Holy Spirit Conviction
In the modern campaign the evangelist calls upon people to accept Christ, and rightly so. But oh, that we could hear sinners calling upon Christ to accept them! People take salvation today in such a cold, formal, matter-of-fact, business-like sort of way, that it appears as though they are doing God an honor in condescending to receive His offer of Redemption. Their eyes are dry, their sense of sin absent; nor is there any sign of penitence and contrition. They look upon it as a manly thing to do. But oh, if there were conviction! if they came with hearts bowed down, yea! broken and contrite, came with the cry of the guilt-laden soul: "God be merciful to me a sinner!"--came trembling with the burning life and death question of the Philippian jailor: "What must I do to be saved?"--what converts they would be!
But in our Twentieth Century Evangelism such is not the case. Men are urged to be saved before they know they are lost, to believe without being convicted of their need. The fruit is picked before it is ripe, and of course the work is bound to come undone. If we are to get Holy Spirit Fruit, God must prepare the ground, the Holy Spirit must convict of sin before men can truly believe. It is right to tell people to believe when God has done His work in their hearts, but first they must feel their need.
Let us wait until the Spirit of God has done His part before we say: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Let us first see the signs of conviction as in the case of the Philippian jailor. And when their anguish is so deep that they are forced to cry aloud: "What must I do to be saved?" then we will know that they are ready to be exhorted to trust and exercise faith in Christ, but not until then.
"There is another Gospel, too popular in the present day, which seems to exclude conviction of sin and repentance from the scheme of Salvation; which demands from the sinner a mere intellectual assent to the fact of his guilt and sinfulness, and a like intellectual assent to the fact and sufficiency of Christ's atonement; and such assent yielded, tells him to go in peace, and to he happy in the assurance that the Lord Jesus has made all right between his soul and God; thus crying peace, peace, when there is no peace.
"Flimsy and false conversions of this sort may be one reason why so many who assume the Christian profession dishonor God and bring reproach on the church by their inconsistent lives, and by their ultimate relapse into worldliness and sin. The whole counsel of God must be declared. 'By the law is the knowledge of sin.' Sin must be felt before it can be mourned. Sinners must sorrow before they can be comforted. True conversions are the great want of the times. Conversions such as were common once, and shall be again, when the church shakes off her lethargy, takes hold upon God's strength, and brings down the ancient power. Then, as of old, sinners will quail before the terror of the Lord."--J. H. Lord.
Oswald J Smith, The Revival We Need