A gracEmail subscriber writes that he “went forward” as a young man to be saved at an evangelical church. Several years later, he was immersed by a minister of a different Christian fellowship. Now he wonders, “What does it mean to experience conversion anyway?”
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In reading the Book of Acts, I am impressed that Dr. Luke most frequently reports what we call conversions by saying that people “believed” or “believed on the Lord.” Sad to say, I do not know any folks today who regularly talk that way. Most evangelicals say that people “got saved” or “accepted Christ.” Others report that people “obeyed the gospel,” “were baptized,” or “became members of the church.” Luke does not use any of those terms by themselves in the book of Acts to report conversions during the first gospel generation.
What must one know in order to “believe on” the Lord Jesus? Primarily, according to reports in the Book of Acts, that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from among the dead. That fact, in turn, gives mind-boggling meaning to his otherwise senseless death. Jesus’ resurrection means that God has given him the positions of Lord, Christ (Messiah), Prince of Life and final Judge, and to believe on Jesus is also to embrace those declarations as true. This calls for a change in mindset (repentance) to reflect a new purpose, direction and manner of life (discipleship}. And, as part of the conversion process, Luke repeatedly says that new believers were baptized,giving visible expression to their repentance and faith, and openly signalling their commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
All this is rooted in Jesus’ charge to his first disciples to be his coworkers in mission (“commission”), as reported by Matthew (28:18-20), Mark (16:14-16) and Luke (24:44-47). According to the three Gospel-writers, Jesus specified that his followers proclaim internationally the good news (Mark) that the Messiah foretold by the Hebrew prophets has come, and that he has suffered and risen from the dead (Luke). Through him, those who repent are promised forgiveness of sins (Luke). Such believers (Mark) or disciples (Matthew) are to be baptized (Matthew, Mark), then are to be further instructed in everything that Jesus himself had taught (Matthew). This all is part of the conversion process, which, in the larger sense, is really an ongoing transformation that continues as long as we live.
© 2009 by Edward Fudge. You may reproduce, redistribute and forward this gracEmail without further permission but only in its entirety, without change and without charge.
Edward doesn’t fudge on the truth. Well said my friend.