First Century Conversion

Important Note To Students And Teachers

This quarter's study focuses on a basic Christian concept: conversion. Christians tend to be confident that everyone understands conversion. How confident? We are shocked when someone sincerely asks, "What does conversion mean?" In shock, we might answer the questioner by explaining the converted are baptized. Suppose the questioner responds in the following manner. "I did not ask, 'What do converted people do?' I asked, 'What does conversion mean?'" Perhaps our reaction would be increased shock. We seldom discuss the concept of conversion. We are more likely to discuss conversion's significance, conversion's confirmation, or evidences of conversion.

Hopefully, we would begin a meaningful study with the questioner. Perhaps that study would focus on the nature, the meaning, and the importance of baptism. Suppose we studied conversion by emphasizing baptism. Suppose that the questioner asked, "Can an unconverted person be baptized?"

Hopefully, we would ask him/her to explain what he/she was asking. Hopefully, we would listen to the explanation with a sincere desire to understand. Is he/she asking if someone can "obligate" God to save him/her by submitting to the baptismal act? Is he/she asking if someone can confuse submission to the baptismal act with conversion? Is he/she asking if a person must be converted before submitting to the baptismal act? Is he/she asking if conversion is the result of the baptismal act? Each question significantly differs from the others.

Direct your attention to your thinking. Do it by asking and answering some questions. Question one: "Which of these subjects is essential to a biblical understanding of conversion?"

Jesus Christ
the church
a system of beliefs
something not listed

Question two: "To what are we Christians seeking to convert a person?"

Jesus Christ
the church
a system of beliefs
an approach to worship
a way of life

If your answer is, "We seek to convert a person to all of these," the question still is not answered. In what order of priority? When can a person say, "I am a convert"?

Question three: "Is conversion basically a matter of:

entering Christ?"
changing churches?"
accepting a system of beliefs?"
accepting a specific approach to worship?"

Christians can answer all three questions and fail to comprehend biblical conversion. The meaning behind each answer is more important than the answer.


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