“The process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another” is a dictionary definition of the word conversion generally. It would fit a New Testament scriptural description of someone who had been “changed” by the Holy Spirit upon the person’s “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:2) The person who has undergone this personal experience is a “new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor.5:17). Other biblical terms to describe this are “salvation, new birth, born again, regeneration, saved.” It is personal, through faith, by the Holy Spirit, and it results in an instantaneous, permanent “reset” with eternal, irreversible consequences.
In this post, for the encouragement of all who read, I want to share a few testimonies of those who have experienced spiritual rebirth, conversion. How God works in each individual who trusts Him to bring about this radical life-changer is amazing and undeniable.
I read of world-renowned opera singer Jerome Hines, whose career at the Metropolitan Opera spanned 41 years. In 1949, the basso began to compose “I Am the Way,” and in doing so he searched the scriptures diligently, putting music to words. He would write in his 1969 memoir, This is My Story, This is My Song, that he would learn the impossibility of writing about Him of whom he knew nothing. Hines testified that in the work of composing this opera on the life of Jesus, God showed him that He was not interested in his beautiful voice but in his message. Hines put his faith in Christ, affirming that he would rather sing bit parts in a second-rate theatre and belong to Christ than be the most highly acclaimed singer in the world without Him. During his 55-year musical career, he reportedly sang the lead role of Christ in “I Am the Way” in over 90 performances. Hines had experienced, through faith in Christ, what is meant by biblical conversion. (Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times, cited in Hines obituary South Coast Today via Wayback Machine/Wikipedia)
On a more personal note, back in the early 1980s, a gentleman in the church I pastored here in Indianapolis shared with me that before he was converted, he thought nothing of conning Christians and later laughing and boasting of it. He said that he used to wear a ‘booster coat’—a coat lined all the way around inside, with pockets to carry goods out of stores, such as bottles he had stolen. My friend, an upstanding member of our church with a clear testimony of genuine conversion, said, “I got saved at a mission in Ft. Wayne, and the man who led me to Christ said, ‘You won’t be needing that booster coat anymore.’” Having become a new creature, he received a new robe of righteousness. He was a new creation—old things having passed away, and all things having become new!
The daily devotional Our Daily Bread printed a testimony some years ago that describes what conversion can and will do: “I’m a 72- year-old cattle rancher in eastern Tennessee,” it read. “A friend has been gifting me Our Daily Bread for years and I never read them—right into the waste basket. In April of this year, probably holding a new issue ready to toss it—Jesus Christ tapped me on the shoulder out of nowhere and completely changed my life in being born again. After 72 years of spiteful hate, rage, selfishness, and hurting everyone, I left the darkness of despair and misery for the incredible joy of goodness! Now I read Our Daily Bread from cover to cover!!” (Ray, TN)
Cyrus grew up in a Christian home, but he never had much time for the Bible. He loved Shakespeare and history, and as an adult he established a successful law practice. One day, a friend confronted Cyrus and asked him he had not become a Christian. That simple query set off a chain reaction of thoughts in the legal mind of Cyrus, who determined to learn God’s Word. The result was that he not only became a believer—having been converted to Christ through the search of scriptures that he would call “sweeter than honey”—but, thirty years later, in 1909, he published the Scofield Reference Bible. Cyrus Ingerson Scofield was gloriously converted because a friend had simply asked him one day why he had never yet become a Christian.
Dr. Fred Moritz—one time pastor, evangelist, and former Director of Baptist World Mission—told the story of preaching a revival meeting in 1982 in the 4th Baptist Church of Minneapolis, MN, where the late Dr. R.V. Clearwaters, mentor to many, pastored. In that meeting, at the conclusion of one of Dr. Moritz’s messages, two old ladies came forward (it took them three stanzas of “Just As I Am” to make it to the front) to publicly confess Christ. The rest of the story goes like this: One of the ladies had been baptized into the membership of the church in 1921; the other of the two, her daughter, was baptized in 1933. Dr. Clearwaters had pastored there for 43 years but did not know either of them, as their names were on the church rolls but they had never experienced the new birth, or conversion, until that day. It is a sobering reminder that conversion, salvation, is not by works but by the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Tit.3:5) It does not come by joining a church, being baptized, or turning over a new leaf—but, rather, by receiving a new life in Christ Jesus.
I have many more similar conversion testimonies to share, which I hope to do in future installments of “You and God.” But let me leave you with a startling statement from the pen of William Biederwolf, made in one of his evangelistic sermons: “In an audience one time of 4,000, I found that 3,200 had come to Christ before they were 20 years old, and about 400 came between the years of 20 and 30; of those who came between 50 and 60 there were but 17 and between 60 and 70 just one and past 70 there was not one in all of the 4,000.” If you are reading this post and you are still not “born again,” the “chances” of your being converted are overwhelmingly slim. Come to Christ today. Do not delay.
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)