CONVERSION

(Acts 3: 19) 

IN our text Peter says: 6 'Repent ye, therefore, and be 
converted." In the American Revised Version, it 
reads: " Repent ye, therefore, and turn." Conversion 
is the process of turning to God. 

As three distinct changes were involved in the fall 
of man, the same changes are involved in his restora- 
tion. We prefer to call them "changes," rather than 
" steps," as the latter makes the process too formal. 

1. The changes involved in the alienation of man 
from God were: 

a. Change of mind. The first preacher that appeared 
after the human family, consisting of Adam and Eve, 
were created and placed in the Garden, brought a mes- 
sage of disobedience. God had told them that, if they 
ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they 
would surely die; this preacher said, "Ye shall surely 
not die." The supremacy of positive law hung in the 
balance (Gen. 3:1-6). The woman listened to the ser- 
mon on disobedience. 

b. Change of attitude. As the preacher persuaded, 
she resolved to eat of the forbidden fruit. She brought 
her will in subjection to the will of the devil. But 
neither she nor the man fell from their high estate 
until they committed the outward act of disobedience. 

c. Change of relationship. When they actually ate 
of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened. They 
immediately discovered their own nudeness (Gen. 3:7). 
They were driven from the Garden and the sentence 
was pronounced: "Dust thou art; and unto dust shalt 
thou return' ' (Gen. 3:19). They were alienated from 
God. Sin had entered their hearts. They no longer 
enjoyed personal communion with their Creator; their 
relationship was changed by the evil act which they 
had done — a disobedience of positive divine law. 

2. The same changes are involved in the restoration 
of man. Jesus Christ came in the fullness of time 
and offered his body as a living sacrifice for the sins 
of the world, and effected a way of reconciliation 
(Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:21; 2 Cor. 5:18). These same 
changes are: 

a. Change of mind. Along comes the preacher oi 
righteousness (Rom. 1:16). The sinner, being of the 
world, alienated from God, listens to the message of 
salvation through Christ. He hears the facts of the 
gospel (Acts 4:12; Eom. 10:13-17; 1 Cor. 1:18-21; 
15:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:20). He believes the gospel. His 
mind is changed by faith. He believes that Jesus is 
the Christ, the Son of God, and his personal Saviour 
(Rom. 10:9). 

b. Change of attitude. Moved with sorrow because 
of his past sins, he turns to God (2 Cor. 7 : 9, 10). He 
is led by the goodness of God to change his attitude 
from that of disobedience to that of willingness to obey 
(Rom. 2:4). This is repentance. Genuine repentance 
leads to confession of sin, restitution, and reformation 
of life. But the change of attitude does not put him 
in the kingdom. There is one more change necessary. 

c. Change of relationship. He shows his faith and 
repentance by the overt act of obedience which puts 
him into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:21; 
Mark 16: 16). Immersion is the boundary-line between 
the church and the world just as the Rio Grande is 
the boundary-line between Texas and Mexico. By his 
own act of disobedience to a positive divine law, man 
fell from his high estate; by his own act of obedience 
to a positive divine law, he may be restored to the 
kingdom of God (2 Cor. 5:17). 

3. We find that three things lead us "unto" Christ; 
and one action puts us "into" Christ. "Unto" means 
a coming up to; "into" means an actual entrance. 
"When I go unto a certain city, I merely approach it; 
when I go into the city, I actually enter within. 

a. Belief unto righteousness (Rom. 10:10). Right- 
eousness is doing the will of God (Matt. 3: 15). Faith 
leads a man to do the will of God. 

b. Repentance unto salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). God- 
ly sorrow causes the sinner to repent, or turn to God. 
This turning leads him unto salvation, but not into 
Christ. Judas repented, but his sins were not remitted, 
as he did not go ahead and obey the gospel (Matt. 27 : 
3-5). 

c. Confession unto salvation (Rom. 10 : 10 ; Acts 
8:37). 

d. Baptism into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). 
This act puts us into Christ. It is the visible line be- 
tween the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of 
God ; an action ordained by the Master Himself. There 
is no virtue in the water alone, excepting as a symbol 
of purification. There is virtue, however, in the out- 
ward act of obedience to a positive law. When a man 
will do what God commands, whether he can see any 
necessity for it or not, then he has genuine saving faith. 

4. God's law of restoration is positive, divine and 
unchangeable; just as much so as any of the laws gov- 
erning the natural universe. Prayer will not alter a 
positive law. For example, study the story of the 
sedition of Miriam and Aaron (Num. 12). As a conse- 
quence of her rebellious agitation, Miriam was covered 
with leprosy. She prayed for cleansing ; Aaron prayed ; 
and finally Moses prayed. But she was not healed. 
Why? Because God had given a law for the cleansing 
of lepers, and He could not change it (Lev. 13 and 14). 
Moses stopped the entire procession of the Israelites for 
seven days, so that Miriam might be kept without the 
camp and be healed according to law. 

Jesus Christ, from the cross, prayed: " Father, for- 
give them; they know not what they do" (Luke 23: 
34). But God did not forgive them. Why? Because 
He had previously established a law of restoration, and 
He could not change it. By obedience to this law, on 
the day of Pentecost, three thousand were forgiven; 
and many more during the ensuing days (Acts 2:4). 

If a prayer of our Master will not alter a law of 
God, how can man presume to do so with impunity? 
Man must be taught to respect the law of God. 

We hear of thousands " converted" in this day of 
handclapping, card-signing evangelism, who have never 
been converted at all. We must learn that the only 
right way is God's way. Righteousness is doing the 
will of God.