When Is One Scripturally Converted?
To be scripturally converted to the Lord requires a change in heart, in life, and in the state of being---all three; and the order of change must follow this sequence. Only after the change in heart and in life --and not before--is one prepared for the change in relationship. A person is not saved, he is not in the kingdom of God, and he is not a Christian until he has been baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; 1 Cor 12:13,27; Galatians 3:26-27). Jesus declared; "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" Mark 16:16.
In the process of conversion there is a turning that comes after faith and repentance. Luke records that "...a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord" (Acts 11:21). Peter commanded the people to turn again after repenting (Acts 3:19). The turning act of these passages is baptism. Compare the similiarity of Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19.
Thus, by believing on Christ, people turned to the Lord in heart; by repenting of sins, they turned to Him in their conduct; and by being baptized, they turned to Him in relationship.
Conversion, therefore, is accomplished by obedience to the gospel; for in the gospel one is commanded to believe on Christ, repent of all sins, and, upon a confession of his faith in Christ as the Son of God, be immersed in water in the name of the Lord Jesus. It requires obedience to all of these commands for one to be converted completely to the Lord.
Mark 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned"
Luke 13:3-5 "I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish"
Acts 2:38 "And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent."
Romans 10:9-10 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation"
1 Tim 6:12-14 "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
It requires obedience to all of these commands for one to be converted to the Lord. The sinner needs to be saved from the love, the practice, and the guilt of sin.
The Gospel, when believed, will change one's attitude toward sin and cause him to cease from loving it. Upon seeing that his life has not been pleasing to God, he will repent of his sins and cease to practice them. Having done that, the believing penitent will then confess his faith in Christ and be baptized in order that the guilt of his sins may be removed.
Faith changes the attitude toward sin; repentance changes the practice of sin; and baptism cleanses one from the guilt of sin. One may cease to love and practice sin, but yet be guilty of his past transgressions. For example, a thief may abhor his theft and wish he had never committed it, but abhorrence alone will not free him from this guilt. Thus God's plan for the remission of sins is: faith, which changes the heart and destroys the love of sin; repentance, which changes the life and stops the practice of sin; and baptism, which changes the relationship and frees from the guilt of sin.
Consequently, in conversion the heart is changed by faith; the life is changed as a result of repentance; and the state, or relationship, is changed by baptism. Only then is the sinner pardoned of all past sins.
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