The Holy Spirit and Conversion 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 16, In the year of our Lord, 2015

  1. The Holy Spirit in Relation to a Person Before Conversion 
    1. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in a sinner.
      1. Acts 2.38

        38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).
      2. Ephesians 1.13–14

        13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph 1.13–14).
      3. Galatians 4.6

        6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4.6).
      4. If the Spirit dwells in a sinner before conversion.
        1. The preceding scriptures are in error.
        2. He is dwelling in a sinful heart.
        3. Why should a sinner submit to the gospel?
    2. The Holy Spirit does work providentially
      1. to bring together sinners and Christians,
      2. as He did with the Ethiopian Treasurer and Philip (Acts 8).
  2. The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Conversion Process 
    1. The Holy Spirit revealed the scheme of salvation.
      1. First Peter 1.10–12

        10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into (1Pe 1.10–12).
      2. Galatians 3.3 explains
        1. that anyone converted was converted by work of the Holy Spirit
        2. that He initiated, perpetuated, and completed.

          3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3.3).

    2. The Holy Spirit uses means or agents.
      1. The Bible is His sword.
        1. Ephesians 6.17

          17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6.17).
        2. He gives power to the word
          1. so that it cuts like a sword or convicts (John 16.7–13), and
          2. a person then learns the truth about Jesus (1Co 12.3).
        3. Not mere words or the word alone, but
          1. the Spirit uses the word (John 6.63).
          2. The Spirit speaks through the Scriptures.
            1. Mere words are powerless, but
            2. it is the One who utters the words
            3. that gives the words power (John 11.43).
              1. The Scriptures are God-breathed (1Ti 3.16; Heb 4.12),
              2. so that the Holy Spirit operates right through the word.
      2. Further, He uses Christians to preach the gospel;
        1. the Holy Spirit does not do the preaching himself, but
        2. as Christians preach, His message goes forth.
        3. Second Corinthians 4.1–7

          1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (2Co 4.1–7).
        4. Acts 8.29

          29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot” (Acts 8.29).
        5. First Corinthians 3.6

          6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1Co 3.6).
        6. John 16.7–13

          7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16.7–13).
        7. Acts 10.5

          5 “Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter” (Acts 10.5).
        8. Acts 11.13–14

          13 “And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved’” (Acts 11.13–14).
        9. Acts 9.5–6

          5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9.5–6).
        10. First Thessalonians 2.4

          4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts (1Th 2.4).
    3. The Holy Spirit renews us during conversion.
      1. Acts 2.38

        38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).

        1. The Holy Spirit is received while being baptized (or
        2. perhaps immediately afterwards to complete the conversion process).
        3. Acts 3.19 refreshing comes with forgiveness.
      2. Titus 3.3–7

        3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3.3–7).
    4. In conversion, a sinner is born of the Spirit.
      1. John 3.3–8

        3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3.3–8).

        1. “Of the Spirit” means it is through His leadership and work.
        2. Baptism is not the entirety of being born again.
        3. The new birth is also of the Spirit because it is the Holy Spirit:
          1. who convicts,
          2. who testifies (John 15.2, 6),
          3. who gives the increase, and
          4. who knows man’s needs and meets them.
      2. The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with:
        1. The word
          1. James 1.18

            18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (Jam 1.18).
          2. First Corinthians 4.15

            15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel (1Co 4.15).
          3. Sinner’s obedience
            1. Romans 6.4

              4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6.4).
            2. First Peter 1.22–23

              22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1Pe 1.22–23).
  3. What The Holy Spirit Does Not Do in Conversion 
    1. He does not work directly on a person’s heart against the individual’s will.
      1. He does work on a person’s heart, but
      2. indirectly through instruments and circumstances.
      3. This does not leave out the Spirit, but
        1. without the Spirit the instruments would be useless, for
        2. it is the Spirit working, but
        3. using an instrument (the Scriptures, preaching, etc.).
    2. He does not give special illumination to the sinner to understand the word.
      1. First, we must realize that the word can be understood.
        1. Ephesians 5.17

          17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5.17).
        2. Those who do not understand the word are hindered by:
          1. Inadequate education,
          2. A stubborn will,
          3. Allegiance to Satan,
            1. Second Corinthians 4.3–4

              3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2Co 4.3–4).
            2. Second Timothy 2.24–26

              24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will (2Ti 2.24–26).
        3. Romans 10.17 says the word produces faith,
          1. not the Spirit apart from the word.

            17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10.17).
      2. Second, the Holy Spirit did not give special illumination
        1. to sinners in the first century, but
        2. let the church enlighten people.
          1. Acts 8.29–35

            29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” {Isaiah 53.7, 8} 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him (Acts 8.29–35).
          2. Ephesians 3.8–10

            8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3.8–10).
    3. He does not operate miraculously upon the person’s heart,
      1. if so, then all would be saved, for
      2. the Spirit desires all to be saved.
      3. How would we explain the fact that all are not saved?


  1. Therefore conversion is dependent upon the Holy Spirit and His work, 
    1. even as conversion is dependent upon the grace of God and
      1. the faith and
      2. obedience of the sinner.
    2. Knowing this, the Christian who attempts to teach a lost friend
      1. should have confidence in the word,
      2. which is the sword of the Spirit, for
        1. the Spirit knows how to use his sword and
        2. how to convict sinners.