Terms of Salvation
What Does a Person Need to Do to be Saved?
Is Conversion Necessary for Salvation?
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19).
"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thess. 1:9).
"For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25).
"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).
Whereas repentance involves a change of mind; conversion involves a change of direction. "To be converted" means "to turn, turn around, change direction." The word is used of a person who turns around and faces a different direction (Matt. 9:22; Mark 8:33; John 21:20; Acts 16:18). In Matthew 24:18 we have an example where the Lord told certain people not to change their direction (not to turn back). We must not be like Lot's wife who turned in the wrong way and looked back!
The person who is converted recognizes that he is going the wrong way (Proverbs 14:12) and that he needs to change his direction to go God's way (Isaiah 30:21). Before we came to Christ we were going our own way (Isaiah 53:6), but we changed our direction and turned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). A sinner needs to come to the place in his life where he realizes that he is on the wrong road (Matt. 7:13) and he needs to turn to Christ who is the way (John 14:6; and compare Matt. 7:14).
In Luke 1:16 we learn that many Jewish people would be converted under the ministry of John the Baptist: "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord, their God." The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-10) wrote about a people who refused to be converted and refused to change their direction. Instead they continued in their stubborn and sinful ways (Isaiah 6:10).
Conversion is essential if a person is to be saved and enter the kingdom. Jesus 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). To be saved a person must turn to the living God (1 Thess. 1:9; Acts 9:35; 11:21; 15:3,19). Men need to "repent (change their thinking) and turn to God (change their direction)" (Acts 26:20).
Conversion involves turning away from all false confidences and turning to the living God who alone can save: "Ye turned to God from idols" (1 Thess. 1:9). "That ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth" (Acts 14:15).
True conversion is a requirement for salvation, but it is not separate from saving faith. It is by God's grace through faith that man changes direction and turns to the living God. Turning to God is part and parcel of saving faith. You cannot be a true believer apart from conversion; you cannot truly turn to God apart from faith. Just as "coming to Christ" is synonymous with believing in Christ, so also "turning to God" is included in the concept of saving faith.
For another study on Conversion, see Repentance and Conversion.
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Terms of Salvation (Index)