Conviction But Not Conversion

” In short, conversion does not consist in illumination or in conviction or in superficial change or in partial reformation. An apostate may be an enlightened man (Heb vi 4), and a Felix may tremble under conviction (Acts xxiv 25), and a Herod do many things (Mk vi 20). It is one thing to have sin alarmed only by convictions, and another to have it crucified by converting grace. Many, because they have been troubled in conscience for their sins, think well of their case, miserably mistaking conviction for conversion.”

Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven, p. 22

Alleine (1634-1668) published this evangelistic tract in 1671 and many editions of it continued to be reprinted, even up to today. Sometimes it was published under the title “Alarm to the Unconverted.” Charles Spurgeon recounts the impact it made on his life as a child when his mother would read it on Sunday evenings as the family gathered together for worship.  George Whitefield also recalls the lasting impression this book made on him while a student at Oxford.


2 responses to “Conviction But Not Conversion

  1. I immediately thought of John Bunyan’s autobiography, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.” Consider this excerpt:

    “But one day, amongst all the sermons our parson made, his subject was, to treat of the Sabbath-day, and of the evil of breaking that, either with labour, sports, or otherwise. Now I was, notwithstanding my religion, one that took much delight in all manner of vice, and especially that was the day that I did solace myself therewith, wherefore I fell in my conscience under his sermon, thinking and believing that he made that sermon on purpose to show me my evil doing; and at that time I felt what guilt was, though never before, that I can remember; but then I was, for the present, greatly loaden therewith, and so went home when the sermon was ended, with a great burden upon my spirit. This, for that instant, did ‘benumb’ the sinews of my ‘best’ delights, and did imbitter my former pleasures to me; but behold, it lasted not, for before I had well dined, the trouble began to go off my mind, and my heart returned to its old course: but oh! How glad was I, that this trouble was gone from me, and the fire was put out, ‘that I might sin again without control!'”

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