Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1952
NUMBER 48, PAGE 4-5a

Bible Conversions


The Book of Acts is the story of gospel preaching, and of how men were converted to Christ under that kind of preaching. It is an easy and a simple matter to refer to these records, and to particular verses in each instance that tell exactly how conversion itself took place. Such a study is badly needed; for many people have an entirely erroneous idea of the process of conversion. They seem to believe one is converted to the Lord by some mysterious process, something that cannot be understood, or described, or explained. They look for some kind of miraculous experience which causes a kind of convulsion; the man who receives it cannot describe it and cannot understand it; they feel that true conversion isn't intelligible or comprehensible, but is wholly weird and mysterious.

The Pentecostians

In contrast to that "better felt than told" idea is the simple story of the Book of Acts. The very first instance of Bible conversion is set forth in the case of those people on the day of Pentecost who heard Peter preach the first gospel sermon in the name of a risen Savior. He addressed that audience in these words, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2:22, 23) Peter is "preaching Christ" to these people; he is preaching the approved life of Christ, and his sacrificial death. Christ died on purpose, in keeping with God's plan for human redemption.

Peter continues his sermon with an account of the resurrection of the Lord from death, "because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." This was in keeping with the promise God had made to David; Christ's body did not see corruption; his soul did not remain in Hades, but he was raised up in exact compliance with God's promise to David that he would raise up one of his own seed to sit upon his throne. When God raised Christ from the dead, it was that he might sit upon the throne of David; he has been exalted to God's right hand for that purpose. The sermon is brought to a grand climax by Peter in these ringing words, "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly (or, believe beyond a doubt), that God had made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (verse 37)

The effect of that sermon was immediately obvious, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (verse 38) The result of that sermon is shown in what the people did, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." This is the beginning case of conversion; this case sets the pattern. All the following records through the entire Book of Acts are in harmony with this first and beginning story of how men were converted to Christ. It is not weird or mysterious or incomprehensible; but is the simple story of obedience to the plain terms of the gospel.

People On Solomon's Porch

The second gospel sermon by Peter is recorded in the very next chapter of Acts. It also was preached in Jerusalem, and came about as the result of a miraculous healing wrought by Peter and John upon the person of a man who had been lame from birth. When the people came together to Solomon's porch, greatly wondering about this miracle, Peter said, "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus: whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you." (Acts 3:13, 14) And in sharp and merciless words Peter then describes how they had killed the Prince of life, and how God had raised him up from the dead.

Again, as on the day of Pentecost, the effect of such preaching was conviction. These people, as their fellows of a few days before, must have realized how they were doomed and damned in God's sight for their evil and wicked deed. And Peter tells them quickly how to be released from the guilt and corruption of sin, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19) This is the second case of conversion recorded in Acts; and, like the first, it is a short and simple story of men hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel of Christ. There is nothing mysterious or difficult to understand about it. It was after this that the number of men who believed came to be "about five thousand."

The Samaritans

The third story of conversions in the Book of Acts has to do with the people of Samaria. Philip came down from Jerusalem to Samaria "and preached Christ unto them." And "when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)

Here once more we see the simplicity of the divine pattern. It is shown in the brief narrative in such clear terms that it cannot be misunderstood. God has shown in words too plain and in events too clear-cut for misunderstanding what he desires men to do to be saved from the guilt of their sins.

— R.E.C.