(Article for publication week of 10-24- AD 2013)
“But when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called my by His grace, to reveal His Son in me…. (Galatians 1:15-16). We have been trying to show you the nature of true conversion, praying that you may not miss the strait gate that leads to life. In the preceding articles we showed that conversion is nothing less than a turning from idolatry to serve God (I Thessalonians 1:9). Our text this week says that conversion is nothing less than the revelation of Christ to the soul. In our text Paul is relating his own experience of grace. There was a time when Baptist Churches would not receive a person into membership unless they could give a credible testimony of the work of Christ in their souls. There was a time when Baptist preachers would not baptize a person unless they could relate a personal experience of grace. (The Narrow Way is not a denominational column, but your humble writer is not ashamed to be known as a Baptist of the Old School.)
Paul says here that he was converted by a revelation of Christ to his soul. God revealed His Son in Paul. And this is what happens to every sinner converted by God. We see from this text that a person may have intellectual knowledge of Christ, without actually knowing Christ. There is a vast and eternal difference. Many of us knew about Christ from infancy. For myself, I was taken to the House of God from infancy. My parents taught me of Christ. I cannot remember when I did not know that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died to save His people from their sins. But this head knowledge was not conversion. (I write this not to discourage you from teaching your children and taking them to church, but simply to show that there must be more than head knowledge for a person to be saved.) But when God revealed His Son in me, I came to actually know Christ experimentally.
When a person comes to know Christ by revelation, it is greatly different from just knowing about Christ. I will illustrate. One of my dearest friends is Pastor John Ashwood from Muskogee, Oklahoma. I first heard of him in about 1990 from mutual friends. I knew of his good reputation and his faithfulness to preach the gospel. I even heard him preach by tape recording. But then one evening in the fall of 1995, the phone rang and the voice on the other end said, “This is John Ashwood.” He had heard from mutual friends that I was going through a terrible trial, and he called to encourage me and tell me he would pray for me. The next spring I met him in person. Now I can say that I actually know John Ashwood. Previous to meeting him on the phone and in person, I could only say that I knew about him. This is the difference in knowing about Christ, and actually knowing Christ.
Now the revelation of Christ to the soul comes not by Christ picking up the phone and calling us. It does not come by our seeing Him with our physical eyes. Nor does it come by our having a dream, or hearing a voice in our head, or seeing a vision. No! Christ is revealed in the soul by the Holy Spirit of God working in us by regeneration and effectual calling so that we get into contact with the living Christ. When that happens, a poor sinner comes to love this precious Saviour for He believes what the Bible says about His Glorious Person and Work. Christ is made altogether lovely to his soul, and he can truly say that Christ is precious to him.
This is a little of what it means to be truly converted to Christ by revelation. Poor sinner, have I traced out your experience?