The Essentials: Conversion

Conversion is the ultimate in human change.  But it is human change brought on by the power of God.  

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born [of God]” – John 1:12-13

“God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” – Eph. 2:4-5

“When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ” – Col. 2:13

It may seem odd to say conversion is the first essential of spiritual growth, but, it actually makes a lot of sense.  In order to grow as a Christian you have to first become one. Otherwise, if you’re not a Christian and you’re busy with all the activities of a Christian you really are more of a knock-off Christian – imitating the real thing, but, at the end of the day still just an imitation and not being of the real substance.

 

What is conversion?  The Bible uses lots of language to describe this:  the old has gone and the new has come…born again (John 3:3, 5-6)….born of God (John 1:13)…made alive (Eph. 2:4-5)…made new….Christ lives inside of you….given a new nature….to name a few.

 

Conversion is the ultimate in human change.  But it is human change brought on by the power of God.  By the power of the Holy Spirit conversion is performed in someone’s life, “He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” and “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit…spirit gives birth to spirit….so it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (Titus 3:5; John 3:5, 6, 8).  

 

That’s what conversion is – a new birth.  God makes you a new person. Spiritually you come to life where before that moment you were dead, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” and “he has crossed over from death to life” (Eph. 2:1 and John 5:24).  No one has the power to raise themselves up from death and give themselves life. Life only comes from the Author of all life (Acts 3:15) who Himself is life “I am the resurrection and the life” and “I am the way, the truth and the life” and “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life” (John 11:25; 14:6; 1:3-4)

 

Now, a person can’t do that for themselves by getting “spiritual”, or religious, or improving, or changing for the better.  This new birth is something that God does to someone when they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 

It is a dark fact that many people who self-identify as Christians and are good people will add to the population in Hell.  Why is this? Because they have never been born again. The famous and perhaps most powerful evangelist God ever used, George Whitefield was himself very active in Christian duties before his own conversion.  Upon realizing his need for the new birth he said, “God showed me I must be born again or be damned.” Choosing to engage in Christian activity never makes anyone an actual Christian. A couple months ago 3 people were arrested in Michigan for the felony charges of impersonating a peace officer.  They had made arrests and handcuffed people, responded to 911 calls, filled out incident reports, carried badges and were dressed in uniforms with utility belts and all. Real cops treated them like real cops, asking them to assist on calls and fill out reports afterwards. The looked like and acted like real cops.  But they were not real cops. People can look like and act like real Christians (church attendance, baptism, Christian morals, service, giving, etc.) but not be real Christians – they merely impersonate them. The Christian’s bonafides is the life of Christ inside themselves. Without the Spirit of Christ indwelling them, their bodies are merely caskets carrying around something dead inside.

 

Wearing a ring on your ring finger doesn’t make you married.  Sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car. Swimming doesn’t make you a fish.  

 

A Christian is someone who is right with God and going to heaven.  Once that is settled, then growing in how you live for God occurs. If someone is trying to live for God in order to get right with Him and go to heaven they are fundamentally not a Christian.  They are relying on themselves to save themselves. All the Christian activity they do is done with the motivation that God will hopefully approve of all their religious and spiritual devotion and accept them.  Real Christians know that their service to God and their daily living for God can never make them right with God and give them entrance into God’s kingdom. Real Christians became real Christians when they stopped relying on themselves and started relying on Someone else.  Real Christians became real Christians when they stopped thinking what they do makes them right with God and started thinking that what Jesus did for them makes them right with God.

 

Why do we need conversion?  Because until we are converted, that is, born again, we the Bible says we are dead.  Ephesians 2:1 says, “But you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”  Colossians 2:13 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature God made you alive…”  We need conversion because we need life.  Conversion is simply to come alive spiritually.  

 

You may be asking “Well, how and when did I become “dead” in this way?”  There was not a time in your life where you “died” spiritually. The Bible says that you were born dead.  All of us were. We inherited this “death” from Adam, our first human father. Through his first act of sin, sin as a principle, or, a force was introduced into the human condition.  Romans 5:12 and 5:19 informs us that sin entered the human race through our first father, Adam. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all have sinned”, and, “through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners…”  The original disease of sin infected the human race there, at the head of the human race, and afterwards was passed on to everyone who came after him, which is everyone in history. The whole human race is born with this defect – the defect of being spiritually dead.

 

To be spiritually dead means to be separated from and void of the life of God.  It also means that the sin in us that makes us dead produces desires that are consistent with death, meaning desires for sinful acts.  Sin is resident in every human being and the nature of sin is to oppose God, to rebel against Him, and to seek self instead. This brings death.  “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23)…“and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death” (Jas. 1:15) As everyone of us are born infected with this sin nature we are all born spiritually dead.  Thus, we are all in need life.

 

Now, people can get spiritual without being alive spiritually.  That is the great difference here. Someone can get involved in Buddhism and New Age and Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Islam and so forth.  But their desire to be spiritual and to experience deeper dimensions of their humanness than just the physical and material all comes from the fact that they are made in the image of God, which means they have something within them that makes them seek spiritual things.  They bear God’s image, it is thus natural for all men to seek supernatural things. Being perverted by the sinful nature within however makes men seek other gods, those things that are not the true God. Worship is the impulse of mankind, but, it is that antagonism towards the true God born of inward sin that makes man worship anything and everything else besides Him.  So man, while he worships, and seeks spiritual matters, still does so from his “deathful” condition and will always be unable to birth himself into real spiritual life by his own attempts. Life is a gift from the Giver of all Life, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.” (Jn 5:21).

 

How does one become converted?  Very simply it is by faith in the word of God.  You have to hear the word of God and believe the word of God, “Faith comes by hearing the message and hearing the message is through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17)… “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth…” (Jas. 1:18)…. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).  The word is Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1, 14) and, it is the message about Jesus. You must believe to be saved….it is to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Believing He is the Son of God who died for your sins on the cross, that He paid the price for your sins, and that your just penalty was suffered by Him, He died, and 3 days later rose to life again. Do you see how becoming Christian is not about what you do for God, but, it is accepting what God has done for you.  It is faith and faith alone. It’s not a commitment to stop sinning and to live better as a condition of salvation. It’s not faith plus your baptism. It’s not faith plus anything else. It’s faith plus nothing else. It’s done and it is offered freely to you. All that you have to do is receive this gift from the scarred hands of your Savior. When you recieve it then you will be given new spiritual life, eternal life, the life of Christ inside of you. That life from that moment on is one in which you grow in.  That growth happens by the disciplines of Christianity, faithfulness to the Lord on our part, yielding to the Spirit each day, and daily learning to trust Him more in more areas of our lives.

 

Gospel Invitation

Simple message equals a simple response

We want to give you the chance to respond to the invitation

Do you know if you would go to heaven if you died?

We are not calling you to be a better person or to improve.  You can’t improve enough or be better enough

We are calling you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, what He did – He died for you.

 

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