Do you know that Christianity is the largest religion in the world? Almost 2.400 billion people
claim to be saved. But the saddest reality is that many professing Christians would be cast into eternal hell. Why does this happen? Because the doctrine of conversion is misunderstood and misrepresented by many people. To that end, let us look at what the Bible says about Conversion.
Misunderstanding of Conversion
Recently, one of my friends began going to church. A few weeks later, the church’s pastor urged him to get baptized to attain salvation and eternal life. This friend is not regenerated or repentant of his sins, nor does he know the gospel. What if he gets baptized by believing that it would save him and take him to heaven? What if he dies later without hearing the gospel? Where would he end his life? The obvious answer is eternal hell. He would be among the people to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you” on the last day.
The Eternal Consequence of Misunderstanding Conversion
Likewise, many people believe that they have been converted or saved based on a healing
experience, the decision to follow Jesus, lifted their hands in meetings, regularly attend church services, change habits, give offerings, or perform good works. Despite their sincere pursuits, none of these people have been saved. They believe they are already good enough and don’t need Jesus to regenerate them. These people will, unfortunately, spend all of eternity in hell. Matthew 7:21–23 records the horrific judgment on these people.
What is Conversion according to the Bible?
For Christians, conversion is an essential doctrine. But many preachers and individuals have
misrepresented and misunderstood it. According to the Bible, conversion is a U-turn in a
person’s life. It is turning one’s whole person away from sin and to Christ for salvation, idol
worship to God worship, self-justification to Christ’s justification, and self-rule to God’s rule. It
happens when God awakens those who are spiritually dead and enables them to repent of their sins and have faith in Christ.
How Does Conversion take place?
Conversion is the fruit of the reception of the Gospel. The Bible says, everyone is a sinner and
deserves God’s just wrath (Rom. 3:11,23; Eph. 2:1-6). As a result of sin, man is cut off from God
and has lost fellowship with him. But the grace of God appeared through Jesus Christ through which one can be saved from the wrath of God and reconciled to God. Jesus died in the place of sinners and appeased the righteous wrath of God and met all the demands that the just God required from humans. He was buried and resurrected on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
When Does Conversion Happen?
Conversion occurs after the reception of the gospel, repentance of sins, and regeneration of the Holy Spirit. This is what happened with the people in Thessalonica. Paul writes, “Because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:5, 9-10).” People received and believed the gospel, repented of their sins, were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and started to wait upon Jesus.
It is my plea that you would examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Today take some time and reflect on your life and see if you have experienced the regenerating work of God.
Paul Washer poignantly poses the essence and evidence of Conversion:
“Conversion is not like a flu shot. Oh, I did that. I repented. I believed. The question is my
friend. Are you continuing to repent of sin? Are you continuing to believe? Because he who
began a good work in you will finish it. He will finish it”.
“Let the struggling believer be comforted; let the apathetic church member be warned. The great evidence of true conversion is God’s ongoing work of sanctification in our lives. If we have been saved by grace through faith, we are now God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). The evidence that God has begun a good work in us is that He continues that work until that final day.”