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The Process of Conversion

 

Conversion is a process.  It may occur very rapidly, as the 3, 000 on Pentecost, so as not to be aware of the particulars or it may occur over a lifetime.  This article is an attempt to list and perhaps relate some of the factors that occur so that we may have a little better understanding of the whole process.  Conversion is a prime example of us synergistically working out our salvation, realizing it is God working in us both to will and to do, as we also work.  (Philippians 2: 12, 13)  Salvation on the other hand is an event that occurs immediately when all necessary factors are satisfied,

(1) Election

Before the foundation of the world, God foreknew the elect. (1 Peter 1: 1, 2)

The election is based on that fore knowledge of those who will abase themselves and is not determinative.  Our great example in this regard is our Lord, “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of man.”  (Philippians 2: 6, 7)  What a Savior!!

 

(2) Atonement

By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours (believers) only, but also for those of the whole world, not just the elect.  (Hebrews 2: 9; 1 John 1: 2) What love!!

 

(3) Jesus commanded that the word or gospel is to be preached to all nations, to all creation, as it is the power of God unto salvation. It is the seed, which is implanted into the heart.  (Matthew 28: 19; Mark 16: 15, 16; Romans 1: 16)  To ALL!!

 

(4) The Holy Spirit came, among other things, to convict the world (John 16: 8-11), not just the elect, of:

 

(5) DENIAL OF SELF:  If you agree that we have a problem, and that we, of ourselves, have no solution, and that we are going to be held accountable, you might agree that we are in a lot of trouble.  So where does this leave us?  We must deny self!  (Matthew 16: 24, 25)  Brethren what shall we do?  God’s plan of salvation is set in motion for us as individuals, not by some great act of positive volition, as we are accused of believing, but by exactly the opposite--the abasement of self.  Paradoxically when we are willing to loose our life, we find it.  When we surrender our life, amazingly we are appointed to eternal life!  (Acts 13: 48)

 

(6) GRACE TO THE HUMBLE:  How does God respond to this denial of self?  God loves a broken and contrite heart. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. (James 4: 5; Isaiah 54: 7; 1 Peter 5: 5)   God gives us the grace of faith.

 

(7) FAITH:  Faith is both a gift of God and a response of the mind and heart of man.

 

Faith is found in the Scriptures to exist at three different levels; the first is the assent level (mind faith), the second is the word implanted in the heart (mind, heart faith) and the third is the “perfected” level. (James 2: 22) (mind, heart, body faith)  This is the faith that obeys in love.  (Galatians 5: 5)

 

What must we believe?  There are three things that are basic to faith in God.

Faith begins as mental ascent to certain propositions about God.  At this level faith is primarily a mind thing.

·         God is, and God rewards those that diligently seek Him

·         Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, and the righteousness One.

·         Jesus died for our sins, was buried and arose the third day

 

Faith at this level is not effective to cleansing, justification or salvation. Many have never heard that faith has limitations, but the Scriptures affirm the truth of this statement.

·         James tells us that faith without works (works of faith) is dead and useless.  (James 2: 17, 20, 26)

 

 When faith is combined with love, it is motivated to obey our Lord.  What less could it do?  If you believe in God and love Him you will desire to obey.  (John 14: 15)

 

When faith is combined with love, the word is implanted into the heart and God begets us, we have received Jesus.  But the process is not complete; we are given the right to become children of God.  Faith at this level is a mind plus heart thing.  (John 1: 12, 13; James 1: 18, 21)

 

The third level of faith is marked by the obedience of faith, repentance, confession and baptism in water.  At this level faith is completed or perfected.  This perfected faith is effective for cleansing, justification and salvation.  (Acts 10: 43, Romans 1: 5; 5: 2; 16: 25; Ephesians 2: 8; James 2: 21- 25)  Faith at the perfected level involves the mind, the heart and the body, our whole being.

 

(8) Love is the greatest value a Christian can have.  We love because we were first loved.  (1 John 4: 19)  The one who does not love does not know God.  (1John 4: 8) And those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel await eternal destruction.  (2 Thessalonians 1: 8, 9)

 

Love for God is inextricably related to obedience, keeping His commandments.  If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.  (John 14: 15)  This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.  (1 John 5: 3)  Love motivates faith to obey.  (Galatians 5: 6)  If we have heard the gospel and do not obey God, it is an indication that we do not believe or that we have placed some one or thing at a higher value in our life than God.  This may be our father and mother, our religious heritage or our ego and pride.  Mature faith obeys in love.

 

(9) I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Luke 13; 3

Does that sound serious to you?  It does to me.

Repent for the remission of sin  (Luke 24: 47)

Repentance is a gift of God?  (Acts 11: 18)  Do you know the difference between a loan and a grant?

The goodness of God leads us to repent.  (Romans 2: 4)

Conversion is not mere ritual but produces godly sorrow, a sorrow according to the will of God that leads to salvation.  (Acts 3: 19; Romans 2: 4; 2 Corinthians 7: 9, 10)

2 Tim 2: 25

 

Do you realize that our sin, it is an affront to the goodness and righteousness of God.  It is as we were driving another nail into His hand or piercing His side again

 

(10) Confession

Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will be also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 10: 32)

 

For with the mouth we confess resulting in salvation.  ((Romans 10: 10)

 

But from where does this information come?

Jesus told Peter that this knowledge came from the Father in heaven.  (Matthew 16: 17)

Again.  We can only say that Jesus is Lord but by the Spirit  (1 Corinthians 12: 3)

One can believe but not confess, but of course you cannot confess without believing.  (John 12: 42; Romans 10: 9, 10)

 

(11) Baptism in water in the name of Christ for the remission of sin

 

Is baptism a work?  Yes, of course it is; it is a response we make. But baptism is a work of faith  (I Thessalonians 1: 3), the obedience of faith (Romans 1: 5); it proceeds from faith in God, is motivated by love and is not done to be righteous in itself. Those works that do not avail are works of the law, works of righteousness and works of which we might boast.  These do not proceed from faith and love in God and are performed to earn or merit salvation or the approval of man.  Thus prayer may, in one individual, be a work of righteousness and in another person, a work of faith, depending on its origin, motivation and intent.  (Luke 18: 9- 14)

 

(12) Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

            (Ephesians 1: 13)

 

(13) REGENERATION- Life

When we are baptized in water our Lord abundantly pours forth the Spirit so that we are immersed in both water and Spirit.  As we come forth from that experience we are born of the water and the Spirit. At this point we are born anew, children of God.  One cannot be born of water and the Spirit unless he has first been immersed in those elements

This is our last step in the conversion process but not the last of God working in our lives.

Now the Holy Spirit begins the process of renewal and continued sanctification.

 

(14) The Gifts of God

Grace  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)

Faith  (Romans 12: 3)

Repentance  (Acts 11: 18)

The Holy Spirit  (Acts 2: 38)

Forgiveness of sin  (Acts 19: 43; Luke 24: 47; Acts 2: 38)

Life  (Romans 6: 23)

Righteousness  (Romans 5: 17)

A new heart and a new spirit  (Ezekiel 36: 26)

Salvation  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9; Hebrews 5: 8, 9)

 

God bless.

Arland Pafford,

 

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Last Update   09/26/12