Saturday, July 23, 2011

Have You Been Converted?

Have You Been Converted?
by Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
First Baptist Church of Oak Creek Wisconsin
I want to ask you a very important question that has Eternal ramifications. Have YOU been converted?  Salvation begins with conversion--that turning from doubt, sin, self, Satan, and turning toward God, Christ and righteousness.” (The Victor Bible Source Book, Stephen D. Swihart, Victor Books, p.116). Merrill C. Tenney writes, “In the process of salvation, it (conversion) is the first step in the transition from sin to God.” (Handy Dictionary of the Bible, Merril C. Tenney, Zondervan Publishers, p. 37). The goal of this message is to help you understand the nature of conversion so you can be sure you have been converted.

ÖTHE NEED & DEFINITION OF CONVERSION                                  

Christ told people very clearly that they needed to be converted. Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Peter preached, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19  
What is conversion?Conversion is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner, in which he turns, on the one hand, from sin, and on the other hand, to Christ. The former or negative element in conversion, namely, the turning from sin, we denominate (call) repentance. The latter or positive element in conversion, namely, the turning to Christ, we denominate faith.” (Systematic Theology by Augustus Hopkins Strong; Judson Press, p. 829)

The Greek word translated converted in Matthew 18:3 is strafhte (strepho, stref'-o; 4762). It is from the root word that means to twist, turn around or reverse. The term conversion refers to the human response to the Gospel. Strong’s Concordance says, “Conversion is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner, in which he turns, on one hand, from sin, and on the other hand, to Christ.” It is turning from sin, self, Satan, and the world and turning to Christ and His righteousness. “Conversion requires the commitment of the total personality, intellect, emotion, and will. This is how people respond to the message of the gospel, when they understand the nature of Christ’s atonement, when they feel the guilt of conviction, love of God, and surrender their wills to the offer of salvation. The result of conversion is the changed life.” (The King James Study Bible, Nelson, p. 1741)



üRepentance Defined

Repentance is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner in which he turns from sin. Being essentially a change of mind, it involves a change of view, a change of feeling, and a change in purpose.” (Systematic Theology by Augustus Hopkins Strong; Judson Press, p. 832)

üBiblical Support For Repentance

No one can be saved who does not repent -- The Bible makes it clear repentance is a part of salvation. We are told that God is "longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" 2 Peter 3:9

ûRepentance was preached by John the Baptist  -- Matthew 3:1-2  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
ûRepentance was preached by Christ -- Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And -- Luke 13:3&5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Christ's goal in dealing with men was to bring them to repentance. Christ confronted men with their sinfulness and their need to turn from their sinfulness. No one can be saved who does not see themselves as lost sinners and repent of their sins.

ûRepentance was preached by the Apostles -- Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no Bible example of a person being saved who did not evidence a drastic change in his or her life. Further, the Apostle Paul, reviewing his ministry before King Agrippa, noted that he went about preaching to Jews and Gentiles both "that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" Acts 26:20.

3 Areas Involved In Repentance

üThe Intellect (our mind) -- Repentance includes an acknowledgment of personal sin or guiltiness before God. Matthew 3:8 indicates this when it says, Bring forth therefore fruits meet (suitable) for repentance. King David of old illustrates this acknowledgment of personal guilt. Psalms 51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Job gives us an Old Testament illustration of one that was truly repentant. Job 42:6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. There is no doubt about this man realizing his guiltiness before an Holy God.

üThe Emotions -- Repentance includes a deep sense of sorrow for the transgression committed against God. This is noted by the Apostle Paul in his letter -- 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. The Greek translated sorrow is luph (3077. lupe, loo'-pay) which means to cause grief; sadness, grief, grievous, + grudgingly, or heaviness.

üThe Will -- Repentance includes the positive determination to change in thought, in speech and in action. Jeremiah 25:5 illustrates this aspect of repentance of will --  They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever. Again, King David shows his change in will in Psalms 51:10 when he says, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

·       FAITH

üFaith Defined

“Faith is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner in which he turns to Christ.” (Systematic Theology by Augustus Hopkins Strong; Judson Press, p. 836). It is important to point out that “repentance never saved a soul by its merits; it lays the needful foundation for the temple of faith in the heart. But all the penitential sorrows of Adam's family would not remove one faint stain of sin. If a man borrowed five thousand dollars, for which he gave security, and squandered it most foolishly, and afterwards, filled with true repentance, he solicited and expected the forgiveness of the debt because he was sorry for it, the spendthrift would only meet with contempt in his application; his sureties would have to pay the money. Faith alone in the Crucified cleanses from all sin, and repentance is God's instrumentality for leading the sinner to the Lamb of God, the Great Remover of sin(Cathcart).

Ø The Greek Word & Expanded Meaning

The Greek word translated faith is pistewV (pistis, pis'-tis; 4102). Faith means that which is believed or that which you are persuaded of. The Bible make it clear that it is impossible to please God without it. Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. A companion word, from the same Greek root is the word pisteuson  (pisteuo, pist-yoo'-o; 4100) which means to trust, have faith in, to be persuaded of a thing or believe. This is the word used in John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

A Look At The 3 Aspects of Faith

üThe Intellect -- There must be knowledge of the facts of the Gospel and a recognition of the truth of those facts. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. No one can be saved without having the Gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Christ) communicated to them. They must read it or hear it and recognize it as true. (Romans 10:13-16). But, this intellectual assent as to the historical facts and truth of those facts does not alone yield saving faith. John 2:23-24 illustrates this intellectual, non-saving faith -- Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men...”

Nicodemus comes to Christ by night with this kind of faith -- John 3:2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Though there must be an intellectual understanding and belief in the facts of the Gospel there must be more than that.

üThe Emotion -- There must be an acknowledge (admitting) that Christ alone is the answer to the present need of their sinful soul. I like the way Bancroft puts it -- “There must be a heart response to Him as my Saviour which springs from the sense of realized need and deep seated desire.” (Elemental Theology; Emery H. Bancroft; p. 211). The Apostle Paul put it this way -- Romans 10:9-10  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Note: If there is no recognition of the deep personal need for Christ’s Salvation, there is no salvation.

üThe Will -- There must be the consent of your will, a volitional (deliberate) choice for Christ. One writer put it like this -- “Faith not only recieves the word of Christ, it reaches out and lays hold upon the person of Christ.” (Elemental Theology; Emery H. Bancroft; p. 211)
            Davis says, “There is a volitional element in faith. There must be a will to believe. Hence faith involves not mere passive acquiescence in the truth, but an active response to the demands of truth. Faith is stepping out on the promises of God.” (Elemental Theology; Emery H. Bancroft; p. 211). John 1:12 shows the volitional aspect of faith --  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Biblical faith involves not one or two of the above elements but all of them... your intellect, your emotions and your will! 

In conclusion, conversion involves repentance and faith. In the last analysis repentance and faith are one and the same act. This is seen in 1 Thess 1:9 “Ye turned to God from idols”. Repentance is included in believing. I want you to know that repentance is not faith, nor faith repentance. But repentance is an essential part of faith or belief.   “He that believeth...” implies repentance. “Repent and be converted...” involves faith.  In fact, repentance and faith can never be separated as we see in Acts 20:21 --“Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Have you been converted? Have you repented of your sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ?