If one is to be saved (forgiven of their sins and in possession of hope of going to heaven) one must be converted. Hear the words of Jesus, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 18:3). The word ‘converted’ means to change or to turn. The desire of God is for all men everywhere to be converted – that is to change or turn from sin to live in obedience to His will, the truth (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). Consider three changes that take place when one is converted.
A change of heart
In every case of New Testament conversion, the word of God was taught. No one is going to have a change of heart when it comes to leaving an allegiance to Satan to serve God unless one is taught. A change in heart is produced by faith, and faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Open your Bible and read from Acts 15. After Gentiles had heard and obeyed the gospel, a dispute arose with the sect of the Pharisees who had become Christians over whether or not the Gentiles needed to be circumcised. Over the course of the conversation, there are two verses that need to be pointed out on this point of conversation being a change of heart. First, consider Acts 15:7 – Peter makes it clear that the Gentiles heard, “the word of the gospel and believed.” Second, Acts 15:9 – their hearts were purified by faith. God’s method of changing hearts is by producing faith through His word.
A change of life
Once the heart is changed, there will follow a change of life. Life is changed by repentance. Once the heart is pricked upon hearing of God’s love, mercy, grace, and plan of redemption brought forth by the sacrifice of Jesus (etc.), one has godly sorrow produced leading to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:4). In order for conversion to take place, one must be willing to repent. After the simple message of Jonah, the people of Nineveh provide an example of repentance. From the greatest to the least they covered themselves with sackcloth and sat in ashes – a sign of humility. Notice the decree of the king of Nineveh, “…let every man turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” Godly sorrow directed these people to change their lives. God’s goodness leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). True conversion begins with a change of heart and then leads to a change of life.
A change of state
Finally, in the process of being converted, there is a change of state. Keep in mind that this is the proper order and it cannot be done in any other way. How is it possible for one to change their state? The Bible tells us that following repentance, those converted were baptized and only after baptism was their state changed. In what state does one find himself after baptism? Now in the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Read carefully the verses just given and you will find the preposition “into” in each one. That word suggests a change of state. If baptism now saves (1 Peter 3:21), then it serves true that one is lost until baptized.
To be truly converted one must believe, repent and be baptized. Obedience to these commands will result in a change of heart, a change of life, and thus a change of state. Conversion is a turn or a change – have you been truly converted? As always, if you have any questions, contact us and let us open our Bibles together!
– Adam Orr