Conversion – is it real
Yes it is real. It is contained in two Bible words – ‘repent and believe’.
The experience of conversion will vary from person to person. For some it is dramatic. For others it is a matter of truth believed. Yet others it is a change of life habits. Others are converted from fear to peace.
The common thread is the change of mind toward God, acknowledging that He is right and we have been wrong. Since we all are born with the inclination to wander away, going our own way, we need to turn around. All actions independent of God are offensive to God and hence the need to ‘convert,’ to facing God instead of going away from God.
The wonderful Gospel is this – in turning toward God, we find that He is not against us, but that He already loves us. He has paid the price to remove the offence of our sins, by the death of His Son – Jesus Christ. Now He offers peace and pardon along with promises of eternal life.
Thus a person is ‘converted’ from being a self orientated, lost sinner, to a believer in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus used many illustrations of this ‘conversion’ experience.
John 1.12 ‘Receiving Him’ ( the Son of God from heaven)
John 3.3 ‘ born again of the Spirit’
John 4 ‘ drinking of the water of life’
John 5.24 ‘ Hearing his word.....’
John 6 ‘eating and drinking’
Matthew 11.29 ‘Come to Me’
Mark 1 ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’
Acts 16.1 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’
Does this create confusion? – No. This shows how God by His Spirit connects with different people in different ways. A person who has never heard the Gospel may receive a dream. Another who is highly educated may well be converted by truth. Yet another who feels the guilt of sin may be converted by comprehending the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Another lost sheep may be converted by heeding the call of the Good Shepherd to ‘follow Me’.
How kind of God to reach into our lives and with tender understanding, turn us to Himself. How serious the consequences for anyone to reject God’s invitation, yes God’s command to repent.
Let me interrupt with this – these experiences of conversion are real, but they are not to be the basis of assurance of salvation. As described in another blog, the confidence of our acceptance by God is found in the promises of God. We connect with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
John the apostle writes (1 John) of the evidences of new life in the believer – eg walking in the light, turning away from sin, loving other believers, keeping His commands. But at the end of his letter, the assurance of eternal life is not in the evidence, rather it is in the promise:
“he that has the Son (faith in the Son of God), has life” 1 John 5:12
May I mention a common problem. – we egocentric creatures are so obsessed with ‘what I have done’ that we try to find assurance in ‘our faith’ or lack of faith. Questions arise ‘ did I have enough faith?’ ‘did I truly repent?’ ‘I was not able to keep up the life’. True conversion is looking away from self, looking to Jesus Christ the Lord. He is risen from the dead and is alive and able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by Him.
The believer is not self occupied, but Christ occupied. We can rest in Him as our all in all, for time and eternity.
Paul put it so well in Christ’s all for him to preach the Good news:
“to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” Acts 26.18