Problems in Conversion

I am perplexed by expressions from certain preachers to the effect that they were in the work for years before they were converted. Would any one give up the world and preach this message for years unless he were converted? Why then this suggestion about a late conversion? Is it not simply a deeper experience?

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

Problems in Conversion

I am perplexed by expressions from certain preachers to the effect that they were in the work for years before they were converted. Would any one give up the world and preach this message for years unless he were converted? Why then this suggestion about a late conversion? Is it not simply a deeper experience?

No, it does not follow that because a man has turned from the world and its emoluments to the ardent service of the church at a material sacrifice, he is by that evidence a converted man. We have a conclusive and illuminating example in the case of Peter. Attracted to Jesus and accepting His teachings, he responded to the Saviour's call, leaving a profitable secular business for the unpopularity and precarious living of discipleship of the despised Naza­rene. For three years he was an out­standing companion and disciple of Christ, and was even one of the inner circle, as witness the mount of trans­figuration and the garden of Geth­semane. He was an ardent defender of his Lord, as testified by his action with the sword at the time of Jesus' arrest. He was ready to walk on the water, and was even most prominent in episodes that embraced all the dis­ciples, as at the feet washing in the upper chamber.

In common with others he shared the misunderstanding and anticipation of a material kingdom to be restored to Israel. Upon one occasion he said to Jesus, " We have left all, and fol­lowed Thee." Luke 18: 28. But de­spite it all, Peter was an unconverted man. This we know on no less an authority than the Holy. One Himself, as He declares, " When thou art con­verted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke 22: 32. This should settle forever the assumption of the querist.

Discipleship is not evidence of con­version. But Peter's conversion be­came an actuality after three and a half years' discipleship. It was not until the death of self, the breakdown of the old life in which he had trusted, and the utter surrender of himself after the tragic denial, the reproachful look of Christ, and the bitter weeping, followed by the resurrection afterward and the personal message from Jesus,

coupled with the triple test by the Sea of Tiberius,— then, under the power of the Holy Spirit, he became the mighty preacher of Pentecost and indeed the strengthener of his brethren. Then he was a converted man.

If that experience, detailed at length in Scripture, was an actuality in apos­tolic days, why should belated conversions be thought a thing incredible in the ranks of workers to-day? Much turns on the real meaning of the word " converted." This is the manward side of that great transaction of which regeneration is the Godward side. They are inseparable, and result in new life in the soul from God. Peter, no less than Nicodemus, had not been born again until this transaction took place.

For such a living experience every worker should seek until it is an un­deniable reality. Only thus is there true power, victory, and fruitage in personal life and service. From many similar expressions in the spirit of prophecy the few which are appended confirm the position here assumed. Surely the combined Scripture and Testimony evidence constitutes a mighty declaration and solemn appeal for a universally converted ministry.

" Many have accepted the theory of the truth, who have had no true con­version. I know whereof I speak. There are few who feel true sorrow for sin; who have deep, pungent con­victions of the depravity of the un­regenerate nature. The heart of stone is not exchanged for a heart of flesh. Few are willing to fall upon the Rock, and be broken."—" Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 218.

" Men may present in a clear manner the claims of truth upon others, and yet their own hearts be carnal. . . . We know by the history of the past that men may stand in sacred positions, and yet handle the truth of God deceitfully.

The truth was never stamped upon their hearts. . . . Their conversion has been only superficial."—Id., p. 536.

" Many of those carrying heavy re­sponsibilities need to be converted. Christ says to them as He said to Nicodemus: ' Ye must be born again.' ' Except a man be born again, he can­not see the kingdom of God.' John 3:7, 3. Many are controlled by an un­Christian spirit. They have not yet learned in the school of Christ His meekness and lowliness, and unless they change, they will yield to Satan's temptations. Year after year, they carry sacred responsibilities, yet prove themselves incapable of distinguishing between the sacred and the common." Id., Vol. VIII, p. 149.

" We must have a converted ministry. The efficiency and power attending a truly converted minister would make the hypocrites in Zion tremble, and sinners afraid."—Id., Vol. IV, p. 528.

L. E. F.


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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

May 1929

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