Conviction Without Conversion
by Dennis Michelson
"Salvation is by grace, plus nothing and minus nothing. The conditions to salvation are repentance and faith." Some of you will remember reciting that as a part of the confession of faith every Monday morning in chapel at Tennessee Temple University.
Faith must precede any and all outward acts or those acts can become the basis for salvation rather then the finished work of Christ. Often, we tend to mistake some act of "penance" as a necessary condition of salvation and not true repentance issuing in saving faith. Years ago, I asked Dr. R.G. Lee what his greatest concern was for the Church. Dr. Lee's reply was, "My greatest concern and greatest burden is for the salvation of the Church." By that statment, I took Dr. Lee to mean that many in the visible church have undergone some religious experience whereby the have mistaken temporary religious conviction for permanent conversion.
The following seven statements are given to focus our attention on the glorious truth that salvation is not something the sinner does for God but it is something God has accomplished for the sinner.
1. God does not require "begging" as a precursor for salvation (Romans 8:32).
2. God's way of salvation is not clearly presented unless persons are told something to believe rather than something to do.
3. Christ's Cross work and resurrection fully satisfied the just demands of God's righteousness.
4. The Bible way of salvation is a belief or trust in what God has already done rather than something you might do.
5. Faith is a reliance upon God's promise to the sinner rather than a sinner's reliance upon his own promise to God.
6. The active agent in salvation is God - the recipient is the sinner. Salvation is not a trade with God but a trust in God.
7. Salvation is not so much a matter of "confessing your sins" as it is "confessing Christ." (Romans 10:9).
Conclusion: I have had occasion over my ministry to deal personally with many people who struggled with what they did or what they said at the time of their professed salvation. In many instances, the individual struggled with his/her faithfulness to God when the real issue is God's faithfulness to us. There is an old saying that goes something like this - "A wise man once said nothing."
When a sinner - stirred by conviction from the Holy Spirit - looks to Christ and Christ alone - then he can do nothing to improve upon or add to what Christ has done. The wisest thing that person can say is simply "thank you" and then rest completely in Christ. "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29).
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