THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CONVERSION

(Acts 7:51-53; 8:26-40) 

WE are treating this subject from the viewpoint 
of the eunuch's conversion. However, we shall 
make it a general Scriptural discussion. 

Every one believes that an individual must be con- 
verted to enjoy remission of sins. Without conversion, 
no one can be in the kingdom of God. Our Saviour 
said to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born again, he 
cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus did not 
understand Him; so the Master explained: "Except a 
man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot 
enter into the kingdom of God." Still, Nicodemus 
failed to understand. 

There is some controversy as to the part played by 
the Spirit in conversion. Two theories are advanced: 
1. That, as man is as dead spiritually as was Lazarus 
physically, nothing short of a miraculous manifestation 
of the Spirit will ever accomplish regeneration; and 
that this operation must come directly, irresistibly, 
from God upon the heart of the sinner, 2. That the 
Spirit operates through the Word upon the hearts of 
men, and thus convicts them of sin, causing them to 
turn and obey the commands of the gospel. We know 
that both of these theories cannot be true. Therefore 
it behooves us to find out which is true and which is 
false. 

No one attempts to limit the power of the Spirit of 
God. The question under consideration is: How does 
the Spirit manifest this power in order to the conver- 
sion of sinners? "What must be done in order that a 
man may be "born of the Spirit" and enter into the 
kingdom of God? This is not a question of power, but 
of fact. 

1. Gen. 1 : 2. Here the Spirit is represented as the 
energizing power of God, the vitalizing power that 
moved upon the face of the deep. But the Spirit exer- 
cised this infinite power through the Word. Hence we 
have the phrase, "And God said," used nine consec- 
utive times; and each thing that God said came to pass 
(Ps. 33:6-9). 

2. Gen. 6:3: "My Spirit shall not always strive 
with man." How has the Spirit striven with man? 

a. Through the word of the prophets (2 Pet. 1:21; 
Heb. 1:1; Neh. 9:30). 

b. Through the word of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2; 
John 3:34). Jesus Christ possessed the Spirit with- 
out measure. 

c. Through the word of the apostles (Acts 2:4; 7: 
51). The Spirit was reproving the Jews through 
Stephen; they turned into an infuriated mob that 
stoned Stephen to death. In like manner their fathers 
had resisted the Spirit speaking through the prophets 
and the holy men of old. 

To resist the Spirit and to resist the Word incurs 
the same results. To resist the Word is to resist the 
Spirit, for the Spirit is the Author of the Word. 


But the Spirit of God will not always strive with 
man. He has already quit striving with the Jews as 
people and they are suffering the consequences of their 
folly (Luke 19:42; Matt. 23:37-39). The time is 
coming when He will quit striving with all humanity 
(Matt. 25: 31-46). Then men will be judged according 
to their works (Rev. 20:12, 13; 22:10-12). 

3. 1 Pet. 3 : 18-20. Christ preached by means of the 
Spirit to the spirits in prison while the ark was being 
prepared. "In prison" means "prison-house of sin," 
or is equivalent to "bound in sin" (Isa. 42:7; 61:1). 
How did the Spirit carry Christ's message to the 
ungodly antediluvian world? Through Noah (2 Pet. 
2:5; 1:21). The Holy Spirit always spoke through 
the holy men of God. 

4. 1 Pet. 1 : 10-12. The Spirit testified through the 
word of the prophets regarding the salvation that was 
to come through Christ. Even the angels desired to 
look into these matters. 

5. 2 Pet. 1 : 21. The Spirit, the author of prophecy. 
The law and the testimony contain the sure word of 
prophecy inspired by the Spirit (Isa. 8:20; 2 Pet. 
1:19). 

6. "When Jesus Christ was ready to ascend to 
heaven, He promised to send the Spirit to the apostles 
to guide them into all truth (John 16: 13). The world 
can not receive Him (John 14:17). On the day of 
Pentecost He came, according to promise, to abide with 
the church forever (John 14:16; Acts 2:33). 

7. The mission of the Spirit is to convict the world 
of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16: 8). How? 
(Acts 2:4.) Peter preached a wonderful sermon, or 
the Spirit preached it through Peter (Acts 2: 37). The 
Spirit convicted them of crucifying Jesus Christ 
through Peter's sermon, or the "Word preached unto 
them. 

8. The Spirit has revealed the entire plan of re- 
demption — the eternal purpose of God — through the 
prophets and apostles, who in turn have revealed it 
to men in the written Word (Eph. 3:1-5). 

9. 1 Cor. 12:3. No man can say that Jesus is 
Christ except by the Holy Spirit, or by the agency of 
the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:37). Here the eunuch says 
that Jesus is the Christ. The Spirit led him to believe 
through Philip's preaching. The Spirit, speaking 
through the Word, causes men to believe and confess 
that Jesus is Christ. No testimony — no faith. 

10. 1 Cor. 12 : 13. By one Spirit, or by the com- 
mand of one Spirit, are we all baptized into one body. 
Note that we are not baptized "in" one Spirit into the 
one body, but "by" one Spirit into one body. The 
Spirit inspired Peter to command the three thousand 
to be baptized (Acts 2: 38). Through the preaching of 
Philip, under the inspiration of the Spirit, the eunuch 
is baptized (Acts 8:36-39). 

11. The Spirit speaks to men; He employs intelli- 
gible words (1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 1:21; 
Acts 1:16; 8:29; 10:19, 20). 

12. The Spirit knows the deep things of God and 
reveals them unto men (1 Cor. 2:9-13). How? In 
words. 

13. Rev. 2 : 29. This phrase used several consecu- 
tive times. The Spirit speaks to the churches through 
the words written by John. 

14. The parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15). A 
spiritual crop can not be reaped where spiritual seed 
has not first been sown. Spiritual seed is the word 
of God (Luke 8:11). Hence, no word of God, no 
faith (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:14-17). 

15. The Word is the power of God unto salvation 
(Ps. 19: 7; Rom. 1: 16). But the Spirit is the Author 
of the Word (2 Tim. 3:16). The Spirit is the source 
of all revelation (1 Cor. 2: 9, 10). Hence what is done 
by the Word is said to be done by the Spirit; for the 
Spirit and the Word are perfectly harmonious. 

16. 1 Cor. 4:15; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:22, 23. As 
the Spirit is the Author of the Word, these passages 
fully explain John 3:5. 

17. Rom. 8: 14-17. To obey the Word is to be led 
by the Spirit. The man who obeys the gospel is a 
child of God. The Spirit tells us to believe, repent, 
and be baptized into Christ. Our spirits tell us that 
we do believe, have repented, and have been baptized. 
Therefore His Spirit and our spirits testify with each 
other to the same thing — that we are children of God. 

The Spirit has never operated independent of the 
Word. Through the Word, written and spoken, He 
has striven with men. Through the Word, written 
and spoken, He convicts men of sin, righteousness and 
judgment. The Spirit, operating through the Word, 
never makes anything but a Christian. 

God devised the plan of redemption, the Son exe- 
cuted the plan, and the Spirit revealed it to men. Thus, 
each has had an important part to perform in the 
salvation of the race.