What Is Involved In Conversion?


      The theme of the Bible is salvation through Jesus. But, what is involved in conversion? What agents bring about salvation?


      In Acts chapter 2 we have record of the first gospel sermon being preached and about 3000 people being converted. Peter and the other apostles preached the unsearchable riches of Christ. Peter spoke of the great miracle working ministry of Jesus, of how He fulfilled prophecy and of His death, burial and resurrection. Those who desired to become Christians were told, "repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Je­sus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38.) About 3000 people "gladly received His word and were baptized." (Acts 2:41.) The Lord added these 3000 people who were saved to His church. (Acts 2:47.)


      Then in the next chapter (Acts 3) we have a part of Peter's second gospel sermon. In this sermon Peter emphasized the same three points. Peter showed that the man at the temple gate was healed as a part of the great miracle work­ing ministry of Jesus. (Acts 3:11-13.) He also proclaimed again Jesus' death, burial and resur­rec­tion. (Acts 3:15.)  He further proclaimed that Jesus fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets. (Acts 3:18.) To rid themselves of sin Peter told these people to "repent therefore and be con­verted, that your sins may be blotted out..." (Acts 3:19.)


      Sin is a horrible thing. It is a transgression of God's law. (I John 3:4.) We also sin by knowing what is right and failing to do it. (James 4:17.) Our prejudices can also cause us to sin. "But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors." (James 2:9.) Our sin needs for­giveness. But what is involved in conversion?


      Truth is involved in conversion. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" In John 17:17 we see his question answered. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." Jesus also said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.) Only in obedience to the truth may we purify our soul. (I Peter 1:22-23.)


      You will never be saved without truth. Our spiritual life must not be built on personal opinion but on a "thus saith the Lord." Paul felt strongly the need to proclaim truth. He said, "So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation..." (Romans 1:15-16.) The truth (gospel) is God's salvation power. There­fore truth must be proclaimed!


      The Holy Spirit is involved in conversion. There is a great deal of confusion as to the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion. But, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth. The Holy Spirit does His work through the gospel. Our Lord's promise to the apostles was that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. (John 16:13.) A work of the Holy Spirit was to reveal the truth. Peter said, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (II Peter 1:20-21.)

      The words of the Bible are Spirit given words. "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63.) In II Peter 1:3 we learn that we have been given all that  pertains to life and Godliness. Truth has been revealed by the Holy Spirit of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correc­tion, for instruc­tion in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17.) If you are lost you cannot blame the Holy Spirit.


      The apostles are involved in conversion. The Holy Spirit revealed truth. The work of the apostles was to be instruments through whom truth was confirmed. As they went forth to preach God was working with them confirming their word. "And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every crea­ture. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be con­demned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will re­cover. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached every­where, the Lord working with them and con­firming the word through the accompanying signs." (Mark 16:15-20.) The apostles confirmed the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3.)


      The preacher is involved in conversion. What part does the preacher play in conversion? The preacher must preach the word. The power is not in the man but in the message of Christ and Him crucified. (I Corinthians 1:23.) Every preacher has the obligation to preach the word. Paul wrote to Timothy saying, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (II Timothy 4:1-5.) Any time one stands to preach He should hear the words of those Greeks who came to see Jesus. They said to His apostles, "Sir, we would see Jesus." (John 12:21.) It is the ob­ligation of those who preach to ex­plain in simple terms the gospel plan of salva­tion.


      The church is involved in conversion. In conversion the function of the church is to sup­port the truth. Paul said, "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (I Timothy 3:14-15.) If the church does not support the truth who will? The church must see that truth and nothing but truth is preached to sinners.


      The sinner is involved in conversion. The sinners part is to obey the truth. Only when truth is obeyed can hearts be purified. (I Peter 1:22-23.) How do you obey the truth? You obey the truth by believing in Jesus (John 8:24), repent­ing of sins (Luke 13:3), con­fessing the name of Jesus (Acts 8:37), and by being baptized to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). Have you obeyed the truth?   


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551 Greenville Alabama 36037 USA