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Page 175

While each of the previous types of conversions are mentioned in Scripture, it is personal, saving conversion which is emphasized and taught as being necessary for each individual. In our study, the term "conversion" refers to this personal, saving conversion unless otherwise specified.

What is conversion? What type of turning around or turning back does it refer to? Conversion is a result of regeneration. In regeneration, the Holy Spirit plants a new living principle of love to God in the heart of a person. This new principle of spiritual life affects the total person - his will, affections, thoughts, and actions. Conversion is the conscious turning of the total person from sin to God; a turning back to God with heart, affections, thoughts, and conduct. The regenerated soul, having been renewed by God's life-implanting grace, cannot help but turn from its former sinful desires and ways to God. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Psalm 110:3a). The new birth took place in the person's soul; therefore, the new spiritual heart expresses itself through a converted will. The new man wants to return to God, for his will, emotions, mind, and body are turned from actively seeking sin and pleasing self, to seeking and pleasing God.

How do God's calling, regeneration, and conversion relate? The following examples and diagram clarify the distinctive part each performs and their perfect unity in converting sinners to God.

    We read of the conversion of Levi (the Apostle Matthew) in the following verses:

    Luke 5:27-29

    And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me.

    And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

    And Levi made Him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.


    Jesus' calling Levi (God's internal, irresistible call) with the words, "Follow Me," was accompanied by God's planting of a new spiritual life, a new will, in his heart (regeneration). His heart's desires were now changed, and this resulted in his turning from sin to God, to follow Christ (conversion).

    How can you see the marks and fruits of true conversion in this short account of Levi's conversion? How can you see repentance, faith, obedience, and true love to God and others in these verses?

 

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

- Matthew 18:3

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.

- Acts 3:19a

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.

- Acts 26:18

If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus;

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.

And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

- Ephesians 4:21-22,24

Turn Thou us unto Thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.

- Lamentations 5:21

Say unto thern, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

- Ezekiel 33:11

 

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