In every Christian's conversion, there is a decisive moment when someone who was dead in sin is made alive in Christ. But what if we don’t remember when that moment took place? Today, Stephen Nichols provides a thoughtful response to believers who cannot specifically date their conversion.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: This week we're joined by Ligonier's chief academic officer, and also one of Ligonier's teaching fellows, Dr. Stephen Nichols. Dr. Nichols, do you have to remember the date and time of your conversion to know that you're a Christian?
DR. STEPHEN NICHOLS: I think this is a really important question. And I think, for some Christians, they really wrestle with this and struggle with this. First of all, we need to recognize, if we're talking about our conversion, our salvation, it's an act. It's not a process. There is a moment where you're unregenerate and you're not a Christian. And then there is a moment when you are. We've got to understand that. But what we're talking about is our cognizance of that moment and our cognizance of that conversion.
I'll go back to two historical figures. One is Jonathan Edwards. Edwards talked about conversion as being very mysterious, so we think of the Holy Spirit. Christ likens the Holy Spirit to how the wind blows, very mysterious and very various. Which means it's not cookie cutter, and not everybody's conversion story is going to look the same or come out the same. And I think that might help some Christians, because very often we hear the testimony of the cataclysmic conversion. And if that's not your experience, that can cause you to begin to doubt, to think, "Maybe I'm not a Christian."
Well, I don't know if this is total biblical precedent, but it's at least something to think about. Remember what Paul says to Timothy, where he talks about how "you grew up knowing the Scriptures, and from your childhood up you were acquainted with the Scriptures"? That was Timothy's experience. That wasn't Paul's. I mean, Paul's is the Mount Everest of conversion stories. He knew exactly the moment on that road to Damascus. But I think even there in the Paul-Timothy comparison you see that it is various. And so, for some people, it's cataclysmic. They remember everything, the texture of every detail. But for others, who grew up in a Christian home surrounded by the gospel, they may not be as aware. But one thing we can know, if we are trusting in Jesus, then we are a Christian.
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