Theology can often be seen as unnecessary, divisive, or impractical when it is anything but. The Bible says the default mode of the human heart is idolatry – replacing the one, true God with something else in our lives. One way we fashion a false god is by imagining God as we wish he was instead of worshiping him as he really is. Theology is simply “the study of God” and is the pursuit of smashing the idols in our heads and deepening our relationship with God by getting to know him as he has revealed himself in Scripture.

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Conversion is a very important topic… Especially where we live, the Bible Belt. In the Bible Belt we seem to think that conversion=any interest in Jesus. This is not biblical at all and that type of mindset has done a lot of damage in our culture. A bad understanding of conversion leads to a lot of people having a false assurance of salvation. In our culture any time someone has any type of emotional response to something Godward we assume they got saved.

We forget the Gospels when many people were very interested and intrigued in Jesus. They were following him around to hear his teaching, watch his signs and miracles, and appeared to have legitimate interest in what was going on. Yet, Jesus often said things to them that made many of them turn away. He would often turn to the large crowds following him and say things like, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

Jesus was not interested in casual followers. Jesus is still not interest in casual followers. When someone truly experience conversion everything changes.

Blind to the beauty of Christ —> NEW BIRTH —> see Him as the all-satisfying treasure of your heart.

As David Wells says it,

Conversion involves forsaking sin, with its self deifying attitudes and self-serving conduct, and turning to Christ, whose death on the cross is the basis for God’s offer of mercy and forgiveness… Conversion occurs when we turn from our waywardness and accept Christ’s death on our behalf.

In our culture many people who think they are saved (and we assume is saved) have merely added Jesus as another thing into their life, rather than totally reorienting their life around him. For many, there isnt a “turn away from our waywardness” but merely an “add Jesus on to what is already a good life.” This is dangerous. This is hell-bound.

New Birth(conversion)=New Life, not Imitation of Life.

Many people in our own church, in our families, and many friends we have are just like those who followed Jesus casually, listening to his teachings and watching his miracles. Now many go to church casually observing, enjoying the good music, occasionally motivated by the sermon, but no change happening. Conversion has not taken place.

The New Testament is very clear on what must take place for conversion to happen, for us to be born again. We must, as Mark 1:15 says, “Repent and believe the gospel.” If there is no repentance(turning away from our waywardness) there is no new birth, no conversion.  John Piper says, ”Until God awakens us from spiritual death and gives us the life that finds joy in killing sin and being holy, we are slaves and cannot get free.” God makes us born again through repentance and faith or we will forever be slaves of sin.

How Do We Know if Conversion Has Happened?

1) Evidence of Repentance

“In the new birth, our dead, stony boredom with Christ is replaced by a heart that senses the worth of Jesus.” John Piper

“The Bible has a clear and devastating message about the state of our souls. And the reason it does is so that we will know what we need and shout for joy when God gives it to us.” Piper

At some point there is a change of heart. For many people they cannot point towards a specific day that they became a Christian. This is fine. We are not looking for a day of repentance, but for evidence that the repentance happened. If someone is saved there has to be a time in which the gospel didnt not delight the heart and then a time that it did. What I posted above is helpful in understanding this, I’ll post it again.

Blind to the beauty of Christ —> NEW BIRTH —> see Him as the all-satisfying treasure of your heart.

The greatest evidence of conversion is when a complete reorientation has taken place. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul points to in Philippians 3:4-11. Verse 7-8 sums it up when he says,

“But whatever gain I had a counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ

There has to be a point in which the things of this world we treasured become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

2) Fruit of Repentance

The best proof of our conversion is an obedient and fruitful life.

David Wells says,

Religious enthusiasms are easily generated. Their reality is not measured by the degree of excitement, but by the quality of endurance. The result of the test should be fruitfulness- the new character and the new direction of life that emerges.

Countless times in the New Testament Jesus says things like, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15. And “By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35. John the Baptist urged his followers to “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” Matthew 3:8.

We know we have been born again (converted) when the desires of our hearts have changed and that has led to a significant change in our lives. 

Goal of Conversion

The goal of conversion is nothing less than loving God with all one’s will, emotions, and thinking, whereas previously all of these faculties were engaged in self love. David Wells

If you have read this and you are having serious doubts of your conversion please shoot me an email (matt.svoboda@bridgesh.com) or reach out to a Christian friend you know. Repent and believe the gospel in order for the things of this world to grow dim and the beauty of Christ to become bright.

Eternity hangs in the balance. Many of you have had some type of religious experience in the past and yet you know in your heart nothing has really changed. You are not a Christian. The good news is that God offers you grace today. Turn from your waywardness and trust in the all satisfying Savior and what he has done on our behalf.

 

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