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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't subvert the convert concept!

    Certain words are disappearing from society’s vocabulary!  A word that is disappearing from our vocabulary is CONVERSION!  I always refer to Acts as the book of conversions.  The conversion concept must be preached and more importantly, it must be practiced.  I believe the pulpit must affect the pew.  Not the pew controlling the pulpit!  Let’s look at (Acts 15:3)
    I want you to understand a few things!  Paul, Barnabas, and others were talking about the “conversion” of the Gentiles.  Not the Gentiles beliefs or the Gentiles being nice people, but their “conversion!” If a person hasn’t obeyed the Gospel, he/she is not a Christian.  He/She is not a convert!  The Greek word used here means “to turn away from” “turn oneself around” or “to turn”.  We must turn from sin, to God, through Jesus Christ.  “Conversion” is a good word and it needs to be used.  “Conversion” is a great doctrine and it needs to be taught.  “Conversion” is a phenomenal privilege and it should be experienced and practiced by all.

     Sin defiles and abominates.  Those who are living in sin WILL NOT be permitted to enter heaven unless they are changed from sinners into saints.  Unless they are converted!  Man can never get into God’s HEAVEN without conversion.  In reference to heaven this is said (Rev 21:27)
     I want you to think of the Lamb’s Book of Life as Heaven’s "birth register." The only way to get your name registered there is to be born into God’s family.  You must be a member of the Lord’s Church!  Look at what Jesus tells Nicodemus in (Jn 3:5)  
     Unless you have believed, repented, confessed, been immersed for the remission of your sins, & living faithfully until death or Christ returns, unless you have been “converted”, your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  You are not a member of the Lord’s Church and you can not enter into God’s Heaven!  
     Listen to some words the Bible uses to refer to sinners:  (Rom 5:6) uses the word "helpless"  (Rom 5:10) calls them "enemies" of God.   (Eph 2:1) says they are "dead" in "trespasses and sins"   (Eph 2:12) says they are "separate from Christ"; they "have no hope"; & are "without God."  DOES THAT SOUND SOMEONE GOD WANTS IN HIS HEAVEN?

     The BIBLE demands conversion.  Consider Mt 18.  The disciples are debating who is the greatest in heaven.  They ask Jesus about it.  Look at his reply, (Mt 18:3)  Jesus is saying, you need to be without worldly ambition and the lust of power as little children are.  Childlikeness, not childishness, is essential to conversion and entrance into the kingdom of God. Children are normally characterized by simplicity,  trustfulness, and honesty.  They are humble and teachable.  Jesus didn’t intend to express any opinion about the moral character of children, but simply that in the children's traits the disciples must become like children.
     Who will be the greatest in the kingdom?  Jesus told them they won’t even be in the kingdom, let alone the greatest, if they were not converted from their selfish, power hungry, and unspiritual attitudes.  Conversion is necessary and demanded.
     In Peter’s second Sermon, he doesn’t leave conversion up for grabs!  He commands them to be converted!  He says it plain as day!  Look at (Acts 3:19 NKJV)  People today need to realize there is no forgiveness of sins unless we are converted to Christ!  Church houses across the world are filled with wet sinners!  There are few converted Christians.  Narrow is the way and few will find it!  Conversion is demanded and necessary!

     There are two views you can have on the bringing about of conversion, I believe.  First, is MAN’S view:
     Pray Through-  Many men teach people they need to come forward and pray for their salvation, commonly called “the sinner’s prayer” or "an altar call."  “Follow along with me in prayer” says the preacher.  Then he prays and asks Jesus into their hearts.  I want to tell you that is not in the Bible I read.  You cannot find in scripture where that is taught.  A man told me it had to be true, “I felt that burning in my chest as Christ came in and took away my sin!”   I told that man that is not salvation, that is HEARTBURN!
     Reception of the Holy Spirit- Many men teach people they aren’t saved until they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!  I AGREE!  Now, the struggle that comes about is this.  How do you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?  A man once told me, "He was saved."  I said, “Was you saved before or after your baptism?”  He answered, “I never was baptized.  I just received the Holy Spirit!”  I asked, “How did you receive the Holy Spirit?”  NOW GET THIS!  He said, “I was walking down the road to a keg party one weekend.  On the way, the Holy Spirit entered me and I no longer desired tobacco, alcohol, and I no longer lusted after women!”   I said, “Well, those are great traits to have.  They are necessary to be converted, but you got the reception of the Holy Spirit all wrong.”  He cut me off and said, “OOOHH NOOO, our preacher says when we receive the Holy Spirit we will know it due to the shakes and trembles that will overtake our bodies.”  I said, “Brother, that’s not salvation.  That’s convulsions.  Go to the hospital and get checked out.  While you’re in there I will come by and teach you the truth about receiving the Holy Spirit!”      
     Let me tell you, you aren’t converted by praying for Jesus to come into your heart!  You aren’t converted by a magical entrance of the Holy Spirit into your body.  They may sound good.  They may appear good.  That doesn't make them true!  Now, let me tell you about the second view you can have on how conversion is brought about.  The BIBLE’S view!
     Many men trust their feelings and testimonies of others concerning their salvation.  We need to rely on the Word of God as proof of our salvation!  Look at (Ps 19:7) NKJV  Also, later in the same book  look at what David says in (Ps 51:13)
     We must be converted to Christianity.  Christianity is a religion of Faith.  How do we get that faith?  (Rom 10:17)  The Word of God is powerful.  (Heb 4:12)
     When this powerful Word of God comes into the picture of conversion man’s heart is filled with guilt and shame before God. You may be filled with that shame & guilt because you know you are not converted! Then the Word of God shows God’s love for the transgressors by sending Christ.  That person begins to turn away from sin and move toward righteousness.  They must make a decision.  Will they continue to live for the flesh with its lusts and desires, or will they submit to Christ and his way of life?  This is where that conversion begins to start!  Is that person willing to live for Christ and leave the sin behind?  If a person continues to sin and take part in evil lusts and desires there is no conversion. (Heb 10:26)
      When a person makes a full surrender to Christ, repents of their sins, confesses Christ before men, and is immersed into that watery grave for the remission of their sins. (In the likeness of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection)  Then, and only then, does that conversion take place.  Then we can begin to walk in the “newness of life.” as mentioned in (Rom 6:3,4).  The final part of their conversion is living faithfully for their remaining days of their earthly inhabitance!  Faithfulness is essential to this conversion!  Peter warns of falling away in (2Pe 2:20,21)
     After completing all the aforementioned criteria of conversion that person con know form the Word of God they are converted! Not by what some man says the Word of God says.  Conversion is evident in people's actions not their words.  Many people will say, "AMEN, I am converted!"  Then they will go back to their sinful lives!  (Mt 7:15-23)  
Your fruits will tell you if you are converted.  Not your lips!