The Marks Of True Conversion

Marks Of True Conversion

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” (John 2:23–25)

There were many people who believed during Jesus’ ministry, and on this particular day many believed because they saw His miracles; yet Jesus did not commit Himself to them. That is, though they believed Him, He did not believe them. Bearing this in mind, we must recognize that there is such a thing as a false conversion.

Jesus said, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21–23) While many people love to quote, “Judge not,” from the first verse of this chapter, Jesus explicitly states that there are some whom He will reject in the judgment because they professed Him while not being truly converted.

James also taught about false conversions saying, Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19–20There is a faith that is not a real faith. There is a faith that is a dead faith. There is a faith that does not save. It is the faith of devils! Certainly we should beware of this and search ourselves to be sure that we are truly converted.

We can even read that Jesus warned that Satan was busy making false converts. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:24–30) “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:36–43Immature tares, we are told, look just like wheat. It is only when the crop nears maturity that it is evident that tares are present. Some have even called tares, “bastard wheat.” That is very interesting considering the fact that we are told of some who are “bastards and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8) 

This is a very sobering reality, and it is one that must be taken seriously. Can you imagine hearing Christ tell you, “Depart from me, I never knew you?” This is why we should all examine ourselves to be sure that we are saved. None of us needs to be so cocksure that we never take God’s words of warning seriously.

With these things before us, we can see that there is such a thing as a false conversion; but what are the marks of true conversion? This is what we will now seek to determine from the Scripture.

Jesus began His ministry by preaching And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15

As we study this text, we find three important things:

  1. We are to repent. What is repentance? But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” (Matthew 21:28–29Repentance literally means, a change of mind. Notice that the young man who repented did exactly that. When we change our minds, our behavior also changes. After the young man repented, he obeyed his father’s command. The apostle Paul said that it was a profitable thing that he preacher “ repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21When we change our minds about our sins and our heart toward God, we will then trust Christ. We also find that true repentance not only brings us to faith and salvation, but it also results in a changed life. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:9–11
  2. Believe the gospel. What is the gospel? Mark said that Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom. We find that the gospel is the good news that God rules (Isaiah 52:7), and this is what Paul stated that this is the gospel (Romans 10:14-17), and we must believe it. What is meant by it being good news that God rules as king? It simply means that God is fulfilling the promise to redeem His people by His promised king (Genesis 3:15), forgiving us of our sins and making us His children and citizens of His kingdom through the death of Christ for our sins and His resurrection from the dead as conqueror of sin and Satan (Colossians 1:13-14;1 Corinthians 15:1-4;Romans 4:25;Romans 6:9-10).
  3. Believe the gospel. This good news of which I just spoke is what we are to believe. What is meant by believing the gospel? It simply means that we put our trust in the God who gives us good news and promises us eternal life through Jesus Christ. In fact, faith and trust are used as meaning the same thing in Ephesians 1:11-14. In what are you trusting? Faith is trusting in God and not in ourselves and our goodness. Paul said, Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:4–5) Faith is when we stop trusting in anything other than God and His goodness, willingness, and power to save our souls.

The next thing that we need to notice is that the gospel message gives glory to God. Paul spoke the Romans saying, What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:1–3God has determined to save men so that His name will be honored (Ephesians 2:8-10;1 John 2:12), and the gospel is called “the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” (1 Timothy 1:11). The gospel is the good news that God is glorious and will glory and exalt Himself by freely forgiving and saving all who trust in Him. Notice that the gospel is not about the man who preaches, nor is it primarily about the person who is being saved: the gospel is about God’s greatness. When God saves a person, He will give that person a love for God (See 1 John 5:1), and that person will learn to exalt and honor God above all. In fact, that is the gospel promise: And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6And this happens when we trust Christ: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22–23

Not only do we love God after we are saved, but we see that we will love the brethren. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14We are told that we are indwelt by the Spirit of God when we are saved, and that He will lead us to love God and love others: the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5Love for others is a mark of true conversion. Sadly, many cult leaders or cult like leaders tell their followers that they are converted and then lead them to be hateful toward their family members who are either unconverted or who refuse to follow this particular leader. We must realize that this sort of divisiveness is not of God: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8One who is truly converted will love his family members enough to want to see them converted also instead of turning against them. Love is a mark of true conversion.

As we saw when we spoke of repentance, a changed life is a mark of conversion. In fact, that is what conversion is, a change: it is a change of heart, life, and eternal destination. John said, This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5–7) “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:4–6) When God saves a sinner, He rescues him from the condemnation of sin as well as from the power of sin. The old sinful habits will be exchanged for holiness. In conversion, the old man has died and we are new creatures in Christ: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17Remember, however, that Jesus stated that those who do not do the will of God do not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-29). When a person is converted, they are truly and forever changed.

There are three important things to take from this:

  1. If you do not bear the marks of true conversion, you need to closely check yourself to see why. Have you truly trusted Christ? 
  2. If you are struggling with confusion, yet know you have trusted Christ, take comfort in the signs of God’s grace that are present in your heart and life.
  3. If you find that you have not been truly converted, repent and believe the gospel!

Does God Repent?

The Repentance of God

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Ge 6:5-6)  KJV

    God repents?  Say what?!?!  I thought that God did not change His mind – ever!  Now we read that God repents?????  

    How will we respond to this?  We can say, I guess the Bible must be full of inconsistencies.  We can also say, I’m sure there’s an answer, but I don’t know what it is.

    Better yet, we can seek an answer.  Yeah, that would honor the Scriptures, and the God who gave them to us.  Let’s see what that answer is.

    First of all let us note that there other places where God is said to have repented.

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,  It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments.” (1 Sam 15:10-11)  KJV

“When the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand.”  (2 Sam 24:16)  KJV

“If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.”   (Jer 42:10)  KJV

    Next let us indeed affirm that God is immutable and that His counsel shall stand.

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)  KJV

“But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” (Job 23:13)  KJV

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”   (Is 46:9-11)  KJV

“I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  (Mal 3:6)  KJV

    Then we must also see that God’s treatment of men is conditioned upon their response to Him.

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.    And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.   Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.   At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;  If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.   And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;  If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”  (Jer 18:1-10)  KJV

‘Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.  Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?”  (Joe 2:12-14)  KJV

    Having seen these things let us then come to this conclusion:

  1. This passage is speaking of God in an anthropopathic way.  That is, God is spoken of as having human attributes.  It is a representation of God in such a way that men might understand a little of the workings of God.
  2. God knows the end from the beginning.  God knows what He will do, and He knows what we will do.  God’s repentance is part of His foreknowledge and foreordained plan.
  3. God’s repentance is not a change of heart such as you and I experience.  God remains holy, pure, righteous, gracious, merciful, loving, et al.  When man turns from God and sins, God’s righteousness demands that He respond to the sin of man.  Why?  Because God’s glory has been despised in man’s sin.  Thus, God did not change, but man did.

When the wicked man repents of his sin and turns to God for grace, neither does God’s heart change then.  God’s righteousness and grace demands that God receive and forgive the one to whom He promised forgiveness if he repented.  Again, God did not change His mind and heart. Man’s heart and mind were changed.

Thus we see that God is immutable, His promise infallible, His Word unchangeable, and His ways unsearchable. At the same time we see that God’s repentance is a vital part of His character in which His outlook toward man is changed based upon man’s response to God and His Word. God’s repentance does not mean that He makes mistakes. His repentance is perfect repentance. It is the reflection of His unchanging, holy character.

The Significance Of Baptism pt 2

Baptized In The Name…

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

            What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? What does it mean to be baptized in the name of Jesus? Is this a series of words that must be said over the one being baptized, or is there another significance? 

            The preposition ες is often translated in, into, unto, or for and is seen in both of these texts as well as 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, where Israel is spoken of as being baptized unto Moses. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–4) 

(It is interesting to note that there is a parallel to be seen here: Israel was redeemed by blood and then baptized in the Red Sea, and the saints are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and then baptized in water.) Notice that Israel was baptized unto Moses. Just as we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, unto repentance, and for the remission of sins, Israel was baptized unto Moses. Were they baptized in order to receive Moses into their hearts? Were they baptized to be joined unto Moses? No, they were baptized in identification with Moses. They were identified with Him as their leader as they followed the visible presence of the LORD in the fiery and cloudy pillar.

            What, then, does it mean when we read of being baptized unto repentance, for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? It simply means that we are identifying with repentance, the remission of sins, Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we saw earlier, baptism occurs after repentance, which brings the remission of sins (Luke 24:47;2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Baptism neither saves, nor brings the remission of sins. Neither does water baptism join us to Jesus Christ, or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign that identifies us with all of these.

            Thus it is that, when we are baptized, we are saying that we have repented of our sins, received the forgiveness of our sins, are joined to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and are thus identifying ourselves as such.