Theme Editorial

Conversion


The theme of this month's Watchman is the subject of conversion. The dictionary tells us that conversion is a change. In a religious context, conversion is a change of faith, the acceptance of some new faith or standard of practice. What the theme authors have done this month is to take the accounts of four conversions: the 3,000 at Pentecost in Jerusalem, the Ethiopian Eunuch, Lydia, and the Philippian Jailor and show by the consistency of the actions which they took, that there is a singular standard by which men are converted to Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, in Romans 1:15-17, "So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" The singular standard by which men are converted is the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God unto salvation. It is that which must be preached in order for men to see the righteousness of God. If we will ever find justification, we must live by the faith that is the gospel of Christ.

Other conversions could have been considered in this theme. Good points can be observed in other accounts. In the account of the first meeting of Saul and Jesus before the conversion of Saul, Acts 9:4-6, Saul asked two questions. "Who are you Lord?" and "Lord, what do you want me to do?" When you understand the process of conversion, you understand the role of faith in the process. Faith is essential. Faith in Jesus as God's Son. Faith in His eternal deity. So, "Who are you, Lord?" becomes a good and relevant question. All Saul knew when he asked that question was that there was someone even more powerful than he who was able to knock him flat on his face, and that whoever it was was due the title of Lord. We must know the WHO in our faith. Knowing the WHO, we must then learn the what and the why. Saul's second question was intended to satisfy knowledge. "Lord, what do you want me to do?" The jailor in Philippi asked, Acts 16:30, "... Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Brother MacPeak analyzes this question ably in his article on the jailor. Likewise, the Jews at Pentecost in Jerusalem were pricked in their heart, i.e. that they were emotionally stirred upon learning the facts that they had crucified the Messiah, and responded, Acts 2:37, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" There certainly is a DOING when it comes to conversion. The change required to become a child of God is an all encompassing change. It starts with what we believe and makes itself totally known in how we act or what we do. There are things we MUST do in order to effect the change, to have our sinful self cleansed by the blood of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The new creation in Christ is a changed {converted} man. The old things are put away and the life of the Christian is new. A couple of references to support this principle are in order:

If we look at the words in verse 24, righteousness and holiness, we can see the new man following after a new pattern of behavior. Our friends in the religious denominations want to have salvation come from the grace of God and our faith only. That is totally impractical, in light of all we see here in these verses. The converted man is the man who is saved. The saved man is the man whose life is totally new. Thus the converted man is raised from baptism to walk in newness of life. There is a difference, not only in faith, but also in behavior. Change in the state of man and change in the behavior of man is required in the process of conversion.

In every case of conversion in the Book of Acts, behavior is altered based on the preaching that is heard. In each conversion account, the gospel is preached, people believe what they hear, and submit to the instructions given them by the preacher. We mentioned the conversion of Saul. He was told to go into the city and it would be told him what he muct do. When the preacher arrived, included in what Annanias told Saul is recorded in Acts 22:16, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." The goal in what we are seeking to show in these articles is that before there was conversion, there was first preaching, preaching that prompted faith, and faith that motivated obedience. Romans 10:10, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Faith is the great motivator to doing good things. We believe unto righteousness. Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Study your Bible. Study the Scriptures inspired of God. {They are one and the same}. Believe the truth contained in God's word. Obey it. Change your life to conform to His will. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, "...Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."


E-mail Larry Fain

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