Volume. XXIII, No. 4
Sunday, 27 July 2008

From the Pastors Heart: Conversion Described

Though we use the term, conversion, very often, it is true to say that this term is often understood.  It is mainly because this term is understood only subjectively.  It is not difficult to find some examples to illustrate the point.  Just listen to other believers’ conversion experiences.  When I was teaching at Bible colleges, one of my responsibilities was to interview the applicants who wanted to study theology.  One of the questions I asked them was about their conversion experiences.  There were lots of stories after stories from their dreams to their physical healings.  Sometimes they mentioned about some mysterious feelings and events in life.  I am not saying that I did not believe in what they had to say.  Whether I believed their stories or not is only a secondary issue.  What is more important is whether what they had to say about their conversions truly reflected their spiritual conditions and the biblical teachings of conversion.  Is conversion a subjective experience?  If a conversion experience is purely subjective and there is no ground to evaluate it by objective ways, then conversion must be only a work of man, not of God.  It is because if conversion is a work of God, then it is supernatural, which means that it is more than a subjective experience.  The supernatural work of conversion is originated from without man, which indicates that it is more than a subjective experience. 

I believe that the conversion to Christian faith has to be more than a subjective experience.  It is because conversion itself is not uniquely Christian.  There are lots of religious claims about conversion experiences such as from Islam to Catholicism, from Christianity to Mormonism, from Buddhism to Christianity, from Hinduism to Islam, and so on.  Thus, if conversion is only within subjective experiential realms, we do not know why it is so important for us to talk about Christian conversion.  From this, you must have noticed that I am trying to say that Christian conversion is uniquely true.  The reason that Christian conversion is unique is that it is originated from a different source from all other religious conversion experiences.  It also indicates that Christian conversion may be even objectively true.  Besides, if Christian conversion is only a subjective experience, then there is no message for Christians to give to non-Christians concerning conversion.  After all, it is up to individuals’ taste of conversion.  There is no God or Christ involved in their conversion.  A subjective conversion comes from within man, not necessarily from God.

Most importantly, the Bible claims that Christian conversion is directly related to certain truths in it.  For example, conversion implies that there is a turning point in man’s soul, not simply in his life style.  The biblical conversion is more than a behavioral change.  The biblical conversion tells us that there is a turning away from something and a turning to God.  That something, which is the beginning of our conversion talk, is sin, which is more than misbehaviors.  Fundamentally, it talks about an estranged relationship of man from God.  It means that Christian conversion must begin with man’s condition before God and end with a way to return to Him.  In the meantime, there must be a means that helps man to find his true nature and a way to come to God.  Therefore, Christian conversion cannot begin with subjective experiences, but more objectively we must be able to assess our spiritual conditions by the measurement of God, not by our own measurement. 

It is a significant beginning point when we want to know about Christian conversion.  It all begins with man’s notion of who he is.  If a man has to judge himself, he needs a measurement to judge him.  Which measurement can he use or must he use?  2 Corinthians 10:12-13 says, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.”  If man measures himself according to his own measurement, he will misjudge himself.  Therefore, the measurement of God is important in our conversion.  The measurement of God is His Holy and divine Word. 

If we use His Word for measurement in relation to our conversion experiences, suddenly our conversion becomes an objective experience.  I am not trying to say that there is no subjective nature in Christian conversion.  Once after a man experiences a true and biblical conversion, he is going to experience lots of changes.  However, it is only after the objective nature of conversion is established. 

At this point, we may think about the biblical testimonies of conversion.  How does the New Testament describe individual’s conversion?  One common point in personal conversion testimonies in the Bible is that the testimony is not a witness of the converts to their experiences of Christ, but rather a witness to Christ.  If we read Peter’s or Paul’s testimonies in the book of Acts, they may mention of their past, but they do not talk about their subjective experiential stories.  Instead, they always talk about Christ.  In other words, they focus on the objective truths and realities about Christ and His redemptive work in relation to their conversion and salvation.  When we give our side of conversion stories only from subjective point of view, we bring all the attention to ourselves, not to Christ.  To understand this point is very important.  For example, if we talk about certain changes and even transformations in our life after we are converted for our conversion testimonies, then others will soon be able to talk about the same things from different religious points of view.  Then, suddenly Christian conversion looks like the same as other conversions.  In other words, we are losing the uniqueness of Christian conversion.  I once heard someone saying that he was assured of his conversion through the healing of his illness.  Well, there are lots of healing claims in other religious practices, and besides we know that many born again believers do suffer with illnesses.  Such a claim does not produce irrefutable evidence to convince the non-believers that they must believe in Jesus or have faith in Him.  Thus, such a testimony cannot be considered to be a uniquely Christian conversion experience. 

Thus, it is important to focus on the objective side of Christian conversion.  What does the Bible say about our conversion?  Probably, Acts 16:30-33 gives us some clues: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”  To the question of the Philippian jailor about his salvation, Paul replied to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then, he taught him and his household from the Word of God.  A wonderful conversion took place in that night.  The message was about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Well, there are lots of lessons we need to think about conversion.  I’ll continue on this topic next week. 

In His Grace,

Your Pastor

More Lively Hope




Warm Welcome to Rev Edward Paauwe to our pulpit.

Kitchen Rosters - Team under Sis Tabitha Heah on duty.

New church van needed to replace our ageing 1989 Toyota van: Price around $60,000.


Looking Ahead

Special Lecture on “Creation and Evolution” by Dr Carl Wieland on Friday, 17 Oct 2008. Please keep this date free for this important event.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Adl); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng (Clare/Adl); Bro Patrick Phua & Sisters Marion Chan & Joyce Gong (Adl).

Church activities: BBK & Bible Classes; E-Ministry;  Ladies’ Fellowship Share & Prayer; Men’s Fellowship Breakfast Meeting; Seniors’ Fellowship; Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; Working Bees & YAF Bible Study.

ACM last night: God’s guidance, smooth & Peaceful meeting.

God’s mercy & help for all of us.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Hans Ziegelmann; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Auntie Oei, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others in affliction.

Healing: Rev John McKenzie (RAH) & Comfort for Mrs Christine McKenzie.

Cambodia Missions - Khmer pastors and believers

Laos Missions - Believers in Laos.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Journey Mercies - Bro Jonathan Liaw; Sisters Yuet Sum Chai & Judy Li (Adl); all those who are travelling.

Salvation of Mrs Van and her family.

Sis Judy Li - as she shares  the Gospel message with her parents & for their salvation.

Job - Bro Cong Pham

Provision of a Pastor for our Church.

Sister B-P Churches in Australia: Faithful to the Word of God.

New church van by end of 2009.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041