What does God do in conversion?
Conversion does not mean that “God helps those who help themselves.” The change we need is so radical that only God can do it. In conversion, God gives life to the dead and sight to the blind. In conversion, God gives the gifts of repentance and faith.
- God shines the light. Second Corinthians 4:6 says that, just as God spoke light into darkness at creation, so now he has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” How did you come to understand and believe the gospel? God caused light to shine in your heart, creating spiritual understanding where there was none.
- God makes us alive. Ephesians 2:5 says that even when we were “dead in our trespasses” God “made us alive together with Christ.” We weren’t sick, sleeping, or dying. We were dead, and God made us alive. In John 3, Jesus describes this as being born again by the Holy Spirit. In conversion, God gave us new birth, enabling us to repent and believe the gospel.
- God delivers us. Colossians 1:13 says that he delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. Conversion is like a military rescue in which God breaks us out of our imprisonment to sin and delivers us into his glorious kingdom.
- God grants repentance and faith. From a human perspective, conversion consists in repenting of our sins and believing in Christ. Yet Scripture teaches that both repentance and faith come to us as gifts of God (see Phil. 1:29, Acts 11:18).
Conversion is, fundamentally, a divine act that God does to us and for us. In response to his sovereign and unilateral work, we repent and believe.