Following my freshman year at Florida College, I worked a summer job in a factory in Indianapolis at Bryant Heating and Cooling.
I worked on a conversion assembly line. These large air conditioning units would be rolled into my station. I would remove a side panel. Insert a heating coil. Connect the red and green wires to the corresponding color. Then replace the panel.
Without saying a word, or preaching a sermon, in just a few minutes I had converted an air conditioner!
This illustration pretty closely represents our word of the week found in today’s Bible reading.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Ax. 3:19).
William Barclay observes that the words “repent” and “converted” are closely connected. “Repent might simply mean to change one’s mind; and it is an easier thing to change one’s mind than to change one’s life. But this change of mind is to issue in a turning away from the old way and a faring forth upon a new.”
In Vincent’s Word Studies, he writes that “converted is simply the Latinized rendering of the word “to turn round (convertere). It denotes a definite act.”
Thayer defines converted “to turn to.” “To bring back.” “To turn one’s self about.” “To come back.” “To return.”
A. T. Robertson comments that converted means to ”Turn to God in conduct, as well as in mind.”
Other versions translate the word here as “turn.” In fact, this is the rendering in most cases in the 36 times the Greek word is used in the New Testament. Such as when Saul of Tarsus is called by God to be a special minister to the Gentiles. His mission is stated in Acts 26:18.
“To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
Peter’s command in Acts 3:19 is often compared to his first sermon in Acts 2:38 when he answered the question, “What must we do to be saved?”
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Succinctly put, repentance is a change of attitude that issues itself in action, bringing about conversion to the Lord.
One is converted when he is called by the gospel (2 Thess 2:14). Unlike my conversion of an inanimate object, a sinner makes a conscious choice when he hears the Word of God. In Bible times, like today, some choose to believe the gospel and obey it. Others choose to reject it. Conversion is not forced on anyone. It involves individual free will.
Change always accompanies conversion. These converted people turned from idolatry. False religion. And immoral lifestyles.
One of the most dramatic stories was the conversion of Saul of Tarsus who turned from being a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of the Gospel. He became known as the Apostle Paul. And was a fierce defender of the faith.
The conversion of the Corinthians is another example of a lifestyle change. When Paul preached the gospel of Christ in Corinth, the Bible says, that “Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue,” and all of his household obeyed the gospel. “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Ax. 18:8).
However, as Paul Harvey used to say “the rest of the story,” is forcefully highlighted in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11)
Look at that list of sins. Think about their incredible lifestyle change. They were converted.
When we’re converted the change results in a consecrated life. Not just outwardly, but inwardly. A converted heart is a holy heart. Committed to Christ. Born again into God’s family. And devoted to living righteously.
Finally, the focus of these thoughts ought to be personal and introspective. “Have I truly been converted?”
After all, it might be easier to convert others, than be converted.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman