Convicted, but not Converted
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."(Mt. 7:13-14)
"...He who winneth souls is wise." (Proverbs 11:30)
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." (Psalm 19:7)
"Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," He said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me." At this the man's face fell. And he went away sad,..." (Mark 10:21-22)
Though it goes without saying, I cannot go without saying it. Jesus ALWAYS dealt faithfully with people's souls when He spoke with them. Because of His boundless concern for the eternal welfare of everyone, Jesus ALWAYS spoke to anyone who lacked it whatever truth was needed to awaken in them real conviction regarding their sin, lack of true righteousness, and a certain judgment. And this He did ALWAYS for the soul purpose of helping them realize that their only hope for avoiding eternal suffering and receiving eternal life was turning fully to Him in obedience in faith. LOVE WOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING LESS!
Please hear and understand! It is an absolute necessity that before anyone will truly yield his or her life to Jesus in genuine repentance and faith that first he be brought to a place of conviction concerning sin, true righteousness (and our lack of it), and of the certain and looming judgment of God to be faced the moment we did (Heb. 9:27). There simply is no other way to prepare the ground of anyone's heart to receive and respond to the call to repentance and faith then to see clearly first his own, personal need to repent and to be reconciled to God.
THREE STATES OF MIND OF THE UNSAVED
Lost sinners are always to be found in one of three states of mind in regard to the truth of the scripture about their souls, eternity, and the call of Christ. Their state of mind is either careless, awakened, or convicted.
THE CARELESS SINNER
The careless sinner is closed or resistant to the light of the gospel. They are not open to speak about the great themes associated with the gospel with any honesty, or to look at them in relation to themselves with any seriousness. They will often ridicule you or speak disparagingly about anything associated with the truth, the Church as they know it, and Christians if any of these subjects are brought to their attention.
THE AWAKENED SINNER
An awakened sinner has ears that are open and willing to hear on the subject of eternity, man's eternal soul and the truth and call of the gospel. How fortunate a person is who comes to this state of mind and has someone who knows and speaks the truth necessary to help them meet the Biblical requirements of salvation.
The awakened sinner will express a measure of seriousness and sometimes even feeling. The rich, young ruler, who came to Jesus (illustrated in the picture above) came to Him as an awakened sinner. He approached Jesus actually running to catch Him and asked, "...what must I do to inherit (merit) eternal life?" The matter was clearly on his mind and he was willing and, in his case, even quite desirous of discussing it. But, while he was awakened enough to feel a desire or need to seek out Jesus to learn His thoughts, at that point, his mind was NOT of the opinion that he was a sinner, that he lacked righteousness, or that God's righteous judgment was something he needed to fear or dread. From his perspective, he had lived quite obediently to God's commands for as long as he could remember
THE CONVICTED SINNER
A convicted sinner is concerned and alarmed about his soul and the prospect of death and judgment. He is concerned because, due to faithfully dealing with his soul, he knows and recognizes his state before God and what would happen if he were to die.To hear the gospel in this state of mind is the only hope for him. Nothing else in the truth of God's word can help him now. He must know what Jesus has done for him so that he will willingly and heartily turn to Him in repentance and faith.
"CONVICTED BUT NOT CONVERTED"
When the rich, young ruler left from talking with Jesus, he did so as a convicted sinner. And he left "sad" (idea in Greek is, grieved). He was grieved because the call that Jesus gave him was one he was not, at the time, willing to answer. This alarmed, concerned, distressed and grieved his mind and heart.
In view of all this, perhaps we should ask ourselves, "Have I encountered or even once spoken to a person who felt like the rich young ruler did after his encounter with Jesus?"
JESUS EXAMPLE: FROM AWAKENED SINNER TO CONVICTED SINNER
MODERN EVANGELISM: FROM AWAKENED SINNER TO TRUE CONVERT
How is that there seems to be a direct line today between being an awakened sinner and a new Christiant? In the 21st century, is it no longer necessary for anyone to be convicted concerning sin, righteousness and the coming judgment in order to become a true Christian?'
When Jesus confronted an awakened sinner, His first step was not to try and bring them directly into the company the redeemed. Rather, His first step was pour the light of truth into them that would lead them to a state of conviction! He thoroughly opened up the righteous requirements of God and the fullness of His call so that people would see their personal righteousness as a straw house that cannot stand.
In spite of this, in our day, awakened sinners are generally moved directly to receive the gospel and become professing Christians. There is an almost universal by-passing of the preparatory work of conviction in people's souls because faithful dealing with their souls such as the rich young ruler received from Jesus is not offered them. In short, we've largely forgotten the work of preparing the ground before sowing the seed.
THE WISDOM OF SOUL-WINNERS OF YESTERDAY
Bible translator John Wycliffe said, “The highest service to which a man may attain on earth is to proclaim the Law of God” (i.e., because of it’s place in preparing people to be saved) John Wesley said, "Preaching (for salvation) is 90% Law, and 10% grace."
Charles Finney said, "Failure to use the Law is almost certain to result in false hope, the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the Church with false converts."
John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim's Progress) said, "The man who does not know the nature of the Law, cannot know the nature of sin" (and, as a result, cannot truly see their need for the gospel).Martin Luther said, "The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God's Law and show the nature of sin."
Dear God, help us to learn, if we have not yet, the principle place your commandments, righteous law and high calling have in preparing hearts for the gospel. Help us to see the difference between careless sinners, awakened sinners and convicted sinners, and to never forget that true conviction always proceeds true conversion. Lord, give us the courage to speak the truth in love that needs to be shared to help people become truly ready to receive the gospel. In Jesus' name. Amen.
'til we finish the race,
Your brother, Mike