Conversion: From Sinner To Saint Preacher: David Pike Text: Acts 3:19; 26:17-18 Date: April 10, 2005
Introduction What is Conversion? - Some may say it means a person believes in Jesus, repents and is baptized for the remission of sins. - Some may show changes after baptism, sporadically attend services and never brought anyone to the Lord, yet we call them brother of sister. - Defining conversion is not very straightforward. Conversion is much more than being immersed in water. Much more! Peter commands two things - “repent and be converted” (Acts 3:19) What are the key components of conversion?
Components of Conversion In Paul’s commission, we can see 3 key components to conversion: Insight - “…to open their eyes…” (Acts 26:18) Turning - “…to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God…” (Acts 26:18) Transformation - “…that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:18) Three elements define the process by which Gentiles will come to the Lord. These three elements are critical to conversion!
Conversion Definition Conversion means to turn about, turn, return, change conduct or course of life (wrong to right). A three-fold change process including heart, conduct and relationship. (Vines, Thayer) Insight – Who are we and what have we done. We must realize that Jesus died for our sins and that He is our Lord and redeemer. Our love should compel us to turn to him with our whole heart.“ Turning – It is an once-for-all decision (initial and continual). Transformation – This is not just self-improvement, but turning to God. We have a relationship with God! We live only for the glory of God. “For to me to live is Christ…” (Ph. 1:21) We must do “works befitting for repentance” and move from a mental decision to the action of faith in Jesus! (Ac. 26:20)
Paul’s Example of Conversion Paul is an example of radical transformation, zeal for the Lord and earnest care for lost souls! Insight – Paul’s true state before God as unfaithful. He was working against God, not for Him. “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20) Turning – Paul stopped persecuting Christians and joined himself in fellowship disciples. He is now proclaiming Christ. “And when Saul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.” (Acts 9:26) Transformation – Paul radically changed and began a new life after his baptism. “…Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins…walk in newness of life…” (Acts 22:16; Ro. 6:4)
Insight We must realize what we are turning from and understanding of what we are turning to. It gives direction to the way we ought to be. Paul realized he killing God’s followers. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4-5) He believed he was obeying God’s law. “concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning righteousness which is of the law, blameless.” (Ph. 3:6) He was totally wrong and was not following God. “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth....” (Acts 26:9-11) “Moments of Truth” - In one moment, blissful ignorance and assumptions were shattered by realizing His true state before God!
Turning Surrounding evidence of Jesus’ presence and care left no doubt Paul needed to turn in a new direction. Paul was confronted with the fact that Jesus was Lord. - “Who are you Lord? And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 9:4-5) • Paul’s experience resulted in the following declarations: • Jesus was from God and had God’s approval. He was not accursed. • Jesus was alive and not dead just as Christians claimed. • Jesus was worthy of the title of “Lord.” When we come face-to-face with Jesus, we must do something with Him. We must turn to Him as our Lord!
Transformation Conversion is not complete until we actively pursue the new way. Paul put his faith into action. It wasn’t intellectual-only stuff. “Lord, what do you want me to do.” (Acts 9:6) Paul went to persecute Christians and ended up preaching Jesus in the synagogue (Acts 9:1-2). Now, he is an Apostle to Gentiles. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a livingsacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Ro. 12:1-2) Transformation is a continual process!
Evidence of True Conversion We must do “works befitting for repentance.” (Acts 26:20) • We are a living sacrifice. We are the sacrifice unto the Lord for life. • We are a holy sacrifice. We are not at liberty to do whatever we want. We want to be like God and be used as He sees fit. 3. Our sacrifice must be acceptable to God. We must please God with our sacrifice, no matter what happens to us physically. 4. It is our reasonable service. We must do what is logical and rational in response to what God has done for us. Transformation means “metamorphosis” which is seen in the process of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. Transformation is a life-long process!
How Can We Know If We Are Converted? We must decisively break from our past way of living. We must be transforming ourselves: Sexual Immorality – “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as fitting for saint; neither filthiness, nor course jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” (Ep. 5:3-4) Darkness to Light – “…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (II Co. 4:3-4) Being Able to Discern Good and Evil – “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hb. 5:14) “Be holy, for I am holy.” (I Pt. 1:16)
Summary The Conversion process is a new paradigm and includes: Insight, Turning, and Transformation. Conversion can be hindered by: • The World – We can not have one foot in the world and the other foot in Christ. - “…be not conformed to this world…” (Ro. 12:2) 2. Serving our Lord half-heartedly – We must break away from our past life of sin and pleasure. – “a living sacrifice.” Conversion does not end until, “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed in the same image from glory to glory...” (II Co. 3:18) Have you been converted from a sinner to a saint? Why not follow the example of Paul’s conversion? “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins…” Ac. 22:16)