About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Agony of Conversion

(Article for publication week of 3-25-2009 AD)

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

We have for several weeks been setting forth the truth of conversion. Conversion is the inevitable turning of one of God’s elect who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Our Lord illustrates true conversion in Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:24 as a gate that is difficult to get through. It is difficult to get through because sinners are dead in trespasses and sin and can do nothing to save themselves or help save themselves. It is difficult to get through because God’s way of saving sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is averse to our works mongering nature. And it is difficult to get through because there are many false prophets who lead souls astray.

The difficulty of true conversion should not lead you to despair nor to give up any hope of being saved. Rather, you should heed our Lord’s exhortation and “strive” to be converted. Dear reader, if you care for your never dying soul I urge you to get in dead earnest about the salvation of your soul and start striving to enter into the narrow way that leads to life through the narrow way of conversion.

The word “strive’ here in our text is translated from the Greek word “agonizomai”. A good scholar once taught me that our English word “agony” is derived from this word. The idea here is to struggle in agony to be converted. In other words, our Lord is telling us that true conversion is an agonizing struggle.

Have you ever been in agony of soul? Have you ever struggled to find the way of salvation? Do you know anything about striving to get through the difficult gate of conversion? Most professors of our day know nothing of these things. Many of you just walked an aisle and “accepted” Jesus. You never got under Holy Ghost conviction. You don’t “accept” a Lord- you bow down to HIM! If that is all you know of salvation my friend you are still unsaved and on the road to hell. The scriptures say nothing of “accepting” Jesus. Some of you when you were a little child in Sunday school, some well meaning “teacher” asked you if you wanted to go to heaven raise your hand and you did that and they told you, you were saved. But you never struggled to enter into the way of salvation. Some of you learned your catechism (and that is good) and then you were “confirmed” as some call it, but you never have been in agony of soul. Some of you gave some mental assent to the facts of the gospel and you believed with head knowledge, but you never were “pricked in the heart (Acts 2:37). Some of you “joined the church”, but you have never been a seeker of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have never asked until you received. You have never sought until you found. And you never knocked until the door was opened by Christ (Matthew7:7).

You see neighbors and friends, true conversion, Bible salvation is an agonizing struggle. The scriptural record is that those who get converted get into distress of soul. Those converted in Acts 2 were pricked in the heart. They felt spiritual pain. Saul of Tarsus cried out in Acts 9, “Lord what will you have me do?” The jailor in Acts sixteen cried out “what must I do to be saved?” The woman that found forgiveness of sins in Luke 7:38-50 lay at Jesus’ feet and wept. Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46) cried out “Son of David, have mercy upon me. The poor publican in Luke 18 smote on his breast in agony crying “have mercy on me, a sinner”!

It is a painful thing when the Lord shows you the corruption of your nature. It is a painful thing to see that you have no righteousness of your own. It is a painful thing to know that hell gapes its jaws for you. It is an agonizing struggle to be converted to Christ. But poor sinner, there is balm in Gilead for your wounds. Christ can comfort your broken heart. Come to Christ and be healed.

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