How Long Does It Take?
The story is told of a young man many years ago attending a meeting where D.L. Moddy was preaching. The young man responded to the invitation to be saved. He told the one that was assigned to talk to him that he wanted to become a Christian.
‘Well, my friend, what is the trouble?’
The young man doesn’t feel comfortable telling what he has done. He is greatly agitated. Finally, he says, ‘The fact is, I have overdrawn my account’—a polite way of saying he has been stealing.
‘Did you take your employer’s money?’
‘I don’t know. I have never kept account of it.’
‘Well, do you have an idea you stole $1,500 last year?’
‘I am afraid it is at least that much.’
The counselor leaned in to speak to the young man. “Suppose I said to you, “Look here, sir, I don’t believe in sudden transformation of one’s life. So, I would suggest that you don’t steal more than a thousand dollars this next year, and the next year not more than five hundred, and in the course of the next few years you will get so that you won’t steal any. If your employer catches you, just tell him you are gradually being converted; and you will soon get to the place that you won’t steal any more. It may take some time before you stop. Just ask him to be patient.”
Reading that approach to counsel a person seeking salvation is a perfect farce! ‘Let him that stole, steal no more,’ is what the Bible says. It means that a person converted by Christ is to make a complete “about face”.
Let us go to the Bible and see what that it teaches us. Salvation is instantaneous. A man may be a thief one moment and a saint the next. I believe a man may be as vile as hell itself one moment and be saved the next.
Christian growth is gradual, just as physical growth is; but a man passes from death unto everlasting life quick as an act of the will— ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.’” (Source: Anecdotes, Incidents, and Illustrations, D. L. Moody).