Is there such a thing as an instant conversion? Should not conversions take place over a period of time so that people can process the gospel?
The New Testament is our model for carrying the gospel to the entire world. In the Book of Acts, we find the example of an instant conversion of the Philippian jailer. (See Acts 16:16–34.) Although an earthquake is a shaky foundation on which to make a religious decision, the jailer at Philippi serves as an example of such an experience. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The testimony of the apostle Paul served to make sense of what had happened and caused this jailer to fear God. Fear sometimes contributes to an instant conversion. Certain other circumstances sometimes do the same, but God can use all events in an effort to confront individuals with the decision of accepting Jesus as Saviour.
Fear can bring a person to a point of clarity in understanding so that conversion can, in reality, take place. This jailer was fearful. He was afraid of the earthquake. He was fearful that the prisoners had escaped. He was fearful that he would be held accountable for their escape. When he learned that everything was all right, the first question he asked was, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30. He recognized that what had happened was not just a natural event. When something unusual takes place in a person’s life, it puts into motion the thought that there might be some supernatural cause for what is happening, and when an explanation is found, conversions can happen instantly.
Paul’s quick response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Verse 31. From all appearances, this man was a hardened prison keeper. He was Roman, a heathen man. But an event of such proportions brought about an instant conversion.
Instant conversions such as this one can take place today. We do not know the extent of God’s working in an individual’s life. All we need to know is that we need to be instant in season and out of season to preach the gospel message, as was Paul. Paul’s words were short and to the point: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” This message has not changed since that day. Jesus is still the Saviour of fallen mankind and always will be. Some will study long; others will be converted in an instant. We need to be ready to be used of the Lord to bring the message of hope and salvation whenever circumstances call for us to witness.
Pastor Mike Baugher is a retired minister of the gospel. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: email@example.com, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.