The story of Christopher Yuan’s conversion is quite amazing. Christopher comes from an immigrant family that valued hard work and education. He did well academically and was accepted to dental school. While in dental school he began to follow a homosexual lifestyle and also began to experiment with illicit drugs. Eventually, he was expelled from dental school and arrested for selling illegal drugs. He also discovered that he is HIV positive. I can only imagine the despair and fear he must have felt at that time.
His mother and father had become Christians and began praying for him and sharing the gospel with him. By God’s grace, while in prison, Christopher put his faith in Jesus Christ and now travels the world sharing his remarkable testimony of the work of the gospel in his life.
We rejoice in stories such as Christopher’s, in the amazing and at times astounding work of the gospel as it brings people to faith in Christ. However, I suspect that most Christians have conversion stories that are not so exciting. Although the Bible describes the believer as receiving a new life or a resurrected life (going from death to life), for many believers the conversion experience is not filled with such dramatic events. The absence of such events should not discourage us. The gospel is at work in different ways, yet always accomplishing the same glorious purpose.
The Apostle Paul writes in Roman 3:23 that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Regardless of how wicked our actions were or how hard we attempted to live a moral life, before we put our faith in Christ, we were dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). This is a universal statement, teaching us that we are all sinners rightly deserving the condemnation of God, because He requires perfect obedience and holiness.
Whether we are criminals or have tried to live as upstanding citizens, none of us is without sin. Thus, apart from grace we are all dead and deserving of God’s punishment. In other words, we all need the grace of God found in the saving work of Jesus Christ. This perspective encourages us to praise God for what He has done in the lives of all believers by grace, no matter what our past lives were like.
Just as we were all dead in our sin, likewise, once converted, we all share in the same new resurrected life. Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Consequently, all those who put their faith in Him will have this same life. Resurrection life includes eternal life with God in heaven, but it also includes the strength and power to live a full and obedient life in the world today.
We still struggle with sin, but through the work of the Spirit, we can grow in sanctification and holiness. God’s saving work is amazing for everyone who by grace receives His salvation.