Sudden Conversions

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
I had been holding a series of gospel meetings in a tent pitched in a little country town. Among those who came from time to time to listen to the sweet and gracious message of God's salvation were a gentleman and his two daughters.
Each meeting they attended seemed to leave a deeper and deeper impression. It was more than interesting to observe their curiosity give place to interest, interest deepen into exercise, and exercise into real soul-anxiety. The three tried, at first, to disguise the inward struggle; but at last it was openly confessed, and I was invited to pay them a visit.
During the visit the father sat with heaving breast and tearful eyes listening to the message of peace. The mother busied herself with her needlework, apparently in utter indifference to the whole thing.
Presently a half-suppressed sob bursting from her husband roused her. She at once turned to me and began to apologize for her husband's "emotional weakness." Then, turning angrily upon him, she chided him for his want of manliness. "Don't make a fool of yourself," she demanded of him.
Next, she took up the conversation, trying to turn it from its very personal character into a merely religious discussion. She began with the remark: "I don't believe in sudden conversions."
"Oh! You don't believe in sudden conversion, Mrs. Wilson?" I answered.
"No; I don't indeed," was her heated reply.
"Well, Mrs. Wilson, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying the devil does! Furthermore, I believe, he is very anxious at this moment that neither you nor your husband should have one.
"Besides, there is not a shadow of doubt that God believes in sudden conversions. Did you ever read the story of the dying thief on Calvary? It is recorded of him that in the MORNING he reviled the Savior; at NOON he confessed Him as Lord; and at NIGHT he was with Christ in Paradise. That was quick work, wasn't it?
"Then we read in Acts 16:19-4019And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (Acts 16:19‑40) of the jailer in Philippi. One day there were put into his custody two of the Lord's servants. Scripture is careful to tell us they received at his hands the most merciless treatment. He then retired to rest with a conscience as easy as his heart was hard.
"Giving an account of his conversion, Scripture says, 'Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.' It woke the jailer up from his natural slumber. It likewise woke him up from his soul-slumber, producing in him a moral earthquake.
" 'Suddenly' his eyes were opened, and he found that he stood face to face with a lost eternity.
" 'Suddenly' the desperate need of his soul was plain before him. No laggard footsteps now—no time for delay. With light in hand he 'sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.' On the very verge of desperation, he cried, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'
"Never was physician's cordial more readily at hand nor more eagerly appropriated than that short peace-speaking gospel message: 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Acts 16:3131And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31).
"Observe, Scripture is careful to mention that 'he took them THE SAME HOUR of the night—washed their stripes-and was baptized... STRAIGHTWAY—believing in God all his house.' Genuine work and speedily accomplished, eh?
"Let me give you one more testimony, Mrs. Wilson. Saul of Tarsus; an eminently religious man, and yet a hater of Christ and the mad persecutor of the saints of God, was on his way to Damascus to prosecute his plans for stamping out the name of Christ.
"Giving an account of his own conversion in Acts 22, he says, 'Suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.'
" 'Suddenly' upon the ears of the persecutor there rang a voice from heaven.
" 'Suddenly' there streamed into his dark heart a light from heaven; and he, too, cried out, 'What shall I do?'
"Three days after this you will read he was full of the Holy Ghost, and 'straightway' preaching Christ in the synagogue that He is the Son of God. Acts 9:2020And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (Acts 9:20). Pretty sharp work that, Mrs. Wilson, wasn't it? Too sharp altogether for the devil, that arch-enemy of his soul and yours."
"Well," replied Mrs. Wilson, "I don't think it can be jumped into all at once like that. It requires thinking over."
Many in this world confess to having thought about it for years, as Mrs. Wilson had. She certainly could not be charged with 'jumping into it all at once.' It is true she had thought about it, but she had stopped at thinking.
Friend, thinking about salvation cannot save you. God offers it to you now, saying: "Now, is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6: 2.
If men and women only knew their awful danger they would be in earnest to be saved on the spot.
Reader, there is no halfway ground. At this moment you are either saved or lost, SAVED OR LOST! Which?