God’s Powerful Work in Conversion

In my last post, I said that unbelievers have no free will to reject the gospel. In this post, I want to focus on verse 6 of 2 Corinthians 4. I have included verses 1-5 for context. In contrast to the work of Satan (v. 4), God works powerfully in the conversion of every single person who comes to faith in Christ.

1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We can note the following from 2 Corinthians 4:6:

“For God, who said…” The word “for” at the beginning of verse 6 connects the verse with v. 5 to show how God works in the preaching of the gospel. God is the one speaking. What does he say?

“Let light shine out of darkness.” Paul says that God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” It is not clear where God said these exact words, but the closest allusion is Genesis 1:3 where God said, “Let there be light . . .” The point here is not so much the exact words that God said or did not say but what Paul intends to communicate. For Paul, at creation, God dispelled darkness by creating light. In conversion, God dispels the darkness of our minds to bring new life. Just as God eliminated darkness at creation by means of his spoken word, he now dispels the darkness from our hearts by means of the gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ. It is all God’s work and based on his initiative.

“has shone in our hearts.”  This phrase should be understood as God (who is light, 1 John 1:5) allowing his light to illumine our hearts when they are still darkened and rebellious. Why would God do this?

“to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  God’s purpose in illumining our hearts is to give us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Thus, when the gospel is preached (2 Cor. 4:5), God works to illumine our hearts. Only then can we see his glory in the face of Christ. No one who sees this glory can say no to it.

Concluding thoughts

Paul can speak this way and understand the power of God in conversion because he experienced it on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). In that event, God dispelled the darkened heart of Paul and shone light into his heart to cause him to see the glory of God on the face of Christ. Additionally, Paul’s commissioning by the Lord Jesus, involved a call to turn Jews and Gentiles from darkness to light (Acts 26:17-18).

God’s power is evident both in the original creation account when he spoke light into darkness and in our re-creation where he illumines our hearts so that we can believe.

Satan is fighting a losing battle. He blinds (v. 4) but God illumines (v. 6). Satan keeps from seeing the glory of God in the gospel (v. 4) but God illumines to give the light of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ (v. 6).

All in all, our God is mighty to save. Just as he powerfully worked in creation by speaking light into existence, he has shone in our hearts to give us the knowledge of his glory. His power in our conversion is clear. Praised be His Name.