On Christian Conversion


A gracEmail came to my inbox that was so concise, so truthful, I decided to share it here.

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.

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© 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.

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Edward doesn’t fudge on the truth. Well said my friend.

Royce

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2 comments on “On Christian Conversion

  1. I think that it is important to note that not only was the first century church to be further instructed by everything that Jesus taught, but that they continued in the Apostles doctrine, as well as in fellowship with each other, the communion, and prayer according to Acts 2;42. We know that Jesus taught the apostles so their doctrine is His doctrine.

    You are exactly right brother Billy. Unfortunately, sometimes we modern day disciples don’t emphasize what the Apostles did do we?

    Thanks for your long friendship and gracious spirit.

    Royce

  2. We see salvation as an event. In reality it appears to be more a process. At what point is one saved? My fellowship would tell you it is at the point of baptism. Is it at this point? Maybe it is but then again what if we are a believer but never make it to the point of baptism. Does this negate our belief? Does the intent of our heart count for anything? Great post, thanks Royce for all you do.

    Thanks Dell. You raise an important question. When is one saved?

    “Salvation” began before the world was created and ends when believers see Jesus face to face at his coming. Salvation is more complex than this but has three major components.

    1. Justification – At a moment in time one is born again, given eternal life, and sealed by the Holy Spirit as a promise of a future with Jesus, takes on the divine nature, becomes a child of God, a part of the bride of Christ, is assured of resurrection, is a joint heir with Jesus, has direct access to God through Christ, becomes a believer/priest, and will not see condemnation. This is what we usually refer to as “saved” or “salvation”. While the believer is “safe” Justification though is only one facet of “salvation”.

    2. “Sanctification” – At the moment of “justification”, “sanctification” begins. The indwelling Holy Spirit begins the work of transformation to the likeness of Christ. It is a work that is final at the resurrection.

    3. “glorification” – When Jesus returns for his own believers will be raised to immortality in glorified bodies to be with the Lord forever.

    These 3 components are included in the broader term “salvation”. Most of our conversation about people being saved refers to “justification” rather than “salvation” in my view. Misunderstanding what happens and why it happens when a sinner is justified causes most of our problems in churches of Christ.

    Salvation is a work of God and not man’s work.

    Thanks for your comments,
    Royce

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