A Voice in the
"Jesus heard that they had driven [the blind man whom Jesus healed] out [of the temple]; and when He had found him, He said to him, Do you believe into the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I may believe into Him? And Jesus said to him, You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you. And he said, Lord, I believe! And he did homage to Him." (~Jn9:35-38)
What does it take to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? A follower of God? We speak much of all the various Scriptural doctrines related to atonement (Ex30:15), propitiation (1Jn2:2), redemption (Eph1:7), Jesus dying on the cross, shedding His blood, rising from the dead (1Cor15:3-4); and man's response in repentance and faith (Ac20:21); and many other related terms.
But what is the actual activity/experience/event of meeting Jesus?
Before we go any further, please do not confuse this question with "works"; something to "do" on behalf of our salvation; because we know that salvation is "not of ourselves...not of works" (Eph2:8-9), it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Tit3:5-7)
But just as in life, people have their jobs/work that they do to earn a living, they have their 'work' around the house to keep things up. But then there are other times when a person is relaxing, recreating, visiting with family and friends. Activity which has nothing to do with survival...and yet they are "doing" things, "talking" with people. Just because they are not officially "working" does not mean that all activity stops.
Thus: While we know there is no righteous 'deed' a person can 'work' to gain or earn salvation, there is nevertheless some 'activity' involved. A meeting. Conversations. Thinking, pondering, considering, meditating, weighing the concepts, sorting truth from error, counting the cost, etc. (Lk14:28). All this activity is going on in the mind and heart.
So... What is the sequence-of-events by which a person becomes a child of God?
First of all, nobody can follow Christ unless the Father has been drawing (Jn8:44) through the Holy Spirit (Jn16:8-11) in our hearts. (Lk24:32)
But does the mere fact that the Father draws, guarantee the person's obedience to follow Jesus? Is -everyone- who is 'drawn' upon, "predestined...through foreknowledge"? (Rom8:29) God certainly "foreknew" Israel, but He was "not well pleased" with "most" of them. (1Cor10:5) Because the truth is: that "..not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6) because of "unbelief". (Heb3:19) The Spirit of God was "striving" with -all- of mankind (Gen6:3), and yet only eight were spared judgment in the ark.
God meets Jacob, and Jacob makes a 'deal' with God: You protect me, and prosper me, and bring me back home in peace, and You will be my God. (Gen28:20-21)
God meets Isaiah, and asks, "Whom shall I send, and who shall go for Us?" and Isaiah replies, "Here am I! Send me" (Is6:8)
God meets Ezekiel, and carries him away into compliance, with Ezekiel dragging his heels in anger. (Ezek3:14)
Jesus meets Nicodemus and explains the "birth from above" (Jn3:3) and what is Nicodemus' response? We aren't told directly. But when they are plotting against Jesus, he raises his voice in defense. (Jn7:50-52) And after Jesus is crucified, he joins and helps Joseph to bury the body. (Jn19:38-40) Jesus had said, "you shall know them from their fruits" (Mt7:16)
Jesus meets the woman of Samaria, and not only does she believe into Him after being faced with her sin, but the whole town meets Jesus. (Jn4)
Jesus meets Zacchaeus, and the man's change-of-heart is announced through his promise to mend his life. (Lk19)
Jesus meets several other types of people: to one He explains the life of discomfort to follow Him; another excuses himself, 'let me wait till my father dies'; another wants to go have his last farewells first. Jesus explains: "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk9:57-62) A simple desire to "be with Jesus" is not enough.
Jesus meets another who has been faithfully keeping the Law (today he would have been a fine active church member), telling him to sell all he has, give to the poor, and follow Him; and he declines due to his riches. (Lk18:22-25)
Jesus meets with the religious leaders, confronts them about their duplicity, dishonesty, pride and hypocrisy; declaring "woe" upon them (Lk11); and they crucify Him. (Jn18:24, Mt26:65-66, 27:12,20)
If you read throughout the Scriptures, it is chalk-full of people's experiences when God met them (Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Samson, Saul, David, Solomon, S/Paul, etc), and they responded in one of two ways: obedience or disobedience.
When Jesus invited the rich man, he went away. The rich man rejected Jesus. (Mk10:22) But when God called Isaiah, he replied: Here...send me. (Is6:8) Unlike those who wanted to excuse themselves to take care of "business" back home first, and 'wait' till a more "convenient time" (Ac24:25), when Jesus called the disciples, it says, "...and IMMEDIATELY they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." (Mt4:22) After all, this is what Jesus taught, that unless a person is willing to leave -ALL- (family, wife, children, etc) "he CANNOT BE My disciple" (Lk14:26)
You see, Salvation into Jesus Christ is called "obedience". Paul calls it the "obedience of faith". (Rom1:5)
Indeed, salvation is "by grace through -FAITH-" (Eph2:8) But when a person disbelieves, the judgment and condemnation is because a person is -disobedient-. "The one believing into the Son has eternal life; but the one DISOBEYING the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn3:36) Jesus invites, Come, follow Me; but the person says, No, I won't.
We've looked at only a few examples here. Scripture is full of others. However, to those who believe in that reformation doctrine called "irresistable grace", do you begin to see the fallacy of that doctrine?
Please notice that Jesus was inviting/calling both those who obeyed, as well as those who did not. Man has a 'choice' whether or not to follow God. He has a 'choice' whether to repent and receive Christ, or to reject Him.
If God's grace were truly "irresistable"...what a cruel thing Jesus was doing, to invite those who rejected!! As such, to suggest that His invitation to those who rejected wasn't -real-?? God does not do like adolescent pranksters do, pretending to help a person with their chair, only to pull it out from under them at the last minute, to have them fall on the floor. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no change or shadow of turning." (Ja1:17) Jesus doesn't invite, "Come to Me", only to turn around and say, 'Awe, I was just kidding...you aren't one of the "chosen/appointed" ones'! "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, he will not give him a stone, will he? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a serpent instead of a fish, will he? Or if he asks for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." (Lk11:11-13)
Jesus invited the multitudes. He is talking to "this generation" (the people) (Mt11:16) and invites: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (vs28-30)
But obviously, -most- of those who heard His invitation rejected. Notice, Jesus 'invited'. He did not -demand- compliance. That was His nature. God does not FORCE a person against their will to be His follower. Jesus is a "gentleman".
"Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare judgment to the Gentiles. He will not strive nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth judgment to victory; and in His name the Gentiles will hope." (Mt12:18-21)
So, back to our opening question: What is the individual experience of one who meets Jesus? We've given just a few examples. Scripture is full of others. For each person the meeting was different. No two snowflakes are the same. No two people are born alike; even so-called identical twins are not -exactly- alike (when you get to know them you can 'easily' tell them apart). And no two meetings between people are identical from one person to the next.
Thus, perhaps you begin to understand why that so-called "sinners prayer" is denounced here on a regular basis: the one the so-called 'soul-winners' tell their hearers to "repeat-after-me" and you will be saved. There is NO-SUCH-COMMAND in the Scriptures! I've given out the challenge before, for those who believe in this to show me chapter-n-verse where Scripture teaches it. I have yet to hear from any of them...because it does not exist.
The meeting between Jesus and the individual is a 'personal' matter between the Lord and that individual's heart. It is not something that happens by brow-beating in the emotional heat of the invitation hymn, nor by a person standing/sitting there pleading, "Won't you p'leeeease receive Jesus", like a salesman trying to 'close-the-deal'. The salvation of a sinner is not between the sinner and the 'soul-winner'. It is between the sinner and Jesus through the Holy Spirit. If God created the universe, was able to raise Jesus from the dead after He was crucifed, and managed to get through to YOUR hard heart to SAVE YOU...do you think God has now suddenly become impotent regarding saving the person whose soul you are concerned about? Remember, on Judgment Day that sinner is not standing before you; they stand before God at the Great White Throne. (Rev20:11)
If Jesus is meeting their heart, do you want to 'get-in-the-way' by interrupting what God is calling to their heart? Maybe God knows that their heart isn't 'quite' ready yet, and that if you stand there trying to 'close-the-deal' instantly, so you can add their name to that 'list' back at church...you will actually drive them away? Yes, they will die in their sin...but how will you stand before God to "give account" of yourself before Him? (Rom14:12) Will their blood be on your hands? (Ezek33:6b)
So now, after all this, the question -still- has not been answered. Because for each individual it is 'personal' between them and the Lord.
It is like suggesting how a husband and wife love each other. As much as many people engage in the disgusting, and try to talk about it to their friends, it is really only the married couple's business; it is only 'their' relationship; the intimacy that is only between them, and no others'. As the sinner is wooed to Christ to become part of His bride, it is the same concept. (Eph5:23-32) We can each give testimony to one another as to what Christ has done in our lives, but the hearers simply cannot fathom its entirety, because they were not there. Just as the man has his "way with a virgin" (Pr30:19), so, too, Christ has His unique "Way" with the sinner, as He knows each of us at the level of "soul and spirit" and discerns our "thoughts and intents" (Heb4:12)
Thus, while this article began by posing a question: Hopefully it is now obvious why it will not be answered.