Volume. XXIII, No. 6
Sunday, 10 August 2008

From The Pastors Heart: Conversion Experienced

The reason we need to talk about conversion is because we cannot think of Christianity without conversion.  As we have seen from the previous articles, conversion is closely related to faith in Christ.  A man who does not have a conversion experience does not believe in Christ as his personal Savior.  It means that he does not believe in His person and work for his salvation.  Again we must know that conversion is inseparable from salvation.  There is no Christian who did not come to Christ without conversion.  It is also true that the biblical conversion means to turn to God.  In order to turn to God, man must know of his sinfulness and desperate condition.  Then, he must recognize who God is and what He can do to deliver him from his sin, without which he does not know what he has to believe in Him.  Therefore, if a man has not been converted, he cannot be called a Christian.  There are a few words related to conversion such as faith, repentance, forgiveness, or regeneration.  It means that in our conversion stories, there are at least two elements to be found: one is our changed life (how we left our past life), and the other is why we did that (what Christ has done for us).

When we talk about conversion stories, there is a question that always comes up.  Is it sensational?  Some people’s conversion stories are very dramatic and heart-moving stories.  For example, just look at Paul’s conversion story.  He was not keen to know of Christ, instead he persecuted the Christians.  However, the supernatural appearance of Jesus struck him down and made him converted.  Many people expect such miraculous conversions, without which they feel something is missing.  However, I must analyze the ways that people experience conversion more in detail.  First, we need to understand different backgrounds of the new converts.  There are people who had not been exposed to Christian faith before or even who were opposed to Christian faith without understanding Christianity.  There are also people who have been familiar with the teachings of the Bible.  For example, some of them may have grown up in Christian homes.  Some may have been in Christian churches for a long time without committing themselves to Christ.  Some may have learned about Christian teachings through friends or reading materials.  As we can see, there are different degrees of understanding of the Christian faith amongst the new converts.  It is very possible that some who have not known of Christ hear the Gospel message and receive Christ as their personal Savior almost instantaneously, while some people feel it difficult to pinpoint any particular time when their conversion really took place, though they know that they have believed in Christ for a long time.  Therefore, we must not make one rule for everybody.  It teaches us that people may have different processes to turn to Christ, though they come to the same faith.  We must recognize that we all are different individuals and have different world views and lifestyles.  Therefore, we cannot expect every convert to experience the same thing.  I used to teach the Bible to some ex-convicts.  Their conversion stories are outstanding.  Some of them were murderers.  It was so good to see that they came to the Lord and became His children.  However, if people expect me to have the same dramatic story for my conversion, they are simply wrong.  We are converted by the same message and come to the same conclusion by repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus as our personal Savior, but we have different life stories before the conversion.  Though this observation appears to be simple, its understanding is important.  For example, when we talk about the Lord in the western countries, we will experience different challenges from when we speak the same message in the Asian countries.  It is because there are different values and worldviews in the east and the west. 

At this point, it may be profitable for us to see Cornelius’ conversion in Acts 10:1-4, 34-35.  If we read Acts 10-11, it is not too hard to see that Cornelius’ conversion was not a radical break from his past.  He already feared God but needed a more precise message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thus, Peter spoke to him about the Lord, and Cornelius was able to understand the Gospel and believed in Jesus.  Acts 10:44-48 gives us more insight about his conversion and baptism: “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”  Having read this passage, we must be impressed by the fact that Cornelius and his friends and relatives believed and were baptized immediately.  Then, why don’t we baptize people immediately after they confess Jesus as the Lord?  I may answer to that question in two ways.  First, the Cornelius’ family had a clear evidence of God’s presence in them.  According to verse 44-46, the Holy Ghost fell on all those who heard the word.  Based on that evidence, Peter baptized them.  We need to understand that the record is about an event during the apostolic era.  Second, we should not ignore the fact that Peter’s baptism was challenged and examined by the Jerusalem church later in Acts 11:1-18.  Having been assured, people in Jerusalem recognized the validity of the baptism.  There was a confirmation process for Cornelius’ conversion and baptism.  We are not living in the apostolic era, but we still need to make sure (as much as we can) that the converts are genuine.  Till then, we educate them from the Scriptures and help them understand the Christian faith.  We examine them and later baptize them when they have shown their faith in Christ with understanding.  Therefore, it is right for the church to reserve the rights to examine new converts before their baptism. 

There are a number of verses in the New Testament teaching us about the nature of conversion.  1 Thessalonians 1:9 says, “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”  Acts 14:15, “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.”  Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”  Conversion is to turn from something to something.  People come to God through conversion.  It also indicates that conversion does not mean only to leave from an old way of life.  Leaving an old way of life must be accompanied with coming to God.  It also means that conversion is closely related to the faith in God. 

By now, we are facing another question.  If a convert does not want to leave from his former life, or a way of old life, is his conversion true?  This question will lead us into another question.  Is conversion an independent event in a person’s spiritual journey, or a part of it?  It is also a question whether conversion leads a person to a Christian life or it does not have anything to do with the subsequent life of the convert?  It seems that all the Biblical teachings indicate that conversion has brought radical changes to the convert, which will eventually change every aspect of his being.  In other words, conversion is only the beginning of Christian life, not an isolated event.  I am going to talk more about it next time.


Your Pastor 

More Lively Hope




Kitchen Rosters today - Team under Sis Bernadette Ng on duty.

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

Session Meeting will be held this afternoon at 2.30pm.


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: Sis Joyce Chen (S’pore)

Church activities: BBK & Bible Classes; AFG Bible Study; E-Ministry; Ladies’ Fellowship Share & Prayer; Wed Bible Study, & YAF Bible Study.

God’s mercy, protection & help for us.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; 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.

Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & minstry in Sihanoukville and surrounding villages; Rev Luke Kim & ministry in Veal Renh.

Laos Missions - Believers in Laos.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pr David Weng as he prepares for his ministry in Hope. For smooth & trouble-free visa application & migration.

Overseas study: Sis Joyce Chen.

Salvation of Mrs Van and her family.

Job - Bro Cong Pham & Sis Lydia Fan

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

For strength & guidance for those under stress with their studies & work.

New church van by end of 2009.



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