Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 16, 1950

"When Thou Art Converted"

Cleon Lyles, Little Rock. Ark.

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and unto death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." (Luke 22:31, 35.)

Peter knew that this could not be true. Later, in his own estimation he proved that it was not true. When they came for the Lord he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the men. But then something happened. The Lord told him to put up his sword, and he healed the ear of the man Peter had attacked. Not long after this Peter did deny the Lord, as Jesus had said.

The Reason For Failure

Peter was talking about one thing and the Lord was talking about another. Had it been a matter of dying by the sword, Peter was ready. He was willing to do exactly what he affirmed he would do. But Jesus was calling on him for more than this. He was not interested in swords, but in his people remaining loyal to him regardless of the strength of the enemy. Peter thought in terms of material things, therefore was really not fully converted to the Lord.

This example furnishes us with many lessons concerning human behavior. If we knew how few of us are really converted to Christ, we might be alarmed. Of course, if things go along as we have them planned, we will stand. But things do not always go along in the way we desire. Since we are tempted in some way for which we have not looked, we are often caught unguarded, and Satan becomes the master. We find that we are not fully converted as we thought we were. When Jesus said we should love God with all our minds, with all the heart, and with all strength, he asked for much we are not always willing to give. If it were a matter of giving up life in a moment's time, most of us would be ready. I believe that many of our people would be ready to give up life for him. But when he calls for giving up life by living for him, we are not ready for this approach. He is not interested in life, just for life itself. His interest is in what that life can mean to his cause when lived for him. Although we might be willing to give up life in physical battle, we are not willing to devote a life to him. This is what he wants. It is what he wanted of Peter. But Peter had to have some bitter experiences before he realized it.

A Total Commitment

How many people do you know who are really converted? I do not mean the number who have obeyed the Lord's command to be baptized for the remission of sins. But how many who have actually devoted their lives to his service? Too often we find that there are areas that we have never allowed Him to touch. We will admit that he is the Son of God, and so confess him. We are willing to do the small things demanded in order to be delivered of past sins. But when the demands he makes cross our own plans, we have a real test of our conversion. If temptation comes in a way that we have not expected, we may be caught without proper protection. Complete conversion to Christ involves the whole man. It includes all that we have and all we can do. Our willingness to devote the "whole life" to Him, is the proof of our conversion.

It is not a difficult matter to serve Christ when everything is going my way. I can imagine all sorts of things about what I would and would not do. But something unexpected, and for which I have not prepared, may prove to me that I was not as converted as I thought I was. We seem naturally to rebel against things that do not go according to our plans. We rebel against people who do not agree with us. This weakness on the part of humanity is one of which the devil often takes advantage. It separates brethren. It stops progress in the kingdom of Christ. It often causes us to do and say things we never dreamed we would do or say. But it is the same story as we have in the life of Peter. He was ready, if everything worked out according to his plans. But when they did not so work themselves out, he was confused and did not know which way to turn.

People who are fully converted to Christ are ready for anything that may come. I do not mean that we are always able to handle every situation, but whatever may happen we are on the Lord's side. If we have fully made up our minds to serve him, nothing can turn us away.