Conversion Topical Study

<p><font color="#0077c8"><span style="font-size: 28px;"><b><span class="heading-lg">Conversion in Scripture</span></b></span></font></p><ul><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Isaiah 55:7</a>, let the wicked return to the Lord</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Hosea 12:6</a>, &quot;Return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Joel 2:13</a>, &quot;Return to the L<span class="body-copy"><span class="small-caps">ord</span></span>, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 3:8</a>, &quot;Bear fruit worthy of repentance.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 5:16</a>, &quot;Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Mark 1:14-15</a>, Jesus said, &quot;The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.&quot;</span></span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Luke 6:44</a>, &quot;Each tree is known by its own fruit.&quot;</span></span></span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="">John 14:21</a>, &quot;They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.&quot;</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Acts 9:4-7</a>, an angel talks to Saul and he converts</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Acts 16:30-31</a>, what you must do to be saved</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 6:13</a>, &quot;present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Corinthians 6:10-11</a>, &quot;You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord&nbsp;Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ephesians 2:12-13</a>, Christ brought you near by his blood&nbsp;</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Colossians 3:12-14</a>, cloth yourselves with love</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">James 2:18</a>, faith and work go together</span></span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Conversion</span></strong></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Conversion is a wholesale amendment of life. The convert abandons an old life centered outside the gospel, perhaps centered on the self and its pleasures, or on a group identity (&quot;I&#39;m white,&quot; &quot;I&#39;m American,&quot; &quot;I&#39;m an Ivy Leaguer&quot;), or on inherited advantages (&quot;I&#39;m intelligent,&quot; &quot;I&#39;m rich&quot;), or on achievements (&quot;I&#39;ve built an amazing medical practice&quot;). The convert abandons an old life that featured lying, cheating, boasting, and lusting. Now the convert confesses sins, confesses his need for a Savior, and begins to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. He becomes a person who depends on his Savior and who, in turn, becomes dependable. He rings true wherever you tap him. He keeps his promises. His word is now good. He weeps with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice. When his faith in Christ slips, he retains enough faith to believe that the Spirit of God will one day secure his faith again.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The converts repents. Like the prodigal son, the convert turns away from the phony attractions of the &quot;far country&quot; and turns toward home, toward the father he had insulted but who is waiting for him in unfailing love. He feels genuine remorse for his transgressions and shortcomings, and genuine enthusiasm for his bright new life of faith. His old self dies. After all, to say with conviction &quot;what I&#39;ve been doing is wrong and I&#39;m really sorry about it&quot; requires a death within our old, proud, stubborn selves. Then a new self rises like Jesus walking out of his tomb. This new self is under new management and thus possesses new loyalties and goals. The convert is now loyal to the kingdom of God and is bent on contributing all he has to its coming.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The convert clings to Christ and to the gospel. She now possesses a quiet confidence in Christ and in the mercies that radiate from his self-giving work. She knows that God is good; she feels assurance now that God is good to her. Her faith secures her against the ceaseless oscillations between pride and despair familiar to every human being who has depended on her own strength to prevail. Because faith fastens on God&#39;s benevolence, it yields gratitude, which in turn sponsors risk-taking in the service of others. Grateful people want to let themselves go; faithful people dare to do it. People tethered to Jesus Christ by faith dare to let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back, and that the self they get back will be better than it was before.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">The convert adopts a Christian &quot;practice. He clothes himself &quot;with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.&quot; He disciplines himself with prayer, meditation, confession, worship, and reflective walks through cemeteries. He walks over the graves of well-dressed skeletons and reflects on the fact that he will join them, but that his Lord, who once lay down beside the dead, will be his Lord in death as well as in life. He practices his faith. He visits boring persons and tries to take an interest in them. He ponders the lives of saints and compares them to his own. He spends time and money on just and charitable causes. He longs for God and the beauty of God, for Christ and Christlikeness, for the dynamite of the Holy Spirit and spiritual maturity. And every day he strives to live toward his longing, deeply aware that his failures are a blessed opportunity to renew his dependence on his Savior.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Some conversions, such as that of St. Paul, are sudden. Others, such as that of C. S. Lewis, are step by step. Some people can name a date and a time when they were seized by the outstretched arm of God. Others would have to describe a period of change that took weeks, months, years. Neither is a template for all. God has different speeds for different people.</span> </span></p><p><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Dependence on the Holy Spirit</strong></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy">Repentance, faith, and Christian practice are dependent upon the once-for-all regeneration of the human heart by the Holy Spirit, a mighty miracle. So conversion can happen only if the Spirit of God is at work in a person. But the actual process, continuing for a lifetime, depends on faithful practice. Nobody can assess the comparative degrees of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in this mix. So faithful converts simply practice their faith day to day, confident that even when they fail a faithful God has them well in hand.</span></span></p>