“I chose to follow Christ because it made sense to me.”
Several years ago I was engaged in conversation with a close friend about the mystery of salvation, specifically why some people choose to follow Christ and some walk away from Christ, saying no. The quote above is from my friend that day. He said that it just made good sense to him and so he accepted Christ as His Lord and Savior.
Is this why people come to faith in Christ? Is this what the Bible teaches about why people come to saving faith in Christ?
I believe the answer is yes and no.
Let’s start with the no. The Bible teaches that the Gospel message does not make sense to lost people.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2.14 (ESV)
Since no one is born a Christian, that means that all of us start out with a natural disposition that is opposed to the truth.
Then what of the numerous testimonies of Christians who say that they became Christians because it “made sense to them”?
Now for the yes part of my answer. Yes, the Gospel made sense to them. This is the best way they know how to put their experience into words. When a person shares this testimony, they are attempting to describe their experience. But in order to get a more-in depth understanding of what actually occurs when anyone becomes a Christian, we must go beyond their personal description of their experience and see what God says about what happened. Then we can place their eyewitness account within that fully-orbed biblical description.
To help us do this, let’s consider a few verses from 2 Timothy 2:
24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
The focus of the immediate passage is how the man of God is supposed to handle God’s Word. In verses 25 and 26, Paul is giving specific instructions on how a pastor is supposed to respond to those who are opposing the truth. He is to gently correct them. That is all they can do…give the truth. The results belong to God. Perhaps God will grant them repentance.
At this point I want to point out how Paul sees the miracle of conversion: God grants repentance (Greek is metanoia, which means a change of mind) that leads to a knowledge (Greek is epignosis, which means experiential knowledge, not just a knowledge of the facts) which in turn enables them to “come to their senses” and escape “the snare of the devil.”
So, when a person comes to saving faith in Christ it is because God has given them a gift of repentance, a gift of changing their mind, which from their perspective is like “coming to their senses,” hence the testimony “it made sense to me.”
Lydia is a Biblical example of this. Acts 16.13-14
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
The LORD openened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s message.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once pondered these great truths:
One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God…the thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.”
Back to my friend and that conversation some 15 years ago. That conversation served as a springboard for him to search the Scriptures for the real, deeper why of his choice to follow Jesus. A few years later he informed me that he had come to believe that the Scriptures indeed taught that the reason he chose to follow Christ was much deeper than simply, “It made sense to me.” He had come to see in an even greater way how amazing God’s grace really is.