by Parris Bailey
I believe we will spend the rest of our lives and the angels too, contemplating the wonders of salvation. How a person could be going one way and then change into another man by Christ’s efficacious grace is just supernatural. When we read the conversion of Paul on the Damascus Road we realize just how suddenly salvation can come. His conversion wasn’t gradual but immediate. One can say repentance is a sovereign gift of God in ones life. Jonathan Edwards quotes; “They are in themselves filthy, vile creatures and see themselves to be so. They have an excellence and a glory in them because they have Christ dwelling in them…. Tis some thing of God. This holy heavenly spark is put into the soul in conversion, and God maintains it there. All the power of hell cannot put it out…. Though it be small … ’tis a powerful thing. It has influence on the heart to govern that, and brings forth holy fruits in the life, and won’t cease to prevail ’til it has consumed all the corruption that is left in the heart and ’til it has turned the whole soul, as it were, into a pure, holy and heavenly flame. The principle, once born, grows: In conversion this spiritual principle begins again to be restored, though it be but in an imperfect degree . . . gets more and more powerful”.
When infused grace comes into our lives everything changes. Our understanding becomes enlightened whereas before we walked in darkness having no conviction or understanding of the reality of spiritual things. There was no ability to be free from the bondage of sin or have freedom from guilt. Jonathan Edwards when writing on grace said, ‘In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest. But God does all and we do all. God produces all, and we act all. For that is what he produces: our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are, in this respect, wholly passive and wholly active.’ Edward believed that Nature cannot change nature; only super-nature can.
Piper when talking about grace he uses the term irresistible grace in which he defines ‘More specifically irresistible grace refers to the sovereign work of God to overcome the rebellion of our heart and bring us to faith in Christ so that we can be saved.’ It does one well to remember just how rebellious we were and hellbent on sin. Piper is not saying that God forces us to believe against our will, but we have a way of being persuaded. This is the beautiful work of redemption upon a fallen man of which the world wonders. Once we were blinded but now we see. Grace becomes infused within our hearts and regeneration occurs.
“Life is in the quickening Spirit.” WA Criswell RC Sproul says, “To be “born again” is to experience a second genesis. It is a new beginning, a fresh start in life. When something is started, we say that it is generated. If it is started again, it is regenerated. The Greek verb geniauo that is translated as “generate” means “to be,” “to become,” or “to happen.” Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is a change. It is a radical change into a new kind of being.