(Article for publication week of 1-26-2011 AD)
“But when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me…” (Galatians 1:15-16a).
Please note well, that Paul did not say that he “accepted Jesus as his saviour.” In fact you do not find that expression anywhere in the scriptures. That is a man made term adopted by modern day evangelism that tells sinners what they can do, rather than telling them they are ruined in Adam, and can only be recovered by Christ. As Rolfe Barnard used to say, “you don’t ‘accept’ a Lord, you bow down to Him!”
No, Paul did not say that he “accepted Jesus‘’, but rather he said that God called him by His grace, and revealed the Lord Jesus Christ in him. In other words, conversion is a powerful work performed by the Sovereign God. Biblical salvation is the Sovereign God of heaven and earth effectually calling a lost sinner out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:9). Salvation is the revelation of Christ in the soul of an elect sinner so that sinner becomes experimentally acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Dear reader, has that powerful work of conversion been performed in your soul? Can you say that you are experimentally acquainted with the Son of God?
Now, note further that conversion is a work that God performs according to His sovereign will, not according to the “free’ will of sinners. Sinner, your will is not free, but it is enslaved by your corrupt and fallen nature (John 5:40; Romans 6:20; Ephesians 4:18-19). Our text says that God converted Paul “when it pleased” Him. God is under no obligation to convert any of you. You are in His sovereign hands and He can save you or He can damn you, and be certain He will do one or the other. Salvation is according to the good pleasure of God.
Finally, note well that the time of a sinner’s conversion is when it pleases God. It is popularly taught and believed in these parts that a sinner can get saved any time he wants. That is a soul-destroying lie. It is preached that God has done all He can, and now it is up to the sinner to cooperate with God and help save himself, but that is not what our text says. Salvation is when it pleases God. God has a set time that He will effectually call each of His elect and reveal Christ in them (Psalm 102:13). Salvation is all of the Lord from first to last. Praise his holy name!