By Raymond E. Harris
The word “convert” means “to change” or “to turn.” There are three things involved in the process of one’s turning from sin to God.
1. A Change of Heart. The heart or mind can only be changed by faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Hence, the Bible teaches that people’s hearts are purified “by faith” (Acts 15:9). In other words, when one learns from the Bible about the love God has toward us and the sacrifice of Jesus for us we are moved to repentance. “Repentance” and “conversion” are terms that go hand in hand. When one changes his mind about God and Jesus and sin he will have:
2. A Change of Life. A change of heart will lead to a change of life. Repentance is defined as “a change of mind that leads to a change of life.” Hence, we see the evolution of conversion. As a result of faith produced by the word of God, man is led to repentance. This reformation in behavior is very visible as the person turns from sin to obedience, from wickedness to righteousness. And when obedience is completed there is:
3. A Change of Relationship. In this world there are two classes of accountable people – the wicked and the righteous – the children of the Devil and the children of God. No one can be translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God without a change of heart and a change of life. But one must have remission of sins to make conversion complete. When one’s sins are forgiven, he enters a state or relationship with God. Baptism is”. . for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Also the Bible says people are baptized “into Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Hence, the converted are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-5).
Faith changes the heart, repentance changes the life, and baptism changes the relationship to God. One’s sins are not forgiven merely because we believe that Jesus is the Savior or because we quit committing them. Sins are forgiven by God when we complete our conversion in baptism. Have you been converted? Truly converted? Fully converted, according to the scriptural plan?
Guardian of Truth XXX: 2, p. 43
January 16, 1986