Conversion could very well be treated in connection with regeneration for that is when conversion begins. Indeed, most Christians when they speak of conversion or ask, "When were you converted?" are referring to thatvery first work of God's grace in the hearts and lives of His people.
Nevertheless, we prefer to deal with conversion in connection with sanctification and to emphasize the fact that it is an ongoing, daily activity in the lives of Christians. We can see this when remember that conversion means "turning."
The turning referred to is from sin (cf. Ezek. 33:11) and to God (Lk. 1:16). It must be both. There are those who turn from a specific sin, e.g., drunkenness, but do not turn to God. They are not converted. There are also those who claim to have turned to God but do not turn from their sins. They also are not converted.
Turning from sin involves both repentance (Acts 26:20) and the constant fight against sin, Satan and the flesh (Gal. 5:17, I Cor. 9:26-27) - what Scripture calls the putting off of the old man (Col. 3:9). The turning to God involves holiness of life (Acts 16:18) - what Scripture calls the putting on of the new man (Col. 3:10).
So many are mistaken here. They think the raising of a hand in a meeting or a "decision for Christ" are the evidences of conversion and even consider themselves or others "converted" on that basis. Without repentance and holiness conversion is only a sham and people remain far from the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3).
The turning that takes place in conversion begins when God first reveals His sovereign grace in our lives. But it does not end with that. Every day of our lives we must be turning from our sins. Likewise, as long as we sin we must be repenting (I Jn. 1:8-9). And continually we must be perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1).
This need for daily conversion must be emphasized. The important question is not really "When . . . converted?" but "Whether now . . . converted?" Decisions for Christ or experiences of many years ago mean nothing in the case of the person who is now living and walking in his old sins. So completely has this been forgotten, that in some circles a new kind of Christian has been invented called a "carnal Christian," that is, someone who has made a profession, but still lives an unchanged and sinful life.
By the same token, it does not matter that some cannot put a date and time to their "conversion." (and there are such people - not all are saved as Paul was; cf. II Tim. 3:15). If they are now by God's wonderful grace living converted lives - lives that have been turned around by the power of God's Holy Spirit - then they are converted persons.
It should be emphasized, however, that conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not that up to this point our salvation is God's work and here we take over - that everything from this point on depends on our decision or choice of will. As the prophet says: "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou are the Lord my God" (Jer. 31:18).
That in mind, we ask: "Are you converted . . . NOW?
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 14
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address317 North Park St.
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