(Article for publication week of 10-17- AD 2013)
“I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; ‘Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the Lord my God” (Jeremiah 31:18). Except a sinner turn from his sins, and turn to Christ, that sinner shall surely perish (I Thessalonians 1:9; Luke 13:5). And the solemn fact of the matter is that no sinner will ever turn from his sins and repent except the Lord turn him. You are shut up to the sovereign will and mercy of God. The worst thing that could ever happen to you would be for the Lord to leave you alone and let you perish in your sins. Then it must be said of you as did our Lord of Judas Iscariot, “it would have been good if that man had not been born”!
Lost sinners cannot convert themselves. Conversion is a work of Omnipotence. Our Lord has solemnly declared in John 6:44, “no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Poor sinner, do you, like Ephraim bemoaning himself, feel your utter inability? Do you feel helpless and hopeless as you consider the eternal state of your soul? Do you long to be free from your burden of sin, and realize that it is greater than you can bear? Well, I will give you a word of hope and encouragement. Such feelings are hopeful signs that the Lord may already be turning you.
Now, let us see that there are two sides to conversion. There is the human sign. I Thessalonians 1:9 says that a Christian is one who has turned from idols to serve the living and true God. Then there is the Divine side, as we see in our text today that it is God Who actually turns the sinner. When God turns a sinner by efficacious grace, that sinner will surely turn from his sins and come in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the initial work of conversion, God is active and the elect sinner is completely passive. But, mark this well- when God begins a good work of grace in the sinner, that sinner become active. And the very first action we see in one who has been turned by efficacious grace is that he bemoans himself. Seeing his utter depravity, the poor sinner, stripped of all his self righteousness begins to cry to a Sovereign God Who has mercy upon whom He will, “Lord have mercy upon me a poor sinner, and turn Thou me or I shall surely perish”!
Now dear Reader, if you are bemoaning your lost condition and crying out to God for mercy, it is as I say a hopeful sign. I urge you to continue to cry out to God and ask Him to turn you, that you may be turned. You have no power or ability in yourself to convert yourself. Neither I nor any other preacher has such power. But the LORD has the power to draw you today to the Saviour of sinners. May the Lord reveal Himself to you today as the Lord thy God.