The Apostle Paul’s conversion clearly sets forth God’s special call to salvation (Acts 9). “Paul ran from Christ; Christ pursued Paul. Paul resisted Christ; Christ disarmed Paul. Paul persecuted Christ; Christ converted him. Paul was an alien; Christ made him a member of the family” (Lewis B. Smedes, All Things Made New, p. 119).

While it is true that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom.10:13), it is equally true that those who call on God do so because “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn. 6:44).

In John Newton’s personal diary he wrote that he was in school only two years, from ages 8 to 10. He was self-taught his entire life and never had any formal theological education. After his conversion and upon beginning his pastoral career, he devoted himself to a rigorous program of learning Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. In addition, he read many theological works in Latin and French, which he taught himself while at sea. Yet, despite all his learning, he never ceased to be amazed that, as he says at age 72, “such a wretch should not only be spared and pardoned, but reserved to the honour of preaching thy Gospel, which he had blasphemed and renounced . . . this is wonderful indeed! The more thou has exalted me, the more I ought to abase myself.” (John Piper, The Roots of Endurance, p. 51)

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