Bible Doctrine: Conversion

Posted: March 28, 2009 in Theology
The Doctrine of Salvation
Conversion
Greg Brandenburg
Grace Community Church Tyler
March 29, 2009
Based on the book Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem

What must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:29)

Conversion occurs at a point in time at which I respond to the call of God placing my trust in Christ for salvation.

What are the ingredients of conversion?

1. Knowledge (intellect)

Rom.10:14 recognizes that their is some intellectual knowledge necessary.

Rom.1 (see v. 32) indicates that this knowledge is not secret or cryptic only for the illuminati. But it will be rejected without a prior work of God on the heart (Rom.1:32). Knowing that Christ is the savior is primary but not enough to save. The demons know full well who Christ is (James 2:19)

2. Submission (will)

I can know who Christ is and be positively persuaded toward Him (sending Christmas cards with bible verses, fish on my car, cross tattoo) and still not be saved.

Nicodemus had a favorable impression of Christ and understood that He was from God (John 3)

King Agrippa was knowledgeable but something was lacking (Acts 26:27)

The lacking ingredient is submission. The old word is surrender which indicates a fight. I must submit to the fact that I can’t save myself and allow Christ to do it all for me. This is the act of repentance (metanoia) that necessarily accompanies salvation. Not to be confused with repentance as a change of behavior. The true sense of the word is the literal translation – change of mind.

If we understand the true sense of the word, we avoid the mistake of making repentance a prerequisite of salvation. Think of repentance as a change of mind while reading the following:
Mt.3:2, 4:17; Lk.24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38, 5:31, 17:30; Rom.2:4; 2 Cor.7:10

3. Trust

What changes in repentance? I change from trusting that I could save myself and continuing to be captain of my fate to trusting (submitting) to Christ completely as my Savior.

The word trust is superior to the word belief as it involves the will not just the intellect.

This is alluded to by the concept of receiving used by Paul – Jn.1:12

John 3:16 does not say “believe Him” but “believe IN Him” (pisteuo eis auton) or “believe into Him”. Like when we use the phrase “bought into” although that carries some negative connotations. Or the phrase made popular by televised poker “all in”. (I wish I had better analogies!)

Trust is reflected in the physical analogy of a person “coming to Christ.” The idea of a person approaching Christ to ask for forgiveness encompasses the idea of thought, trust and submission.

(John 6:37; 7:37; Mt.11:28-30)

What about the other kind of repentance – turning from sin?

Is this kind of repentance necessary for salvation? No, if we say that a person must change their life to be saved we deny that salvation is completely a work of God and our salvation becomes dependent on our work. (Rom.9:30-32; Eph.2:9)

2 Cor.7:9-10 – what sense of salvation is Paul referring to? Is he saying that they were saved (justified) becuase they repented or is he using it in the sense of them being sanctified. This is a letter to Christians. They were saved (justified) already. I believe this is sanctification, overcoming the power of sin and being conformed to the image of Christ. But even if it isn’t, it reflects the power of a change of mind over my behavior.

While this kind of repentance is not a requirement of salvation as it would then be based on works, it is a natural by-product. Naturally, any change of life is preceded by a change of mind. Christ asks believers to repent – Rev.3:19

When a person acknowledges that they can’t save themself and submits to Christ for their salvation, the commitment to turn from sin and change is built in.

What are the ingredients of repentance?

The process is similar. I must know that what I’m doing is wrong. I must submit by taking personal responsibility and experiencing remorse. Then commit to change.

Repentance is more than sorrow
Esau was remorseful over rejecting his birthright but did not repent. Heb.12:16-17 – why does the NIV use the literal translation for repent? He did not commit to change. He was sorry he lost the stuff but his attitude of indifference was still there.

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