Be Converted

By Ronnie Lowe

The greatest need of our time is not more gold, riches, or power. The hope of any nation is not fighting poverty, or providing better schools and higher technical skills for our youth. From the capitol city to the smallest village, the greatest need is a return to God a forsaking of this world a spiritual renewal.

There is a great need for conversion a turning back to God. It is the process of one turning from sin and self and turning to God. Conversion is a process not a single act. It is a realization of the holiness of God, of His demands, of one’s own guilt, and a conscious and outward change of life.

To teach His disciples a lesson regarding humility, Jesus called a little child to Him and 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” (Matthew 18:3). Jesus insists that conversion is essential for gaining God’s approval. When Peter and John healed the lame man by the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, the people were amazed and wondered what had happened. Peter told them the lame man was made whole by the power of the name of Jesus Christ. His advice to them was simple: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before” (Acts 3:19-20).

There are both divine and human sides to our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). On the divine side, we must be converted from the world to God; we must turn our back on worldly matters and look to God for our direction. Jesus promised, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). But how are we drawn to Jesus? Does He pick people at random and drag the chosen to Him? Centuries ago David stated how God draws and converts men: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). God draws us by His powerful Word. Jesus had promised the coming of the Spirit to guide the apostles into all the truth and to convict the world of sin (John 16:8-13). What did the apostles do to convert people? In every example of conversion, there was the preaching of the word on Pentecost; to the Council; to the Samaritans; to the eunuch; to Cornelius; to Lydia; to the jailer they all heard the Word. There can be no life changing without the life-changing message.

Conversion also involves a human side; there is something I must do. I must have a receptive heart. James writes: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). We must be receptive to the truth and then obey the truth and change our life. This changing is not a one-time act; it is a continual effort. We must not allow the world to put us into its mold, but must constantly seek to change our life through the renewing of our mind to be like the mind of Christ (Romans 12:1-2; Phil. 2:1-11).

The book of Acts has been called by many, “The Book of Conversions.” This is because it records the conversions of thousands to Christ during the first century. If we want to obtain the same results today, we should study the examples set forth in this marvelous text and follow their model. Another point worthy of note: if we want to be what they were simply Christians we need only to do what they did, and nothing more. Any requirements I make which are more or less than what was required of them, will make me something different from what they were.

Some Examples

Those on Pentecost heard the Word preached; they were pricked to the heart by their own guilt; they cried out for forgiveness. Peter then instructed them: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Their response: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (2:41). They obeyed and received the promised blessings.

After the death of Stephen, the persecution against the church increased. The disciples began to scatter, carrying the gospel wherever they went. Philip traveled to the city of Samaria, preached about Jesus, and performed numerous miracles. In response, the city was filled with great joy, seeing the miracles and hearing the marvelous message of Jesus. And “when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).

Philip was then sent by an angel of God to a juncture in the road which leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he met a eunuch from Ethiopia, a treasurer for the Queen. As he was returning from worshipping God in Jerusalem, the eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53, but finding it difficult to understand. Philip joined the nobleman in the chariot and taught him about Jesus. As they continued on their journey, the eunuch asked to be baptized. He commanded the chariot to stop. Then, upon the Ethiopian's confession that Jesus is the Son of God, they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized the nobleman. They parted company, and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing in his new-found salvation.

On his second missionary journey, Paul arrived in Philippi. He soon met Lydia, a merchant from Thyatira, and baptized her and her household. Shortly after this, he found himself and Silas in the midst of controversy. They had cast a demon from a young woman, removing her ability to foresee the future. This deprived her masters of their means for gaining money. When her masters saw that their hope of gaining money through her was gone, they seized Paul and Silas. They brought them before the authorities, who beat them and cast them into prison. About midnight, as Paul and Silas were singing hymns to God, the ground shook, the prison doors were opened, and their chains were loosed. The jailer, supposing all prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself. (It was a crime punishable by death to allow prisoners to escape.) But Paul assured him they were all still there. The jailer rushed in to the cell and pled, asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). They proceeded to teach him and all in his house of the need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That night he and all his household were baptized. Then the jailer “...rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (16:34).

When we compare these examples, along with the numerous others, we see a definite pattern. What happened, and what was done, as a part of the conversion process? They:

1. Heard the word;

2. Believed the word;

3. Were pricked in their hearts;

4. Repented of their participation in sin;

5. Confessed their belief in Jesus as the Christ;

6. Were baptized for the remission of their sins;

7. Received the Holy Spirit;

8. Went on their way rejoicing.

For us to be what they were, we simply need to do what they did. The Bible shows a very simple process for becoming a Christian. We have the same need for salvation, the same Savior, and the same gospel. Many people today will agree upon the need to obey most of the commands which were required of the people in the first century to obtain salvation. But many will reject the need to be baptized though Peter taught baptism is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). It is the only condition mentioned in every example. It was also commanded by Jesus (Mark 16:15-16). Clearly, baptism stood between the sinner and becoming a saint, a Christian.

There is a need for all people to “repent therefore and be converted” (Acts 3:19), for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). We have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned against Him (Rom. 3:23). We need to die to self and live for God. Let us obey the precious gospel, make the necessary changes in our life, and not look back. Then we, too, can celebrate conversion.