A God Centered View of Conversion

Last Sunday night I preached in the AM service at Wallaroo Bible Fellowship. My sermon was “A God Centered View of Conversion.” I thought this would be a helpful message because the doctrine of conversion is absolutely critical to our understanding of the gospel. Hope you enjoy…

So what is conversion? Bruce Demarest defines conversion as “a person’s decisive turning away from sin, self, and Satan, unto God through the power of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, conversion is turning from sin (repentance) to God (faith) through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the process that is necessary for someone to become a Christian.

If we look at conversion from God’s perspective then it will create humility, foster worship, and encourage evangelism. Likewise, if we don’t have a God centered view of conversion then it will create pride, hinder worship, and discourage evangelism. Focusing on God’s role in conversion allows us to see conversion for what it really is, and hence to respond as we really should.

There are Three Aspects of a God Centered View of Conversion: First, Conversion Is Accomplished By The Power of God; Second, Conversion Is Secured By The Work of Christ; Third, Conversion Is Advanced By The Ministry of the Church.

I. Conversion Is Accomplished By the Power of God

Conversion is not a flippant activity. It does not consists in walking down an aisle, or signing a card, or raising your hand at the end of a service. Conversion is never to be degenerated into a man centered response. Conversion is first and foremost accomplished by the power of God. It is the power of God on display. Look at how the Bible describes conversion:

Jeremiah 13:23 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 teach that conversion must be something God does. Jeremiah points out that it is impossible for an Ethiopian to change his skin and it is impossible for a leopard to change his spots. Likewise, it is impossible for a sinner to change his basic nature from wicked to righteous. Only God can transform the basic essence of a human being. This is not something man can do. Ezekiel confirms this truth, by asserting that God is the only one who can create a regenerate heart. Man is not capable of performing spiritual surgery on himself. God, and God alone has the ability to remove a heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh.

An extremely helpful text that speaks to this same issue is Romans 8:5-8. I could spend all of my time here, but it is sufficient to note that Paul’s purpose here is to point out the absolute distinction between the person who lives according to the flesh (every unbeliever) and the person who lives according the Spirit (every Christian). The unbeliever is set on the flesh, his mind lives in the realm of death, he is hostile toward God, he does not submit to the law of God, and he is entirely unable to please God. Paul is absolutely emphatic in his language. It is entirely impossible for an unregenerate person to do anything that pleases God.

Hence, for God to overcome the spiritual deadness requires nothing less than his redemptive power. This is exactly the picture Paul paints in Ephesians 2:1-5. Note the contrast between vs. 1-3 and vs. 4-5. Conversion is accomplished by the power of God.

II. Conversion Is Secured By the Work of Christ

1 Timothy 1:15 teaches that Christ came to the world to save sinners. Based on other NT passages, this suggests that he not only came to make salvation for sinners possible, but that he actually secured their salvation when he came.

Acts 20:28 and Revelation 5:9 teach that when Christ came he actually secured the salvation (and hence, conversion) of those he died for. His death actually secured the salvation of the church, and it secured the salvation of people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. The death of Christ made salvaiton possible for all. But it also secured the salvation of the church of God. Conversion was secured by the death of Christ.

III. Conversion Is Advanced By The Ministry of the Church

Thinking about his own conversion led Paul to think about the conversion of others. Paul made the connection between his own conversion (1 Timothy 1:15) and the conversion of others (1 Timothy 1:16). This is a natural pattern that ought to motivate those of us who are believers to share the gospel with others.

John 20:21 also emphasizes this same truth. In the same way that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, so also the Son sends his church to take salvation to the world. Conversion is advanced in the world through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was sent to save sinners. We are sent to preach the message that can save sinners. Hence, the church is the means that God has chosen to accomplish his redemptive purpose in the Word. Conversion is advanced by the ministry of the church.

There are three benefits to understanding the doctrine of conversion:

1. Understanding Conversion creates humility. If conversion is accomplished by God, then conversion is not accomplished by you. You are resonsible to believe and repent, but you can’t create belief and repentance. God does. Therefore, he is the one who saved you. The end result? Humility.

2. Understanding Conversion fosters worship. If Christ secured your conversion through his death, then He deserves your worship! He secured your eternal life with his death, so he deserves your praise (Rom. 5:10-11). Exult in God because he not only made your conversion potential when he died, but he actually secured it.

3. Understanding Conversion encourages evangelism. If God accomplishes salvation, then you can’t create it in the lives of other people. And if Jesus has already secured it, you can’t secure it for them. The only thing you can do is be faithful to share the gospel message with those around you, plead with God to save, and trust God to do his work. Only God can make someone a Christian. You are essentially responsible to do one thing: preach the message. You can trust that if God is going to save someone then He will do it. Therefore, don’t drag yourself through unnecessary anxiety when people reject the gospel. If you have been faithful, and they reject it, how they respond is God’s business. Leave it in His hands.

One last thought. All of this is futile if your not converted. It is pointless to talk about the doctrine of conversion if you yourself are not converted. So are you? If not, God commands you to believe the gospel and repent of your sins. Repent and believe the gospel.

That’s a God Centered View of Conversion.

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