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And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them and said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 18:2-4)

Obviously, the importance of the conversion experience cannot be exaggerated. Because it is essential for entry into the kingdom of heaven, it is important for us to know what it is. What we see in the evangelical world today should give us some concern. There are those who profess to be converted, but there has been no change in their lives. Too often these people are accepted into the fellowship of local churches by pastors and church leaders who care more about building their membership and expanding their base of support than advancing the work of the kingdom.

Many times these people have had a religious experience of some kind.

They believed something,

they heard something,

they saw something,

they felt something,

or they joined something.

Perhaps ALL of the above; but their experience does not meet the Biblical criteria for a genuine conversion. They may think they have been converted, but there has been no deliverance from sin and the things of the world. What happened to 11 Cor 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."?

I have titled this article ANATOMY OF A CONVERSION. Anatomy is the science that names the parts of the body or a plant. When applied to a body, it could be that of a human being or an animal. It is used to identify one animal from another. If I show you something that has two wings, two legs, and feathers, and tell you it is a dog, you're going to say, "That's not a dog. A dog has four legs and fur, not wings and feathers." So it is, if we know the anatomy of a conversion - if we know what to look for - we will be able to identify a real, true, genuine, Bible conversion and we will not be deceived by something else.

What we are considering now is CONVERSION TO CHRIST. This is the only experience that puts sin away and makes us children of God. It is not about conversion to a religious organization or belief system. Because true conversion is a requirement for entrance into heaven, we cannot afford to mistake something else for the real thing.

ONE PART OF CONVERSION IS CONVICTION. Those who have not experienced it have not been converted in the Biblical sense. It is the Holy Spirit who produces conviction. The Lord Jesus said in John 16:8 "And when He is come, he will reprove the world of sin..." The word reprove means convict. The New International Version says "When He cones, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin..." To reprove or convict means to let us know we are guilty. Usually this results in a feeling of guilt. To seek salvation because we know we have broken God's laws and literally stand condemned before Him is altogether different than seeking salvation because we want a better life filled with love, joy, peace and blessings! Conviction is the realization that we have offended a Holy God! It is remorse because we understand a little of the dreadful grief our sins have caused Him.

SORROW FOR OUR SINS IS PART OF CONVERSION. Paul wrote in 11 Cor 7:10 "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation ..." Sorrow is a deep emotion. It is something we feel. Sorrow can produce tears. There will be sorrow because we know our sins have separated us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says "...your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you." But more so, we sorrow because of what our sins did to Jesus. Zech 23:10 says "...they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son..."

REPENTANCE IS ALSO PART OF CONVERSION. Paul said in Acts 17:30 " commandeth all men everywhere to repent." There will be sorrow for our sins. But sorrow alone is not repentance. Remember the Bible says "...godly sorrow WORKETH repentance..." Sorrow MOVES us to repent. The word repent comes from the Greek word metanoeo. It means to change your mind in a way that will result in changing your behaviour. You may not think you have the strength to change. That is where God comes in! When we are WILLING to change, God gives us the POWER to change. Repentance is a change of direction. It involves a turning FROM sin and a turning TO God. This is not salvation by works. Repentance comes from God. It is grace all the way! In the early church, the Jewish Christians did not believe the report that Gentiles had been saved. But when it was explained to them, it says in Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." God gives repentance! It is PART of the conversion experience.

ANOTHER PART OF CONVERSION IS ILLUMINATION. This has to do with the mind. It is about getting an understanding of something. The writer to the Hebrews was trying to encourage those Jews who had been converted to Christ not to turn back. In Hebrews 10:32 he says "...remember the days after ye were illuminated..." In other words, remember the joy of your early Christian life. He could have said, "Remember the days after you were converted" but He said "after you were illuminated..." Conversion includes illumination. We are made to understand something. When Philip the evangelist saw the Ethiopian reading the Book of Isaiah, he asked him in Acts 8:30 "...understand thou what thou readest?" The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53 about the Lamb of God - our Lord Jesus Christ - and how He would suffer and die for our sins. But before he could be saved he needed to be illuminated! He had to understand the meaning of what he was reading. Do you remember the moment that understanding came? Maybe you understood it from your earliest years. If so - it was - or will be - part of your conversion experience. In 1 Cor 15:3 Paul wrote, "...Christ died for our sins ..." When we are converted, there is an understanding that He died for us. It becomes personal. He died for you. He died for me.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST IS THE PART CALLED FAITH. We read in Eph 2:9-10 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." Faith is the ability to believe. By it we take hold of salvation.

What is it we believe at the time of conversion that brings us into the family of God and gives us eternal life? Paul wrote in Rom 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." We are saved by believing the gospel! But what is the gospel? Thank God we don't have to guess. It is clearly defined for us. In 1 Cor 15:1-4 we read Paul's words to the church, "...I declare unto you the which also ye are that Christ died for our sins...and that He was buried, and that He rose again..."

This is conversion!

Conviction caused sorrow for our sins.

Sorrow resulted in repentance.

Repentance brought illumination so we understood the gospel plan.

Illumination resulted in faith.

Faith made it possible for us to believe and embrace the gift of salvation.

We are saved when we accept the death, and resurrection of Christ as the payment in full for our sins, and God's guarantee that the price for our salvation is paid.

God said it!

You believe it!

That settles it!

This is the miracle of conversion that brings life from above into the human soul and makes a man or woman a new creation in Christ.

Faithful gospel preaching, under the annointing of the Holy Spirit, still produces bona fide conversions. This is the kind of proclamation that dares to tell lost men and women about the fallen and ruined condition of Adam's race and point them to the cross where sin's demands were met. Today in this hour of compromise and confusion, I can hear two distinctly different voices. One is telling us to be seeker sensitive lest we offend and drive people away. The other is saying, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32)

Office: 705-325-8964
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 523, Orillia, Ontario Canada L3V 6K2
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Email Pastor Don Hill

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