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Be Ye Converted

by David A. DePra

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little

children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:3)

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)

     "To be converted" means, in the Greek, "to be turned around." It

means a change of direction. If we imagined a person who was

walking in one direction, who turns around and walk in the other, we

would see the picture correctly. Except that God means it is a moral

and spiritual sense. He wants people to "turn around" and change

the moral and spiritual direction of their lives.

     In reality, when all is said and done, there are two and ONLY two

directions people can walk in, morally and spiritually. We are either

walking in UNBELIEF -- keeping our distance from Jesus Christ. Or

we are walking in FAITH -- embracing the free gift of God in Christ.

Everything else falls within one of these TWO directions.

     We have to get that: There are TWO -- and only TWO -- moral

directions: Faith or unbelief. By faith, I embrace Christ. In unbelief,

I stand aloof of Him.

     Now we can see what CONVERSION really means. If conversion

means to turn FROM one direction TO another, then conversion

means to turn FROM unbelief TO faith in Jesus Christ. It is just that



     How do we change the direction of our lives from that of unbelief

to faith? Through REPENTANCE. We must REPENT of unbelief,

and as a result, begin believing and embracing Jesus Christ.

This Truth is captured in a nutshell by the phrase which stands

at the forefront of the gospel: "Repent and believe."

     Ask: Repent of what? Well, obviously, if we are to "repent and

believe," then we are to repent of NOT believing. How clear. We

must repent OF unbelief.

     Yet that is not the full outcome of repentance. For if I REPENT of

NOT believing, then, by definition, I will do what? I will BELIEVE!

     This then, IS conversion: Repent and believe. Repent of NOT

believing, so that I will then BELIEVE. I "change the direction" of my

life from unbelief to faith.


     You and I do need to repent of "sins" in the sense that we need to

have a change of "moral mind" about sin. We will spend the rest of

our lives having our minds renewed by the Holy Spirit, and that

renewal will make us more and more aware of where we need to

forsake sin and correct course. Someone once said that we must

repent everyday. There is certainly Truth to this in that we must

grow. We must put off the old man and put on the new.

     But we must be clear about something. This "kind of repentance,"

where we are convicted of sin and learn to forsake it, on a daily

basis, is NOT the repentance spoken of in the phrase, "repent and

believe." No. Rather, our daily need to acknowledge and forsake

sin is really the WORKING OUT of the repentance in the phrase,

"repent and believe."

     The "repentance" in the phrase "repent and believe" is actually

a repentance which happens once for all. It leads to salvation itself.

The rest of our Christian "repentance" is only possible because we

have FIRST repented of unbelief and come to Jesus by faith!

     Get that. Repentance means to stop distancing myself from

Christ, and believing means to start giving myself to Him. Then,

once I do that, the FACT that I have now come to Jesus is going to

result in my seeing all of the sins that I need to forsake and all of

the obedience God requires. It could happen no other way.

     Think of Jesus Christ as a big LIGHT. (He is, after all, exactly

that, spiritually. He said, "I am the Light of the world.") There is

nothing keeping us from coming to Him. Nothing. Except our own

refusal to do so. That is unbelief. But the moment we repent -- and

are converted -- we DO come to Him. But notice what begins to

happen: The Light begins to expose us. I will therefore, having

come to the Light, spend the rest of my life experiencing and living

out what the Light brings and exposes. I will SEE JESUS, but will

also SEE my sins. I can then "repent" of those and forsake them.

I can begin walking in the Truth and the freedom which my "once

for all" repentance unto faith in Christ initiated.

     Notice: None of this happens UNTIL I come to Christ. UNTIL I

repent -- once for all -- of unbelief by coming to Christ. Otherwise

we would have to, one-by-one, repent of every sin BEFORE we can

approach Christ -- something which is impossible without HIM!

     So now we see that if we "repent and believe" that we really are

repenting of NOT believing. And once we repent of that, then we

DO believe. Thus, repentance of unbelief is once for all. Through

it, I come to Christ -- based solely on His finished work. He is then

able to begin a work of sanctification in me.


     Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Faith embraces and surrenders

to the One which is it's object. But unbelief does not. It stands aloof

of God.

     Yet there may still be some confusion about unbelief. What is it,

and what is it not? Since we must repent of it, it behooves us to

understand what it is.

     First of all, unbelief -- in the final analysis -- is not ignorance. No.

Ignorance is the inability to believe because I have never heard.

But UNBELIEF is the refusal to believe. It is not an intellectual

problem, or an emotional problem. It is a moral problem.

     Yet don't think of unbelief as someone standing and shaking

their fist at God. Rarely do any of us do this. Instead, we neglect the

Truth, or rationalize it away. We find ways to side-step it. Or we try

to say we never heard it.

     There are a number of ways in which we manifest unbelief. But

the most subtle way of all is NOT by doing bad things. It is by doing

supposed "good" things. Unbelief is most often manifested when

we use our own works for the basis of God's grace and favor. We

put our faith in our own works, instead of in HIS finished work.

     Most of us talk about needing to "repent of sin." But do we

realize that using anything about ourselves as the reason we stand

before God IS SIN. Yep. THAT is sin -- it is unbelief. We must

finally see that what Jesus did for us was completely independent

of anything we could do, or anything at all about us. God simply

tells us to believe and embrace this Truth.

     Some folks think that because they live continually in guilt and

fear that they could not possibly be putting their faith in their works.

After all, if there is one thing they are sure of, it is that their works are

lacking. But their faith IS in their works. It is merely a frustrated faith.

The fact they live in condemnation because of their sins proves it.

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)

     I am guilty of unbelief if I am not standing in the grace of God by

faith. HOW I exercise my unbelief may vary. But anything short of

faith in Christ alone for salvation, and for everything else AFTER

salvation, and I am in danger of unbelief.

Taking Away Sin

     The key to understanding faith and unbelief is to understand the

finality of what God has done in Christ. Note that: The FINALITY

of what Christ has done. For if what Christ has done is NOT final,

then mere faith will not do. We need MORE -- namely works. In

short, if what Christ did is not final, then it is up to you and I to make

it final through our own efforts.

     Here we see a great Truth: The fact that we are able to embrace

Christ by faith alone PROVES that His work is FINAL. Only a work

which is finished could be offered solely by grace, and embraced

solely by faith.

     But in what sense is the redemption finished and final? Well,

with regards to sin, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of

God, TOOK AWAY all the sin of the world. (see Jn. 1:29) This

means that sin is no longer between us and God. It can't be. Jesus

took it away. Thus, ALL sin -- past, present, and future, for ALL the

world -- is taken away.

     Now ask: If Jesus took away ALL sin, is it possible for me to

commit a sin which has not already been taken away? No. So, in

other words, when I sin, THAT sin is already taken away. Right?

That's right. ALL sin is taken away in Christ, and therefore, when I

sin -- and I will -- that sin has been taken away even before I commit


     Do you see that? If Jesus took ALL sin away, then I can't put my

sin back. I cannot do anything to negate what Jesus Christ has

done. Elsewise my sin would be greater than the One who died

for it.

     Consider the alternative: Jesus took away all sin, but when I sin,

my sin comes between me and God. But if that is true, why did

Jesus bother taking it away to begin with? I need only sin to put it


     This clashes with the notion of some Christians. Some of us have

been taught that IF we confess sin, THEN it is taken away. But the

Truth states it the other way around: Sin is already taken away. And

that is WHY we confess it.

     Jesus did not die only for "confessed sin." He died for ALL sin.

All sin is already under the Blood. Unbelief is the denial or neglect

of that great Truth. Faith is the embracing of it, and always results

in confession of the fact -- confession of sin and the fact that in Christ

it is all under the Blood.

     Incidentally, there IS one sin Jesus could not die for: The refusal of

His death. God cannot forgive the refusal of His forgiveness. Jesus

could not die for the refusal of His death. In other words, in the final

analysis, Jesus could not die for UNBELIEF. That would be a

moral contradiction. We are saved by grace THROUGH faith.

While We Were Yet Enemies

     God never asked our permission to take away sin. He does

not even ask our permission to take away OUR sin. IT IS TAKEN

AWAY. All God asks of us is this: Repent of your refusal to believe

that sin is taken away. Repent of holding on to the sin Christ has

taken away. Repent of unbelief, and start believing and

surrendering to the Redemption Jesus Christ has finished for you.

     The simplicity of this Truth is found in this passage:

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the

death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved

by His life. (Romans 5:10)

     WHEN were we reconciled to God by the death of His Son? --

THE very death which took away our sin? WHILE WE WERE

ENEMIES. Read it again. WHILE WE WERE ENEMIES we were

reconciled to God by the death of His Son. NOT -- once we


     What this means is this: ALL SIN -- every sin ever committed by

every person who ever lived was taken away by the death of Jesus

Christ. All sin was taken away forever regardless of whether one

person would ever believe or embrace it. But unto those who DO

believe and embrace it -- what happens? They are SAVED by His

life. But if people do NOT believe -- then what happens? They do

NOT have life. They not only remain in death, but will eventually

come under the judgment of refusing the salvation God offers.

Changing Directions

     We do not merely come to Jesus to get our sins forgiven. We

come to Him for LIFE. And only that is salvation. ALL people -- right

now -- are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus. Jesus HAS died

for ALL sin. But only those who come to Jesus find that forgiveness

IN Jesus. Only those are raised with Him and saved through His

resurrection life.

     And TO HIM we must come. We cannot believe and not believe

at the same time. We cannot embrace Christ and refusal Him at the

same time. We cannot walk in two spiritual directions at once, any

more than we can walk that way physically. We have to choose

one way or the other. And since we are all born walking in the wrong

moral direction, this always requires a CHANGE of direction. THAT

is "conversion."

     Now we see CONVERSION. I become converted when I repent

of refusing to believe and embrace Jesus Christ. I repent of

neglecting Him. And if I will repent of the great sin of unbelief, then,

by definition, I AM believing. I have changed directions from

unbelief to faith. I am CONVERTED to Jesus Christ.

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