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.

 

5 thoughts on “The Essentials: Conversion

  • The Holy City, New Jerusalem is coming here. Why would I want to be in heaven?
    If the meek are inheriting the earth while everyone else is in heaven, how does that work?
    Why does Deuteronomy 4:40 say the earth was made for man, for ever–if we’re just going to heaven?
    You might look into that. That’s a errant Gnostic belief that Christianity borrowed.

    Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 

    John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 

    Job 14:10  But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11  As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12  So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. 13  O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 

    Psa 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

    Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

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    • Hello Jennacar,
      Thank you for checking the website out and reading the sermons. We agree with you: the New Jerusalem is coming to earth, the meek will inherit the earth and man is made for the earth forever.

      However, we disagree that there is no time in heaven for the Church. The Scriptures teach a Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17) and from that moment we will be taken to heaven (John 14:2-3). At the end of the Tribulation when Jesus appears gloriously (Titus 2:13) and globally (Rev 1:7) the Church will appear with Him (Col. 3:4).

      The verses you cited are strange as they do not demonstrate your point. Dt. 4:40 speaks of God’s promise to the Jewish nation specifically that they will inhabit the land of Israel if they are obedient to the covenant. I agree man and earth go together forever but not from that passage. I do not extrapolate that passage out to mean all of saved mankind will always be on the earth and never go to heaven.

      Ecclesiastes 9:5 simply points out that the memory of the dead is forgotten among men, a humbling thought. (I would encourage you to consider Ecclesiastes 12:7 to help you see better what all these verses you referenced are referring to when they speak of man going to the dust at death).

      As for John 3:13 Jesus’ point is that He came from heaven with true knowledge of heavenly things – something no mere man could have because no mere man came from heaven or ever went to heaven to get those heavenly truths. When a Christian dies they go to be with Jesus (John 17:24; 2 Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:23) in heaven. This is why it says when Jesus comes at the Rapture God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Him (1 Thess. 4:14). Their spirits are with Him in heaven.

      Job is referring to the permanence of death from the human point of view on earth – no one returns from the grave. You would have to say Job is teaching against a future Resurrection of the dead as well, which I don’t believe you would say.

      Psalm 104 is speaking of the physical body of man returning to the ground (see Ecc 12:7). That’s all. It doesn’t say no one goes to heaven.

      Ezekiel is a passage specifically for Israel in relation to her resurrection at the end of the age. The physical body that went into the grave will rise, but, the spirit of man that went back to its Maker (Ecc 12:7) was in heaven before its reunion with its body.

      It is important to read verses in their context. It seems that you are misappropriating verses in each instance and going beyond what is written by extending what a verse says beyond its meaning. I admire your zeal but I would caution you not to let it run you into error.

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      • I have one thing to ask then: Why did they put Yahshua / “Jesus” into the tomb–and not just his body (John 19:42) ? If one goes to heaven when you die, why hadn’t he gone there by 3 days later?

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      • Hi Jennacar,
        Great question. A couple thoughts. I’m not sure if you intend this question to be an ace in the hole that somehow settles the topic. Did you consider the previous response that covered the many passages indicating a person going to heaven after they die? How would you approach all those passages and factor them into your understanding? Do you see them in a way that makes sense and leads you to your view? Or do you ignore them because they don’t fit with your view?
        Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “and not just his body (John 19:42)?” Are you saying that his spirit stayed with his body in the tomb? Or are you simply saying that John 19:42 indicates his spirit did not go to heaven? Death is the separation of the spirit from the body (Lk 8:55; Ps. 146:4; Ecc 12:7). The body goes into the ground and the spirit goes somewhere else. I’ve not come across any passage that explicitly states man’s spirit stays on the earth. Now, I agree the OT Sheol meant the spirits of the dead went “down”, which I’ll refer to in a moment. However, I do know of passages that state our spirits do in fact go to be with Jesus – who is now in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Php. 1:23).
        Which I think is important for your consideration. Even if Jesus didn’t go to heaven right away surely you would agree he ended up there at some point, right? (John 7:33; 17:11, 13; Acts 1:2; 2:33, etc.) If your point is “They buried Jesus after his death and it doesn’t say he went to heaven” then I would see two concerns. One, this verse doesn’t state he stayed on earth and never went to heaven. It just says he was buried. So it would be hard to see how I can conclude that no one’s spirit goes to heaven afterwards. This John 19:42 fits perfectly with all the verses saying the body goes in the ground. But secondly, you seem to be applying the same method of interpretation as I mentioned previously: you take something in Scripture that pertains to someone else and extrapolate it out to apply to everyone. Isn’t Jesus’ death unique? Wasn’t his mission for him specifically to carry out? If he didn’t return to heaven immediately, couldn’t it have been possible that the reason was related to his work of redemption? Regardless of what happened to Jesus immediately after his death, I think you have to weigh in the teaching that Jesus is now in heaven and has been there since shortly after his death and resurrection. Wouldn’t that have more weight in your view than the unique short time right after his death? I’m just not seeing how the “one question” you’re asking is proving your point.

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      • Wow, Emmanuel Free, you really are a head-turner. Unfortunately for you, I’m not impressed by “indicating” (which is eisegesis) verses. Here’s the simple truth: Nobody went to heaven previous to John 3:13. We know that because Yahshua/ “Jesus” said it. Nobody goes to heaven now because there’s a sword protecting the Tree of Life so that nobody has immortality save ONE person. In order to continue on after death, immortality would already be possessed by EVERYone because you’re saying some go to heaven, others–don’t. That’s an immortal existence. And that whole thing doesn’t jive at all with John 5:28
        Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
        John 5:29
        And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
        Has that happened yet? No, it hasn’t.
        Apparently the good and the wicked who are in their GRAVES shall come forth, exactly the same as 1 Thess 4:16–none of those are coming from heaven. They’re neither in heaven or hell. It doesn’t say–as I was getting to with them putting Yahshua / “Jesus” in the tomb versus them putting Yahshua’s body in the tomb.
        Daniel 12:2 “And the many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
        PS Yahshua kept the Sabbath rest so he wasn’t anywhere in any state working on that day. He kept that Sabbath and was risen immediately afterward.

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