The story of the Cross, the gospel, draws.

One is changed by God, by what God has done for him, because this changes his thinking, his motives, his goals. When the heart is changed, the life is changed. "He is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Rom. 2:29).

The Holy Spirit uses an instrument to prick and cut the heart. It is the "word of God" (Eph. 6:17, Acts 2:37). Many things contribute to a person's change, initially and in the growth toward maturity. Our associates, further study, worship, and the introspection that goes with it — all help to shape and mold us anew. But in the absence of divine revelation as the standard, we can not change God-ward. The new creature has been reconciled unto God to the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21. Christ provides the means, but we must hear, believe, and obey His will.