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Conversion Vs. Rebirth
January 28, 2014
-------Conversion VS. Rebirth-------
There are several meanings of the word conversion. One definition is a change when one adopts a new religion, faith or belief. This is the definition that is the focus of this article. Conversion is necessary for rebirth but conversion is not rebirth. If a rebirth is not experienced, then conversion has no eternal value.
According to the word of God, the Bible, entry into heaven is impossible without experiencing the rebirth. One can experience conversion without being reborn. For example, the goal of Islam is to convert the world to the Islamic faith through force if necessary. Someone who carries the title of "Christian" but has not experienced the rebirth, can be converted to Islam. That person would simply exchange Christian values for the values taught by Islam. If the "Christian" has experienced rebirth, conversion to Islam or any other religion would be impossible because the indwelling Holy Spirit would not allow it. This is why Christians are the most persecuted people on planet Earth and our media just ignores it.
People experience "conversion" on a daily basis. They convert to vegetarianism, to celibacy, and to a political part all the time. However, this kind of a conversion has no eternal value because it does not involve the rebirth. Converting from one religion to another has no eternal value unless it involves a rebirth.
What did Jesus teach about the rebirth? John 3:3 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:6-8 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Peter echoed the sentiment of Jesus in 1 Peter Chapter 1 "22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:" Paul was a persecutor of Christians until he had a personal encounter with Christ. Paul was "converted" at this point but it was more than just a conversion. It was a rebirth. Peter said we were born again by the word of God. When a person starts to truly believe what the Bible teaches, they start to act on that belief. The person is "converted" and this conversion leads to the rebirth. There are some who taste of the word, start to believe it, and then reject it never experiencing the rebirth.
How does a person become born again and what happens to a person whey they experience the rebirth? I know that the rebirth is different for different people but I know when I was reborn even though I had been a church goer most of my life. I was baptized when I was 13 years old and I rededicated my life to God when i was 16 because the revival preacher talked about hell and the tribulation period and I wanted no part of that. My motivation was there but neither time did I experience the rebirth. This led to me becoming an agnostic questioning and doubting everything about the Bible. Questions are not necessarily bad things because questions lead to answers. My rebirth did not take place until I was 33 years old in February of 1990. Why didn't I experience the rebirth at my baptism or when I rededicated my life to God when I was 16 years of age at a revival at our high school football field? I was certainly under the conviction of the Holy Spirit on both of those occasions and I wanted salvation. On those two occasions, I simply answered the pastor's questions about my salvation instead of me personally giving an invitation for Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me of my sin. I had experienced "conversion" but not the rebirth. I really didn't understand the concept of rebirth. This is why preachers recite the sinner's prayer when they are giving an invitation for a person to be saved. They are trying to guide the new convert into experiencing the rebirth. When I cried out to Jesus in 1990 with all of my heart to forgive me of sins I was by myself, in my car, smoking a joint and listening to the tape player. I knew after I had said that prayer that a change had taken place. Sinful things in my life, such as smoking pot, started to be eradicated from my life and I had a renewed interest in attending church and started going to Sunday School to learn more.
Paul stated when a person is born again he becomes a new creature, "17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 1 Corninthians I knew that I had become a new creature and I finally understood the concept of being born again.
Ephesisan 4 tells us, "4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when you are born again. This only happens one time and from that point on the Holy Spirit controls you or should control you. Too many Christians get caught up in worldly things and quench the Spirit but they haven't lost the Spirit. The denomination I currently attend confuses the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the filling of the Spirit. For someone who has experienced the rebirth, there will be many times when they become filled with the spirit. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It simply means the Holy Spirit has complete control instead of you. When you are angry, anger controls you. It is the same principle when the Holy Spirit has control. When the Spirit has control it can be manifested in many ways. Since the Spirit is in control then the Spirit also controls the manifestations.
When you experience the rebirth, the Holy Spirit is placed inside you by God Himself. This giving of the Holy Spirit seals the deal for all eternity. Ephesisans 1 tells us this, "12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
There is a debate within the church whether or not a person can lose their salvation. This is the way I see it. Either you have experienced the rebirth or you have not. There are many who claim the name of Christian who have never experienced the rebirth. Being born again means to be born of the Spirit after you have been born in the flesh. There is only one fleshly birth for each person and, I believe, there is only one spiritual birth for each person. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit after you have experienced the rebirth is God's seal on you. It is the guarantee of your inheritance, Heaven, because you are now a purchased possession bought by the blood of Christ.
Conversion simply means to change your viewpoint about your faith or religion. When I was in my agnostic stage, I doubted the word of God. When I started watching preachers on television demonstrate how current events related to biblical prophecy, I became a convert. I changed my mind about the Bible and became a believer. The conversion in and of itself was not the rebirth but it led to my rebirth.
When a person states they once were a Catholic but now they are a Baptist or they once practiced Hinduism and have now converted to Islam or used to be a Mormon but now practice Wicca, a conversion does take place. In these type of conversions, there is no rebirth. There is no indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without that indwelling, then these types of conversions have no more value than five acres of farmland on the south pole.
Conversion is necessary for rebirth. Conversion is not rebirth. It is very important you understand the difference. The only thing at stake is the eternal destiny of your soul.
Copyright 2014 by Gary Goodworth
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