Unless you are a new convert (welcome) or have been living in a cave with only a paraphrase version (if that is indeed a version) you will no doubt be familiar with the conversion of Paul. It’s a classic sovereign election work of art. But is Paul's experience the pattern for biblical conversions? And if so what elements are typical or not typical? And from the outset I know that most of you belong to the choir but sometimes I just can’t resist.
Having stated prior that “It’s a classic sovereign election work of art” may just have tipped my position but Paul’s conversion experience is not only typical but exactly the same for all believers who come to Christ. The Scriptures declare very clearly that as unbelievers we all seek our on way, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (Ps 14:3). They further very clearly state that no one is seeking after God and rightly so for all, in their natural state, are dead spiritually (Eph 2:1-5).
We must note that Paul in outward appearance had a zeal for God; however his zeal was not for God but for the Law. Paul’s zeal left him blameless “as to the righteousness which is in the Law” (Phil 3:6) yet left him unrighteous before God (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2-10). It was God who sought Paul since he was on his way to persecute the Church. It was God who gave him light to see since he was blinded by hatred (but well let it slide as he states “zeal”). It was God who gave him life and justified Paul imputing His righteous upon him.
Now what is atypical is his visitation by Christ in direct challenge to his persecution of Christ (His Church). We today do not experience such as it is the foolishness of preaching which draws men to God (10:13-15). Nor do unbelievers suffer miraculous blindness as a result of salvation.
Now for a very clear picture of the salvic process we only need look a Lazarus. He was dead not seeking God for indeed he could not; it was outside his ability being dead. But God who is rich in mercy called him by name “Lazarus come forth,” …Lazarus came. God commanded the bonds of the grave to be removed “unbind him and let him go” and he was loosed At the command to “remove the stone” Martha rightly states in essence “Lord he stinks” and such is the condition of the unbeliever, they are dead and stinking for that is all a dead man can do…stink. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).
My friend it is all of God or it is none of God on this the Scriptures are clear.