" Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Psalms 110:-3
Conversion is the turning of God’s elect to Christ by the power of his grace. It is a willing turn of rebels to Christ as their King, surrendering to his dominion. Yet, it is a turning that is caused by God’s free grace. We turn to him because he has turned us by his grace. This is exactly what we read in Jeremiah 31:18-20, where the Lord tells us of Ephraim bemoaning himself.
"I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.”
In Psalm 80 a prayer is offered before the throne of grace which sinners everywhere would be wise to take up as the cry of their hearts before God. -- "Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.-- Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. -- "Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved" (vv. 3, 7, 19).
Yet, unlike regeneration and effectual calling, conversion is not something in which we are passive. Conversion is both God almighty turning us, and us willingly turning, under the influence of his grace, to him. Stephen Charnock expressed the difference between regeneration and conversion in these words. -- “Regeneration is the motion of God towards and upon the heart of a sinner. Conversion is the motion of a sinner towards God.”
Conversion is the willing response of the newborn soul to the effectual call of God’s grace. As John Gill put it, “Conversion lies in a man’s turning to the Lord actively, under the influence of divine grace, being thoroughly convinced that there is salvation in no other but in Christ.”
Repentance, faith, and conversion always go hand in hand. They are inseparable gifts of God’s grace (Acts 11:18-21). Here is the Holy Spirit’s description of what happened when Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and his household, and when the disciples went everywhere preaching the gospel among the Jews and the Gentiles.
"When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord" (Acts 11:18-21).
Notice once more that great emphasis is placed upon the instrumentality of Gospel preaching in the gracious operations of God. As in regeneration and in effectual calling, so also in conversion, the Lord God is pleased to save his elect through the instrumentality of gospel preaching (James 5:19-20). James tells us, by divine inspiration, that God uses human instrumentality to accomplish his purpose of grace toward chosen sinners. Those standing by his tomb could not raise Lazarus from the dead; but they could take the stone away from the mouth of the tomb. What they could do, they were responsible to do and graciously allowed to do (John 11:39).
God is pleased, in his infinite, inscrutable wisdom, to work the conversion of his elect by the instrumentality of converted sinners. “Instrumentality is the plan of the universe” (C. H. Spurgeon). In the new creation it is God’s invariable rule that he converts sinners by the instrumentality of converted sinners. Specifically, sinners are converted by the instrumentality of other sinners who, in one way or another, preach the gospel to them. There are several things that need to be stated and clearly understood in this regard.
1. The use of human instruments is in no way a necessity with God. It is his pleasure.
2. The employment of human instruments in the work of saving his people is honoring to God, both as an act of amazing, condescending grace and as an act of infinite wisdom and sovereignty.
3. If God almighty is pleased to use you, or me, or any other human being for the conversion of his elect, it will be the conferring of the highest possible honor upon us.
"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth" (Psalms 110:1-3).
This is a coronation Psalm. It describes the coronation of the Lord Jesus Christ as our King. Having accomplished our redemption by the sacrifice of himself, having finished the work which his Father gave him to do as our Mediator, having fulfilled all the Father’s will as our Surety, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”.
Once our Lord Jesus was crowned as the omnipotent Prince and King of the universe, the scepter of righteousness was put in his hands, he was given power, dominion, and authority over all flesh for the saving of his people, with this blessed promise - “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies”.
But where are his people? A king without subjects is no king at all. The title of “King” is a mockery if there are no people, no subjects to the king. Where, then, shall the Christ of God find subjects who shall at last fill up the fulness of him that filleth all in all?
Sometimes we fear that God is saving no one; that our labor is in vain. We preach the gospel to hard-hearted, obstinate sinners, to proud, dead, self-righteous religionists, to a valley full of dead, dry bones. Frequently, we almost despair, wondering, “Where shall we find subjects for this great King, our God and Savior and King? Where shall we find men and women willing to bow to the Son of God?” Then, when we read this third verse, our fears are silenced and laid to rest. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Our all glorious Christ, our great King shall never lack for a people to serve him, because all his people are made willing in the day of his power to be his subjects forever. Here are five promises made by God the Father to God the Son, when he crowned him King over all things.
You will notice that this promise from the Father to the Son has reference to a specific people. It concerns “thy people” and no one else. God’s concern is for his people. Everything he does is for his people. And when he is done with everything, when he has fulfilled all his purpose, all his will, and all his desire, every one of those here spoken of as “thy people” shall be with the Son of God in glory. Who are these who are called “thy people”? They are God’s chosen people (2 Thess. 2:13-14), his covenant people (Jer. 31:31-34), his redeemed people (Isa. 43:1), his preserved people (Jude 1), his called people (Rom. 8:28), his loved people (Jer. 31:3).
Look at the next three words of this promise. “Thy people shall be willing.” The text does not read, might be, or should be, or could be, but “shall be willing!” “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men,” or try to persuade them; but here is a matter of certainty, absolute certainty.
The infamous Arminian, Adam Clarke, wrote, “This verse has been woefully perverted. It has been supposed to point out the irresistible operation of the grace of God on the souls of the elect, thereby making them willing to receive Christ as their Savior.”
That is precisely what the verse teaches. The only person who cannot see that is either totally blind, or willfully ignorant, or incapable of understanding the simplest forms of English grammar. No sinner, our Savior said, can or will come to him until he is made willing by God’s omnipotent grace. And all who are thus made willing do come to him in true conversion. Grace makes chosen, redeemed, called sinners willing to confess their sin, trust Christ as their Substitute, bow to Christ as their Lord and King, cast off their filthy rags and lay hold on Christ as Jehovah-tsidkenu (THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS), hang everything on the blood, righteousness, intercession, and power of Christ, our Divine Mediator, and do his will as his servants. Grace makes sinners willing to give themselves and theirs to him, as their reasonable service, parting with all, and follow Christ.
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Here the Lord God promises his darling Son a specific day when his power shall be manifest, revealed, made known, and experienced by each of his people to the saving of their souls.
Notice that the promise says nothing about the day of the sinner’s power, or the preacher’s power. It speaks of the day of Christ’s power. The day of his power is any day the Lord God enables his servant to preach the gospel effectually to the hearts of chosen sinners in the power of his Spirit, any day when the Holy Spirit comes to chosen sinners in the omnipotent power of his saving grace. This text might properly be translated, according to Calvin, “at the time of the assembling of their army.” In other words, there is an allusion here to the fact that whenever there is an army needed there will be an army assembled for the cause of Christ and his glory.
Take another look at this text and rejoice in the promised purity, too. The Lord God swore to his darling Son, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness.” The Lord God will save his people, but only on the grounds of perfect holiness by the satisfaction of Christ and his imputed righteousness. His people, all of them, shall be brought to him in the beauties of holiness, in justification, in sanctification, and ultimately in glorification (Jude 24-25).
Read the rest of the text. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Those who are converted by the grace of God are born from the womb of the morning, mysteriously born of God in the morning of his grace, according to the purpose of God in eternal election. Those who are converted by the grace of God are the dew of Christ’s youth. They are compared to the dew of the morning because, like morning dewdrops, they are a great multitude, which no man can number. These chosen, redeemed converted sinners are the dew of Christ’s perpetual youth, who shall bring praise to him for all eternity.