The Small First Steps Towards Conversion

By J.C. Ryle

The first beginnings of the work of grace in a sinner are generally exceedingly small. It is like the mixture of leaven with a lump of dough:

A single sentence of a sermon… A single verse of Holy Scripture… A word of rebuke from a friend… A casual religious remark overheard… A tract given by a stranger… A trifling act of kindness received from a Christian…

…some of these things are often the starting-point in the life of a soul. The first acts of the spiritual life are often small in the extreme–so small, that for a long time they are not known except by the person who is the subject of them, and even by them not fully understood:

A few serious thoughts and prickings of conscience… A desire to pray for real and not formally… A determination to begin reading the Bible in private… A gradual drawing towards means of grace… An increasing interest in the subject of religion… A growing distaste for evil habits and bad companions…

…these are often the first symptoms of grace beginning to move the heart of man. They are symptoms which worldly men may not perceive, and ignorant believers may despise, and even old Christians may mistake.

Yet they are often the first steps in the mighty business of conversion. They are often the “leaven” of grace working in a heart.


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