Skip to main content

The Genius of God in Conversion

God does not change the soul by an alteration of the faculties, but by an alteration of something in them; not by an inroad upon them, or by mere power or a blind instinct, but by proposing to the understanding something to be known, and informing it of the reasonableness of his precepts, and the innate goodness and excellency of his offers, and by inclining the will to love and embrace what is proposed. And things are proposed under those notions which usually move our wills and affections. We are moved by things as they are good, pleasant, profitable; we entertain things as they make for us; and detest things as they are contrary to us. Nothing affects us but under such qualities, and God suits his encouragements to these natural affections which are in us. His power and wisdom go hand in hand together; his power to act what his wisdom orders, and his wisdom to conduct what his power executes. He brings men to him in ways suited to their natural dispositions. The stubborn he tears like a lion, the gentle he wins like a turtle, by sweetness; he has a hammer to break the stout, and a cord of love to draw the more pliable tempers. He works upon the more rational in a way of gospel reason, upon the more ingenuous in a way of kindness, and draws them by the cords of love. The wise men were led to Christ by a star, and means suited to the knowledge and study that those eastern nations used, which was much in astronomy. He works upon others by miracles accommodated to every one’s sense, and so proportions the means according to the nature of the subjects he works upon.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK
(Source: Works of Stephen Charnock, Volume II)

This observation by Charnock calls for humility as we listen to the conversion stories of others. We should not expect everyone to have been brought to Christ in the same way because God works on a way suited to our character and experiences. I suspect this is also true at cultural or society level. It is perhaps not surprising that certain cultures emphasise miraculous interventions in their conversion stories while some cultures have conversion stories that are more about reasoned arguments and persuasion. Faith of course comes by hearing, so in the end the person must hear the Word of God and believe in it. Charnock’s point seems to be that the process that process of how someone gets to the point of hearing the Gospel will vary as God as ordained, suited to that person. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Only Junkhearts Allowed!

There's a powerful scene in a recent British movie Junkhearts , which tells a story of an ex-soldier Frank (Eddie Marsan). Frank is haunted by an incident in Northern Ireland where he accidentally shot a woman in a failed military operation. He lives a lonely existence drowning his nightmares with booze in a council flat in London's East End. One day he meets a homeless 16 year old girl Lynette (Candese Reid) whom he offers a place to stay. Unfortunately, after building a father-daughter camaraderie, it is rudely disrupted by the entrance of Lynette’s manipulative, violent and drug-dealing boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge). In the process Danny takes over the flat forcing the broken Frank onto the streets. A sharp reverse occurs with Frank now living on the very streets that Lynnett escape from, whilst Lynnette and her boyfriend enjoy his flat. As Frank remembers the memories he had with Lynette, he decides to come back for her, only to find her scrubbing the bathroom flo

Love, Valerian and Christ

The film  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) is set in the 28th Century. The International Space Station (ISS) has grown into a space travelling city called Alpha where species from different planets live together exchanging their knowledge and culture. Peace is guaranteed by a special police force, that employs Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne).  In one of the key scenes in the film, Valerian and Laureline are at Alpha. An alien race, called the Pearls, have abducted Commander Arun Filitt in order to retrieve a valuable instrument they call “the converter”. As they face off with the Pearls we discover that the Pearls are a victim of genocife inflicted by the human federation.  The Pearls' leader, Emperor Haban Limaï, explains that they lived peacefully on Mül until a battle occurred between the Federation and another faction. Commander Filitt attacked the enemy mothership knowing that it would crash on Mül and  annihilate life o

Do You Believe? A Review

I have always enjoyed reading the writings of Paul David Tripp (PDT). What I like most about the way he writes is that he focuses on the good news of Christ. He wants us to know how amazing God is and what He has done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. So when I saw that PDT has written a new book on key doctrines of the Bible,  I was quite eager to read it, even though it is over 400 pages.   Do You Believe?   is exactly what it says on the tin. PDT looks at twelve key bible doctrines over twenty-four chapters. He spends two chapters on each doctrine. The first chapter describes the broad thrust of the doctrine, underpinned by PDT’s paraphrase of the relevant section of the  Westminster Confession of Faith . The second chapter focuses on specific applications to our lives.  There are important doctrines which are missed from the list. Most notably on the person and saving of Christ (Christology). However, PDT is clear from the beginning that his intention is “not to give us an exhaustiv