7. WE ARE NOT ALL SAVED IN THE SAME WAY
We do not all come to the Lord Jesus in exactly the same way. The conversion of Paul differs from that of Timothy.
Paul was an outsider and his conversion was dramatic. He initially persecuted the church of God (1 Cor 15:9), blasphemed and insulted God. (1 Tim 1:13) God powerfully intervened in his life when he was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them to Jerusalem in shackles. (Acts 9:1-9) Three days later Ananias, a disciple of Jesus, helped Paul to come to repentance. (Acts 9:10-19; 22:16) That was a dramatic conversion. Paul knew exactly when, where and how it happened.
The conversion of Timothy was different. He grew up in the house of a God-fearing mother and grandmother. (2 Tim 1:5) He knew the holy Scriptures from childhood (2 Tim 3:14,15), yet, he came to repentance under the guidance of Paul. (1 Tim 1:2; 1 Cor 4:14-17) Even he had to come to repentance even though his life afterwards did not differ perceptibly after his conversion. Yet there was a difference; Christ dwelled in his heart, by faith. (Eph 3:17) From that moment his life would be united with Christ, rooted and built up in Him, firm in faith. (Col 2:6,7)
Timothy, therefore, was quietly converted. However, he and Paul both knew that it had happened, where, when, and how it happened.
Children of the covenant often do not know exactly when and where they were converted. Usually they are able to recall a number of spiritual experiences but are unable to identify any particular one as their true and first repentance. It is not absolutely necessary to know exactly when and where. As long as we know that it has happened, and can account of the hope that lives in us. (1 Pet 3:15,16)
If you are in doubt whether or not you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour because you can not to remember the exact date when you were converted for the first time, do it again just to make sure of your salvation. I once got onto a train, but forgot my ticket at home. It was such an embarrassment to me that I decided never to travel by train again without making sure that my ticket was with me.
We are all travelling to our eternal destination and therefore, we had better make doubly sure that our relationship with God is in order. (Cp. 2 Cor 13:5) Rather accept the reconciliation with God, through Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20) again, and do it here and now. (2 Cor 6:2) Make today the date that you can remember.
It is not wrong to accept Christ Jesus as your Saviour more than once. It is clear that Paul repeatedly appropriated for himself the gift of redemption by faith. (Phil 3:12-16) Come to repentance again and again, I repeat: make doubly sure! (Cp. Luke 9:23)
The Bible tells us of a jailer who was saved instantly when he heard for the first time what he had to do to be saved. (Acts 16:30-34) In Paul's case it took three days for him to come to a final decision. (Acts 9:1-18; 22:16)
In the case of the jailer there were no prerequisites, except to believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31), but to a rich young man, for example, Jesus said: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Mark 10:21)
It appears as if Jesus has different ways of dealing with different people. To one salvation is unexpected (cp. Luke 19:5-9), to the other Jesus says: "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13:24)
On closer examination, we discover that the command of Jesus to some people to make every effort to enter through the narrow door, does not contradict the seemingly unexpected salvation He gave to Zacchaeus without prerequisites. On the contrary, the effort to enter through the narrow door, is the logical result of the true repentance given by God (Acts 5:31; 26:20); it produces fruit in keeping with repentance. (Cp. Luke 3:8) This truth is fully proven by the conduct of Zacchaeus who was willing to rectify the wrongs in his past immediately after he had received Jesus into his home and into his heart. This act of Zacchaeus, illustrates and underlines the authenticity of his conversion. Paul writes: "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14) After his conversion, Paul was still striving to be ready to enter through the narrow door.
Jesus speaks of a narrow gateway we find at the beginning of a narrow road that leads to life. (Matt 7:13,14) But the narrow door that He speaks of (Luke 13:24), is found at the end of that narrow road. (Luke 13:23-30) It is this door that is the entrance to the banquet hall of the Lamb. (Cp. Matt 25:1-12) We all are on our way to that narrow door. However, some of us will be turned away. (Matt 25:8-12; Luke 13:24-30) May God have mercy on us to be ready to go in to the wedding banquet with Him. (Cp. Matt 25:10) It is written: "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezek 33:11)