“Conversion is something of such great importance that Jesus Christ told the people round about him that if they were not converted they would all perish.
What Conversion is Not.
It is not a change of religion. A thief may change his overcoat, but he remains a thief. The coat may have been changed, but not the man. It is not a change of belief. There are many people who believe all that the very best Christians believe, but who, in spite of that, are perfect worldlings without a particle of real piety. It is not the due performing of the forms and ceremonies of religion for the sake of escaping hell. Nor is it beginning to do good works; a bad heart has to be changed into a good one before it can really do good. Good deeds on the life of a bad man are like figs that might be tied on to a bush. They would not make the bush into a fig-tree.
What Conversion Is.
It is a change of heart, leading to a change of inclinations, tastes, habits and life. It is a complete change of one’s course of life; it is the entering upon an entirely new road. It is a complete turning upside down of the soul and the entire mortal being. It is the most wonderful revolution possible, because it drives the devil out of the heart and sets up the Kingdom of God in it.
What are Necessary to Conversion.
A deep conviction of sin wrought in us by contact with men or women of God, or by the reading of the Bible or some writing inspired by the Spirit of God, and made clear by him to the sincere reader. The conviction of sin is a feeling of deep sorrow that takes possession of the soul as it remembers the transgressions of the past, and as it looks at the evil thoughts, words and deeds with which the life have been filled.
A real, true turning away from, and a definite decision to break away from sin, and to live henceforth in accordance with the will of God as made known to us by himself, in our own hearts, and through the Bible.
An act of surrender to Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour, an act of faith that can be compared to that manifested by a man standing on a sinking ship when he throws himself into the lifeboat.
Saving faith always implies a fixed determination on the part of its possessor to glorify the Saviour by openly confessing the wonderful change that has been wrought in the heart and life by conversion.
Conversion is a Spiritual Event.
It is so wonderful an event that Jesus called it being “born again.” He told a religious Israelite of his day, who came to ask him about salvation, that unless a man was “born again” he could not enter into the kingdom of God. On one occasion somebody said to a woman whose husband–formerly an inveterate drunkard–had been converted: “Has your husband changed his religion, then?” “No,” was the reply, “it is his religion that has changed him!” [Translated from the French of A. S. Booth-Clibborn]
– taken from The Standard – A Baptist Newspaper (Chicago, February 18, 1899)