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)
ÖTHERE ARE TWO ELEMENTS IN CONVERSION:
REPENTANCE & FAITH
“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
, and forgiveness of sins. Israel
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.
“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.
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?