I read something years ago which was attributed to George Ingles. He said that there are really “…three conversions in a man: First to Christ; Second to the church; and Third back to the world.”
Let’s look at them:
Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:41 (NLT)
Peter’s sermon was Jesus-centered. The convicting power of that sermon was not Peter’s clever words; the messenger is never the message. Peter was no public speaker; whenever he opened his mouth it was usually only to exchange one foot for the other. The convicting power of that retelling of the Gospel story was the Holy Spirit working on the hearers to produce conviction.
Conviction – a holy conscience – is a powerful thing. It can change everything. The difference between a false or genuine conversion is in a changed life; it is when all the priorities change that you know the conversion was genuine.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. Acts 2:42-45 (NLT)
In true conversion to Christ, conviction for the Church is what naturally follows. You read about Paul’s love, his conviction for the church in Scripture.
How does it come about that Paul, a man who hated and tried to exterminate the church, became one who loved the church? The answer is that he was linked to them by love. I’ve heard it said before that everyone who belongs to the Lord belongs to everyone who belongs to the Lord. Love will make you like that!
There is a third conversion, back into the world…
They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:46 - 47 (NLT)
The disciples continued meeting in the temple area; that’s like our church meetings. But it also spread to the homes where fellowship and sharing became the norm. But, understand this clearly – it did not stay within their “holy huddle”. Doctor Luke tells us (v.47) that they began to enjoy the goodwill of all the people.
Those are two very important words. The meaning of the word “goodwill” is, the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude. The word is actually charis or grace. And the word “people” indicates those different from their own folks. This means they didn’t keep Jesus to themselves! They went to outsiders and treated them like insiders! And when they did so, they experienced the grace of God as they went.
Those people without Christ were glad to have the Christians around. Unbelievers looked at their Christian neighbors and saw their Christian Master! That’s what it is like for people who have a genuine conversion to Christ and His church.
When you are truly saved by grace, converted to Christ, his church and even to the Christ-less:
· You’ll be a blessing to those who are without Christ
· You’ll be kind, generous and a really good neighbor.
· You’ll take a lot of “shots” and overlook a lot of obnoxious behavior just so someday you will have the opportunity to share Jesus with someone who needs to know.
When Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the good news, He knew that the journey around the world begins at our neighbor’s doorstep.
For You, Today…
Have you allowed holy conviction, that internal voice telling what you ought to do, to lead to conversion? Or more correctly, three conversions – to Christ, His church, and those without Christ?
If so, has it occurred to you that the grace you experienced when you came to Christ, will be all over you and your neighbors when you tell others.
If not, why not?
And, if not, will you now?