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UNDERSTANDING “CONVERSION” FROM THE BIBLE

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QUESTION: “The word conversion is heard often in religious circles. People commonly speak of their “conversion,” or how they came to be “converted.” Please – What do these words mean from the Bible? What are some examples in the Bible where people got converted?” Eddie.

Eddie,
You ask aa very good question.  “What is conversion?”  The Bible speaks a lot about conversion.  Conversion is a catch all phrase for someone who has earnestly repented of their sins, turned away from their old life and have dedicated their new life to live for Christ.  That is true conversion.  Billy Graham, the famous evangelist explains it this way:

“When a person gets saved (is converted), they first have to understand and agree intellectually that Christ is the Son of God and that HE came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to blot out my sins. The person must accept that sacrifice.

Secondly the person who is converted must understand and agree emotionally that God so loved you that He gave us His son. God first loved us and came for us before we could come to him. We accept His love for us and give our love back to him.

Then Thirdly, and this is where many fall short, the converted person must decide if they will turn control of their live over to Christ and serve Christ.”

Jesus taught this principle in the parable of the seed (or sower) found in Matthew 13.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The Purpose of Parables

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I]should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:

19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.

20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

The are 4 types of people who hear the good news of Jesus Christ gospel of salvation.  The first in verse 19 reject the message and are not converted.  The second group in vs 20 are emotionally converted and perhaps mentally converted, but they do not serve Christ and are not committed.  This is not true conversion it is only partial conversion. The third group mentally accepts Christ, but perhaps not so on an emotional level and other loves, like the love of money, or lust of the flesh, cause the person to not be fruitful. The fourth group hear the gospel message, understand it fully and embrace it, becoming a servant of God. This does not mean that everyone who is truly converted becomes a preacher.  We are all not gifted to preach.  Some teach, some evangelize, offer hospitality, pray, worship, and there are a multitude more ways to serve Christ.

The writer of Hebrews teaches on this subject of conversion when he talks about those who have tasted the heavenly fruits in Chapter 6.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Notice the similarity of vs 7 with the third group of people, those who were converted partially, but thorns, (other loves) caused them to bear no fruit.  Here we are taught they do not make it into heaven.  They are not truly converted even though they may have experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Many churches believe these verses teach a person can lose their salvation based on this passage in Hebrews.  Jesus said that whom that Father has given Him the devil cannot snatch him out of His hand.  By this statement, many churches teach you cannot lose your salvation.  Once saved, always saved.  This is a discussion that mature Christians can have that should not divide us but make us stronger by studying this topic with diligence.

Those churches who teach you can lose your salvation would count groups 2-4 as saved, because they made a profession of faith.  They said they accepted Christ as their Savior.  However, groups 2 and 3 fell away, “lost their salvation” so to speak.  The good news is those in groups 2 and 3 can be revived, if they haven’t fallen away completely.

Those churches who teach you cannot lose your salvation would count only group 4 as the truly converted. Groups 2 and 3 are cultural Christians, church goers in name only, but never fully turned the control of their lives over to Christ.  These so-called Christians, which I was at one time, will serve God when it is convenient, when they want to, when it serves a purpose for them.  A true Christian in conversion turns his entire life, and control of that life, over to Christ.  When I did that my world changed.  I was born again and became a true child of God.

I pray you are a member of the fourth group.  I child of God who has given control of your life over to Him.  It is a great way to live.

Thanks, and God bless,

Mike Chaffin

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