Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”
Yes, conviction is definitely necessary to be saved. That is what Jesus meant in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, draws all humanity to Himself. I believe that is partly what Titus 2:11 means, when it says that the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared unto ALL men. That doesn't necessarily mean the Gospel.
My friend, Pastor Max Younce, teaches that God is obligated to give all men some form of light (truth). If someone accepts that light, then God is obligated to give them more light, and ultimately send a missionary to preach the Gospel to them. Our obligation is to receive that truth from God. So if (for example) some unsaved native in the central part of Papua New Guinea rejects the light that God gives them, He is not obligated to send that person the Gospel. I agree with Pastor Younce completely in this matter of conviction.
We see this truth illustrated with Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Cornelius was a good man, a centurion over 100 Italian soldiers the Bible says. He prayed, fasted, feared God and gave alms to the poor; but Cornelius was lost. He was a good religious man, but lost. If God saw that Cornelius had not accepted the light that he had, the Lord wouldn't have arranged for Cornelius and Peter to meet. God arranged for Cornelius and the Apostle Peter to meet up later in the chapter, and in Acts 10:44 Cornelius (and his friends with him) believed the Gospel (Good News) and were saved. They were immediately indwelt with the Holy Spirit. It was a divine appointment. Amen!
I have heard preachers warn people that if they don't get saved right now, when they are at a church revival and are under Holy Spirit conviction, that they may never get another chance to be saved. I agree with that; not that a lost person cannot choose to be saved at any time, but because if God never convicts that person's soul again, because they never hear any preaching again, they might never get another opportunity under conviction to be saved. 1st Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” So, yes, I definitely believe that Holy Spirit conviction is essential to a person being saved.
Another interesting thing is that Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) once addressed what he believes about the 5 points of Calvinism. Regarding the first tenet—Total Depravity—Ironside said that he agreed that all men are totally depraved. As they often deceitfully do, Calvinists today (including Moody Bible Institute sad to say), falsely claim that Ironside changed his doctrinal position in his latter ministry, leaning toward Calvinism. Nothing could be further from the truth. I fully agree with Ironside's views that he had concerning Calvinism. I agree with Ironside that all men are so depraved, that we cannot come to God unless we are drawn (convicted) by the Holy Spirit.
However, there is one BIG difference between what Dr. Ironside believed versus what Calvinists believe. Calvinists teach that God only draws SOME MEN. To the Calvinist only "Some Lives Matter," but to our great God, "All Lives Matters." What did Jesus say in John 12:32? John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." He said "if I be lifted up... I will draw ALL MEN unto Myself." ALL MEN, not SOME MEN.
Titus 2:11 says that the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared unto ALL MEN, not just SOME MEN. Ironside (as I do) believed that Christ's risen Spirit (Romans 8:9) draws (convicts) ALL MEN to be saved. This is a far cry from the lies of Calvinism, which make God a respecter of persons. The Bible says God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11).
Ironside also said that he believed in the PESEVERANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in a believer. I fully agree: 'ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED.' We are sealed and indwelt with the blessed Holy Spirit, which is the Godhead living inside our body, soul and spirit. This is VERY different than Calvinism, which teaches the PESEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. It is the Holy Spirit who perseveres in a saint's life, not the saint, which would be works.
Dr. Ironside was not a Calvinist at all, he taught a free grace Gospel, that WHOSOEVER wants to be saved, can. I also don't think it appropriate to ever ask someone who wants to be saved, if they are under Holy Spirit conviction. That would be ridiculous. If they weren't being convicted, then they wouldn't desire to be born-again.
Evangelist Ray Comfort is a false prophet, who refuses to accept that a person who professes faith in the Gospel of Christ is saved, unless they first turn away from their sinful lifestyle, and continue to live that LIFESTYLE (the very word that he uses) for the rest of your life to get to Heaven. John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” The Comforter is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world that we are guilty sinners in God's sight. The Holy Spirit convicts the world that through faith in Christ we can obtain God's imputed righteousness. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of coming fiery judgment in Hell for the wicked. Psalms 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”
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