a Companion and Co-Worker
in a Blessed Soul-Winning Ministry
A careful study of that
great book on evangelism, The Acts of the Apostles, will reveal that there are
just seven individual conversions recorded. The study of these conversions
shows that they are typical conversions, and that they doubtless present God’s varieties
of religious experience. Each one portrays a distinctly different human
condition, and in most cases a different emotional accompaniment. The results,
from the human standpoint, often differ widely, but in every case it is the
saving Gospel which brings about the change in the life, and evidences in every
case the ability of an all-wise and an all-powerful God to meet human need.
As we give these pages to the public we have a twofold purpose in mind which
will easily be seen as the book is perused. In each case we have given a brief
semi-technical study of the conversion and its results under the following
1. The Occasion;
2. The Subject;
3. The Agent;
4. The Accompaniment;
5. The Result;
6. Significant Lessons.
7. The sermon on the theme.
These sermons do not follow the outlines of the technical study, but those
adapted to appeal to the hearts of listeners. The messages have been preached
in four localities and in two countries, and broadcast over four different
radio stations in the United States and Canada. In almost every case when these
messages were presented, souls found Christ as their Saviour; and we have
discovered that in the presentation of these varieties of religious experience,
others were encouraged to find God in Christ and their own blessed conversion
We would not be dogmatic about the matter, but we feel after much study of
these conversions that they are typical, and universal in their typicalness;
that is, that practically every conversion could be grouped, in a general way,
under the experience of one of these conversions found in The Book of Acts.
These are God’s varieties of religious experience.
In a careful study of these seven religious experiences we note the following
1. Six of the seven converts recorded were men.
2. Previous preparation of
one kind or another is evident in almost every instance. There is only one
apparent “immediate” conversion of “raw” soul. Note, further, these facts:
(a) The Eunuch was doubtless a Jewish proselyte, before Philip led him to
(b) Saul, though rebellious, was well trained in the Scriptures,
(c) Cornelius was a religious man with some knowledge of, and faith in, God,
(d) Sergius Paulus’ preparation seems to have been of an adverse nature through
Elymas, the false prophet, yet he was in a religious frame of mind when the
apostles approached him with the Gospel,
(e) Lydia was a devout Gentile, probably a Jewish proselyte, whose heart God had
visited in a preparatory way,
(f) The Philippian jailer may be the one exception to the rule. If we are to
consider his question, “What must I do to be saved?” a non-religious one—which
we believe it was—there is little evidence of any previous knowledge of the
Gospel or of the true God.
(g) Apollos was “almost a Christian”
when he came to Ephesus, being trained in religion and the Scriptures in the
city of Alexandria, in Egypt.
How widely differentiated are the emotional accompaniments of these
conversions! If we divide them into two general classes, “calm” and “hilarious,”
we would place the Eunuch, Sergius Paulus, Lydia and Apollos in the first
group; and Saul, Cornelius and the Philippian jailer in the second.
The outward accompaniments of the experiences could be divided into
classifications of “quiet” and “uproarious.” These classifications reveal the
Eunuch, Cornelius, Lydia and Apollos as “quiet” conversions; Saul, Sergius
Paulus and the Philippian jailer as “uproarious.” It is plain that according to
God’s varieties of religious experience, the “quiet” and “calm” predominate,
while the “hilarious” and the “uproarious” may be expected on occasion.
The genuineness of conversion is attested in the Scriptures by either rejoicing
of heart, as the case of the Eunuch, or resultant good works, of which Lydia is
an example; or both, as in the case of the Philippian jailer and Apollos. Sergius
Paulus stands without comment in his reaction to belief, and we know nothing
more of his life.
Conclusions which may be reached concerning our soul-saving ministries in the
analysis of these conversions embrace the following facts:
(1) The majority of our converts must be prepared for that experience.
(2) We must expect wide divergence of human reaction to the same saving truth,
and much variation in the outward accompaniments of conversion.
(3) God is a God of variety.
(4) We have a right to expect evidence of genuineness in manifested joy and new
life motives in every true Christian conversion.