Turning to God under any circumstances is, psychologically regarded, man’s own act, deliberately considered, freely chosen and spontaneously performed. Yet the Bible makes it clear that it is also, in a more fundamental sense, God’s work in him. The OT says that sinners turn to God only when themselves turned by God (Je. 31:18f.; La. 5:21). The NT teaches that when men will and work for the furthering of God’s will in regard to their salvation, it is God’s working in them that makes them do so (Phil. 2:12f.). Also, it describes the initial conversion of unbelievers to God as the result of a divine work in them in which, by its very nature, they could play no part, since it is essentially a curing of the spiritual impotence which has precluded their turning to God hitherto: a raising from death (Eph. 2:1ff.), a new birth (Jn. 3:1ff.), an opening of the heart (Acts 16:14), an opening and enlightening of blinded eyes (2 Cor. 4:4-6), and the giving of an understanding (1 Jn. 5:20). Man responds to the gospel only because God has first worked in him in this way. Furthermore, the accounts of Paul’s conversion and various references to the power and conviction imparted by the Spirit to the converting word (cf. Jn. 16:8; 1 Cor. 2:4f.; 1 Thes. 1:5) show that God draws men to himself under a strong, indeed overwhelming, sense of divine constraint. Thus, the AV’s habit of rendering the active verb ‘turn’ by the interpretative passive, ‘be converted’, though bad translation, is good biblical theology.
- J.I. Packer M.A., D.Phil., D.D., Professor of Systematic Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC, The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition
Conversion Latin conversio, viewed by the older theologians as either passive or active. Passive conversion (conversio passiva) refers to the habit or disposition, implanted by God, to repent and believe in Christ as Savior. Active conversion (conversio activa) is the actual turning of the sinner in repentance and faith in Christ. Passive conversion is also termed “regeneration” because it involves the renewal of the sinner’s will. Active conversion, or the actual turning of the sinner to Christ, is often termed simply “conversion” without any additional qualifications. Shedd himself adopts the distinct terms regeneration and conversion in his own discussion of the matter, believing that the separate designations are less prone to confusion.
Shedd, William Greenough Thayer ; Gomes, Alan W.: Dogmatic Theology. 3rd ed. Phillipsburg, N.J. : P & R Pub., 2003, S. 953
1. By God. 1Ki 18:37; Joh 6:44; Ac 21:19.
2. By Christ. Ac 3:26; Ro 15:18.
3. By the power of the Holy Spirit. Pr 1:23.
4. Is of grace. Ac 11:21,23.
5. Follows repentance. Ac 3:19; 26:20.
6. Is the result of faith. Ac 11:21.
7. Through the instrumentality of
a. The scriptures. Ps 19:7.
b. Ministers. Ac 26:18; 1Th 1:9.
c. Self-examination. Ps 119:59; La 3:40.
d. Affliction. Ps 78:34.
8. Of sinners, a cause of joy
a. To God. Eze 18:23; Lu 15:32.
b. To saints. Ac 15:3; Ga 1:23,24.
9. Is necessary. Mt 18:3.
10. Commanded. Job 36:10.
11. Exhortations to. Pr 1:23; Isa 31:6; 55:7; Jer 3:7; Eze 33:11.
12. Promises connected with. Ne 1:9; Isa 1:27; Jer 3:14; Eze 18:27.
13. Pray for. Ps 80:7; 85:4; Jer 31:18; La 5:21.
14. Is accompanied by confession of sin, and prayer. 1Ki 8:35.
15. Danger of neglecting. Ps 7:12; Jer 44:5,11; Eze 3:19.
16. Duty of leading sinners to. Ps 51:13.
17. Encouragement for leading sinners to. Da 12:3; Jas 5:19,20.
18. Of Gentiles, predicted. Isa 2:2; 11:10; 60:5; 66:12.
19. Of Israel, predicted. Eze 36:25-27.
Torrey, R.A.: The New Topical Text Book : A Scriptural Text Book for the Use of Ministers, Teachers, and All Christian Workers. Oak Harbor, WA : Logos research Systems, Inc., 1995, c1897. Torrey embraced covenant theology (in contrast to Moody's dispensationalism) and was critical of the emotional and manipulative methods of revivalism.