Need Holy Spirit Conviction to Be Saved?

Category: Questions & Answers
Bible: John 16:8

Does a person need to by convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit before they can be saved? Do any of the men in the New Testament tell people that they have to wait for God to do something to them before they can be saved?


So, "I always hear preachers preach that unless you have Holy Spirit conviction you will never be saved." Now, just to say to Rocky, he may hear preachers say that all the time. I don't hear preachers say that all the time, do you guys?

(From the room), "That was a big thing with the Puritans. They would say you have to be slain by the law before you can be saved."

Tim: Do you think that's specifically what he's talking about? Slain by the law? Perhaps. "...Or you will never be saved. The obvious negative to that is this: Without Holy Spirit conviction, you will not be saved. Why do some people get convicted and others don't? Though I know I am responsible for my sin, I feel like I've never truly been convicted of my sin. Therefore, there is nothing I can do unless God brings it on. I've heard all the theological answers before, but none of them answer the real world practicality of it all. Please help." So, he wants real world practicality. Now, okay. Let's think here. He says, "There's nothing I can do unless God brings it on." Let me ask you, (incomplete thought) Let me ask you this, you go to the book of Acts. The book of Acts is great because some of the best preachers in the early church are shown to us preaching the Gospel in this raw, Gentile - even there on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem - but you just have a world ripe for the Gospel. Can anybody think of Paul or Peter or Stephen or Phillip ever preaching that there's nothing you can do unless God brings it on? Is that the way they preached? No. They didn't. So here's the thing. If you come to the conclusion that Rocky's come to, you've come to an unbiblical conclusion. And this is one of the problems. People come to all manner of conclusions and sometimes it is because maybe they're reading the Puritans or they're listening to preachers somewhere. But listen, have the soul winners really emphasized that without Holy Spirit conviction you can't be saved? Is Holy Spirit conviction biblical? Yeah. R.L.'s nodding yes. When the Spirit comes, He's going to convict men of sin. That's true. Has anybody ever heard Paul Washer's testimony? Anybody ever heard what he said about conviction of sin? Yeah, that he didn't feel it at first. It wasn't until sometime later he says he felt it. My brother-in-law Rick, when he was converted, it was not feeling all sorts of wretchedness for his sin. It was like suddenly Christ broke in upon him and spoke to him that His atonement was for him. That doesn't mean that Rick never had conviction of sin. But we need to be careful. We need to be very careful that we don't set up a standard that the Bible doesn't necessarily put before us. Here's the thing. Yes, the Bible says something about conviction of the Holy Spirit. But let me ask you this? Does the Bible ever say that we're saved by Holy Spirit conviction? What are we saved by? By faith in Jesus Christ. Listen, I guess as I was thinking about this, I was thinking of somebody in a burning house in an upper story window. And how somebody down below saying, "trust me and jump." I mean, it's a good picture. Because we've got the fires of hell breathing down our backs in our lost condition. And Christ is saying, "jump... and I'll hold you." Now look, the thing is however you feel is not the real issue. Some people may feel more scared. Some people may feel less scared. There may be all sorts of feelings that a person feels, but what's critical is that you jump. That's the real issue. That you jump. (Incomplete thought) Think about this. Rich young ruler. Did He say to him, "Oh, no Holy Spirit conviction!" You know what He said to him? He said to him, "Go sell your idol and you give to the poor and you come follow Me and you'll have treasure in heaven." He didn't say you have to feel anything. You know what He was asking him to do? Trust Him. Believe on Christ. You think about Matthew. I often think about Matthew. Jesus came by. I don't know what he was feeling. I don't know what was going through his head right before that. I don't know what he knew about Jesus. Because you know what? The truth is we're not told. But I'll tell you this, when Jesus said, "Follow Me," he did. Because you know what faith is all about? It's resting on a promise. That's what it's all about. And think with me here. He could have said, "Well, I don't feel enough conviction. I don't feel like God regenerated me. I don't feel like I'm one of the elect." But you know what Jesus calls people to do? There's nowhere in Scripture where it says you need to feel elect before you can come. There's nothing that says you need to feel a certain level of thirst or hunger or conviction before you can come. There's nothing in Scripture that says that. The issue is trusting His promises. You see, if Matthew would have said before I'm going to follow Jesus, I need to feel something, he'd have sat at that desk and he'd have gone to hell. Do you know what he did? He parted with his money. He parted with his franchise. He parted with his lifestyle. He parted with his income. Why would anybody do that? Because they're trusting that Christ is going to save them. They're trusting that Christ is going to help them; that Christ is going to be all to them; Christ is going to be sufficient to them. You know what? We have all sorts of people who they say by their actions, "I will not believe the Lord Jesus Christ until I get the feeling I want or until I get the experience I want." You're going to stand up there in that window and burn to death. What Jesus says is "trust Me." You see, it's not trust to say, "Well, I need to feel something first." That's not trust. Trust is to take Him at His word and jump. All in. You forsake everything. You're abandoning your life. You're bought with a price. You're jumping. You're leaving yourself totally at His disposal to save you as He sees fit, to protect you, to put you into whatever life He desires. If you stood up there in that window and you said, "Well, I've got to figure out whether I'm elect first," you're going to die in that window. I guarantee you, you're going to die in that window. What He's calling us to do is to trust Him; to take Him at His word. Isn't it interesting, throughout Scripture that's what He said to people. He said there's a wise man, there's a foolish man. They hear His Word and they do it. You know what? You know what the truth is? You don't even have to feel assurance. Assurance - knowing you're saved. You don't have to feel that. What you need to know is that Christ can save you, and you jump into His arms. You take Him at His word. And you don't wait to feel anything. I was talking to Charles Leiter not too long ago about this. We were talking about being sealed with the Spirit. We were talking about feelings. We were talking about assurance. Charles said that some of the old preachers - he was talking about one specifically he said that would preach to people. You take Christ at His word. And you may not feel anything in the beginning, but if you hold on to those promises, God will meet you. It was B.B. Caldwell. Charles loves to tell stories about him. But he would preach to people that way. You take Christ at His word no matter what you feel. No matter what. You take Him at His word and you wait. Holding. Trusting. And God will come to you. I think that's the reality. Sometimes we read things in Scripture and we say, "I want to feel that." "I want to have that experience." Or we hear about somebody's experience, and we feel like we need to have that. But see, if you're Matthew sitting at the tax collector's desk, He said to him what He says to us all. He said if you would come after Him, you need to follow Him. Whoever would come after Him, you need to follow Him. That's the issue. Whoever. Whoever would come after. That's His invitation. If you want to come after Him, you can. What does it mean to come after Him? That means I'm going to trust Him, and I'm going to take Him at His word, and I'm going to strive trusting Him and just holding on to these promises. I'm going to strive to do what His Word says. That's the wise man who builds his house on the rock. He hears what Christ commands and he does them, over against the foolish man who hears and doesn't do it. Why? He's waiting for something to happen. He's waiting for an experience like he wants to have happen. He wants to know he's saved before he's actually saved. He wants to feel that he's elect before he's actually embraced Christ. There's too many people like that. They hear about the doctrines of grace and they get all hung up. But it's the same to all of us. Jesus comes along and He says just like He said to Peter, He said it to John, He said to Matthew, He said it to the rich young ruler - He said, "Follow Me." You notice He never got into a discourse about: do you feel elect? He never got into a discourse about whether you feel anything. He doesn't say, "how do you feel right now?" "Do you feel really convicted by your sin?" "Has there been sufficient law work?" Look, I recognize that He brought up the law with the rich young ruler, but you know, I'm not really convinced that He was primarily interested in staying there on the law until there had been sufficient law work. (incomplete thought) He didn't even challenge him. You would have thought this. If Jesus really was wanting to do a deep law work primarily in the rich young ruler, wouldn't He have stopped and said, "Oh, you just said all these things you've done from your youth up, but you haven't." You know what? Jesus didn't even call the guy on it. He just went with the flow. Okay. Okay, you've done all that. "Well, you lack one thing still." He didn't say, "Oh no, you lack all of it." "You've been a liar..." He didn't jump on the Ray Comfort bandwagon and say, "have you lied?" He didn't do that. Yes, He brought up the law, but He didn't even stick there. And He didn't call the guy out on it. What He did was He went even further and He said okay, we'll allow that. But one thing you lack. What's that? "Well, you go sell it all and you come follow Me." He wasn't asking him about how he felt. You see, it was all on the table right there. Are you going to trust Me? You come follow Me, and you'll have treasure in heaven. You know what He's asking him to do? Trust Him. He wasn't saying, "Do you feel elect?" "Do you feel appropriately law work and Holy Spirit conviction?" It wasn't that, because you know what? We're not saved by that. We're saved by trusting the promises of Christ. "You come follow Me. You'll have treasure in heaven." And you know what? To have followed Him right there would have been life. And he would have had it despite how he felt. I don't know what Matthew felt, but I'm sure as he followed Christ, God met with him. I'm sure there was joy. I'm sure all sorts of good things happened. You know what Scripture says? "Without faith it's impossible to please God." Faith. Faith is casting yourself on His promises. Can anybody do that? You say, I know you have to be born again. But where does Scripture say, "Well, you need to feel born again before you can trust Christ"? It doesn't say that. In fact, even where He's speaking to Nicodemus and He says, "you must be born again," where does He go? He doesn't say, "Now, Nicodemus, there's absolutely nothing you can do. You better sit up there in that burning window and, like this guy says - "I can do nothing unless God brings it on." So, Nicodemus, stand up there in that burning window until God brings it on. But you see where Jesus goes? It's just like the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness. What? If you look, you'll live. You'll be healed. He goes right into faith. It's taking Him at His word. Now look, if you say, "Nope. I can't take Him at His word. I need to feel elect. I need to feel that He's done a work. I need to feel He's made me alive. I need to feel Holy Spirit conviction. I need to feel an appropriate law work." All you're doing is giving an excuse for why you will not believe Him. And you will perish in that window. The only way to be saved is to jump and land right on His promises. That's the only place of safety. Faith saves. No amount of conviction saves. Christ saves. Faith is what leaps upon His promises. You see, when Matthew got up from that table he was saying that's it. If this guy doesn't come through, I've just lost my livelihood. I'm banking everything on Him. That's a safe place to be. Because if you bank everything on Him and you follow Him, you'll not be ashamed. I have it on the authority of God's Word. You will not be ashamed. But you stand up there in that window refusing to trust Him, you're going to die and go to hell. Be sure of it. The only way to be saved is jump. And He's got arms that can hold you. He never dropped one yet who's trusted Him. Not a single one. Oh Father, I pray that some good would have come from the Bible study tonight. Make it helpful to somebody. Make it profitable. Lord, Your Word is good. It's safe. I pray these things in Christ's name, Amen.