Recently I started reading The Christian's Great Interest, by Scottish puritan William Guthrie (1620–1669). In it Guthrie attempts to answer two questions:
- How shall a man know if he has a true and special interest in Christ (if he is a genuine, or 'saved' Christian)?; and
- What shall they do who want (lack) the marks of a true and saving interest in Christ?
To get right to the point, Guthrie observes that, in Scripture and in reality, God converts different people in different ways: some quickly and some slowly; some very early on in life, and some later–even during their last moments. Some must be softened by the preaching of the law, which leads them to Christ as a tutor (Gal. 3:24); while others can be won to Christ in a short time, without such lengthy preparation.
I think that if granted, his argument corrects those who hold that conversion is only valid when
- it occurs at a discernible moment in time; or
- it occurs very slowly; or
- it is preceded by great inner turmoil and conviction.
Thus, I would conclude, the Lord could use a "Four Spiritual Laws" tract (or a Chick Tract), an altar call, or an entire childhood of Sunday school lessons in a Presbyterian church (or all of the above!) to draw a soul effectually to Himself.
We could discuss what we believe the best means of facilitating conversion are, but that will have to be another post on another day ...