Fleshing out conversion
Think of converting an automobile motor from gasoline into natural gas. In order to do what it could not before, some things have to be tinkered with. And what it did before, it does no longer. To convert it over is not a complicated process, but not anyone can do it.
Converting a soul from sin and self, from the world and the flesh, in order to know and serve God is not only a personal decision on the part of the person, but a job only the Creator can undertake.
- Sins must be removed.
- Direction must be rerouted.
- Idols must be rejected.
- Habits must be reformed.
- Love must be relearned.
- Hope must be refocused.
- Hearing and speech must be retrained.
A soul must be transferred out of the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God and of the Son.
Conversion is a necessary event. Jesus himself said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” Mt 18.3 NASB.
In the above text, most newer versions do a good thing and use verbs like “turn” or “change,” probably because the English verb “convert” is not one you often see in the active sense of oneself: “Unless you convert.” (We can convert others, but not ourselves, apparently. How quirky is the English language? Or maybe Protestant theology?)
As mentioned above, the work of conversion is mainly God’s. “God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities” Acts 3.26 NET. We like to be blessed, but we often think of blessings in terms of material gain and advantageous circumstances. The greatest blessing of all is to be turned by God from our sins. He does that through the gospel of Christ.
If people aren’t converting today, it may just be because we aren’t showing our own conversions by example and aren’t proclaiming in the streets the Good News of Jesus Christ.
¶ Some years ago, I taught two Bible class series, one on the compliments that Jesus gave people, the other on the scoldings that he gave. Toward year’s end, our people will write about these themes in our Brazil magazine recently raised from the grave. Ought to be an interesting read, and for them a fascinating exercise, doncha think?
¶ The new poetry site is live. Prancing Pen has four starting contributors. Our own TFR Fellow, Weylan Deaver, created it and heads up the effort. One of his offspring designed the logo; another contributes. Three poems are already online, with diverse themes.
¶ Ever use the expression, “foreseeable future”? (I just did, in a conversation with The Missus.) What kind of unhappy phrase is that? “You do not know about tomorrow” Jas 4.14. James is channeling Prov 27.1: “Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
¶ Talking tonight in our Bible reading group about the first-day offering. One point to make, if there’s time: The Missus and I decided long ago, as a personal commitment, that all of our donations besides Sunday would go toward good works of the brethren. (Not saying everyone has to do this.) For if we don’t support them, who will? Many good pagans will give toward charities and physical needs, but not the church. We want our donations to go toward the blessing of turning people from their sins. (See note on Acts 3.26 above.)
¶ Do you see multitudes who, in the modern rush of Doing, are exhausted in spirit? I feel that way at times. But renewal is only a page and a prayer away. “Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day,” Paul said in 2 Cor 4.16.
One of Satan’s best weapons today is to keep us feeling frazzled.
Spiritual renewal is not automatic. God doesn’t zap us down renewal from heaven. Renewal comes from seeking God and connecting with his presence. “Seek peace and pursue it” 1 Pet 3.11. Now that’s real conversion.