Hemlington Baptist Church

Pointing people to Christ

What is conversion

The most famous conversion recorded in the Bible is surely that of Saul of Tarsus. 

One minute he is heading towards Damascus with the intention of having Christians arrested and thrown into prison, and the next he is being led into the city having experienced blindness and an encounter with the very One he was denouncing as a fraud and blasphemer.

The word conversion can literally be described as “an about turn” which gives it a military connotation and that is exactly what Saul of Tarsus experienced. His encounter with Christ brought about a complete change of direction.

His priorities changed
His attitude changed
His beliefs changed
His life changed
Even his name changed.

Perhaps the most important thing to notice about Paul’s conversion (Paul being his new name) was that his conversion wasn’t “a flash in the pan” experience.  His conversion was to change the course of the rest of his life and on a number of occasions he recalls his experience as he shares his testimony with the various people he meets, sometimes friends, and sometimes  not so friendly!

One thing for sure, Paul’s conversion experience was to impact on the rest of his life and his “about turn” was to also affect the lives of millions of people who read his incredible life story.

It cost Paul a lot when he came to faith in Christ.  He was no longer part of the Jewish establishment. He became an outcast among his own people and on a number of occasions he encountered mockery, imprisonment, beatings and even shipwreck for the sake of the gospel. For all of these trials and difficulties Paul was able to say “I have learned in whatever state I am to be content” (Philippians 4 v 11).

Paul’s conversion is just one of millions that have been recorded over the centuries and the amazing thing is that each conversion story is distinct to the individual concerned. 

Sometimes conversions are dramatic:

The drug addict rescued from heroin abuse
The person on the brink of suicide brought to faith in Christ
The man facing financial ruin because of gambling debts
The woman fighting a drink problem finds hope by talking to a Christian friend. 

...but sometimes our conversions are less dramatic:

Perhaps by just reading the Bible.
Perhaps by hearing a sermon that speaks powerfully to that individual.
Perhaps a Christian friend shares their faith in an easily understood way.
Perhaps a hymn or song where the words speak directly to that person.

Some of the conversion stories in the Bible are not particularly dramatic. Lydia, a business woman from the city of Thyatira, came to faith in Christ and the Bible simply says “Whose heart the Lord opened”. Nicodemus was a Jewish Rabbi and he came to see Jesus late one night because he wanted to know more about this man who claimed to be “The Messiah”.  We don’t know when conversion occurred in his life, but what we do know is that he came to the Roman officials after the crucifixion to claim the body of Christ to ensure he was given a respectable burial.  Could it be that Nicodemus had come to believe in Christ as the true Messiah?

So what about you? Where do you fit into this subject of conversion?  The Bible makes it clear that people in all generations will come to faith in Jesus. Even today in the 21st century there continues to be thousands of people finding a new and living hope in Jesus Christ by simply confessing their sin, realising that it is only through trusting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour that they can have those sins cancelled out and know that they have eternal life through Christ’s sacrificial death on Calvary. Did you know that in China alone, an estimated 15,000 people a day are coming to faith in Jesus Christ. 

Let me close, by giving you the words the Apostle Peter gave to a crowd of people just outside the Temple in Jerusalem.

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”