Sometimes people simply refuse to convert. I moved to Texas in 2000 as a Pittsburgh Steeler fan (since around 1973). I’m still one today. I could live in the Jerry Dome and I would not convert!
I arrived a Spurs fan, thanks to David Robinson and Tim Duncan. I’ve simply added tee shirts, attended games, and learned more about the team to know that the Spurs are the best team in the NBA, no matter what happens on the court! Conversion leads to actions.
This past February I quietly celebrated 30 years of faith in Jesus Christ. God began a good work in me through the gospel, so, like all conversions, mine was a convincing conversion and that’s what I want to write about today.
Some conversions are more sudden or dramatic than others. Some come early, some seem late. But all conversions are convincing conversions in the end. Here’s how Paul described it: “… you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (I Thess. 1:9-10).
How they loved their idols before they hated them. These ancients served, feared, and were devoted to idols. They gave time, money, worship, attention, and prayers to idols! With over twenty gods and goddesses in their belief system, they had one for every uncertainty and situation of life.
Then they heard about the one true Creator of all who sent His only Son to earth to redeem sinners from their idolatry. They became convinced and convicted by the Holy Spirit, and turned from idols to God. Both “from” and “to” are essential. These are like two wings on the same bird, for it is only on the wings of repentance and faith that we fly to heaven. A one-winged bird crashes to earth.
For sure, we are saved by grace alone thru faith alone in Christ alone, but this faith is never alone, its twin sister is repentance – that change of mind and heart that leads to a change in beliefs and behavior and always walks hand in hand with faith.
Idolatry is alive and prevalent all across our land. Not necessarily in the form of statues in temples, but in the form of something or someone loved and desired and trusted more than God. The examples are legion.
The Swiss Reformer John Calvin gave a lot of thought to idolatry in his day for the Church was deeply infested with it. He came to see that “the human heart is an idol factory … For although all do not worship idols, all are nevertheless addicted to idolatry, and are immersed in blindness and madness.” So true.
We may have been born into a Christian sub-culture or family, but we weren’t born Christian. That requires being born again! That requires conversion.
And we don’t come at this with a blank slate or an open mind or a good heart. “I was a good person, happy and fulfilled. Then I heard about God and turned to Him” is not a testimony of conversion to Christ. That is more like adding God to a life of self-fulfillment.
Conversion is not the same as Band-aide on mistakes, personal reformation or getting sober. It is open heart surgery where that hard chest bone is sawed in half and cracked open by the Holy Spirit, you see your sin and sinfulness and flee to the only Savior, loving Him and hating sin.
Thus, it’s not a Donald Trump kind of conversion. When asked if he’d ever asked God for forgiveness, he said, “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
In an interview later with CNN, Trump said he does not regret never asking God for forgiveness, partially because he says he doesn’t have much to apologize for. “I have a great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with the Evangelicals. I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.” Thank God we aren’t voting for a national pastor, but a national president.
Beware of connived and conned conversions that merely give lip service to Christ or flow from a fleeting emotional experience. In conversion our blind eyes are opened so that we actually “turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
This turning leads to becoming slaves of God, subject to God and in service of God instead of those dead, useless idols!
It’s only by turning to God that we will ever serve God while here on earth. And it’s only by turning to God that we will ever start waiting for Jesus’ return from heaven! Conversion brings both results.
Ever noticed how much of life here is spent waiting. We wait for that great trip. Or to start driving. We anxiously wait for our wedding day, first child, first grandchild, retirement …
But for the Christian, we should mainly and mostly wait for Jesus. Only a true and proper conversion brings this about.
The Living One will one day exit heaven and literally “draw us to Himself!” We can’t be waiting on the next President to rescue us. We don’t pray, “our Father who art in Washington.”
There is both a coming wrath and a coming Savior from that wrath. Are you waiting on Him?
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight