What Is The Evidence Of Pardon?
The necessary changes through which one passes in the process of conversion to Christ are three: (1) change of heart, (2) change of life, and (3) change of relationship.
A Change Of Heart Occurs In Conversion
The heart, as the Bible often uses the word, refers to the mind, i.e. the part of man that things, reasons, believes, understands, desires, trusts, purposes, and obeys (Matthew 9:4; mark 2:6; Romans 10:10; Matthew 13:15; Romans 10:1; Proverbs 3:5; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Romans 6:17).
Then it is the mind of man and not the physical heart which must be changed in conversion. This change takes place through faith which comes by hearting God's word (Romans 10:17). After one believes, his confidence, trust, and affection are turned from Satan to Christ. In conversion, therefore, one must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and cease to love sin and love righteousness (John 8:24; Matthew 22:37).
A Change Of Life Occurs In Conversion
After one's confidence or trust in Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord has been established through the preaching of the gospel, his life needs to be reformed. One's faith inChrist should lead him to change his life; that is, he should turn from sin and purpose to forsake every sin and "do that which is lawful and right" (Ezekiel 18:5; Ezekiel 33:14, 19). This change in conduct is brought about by repentance. Repentance means a change of mind, or will, regarding sin and is produced by Godly sorrow for sin, and results in a reformation of life. (Matthew 21:28-29; Luke 15:17-20; Luke 3:8; Jonah 3:10; Matthew 12:41; Matthew 3:8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Luke 13:3-5; Acts 17:30). Hence, the sinner resolves to turn and travel in the opposite direction.
Repentance, however, does not change the past life; it re-directs the future.
A Change Of Relationship Is Necessary
Having destroyed the love and practice of sin by faith and repentance, man then needs his state changed. The Colossian Christians are an excellent example of this change. Paul, in writing to them, said:
Colossians 1:12-14 " giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
The question we must now ask is, "How does the Father translate, or change, the individual into this new state?" This relationship is changed by baptism, preceeded by one's confession of faith in Christ as the Son of God, and their repentance of their sins.
Romans 6:3-4 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
Colossians 2:12-13 "having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God,who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
Galatians 3:26-27 "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Baptism, however, does not change the heart nor the life, but the state of the person whose heart and life have been changed by faith and repentance. Therefore, it takes this final act - immersion- to change one's relationship. Hence, baptism is the consummating act of conversion.
The believing penitent is baptized into Christ, and the person in Christ is a "new creature", or a Christian (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We often hear of hundres being "converted" in a "revival" but often not one of these is converted in the New Testament sense of the term. People need to return to the sane, scriptural teaching of the apostles. The gospel of Christ offers salvation to all alike, but the terms of salvation are specific. The obedience to these terms constitutes New Testament conversion and makes one a child of God and a member of the church. The process which made one a Christian in the days of the apostles will make one a Christian today.
Thus we have learned that conversion is a simple, understandable process, and not (as many have supposed) a vague and mysterious happening. We have also learned that there are three changes which take place in every Scriptural conversion; namely, a change in heart, a change in life, and a change in relationship. When, therefore, an individual has a change of heart which is wrought by faith, a change of life wrought by repentance, and a change of relationship effected by baptism (preceded by a confession of his faith in Christ), he is then converted.
The Lord has promised to forgive the sins of all who have experienced this change. The person changed in this manner may rejoice, as the Ethiopian officer did, for he is assured by the word of God that his sins have been pardoned (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:47).
We plead with those of you who are yet unconverted to the Lord to obey the gospel of Christ now.
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