Bible Cases of Conversion
Earl E. Robertson
No greater authority or subject can be discussed than "Bible Cases of Conversion.'' In this article we shall give emphasis to Bible authority as expressed in examples. To be Bible authority, all examples used must be in the Bible. Conversion is a Bible subject. Concerning a trip Paul and Barnabas made to Jerusalem. Luke says: "They therefore, being brought on their way by the church, passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren" (Acts 15:3). God had caused his word to be made known to the Gentiles with a view to their conversion (Acts 10:44; 11:14; 28:28), and they obeying this word effected their con version to Christ.
All examples of conversion in the New Testament explicitly reveal the fact that Bible cases of conversion were produced by the word of God and that there is no exception to this. It was Jesus who commanded: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature'' (Mark 16:15). Every responsible person has a need to hear; conversion to Christ depends upon one's hearing the truth. The Bible teaches by examples. The examples by which the Bible teaches are apostolically approved.
Now there is nothing in the word conversion itself that tells us to what or to whom one is converted. But in observing the examples of conversion in the New Testament, we see to whom men are converted. The word conversion means "a turning about, or round" (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary, p. 239). In the case of the Gentiles the context reveals that they turned from idols to the true God (Cf. 1 Thess. 1:9: Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, p. 244.)
Examples On Which Our Teaching Is Predicated
We are herein giving a chart setting forth WHAT was involved in five cases of conversion to declare the power of EXAMPLES. You will notice the uniformity of each example (and uniformity is a rule in determining the binding power of examples). We have in each case listed the exemplification of the commission given by Jesus (Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:46-48). Bible conversion necessarily embraces the acceptance of that one by the Almighty. God has spoken His will through (Heb. 1:2) as recorded in the commission and these EXAMPLES EXEMPLIFY (in action) GOD'S WILL.
This scene transpired in Jerusalem where "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). The Holy Spirit had made his descent upon the apostles as promised by Christ (Luke 24:49, 52; Acts 1:12; 2:1-4). The opportunity being granted, the apostles preached the gospel of the resurrected Jesus declaring him to be both Lord and Christ. As the apostles spoke (Acts 2:4), the Jews heard (Acts 2:37). The divine objective was reached in the preaching when they were "pricked" in their heart and inquired of the apostles as to what they must do. "Assuredly therefore, without any slip or trip (asphales from a privative and sphallo, to trip, to slip.) Peter draws a pungent conclusion by use of the adverb asphalos and the inferential conjunction oun. Peter's closing sentence drives home the point of his sermon: "This very Jesus whom ye crucified, him God made both Lord and Messiah." (Robertson, Word Pictures in the Ne2er Testament, (Vol. 3, p. 33). This is what Jesus promised (John 16:8).
The Scriptural consequences or results (conversion) are reached through belief, repentance and baptism. Their belief is not only evidenced in the fact of their repentance and baptism, but also in their pierced heart (Acts 2:37). This verb katanusso means pricked, to pierce, to sting, etc. The urgent cry was "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" (Rom. 10:14.) These Jews now have heard the message of God's Son which is capable of conviction anti producing faith. Upon this, they inquire, "What shall we do?" Inspiration reveals the necessity of repentance and baptism. ". Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41). The examination of this case gives us the unvarying rule or example in Bible conversion. These Pentecostians had the Gospel Preached to them; the Divine Objective was reached in Conviction, Scriptural Consequences were belief, repentance and baptism. This example does not change throughout the New Testament! Notice from the chart that all were required the same, and did the same!
Samaria was specifically mentioned by the Lord for his disciples to bear testimony of him there (Acts 1:8). The people here have a heathen background. The city was built by Omri, a King in Israel (1 Kings 16:24). "Philip the evangelist" (Acts 8:5; 21:8), "full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them" (Acts 8:5). His preaching held them "spellbound." He continued to preach Christ to a People deceived by sorcery and witchcraft (Acts 8:9-11), and his preaching accomplished confidence. "But when the believed Philip preaching " (Acts 8:12). Their baptism into Christ evidences their "turn" or repentance. (Cf. Luke 24:47.) Luke says they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12). These were responsible men and women - no babies, and this case is exactly like the EXAMPLE of the Pentecostians. It is another example!
After the wonderful work performed in Samaria "the angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza" (Acts 8:26). Gaza is one of the oldest places mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 10:19). Philip obeyed the command "go" in that he "went." On his way he met a man of great authority, the treasurer of the queen of the Ethiopians. This man hall been to Jerusalem to worship, and was now returning. While riding in his chariot he was reading Isaiah 53 aloud. Philip heard him anti joined him with a view to teach him the gospel. "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:35). Before Philip preached Christ to this man he did not understand the truth (Acts 8:30-31), but the divine objective was reached in that the Eunuch said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36) The scriptural consequences (Rom. 16:26); are seen in his belief, repentance, and baptism (Acts 8:37-38; Luke 24:47).
The Philippian Jailor
This heathen Jailor did not know Christ when Paul and Silas came to Philippi. After the illegal arrest of Paul and Silas, and during their imprisonment, an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison and all prisoner's bands were loosed (Acts 16:26). The jailor would have taken his own life but Paul prevented his doing so, assuring him that all the prisoners were still there. This being at midnight the jail was dark, but the jailor called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, saying: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:29-30.) Since faith in the Lord Jesus could not be until the sinner had heard (Rom. 10:14, 17) "they spoke unto him the word of the Lord" that he might know truth from error (Acts 16:12). He was convinced by the evidence presented, the record that God gave of his son (1 John 5:10). He not only was convinced of truth, but believed the message (Acts 16:31), repented and was baptized (Acts 16:33).
The plainest stated case of conversion is perhaps the EXAMPLE of the Corinthians. Paul left Athens and went to Corinth (Acts 18:1). While here he was "constrained by the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ'' (Acts 1S:5). They rejected this message and he turned to the Gentiles because they would hear it (Acts 28.28). And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). Inasmuch as they "heard," we must conclude the gospel was preached unto them. The divine purpose of gospel preaching enjoyed victory here in that it convinced both Jews and Gentiles. The consequences are they believed, repented, and were baptized. (See Acts 18:8; Luke 24: 47. 1 Cor. 6:11ff)
The word of God being designed by the Almighty would accomplish among men what God wanted (Isa. 55:11). It was faithfully revealed to all involved in the EXAMPLES of Bible conversion herein recorded, and therefore, these unvarying acts in their particular sequence constitute Bible examples -- examples which teach what New 'Testament conversion really is. Each conversion today, to be genuine Bible conversion, must be like the patterns or examples herein given. There is no conversion without the word of God, and the word of God is that unified, unvarying body of truth, which seeks the same objective and requires the same consequences each time it is preached! Is your conversion JUST LIKE these five Bible EXAMPLES!
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 1, pp. 7-9