PERSONAL DESIRE AND CONVERSION
I want to begin tonight with a sports analogy that is not
specific to any particular sport. I wish to refer to a particular statement all
of you have heard if you have ever watched in sporting event in which the teams
The sporting event may involve two competing teams or two competing athletes.
If it is a significant event, it is broadcast either by television or by radio
or by both. If it is a broadcast event, it has one or more sports commentators.
One will tell the audience what is happening, and one will speak to add "color"
to the happenings.
In this event the athletes are in superb physical condition. Each side has
excellent coaches. It is late in the competition, and the competition is tied.
The competition has not been decided. Both sides have a legitimate chance to win
the competition. The conditioning of the athletes is amazing! The coaching
staffs have made all the right decisions! The score is tied!
Here is the comment we all have heard a number of times: "It is just
a matter of which side wants to win the most (or has the greatest desire to
This is the fact I wish to call to your attention: We understand that even in
something as temporary as victory in a sporting event, desire is a key element.
There can be success in nothing without the element of desire.
This evening I want to focus your attention on the importance of the
converted's desire if conversion is to occur. An individual must be a Christian
because he or she wishes to be a Christian. Stated negatively: a person who does
not wish to be a Christian will not be a Christian because you desire him or her
to become a Christian.
- Allow me to state this truth in a number of ways.
- First, let me state my understanding from scripture of conversion.
- Conversion is the result of a person who is not a Christian who makes
the decision to enter Jesus Christ--he or she realizes he or she is out of
Christ, and he or she chooses to let God place him or her in Christ.
- The unconverted person places confidence in Jesus' death and
- He or she accepts the fact that Jesus died for his or her sins.
- He or she accepts the fact that God raised Jesus from death.
- The converted person realizes he or she must redirect his or her life,
- That basically is the awareness that God has not been in control of
who he or she was or in how he or she lived.
- Now he or she wants God to be in complete control of who he or she
is or how he or she lives.
- This person begins the process of confessing his or her acceptance of
Jesus' identity and role in his or her life.
- He or she is not ashamed to verbally declare his or her acceptance
- He or she will continue to declare his or her acceptance of Jesus.
- This person not only agrees to be baptized into Christ, but is
baptized because he or she wants to be baptized.
- He or she wants to be baptized because that is what people in the
New Testament did.
- He or she wants God to use the same power to raise him or her from
death to sin just like He resurrected Jesus from physical death.
- Let me now challenge you to consider what to me seems obvious.
- If a person repents, he or she has to realize he or she is in sin.
- If a person is to enter hope, he or she has to realize that life prior
to Christ was without hope.
- If a person is redeemed, he or she realizes he or she needed to be
- If a person is forgiven, he or she realizes he or she needs
- Stated simply, the person understands there is a need to be addressed,
and he or she wants that need addressed.
- Conversion is much more that the willingness to become part of a
- Conversion is much more than church attendance.
- Conversion is much more than being in a directory.
- Conversion in the most basic manner is about me; it is about who I am
and what I choose to be.
(Transition: I want to call your attention to some situations in scripture
to challenge you to think about yourself as well as others.)
- The first situation I call your attention to is found in all of the
gospels; I ask you to consider Mark 1:16-20.
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw
Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they
were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and
I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their
nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of
Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.
Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat
with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.
- There are many correct points that could be made from this brief
incident, and many points have been made from it.
- I want to call your attention to just one point which I will place in
the form of a question.
- Scripture says Peter was married--he had a mother-in-law living in
Capernaum; he was fishing to support his family.
- James and John were actively involved in the family fishing business
which must have been profitable since it notes their father had servants.
- The question: why did Peter, Andrew, James, and John go with Jesus
when he extended to them an invitation?
- Not only did he not offer them employment, but he took them from
- Did they know everything involved in being followers of Jesus? No!
- Did they have a correct understanding of the point of Jesus'
- Did they have a lot of growing to do? Absolutely!
- Would following Jesus be a simple thing to do? No!
- Then why did these men go?
- Very simple answer: because they wanted to!
- Their desire was to be followers of Jesus--so they grew in
understanding and endured difficulty!
- I want you to see and hear their desire--they did not have to go with
Jesus, they wanted to go with Jesus.
- Next I call your attention to one of the most best known chapters in the
New Testament to many members of the Church of Christ: Acts 2.
- The Spirit comes upon the apostles.
- The noise of the coming of the Spirit attracts a huge crowd in
Jerusalem on one of the three holiest occasions in Israel.
- All of the apostles, whose dialect was obviously Galilean, spoke
without the aid of interpreters, and every person present heard what he
was saying in the language of the person's birth--even though the people
were from many different places.
- To say this created enormous curiosity is truly an understatement.
- Some suggested they were a bunch of drunk men, but that was not a
- Peter took charge and told the crowd that what they observed was the
fulfillment of something the Jewish prophet Joel wrote centuries before.
- He said all this was happening because of Jesus and his
- He even used statements from King David to declare that the Jesus
they crucified was now Lord and Christ.
- I want you to listen to the reaction of three thousand people recorded
in Acts 2:37.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the
heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what
shall we do?"
- They were pierced to the heart--their consciences responded and
reacted to Peter's words.
- The declaration, "Brethren, what shall we do?" was not a casual
remark--it was an urgent plea!"
- Do you hear the desire of these people?
- Why were 3000 people baptized on that occasion?
- Why? Because that is what they wanted--they wanted to respond to God
and all He did in Jesus Christ in order that their sins might be
- Thirdly I call your attention a statement from Paul in 1 Corinthians
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with
superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him
crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and
my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on
the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
- Paul wrote to a congregation who had lots of problems including the
problem of division.
- As he began his letter in response to a letter they sent him, he wanted
to remind them of something extremely important.
- Remember how I came to you.
- I did not come as an exceptional orator.
- I did not come as a renowned philosopher.
- I did not come to you as the invincible man.
- I did not come to you with persuasive wisdom.
- I refused to attract attention to myself--I only attracted attention
to Jesus Christ.
- I came in weakness, fear, and trembling.
- I came demonstrating the spirit and power, not my own power.
- I did not want the foundation of your faith to be based on a man.
- I wanted your faith to be based on the power of God.
- Do you hear their desire in their conversion?
- They were not Christians because of Paul's determination.
- They were Christians because that is what they wanted to be!
- I could show you this same reality in other passages, but I hope this is
enough to make you think and encourage you to study.
- People who were converted wanted to follow Jesus.
- They were not fooled into conversion!
- They wanted to be Christians!
It is in that truth that we find understanding of one of the great problems
among Christians today. Too many Christians did not decide they wanted to be
Christians prior to conversion, they do not live like Christians after baptism.
They had no desire to live the Christian life. They just wanted to be safe. They
believed and repented because that is what they had to do, not because that is
what they wanted to do! They were baptized because that is what they had to do,
not because that is what they wanted to do.
What is the most powerful evangelistic thing you can do? Teach? Certainly we
must teach others about forgiveness in Christ. But teaching is not the most
powerful thing you can do. Worship? Certainly we must praise our God, but that
is not the most powerful thing you can do. Be involved in a ministry? Certainly
every Christian needs to serve, but that is not the most powerful thing you can
Then what is the most powerful thing I can do? BE a Christian in your entire
lifestyle. If BEING a Christian is your desire, that will add power and
effectiveness to your teaching, your praise of God, and your service to Christ.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 07August 2005
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