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The Holy Spirit in Conversion

Lesson Nine

Victor M. Eskew




A.   The Bible often speaks of various works in which the Holy Spirit is engaged.

1.      The question is not:  “Does the Holy Spirit work?”

2.     The question is:  “How does the Holy Spirit work?”


B.    The Holy Spirit is actively engaged in the conversion of the lost (John 16:7-8).


Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away:  for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.


1.      The Holy Spirit is the one who will reprove the world of sin.

2.     The question is:  “How does the Holy Spirit reprove the world of sin?”


C.    There are two main views.

1.      The Holy Spirit personally and literally operates on the human heart to convict the lost of sin.

2.     The Holy Spirit works through the medium of God’s Word to convict the lost of sin.


D.   Our position is that the Holy Spirit convicts and converts the lost through the medium of the Word of God.




A.   The apostles were commissioned by the Lord to go forth into the world to teach and to preach the gospel unto the lost (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15).


And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.


B.    These men did not have the New Testament in written form as we do.  Thus, they were promised the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would reveal the truth unto them.

1.      John 14:26


But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


2.     John 15:26


But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.


3.      John 16:13


Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth:  for he shall not speak of himelf; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:  and he will show you things to come.

4.     NOTE:  The Holy Spirit was directly involved in the proclamation of the gospel, but was not directly involved with those who received the message.

a.     I Corinthians 2:12-13


Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.


b.     This put power in the message, that is, in the gospel of Christ.

1)      Romans 1:16


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.


2)      James 1:21


Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.


c.     This means of convicting man of sin would ensure two things:

1)      God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11).

2)      Man can freely choose to obey the gospel or not obey (Acts 2:40; 13:46).




A.   If what we taught in the previous point is true, two things should follow:

1.      The Holy Spirit would empower men to preach the powerful gospel of Christ.

a.     Apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4)

b.     Qualified men upon whom the apostle laid their hands and imparted the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5-8).

2.     In every conversion account, those who were convicted and converted were convicted and converted through the Word of God.


B.    Examples:

1.      Jews on Pentecost

a.     Acts 2:22a


Ye men of Israel, hear these words…


b.     Acts 2:37a


Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…


2.     The Samaritans

a.     Acts 8:5


Then Philip went down to Samaria, and preached Christ unto them…


b.     Acts 8:12


But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

3.      The eunuch (Acts 8:35)


Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.


4.     Saul (Acts 9:6)


And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.


5.     Cornelius (Acts 10:5-6; 11:14)


And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:  he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside:  he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do….Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and thy house shall be saved.


6.     NOTE:  This same pattern can be found in every conversion account.

a.     The gospel is preached by men inspired by the Holy Spirit.

b.     The gospel is heard by the lost.

c.     The gospel pricks their hearts.

d.     They obey the gospel of Christ.


C.    One objection:  Lydia (Acts 16:12-15)

1.      Acts 16:14


And a certain woman name Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us:  whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.


2.     The objection is found in the words, “whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”  It is assumed that the Holy Spirit personally and directly opened Lydia’s heart so she could understand the things Paul was proclaiming that day.

3.      ANSWER: Is there anything in the text itself that reveals “how” the Lord opened Lydia’s heart?

a.     Yes:  The text says that Lydia “heard us.”  The word of God opened Lydia’s heart.

b.     The words, “that she attended” do not involve understanding and perception, but obedience to the will of God (See Acts 16:15).


And when she was baptized…


4.     Summary:

a.     Paul preached.

b.     Lydia heard.

c.     The Word of God opened Lydia’s heart.

d.     She attended unto, that is, obeyed the things Paul told her to do.  The culminating act was baptism.




A.   Matthew 13:18-23


Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.  This is he which received seed by the way side.  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while:  for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some, thirty.


B.    Acts 15:7


And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.


C.    Romans 10:13-17


For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


D.   I Corinthians 1:21


For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.


E.    Ephesians 1:13


In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:  in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.


F.     I Thessalonians 1:5-6; 2:13


For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost….For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.


G.    I Peter 1:22-23


Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeign love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  being born again, not of corrupt-ible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.






A.   The Holy Spirit does not personally, literally, directly, (or miraculously) work on man’s heart to convict him of sin and cause him to be converted.


B.    He uses the powerful Word of God to produce faith and to prick the hearts of men (Rom. 10:17; Acts 2:37).


C.    Hebrews 4:12


For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.