What are the steps a person takes from being a nonbeliever to being conformed to Christ?
Many people don’t talk about the entire process from start to finish of how God draws us to him and then sanctifies us after salvation. There are various steps out there but, in general, these are the main steps a person takes from unbelief to belief.
A Depraved Environment
It starts from the beginning where Adam and Eve left humans off. People are born into a sinful world, and environment that encourages sin, depravity, and wickedness. If it weren’t for the Holy Spirit drawing them, no one would know God.
This is where we all start from the moment of our birth. It doesn’t mean we’re born into sin. We are surrounded by sin. It doesn’t take long for us to join in the action. But for almost all of us, this is not where we stay.
The Holy Spirit Draws Them
At some point in many lives, people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. They hear about freedom from entangling sin. They hear about the different way of Christ.
But the message doesn’t reach their hearts until the Holy Spirit draws them. We used to call it the “wooing” of the Spirit. He draws them to himself, creates an interest in them to hear more about God. He breaks up the dry, cracked surfaces of their stone hearts.
He uses the gospel and Christians. They wander if God’s way is better. They’ve done their own thing but he gets them nowhere. They are willing to try something new.
The Holy Spirit Regenerates Their Spirits
At this point the Holy Spirit does one of his most powerful acts before salvation. Theologians call it regeneration. Until now they ignored God. From the moment they were born, their spirits were dead to God because of sin.
They’ve ignored God, maybe even spoken and acted against him. Their sin kept them from seeing him. But now the Holy Spirit has enlivened them to new possibilities in him.
He has prepared them in this step, opened them to hearing and considering Christ’s gospel. They look across the shadows into the light. Their minds are open to hearing God and listening to what he is saying.
They Hear the Gospel Message
For the first time, they listen to the gospel and respond. It doesn’t just pass through one ear and go out the other. It sticks. Jesus talked about this with the four types of soils in one of his parables.
The gospel seed lands on open soil instead of a stone cold heart. The Holy Spirit has been working through this process. But this is when the Spirit involves effective Christians to share the gospel and leave them to salvation.
The person commits to Christ. The heart is open to Christ they receive him. The Holy Spirit isn’t done. He guides them to Christ and then in Christ.
A New Creature in Christ
We are a clean slate for Christ to write himself on our hearts. The process of sanctification, becoming holy in character and actions, begins. We become like Christ through this process.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us. He gives us power to live holy before God and others. He transforms us and makes us new. Our desires, thoughts, actions, character, all of it has been made new.
We spend the rest of our lives realizing the implications of salvation and new birth in Christ. It’s an exciting journey into relationship with Jesus.
Conforming to Christ’s Image
Paul talks about being conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29.) We imitate Jesus and walk after him. We put on Christ and his righteousness like a coat. But we never take it off.
The Spirit shows us how to live like Jesus. We learn to please and glorify God. We are looking more like Jesus every day.
When God saved us, he declared us holy and righteous. But now we become in reality what he declared us to be. But we don’t do it on our own. The Holy Spirit gives us the power every step we take.
Obeying the Holy Spirit
Our works don’t make us more fully. Obeying the Spirit and listening to him, following his commands get us there. Holiness isn’t about looking good to others. Its goal is to live in God’s presence forever.
God declares himself our God and we are his people. He’s making that happen in us. We listen, trust, and obey the Spirit. We do what he says. And he leads us into God’s holy presence.
Knowing Christ isn’t a stagnant walk. It’s public and corporate. We learn to serve others, and that blesses God too. We advance in holiness. The Spirit uses us in gifts for others.
We volunteer and work for God. He gives us a mission to complete for him. We look for ways to bless others with our God-given talents and gifts.
Jesus laid out one of our main goals (Matthew 28:19). We witness to others and guide them from salvation to discipleship. Disciples are people who learn and study. We all learn to walk with Jesus and we study his Word.
We don’t walk in a straight line with Christ. We walk in the circle from becoming a Christian, to learning from others, to witnessing to others, to teaching them, to learning from others. This is the process to grow it him.
Throughout our lives we get closer and closer to Christ. The Holy Spirit guides us to the final destination. Glorification is when we finally arrive at complete holiness.
In this moment God calls us to himself, to live in his physical presence in heaven. We pass from physical death to eternal life. Or, we are alive during Christ’s return, the rapture, and join him.
This end product of the process of salvation and sanctification brings us to enjoy a glimpse and foretaste, a down payment of his forever presence.
We live in hope now and arrive in his presence in them. He brings us home, and over the joy and glory that awaits us whom the Lord brings to himself!
This is a long answer that I hope it helps you see the whole process. We are all on a journey to know God. Remember this process when you witness to others. You never know when the Spirit has prepared them to receive the gospel.
Never give up on witnessing and walking with Christ, obeying the Spirit, and drawing ever closer to the moment of glorification. The Father sets this process in motion for each of us.
Leave a comment and tell me about your experiences in this process. Tell me about the ups and downs and how you are chasing after God with all your heart.