John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This statement is every bit as shocking to people today as it was to Nicodemus at the time Jesus spoke these words. John 3:9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Here was a leader of the Jews, a religious man, with lots of training and he missed the simple fact that he needed to be converted to enter the kingdom of God.
Conversion is necessary. That is exactly what Jesus is telling us today, just as He did when He walked this earth, just as Joseph Alleine is explaining to us in this remarkable third chapter of his book. There is a “disconnect” among evangelicals today about what it means to be converted.
Conversion is radical and violent. It comes at a great cost because there is pain involved, pain at the recognition of your sin. Imagine your heart being ripped out of your insides and being replaced with a new heart. This is major surgery and without anesthesia.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
The conversion described is not a high attainment of some advanced Christians, but every soul that is saved undergoes this change…
What is it that you count necessary? Is your bread necessary? Is your breath necessary? Then your conversion is much more necessary. Indeed, this is the one thing necessary. Your possessions are not necessary; you may sell all for the pearl of great price, and yet be a gainer by the purchase. Your life is not necessary; you may part with it for Christ, to infinite advantage. Your reputation is not necessary; you may be reproached for the name of Christ, and yet be happy; yes, you may be much more happy in reproach than in repute. But your conversion is necessary; your salvation depends upon it; and is it not needful in so important a matter to take care? On this one point depends your making or marring to all eternity. But I shall more particularly show the necessity of conversion in five things. Page 50-51
Does this resonate with you today? If not I plead with you to read it again and meditate on these words. It is all that really matters. Your conversion is necessary.
1: Without conversion your being is in vain
Verily you are in vain, except you are for God. It were better you had no being than not be for Him. Would you serve your end? You must repent and be converted; without this you are to no purpose; indeed, to bad purpose. Page 51
Did he really say that?
What a blow to our self esteem…
This is a reality check…
2: Not only man, but the whole visible creation is in vain without conversion
O dreadful thought! That God should build such a world as this, and lay out such infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness thereupon, and all in vain; and that man should be guilty, at last, of robbing and spoiling Him of the glory of all! O think of this. While you are unconverted, all the offices of the creatures are in vain to you. Page 54
3: Without conversion your religion is vain
O soul! Do not think when your sins pursue you, that a little praying and reforming your ways will pacify God. You must being with your heart. If that is not renewed, you can no more please God than one who, having unspeakably offended you, should bring you the most loathsome thing to pacify you; or having fallen into the mire, should think with his filthy embraces to reconcile you. Page 55
4: Without true conversion your hopes are in vain
The hope of comfort here is vain. It is not only necessary for the safety, but comfort of your condition, that you be converted. Without this, you shall not know peace (Is. 59:8) Page 56
Spiritual sloth is but a scurvy in the mind, and carnal security a mortal lethargy. Page 57
Now, to say God is merciful and to hope that He will save us without conversion, is in effect to say, ‘We hope that God will not do as He says.’ We must not set God’s attributes at variance. God has resolved to glorify His mercy, but not to the prejudice of His truth, as the presumptuous sinner will find to his everlasting sorrow. Page 58
5: Without conversion all that Christ has done and suffered will be, as to you, in vain
That is, it will in no way avail you to salvation. Many urge this as a sufficient ground for their hope, that Christ died for sinner; but I must tell you, Christ never died to save impenitent and unconverted sinners, so continuing. A great divine was accustomed in his private dealings with souls to ask two questions. What has Christ done for you? What has Christ wrought in you? Without the application of the Spirit in regeneration, we have no saving interest in the benefits of redemption. I tell you from the Lord, that Christ Himself cannot save you if you go on in this state. Page 59
It would be dishonourable to God to bestow His choicest riches on them that have more pleasure in their sins than in the heavenly delights that He offers. God would lose the praise and glory of His grace, if He should cast it away upon them that were not only unworthy but unwilling. Page 61 & 62
Are you unwilling?
Hear then His own words; ‘Except ye be converted, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘Ye must be born again.’ ‘If I was thee not, thou hast no part in me.’ ‘Except ye repent ye shall perish’ (Mt xviii 3; Jn iii 7; Jn xiii 8; Lk xiii 3). Page 63
These are powerful words. Very few preachers say these things anymore because it seems so harsh to the listener. Yet imagine if your child was playing on the train tracks and a train was coming. How would you want me to communicate the impending disaster that was coming his way? Should I do it in a gentle easy tone or scream at the top of my lungs to “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” So why would those living a life that will condemn them to hell be any different?
If you don’t have testimony of your conversion, maybe you aren’t converted. Do you know when God removed your heart of stone and placed in you a heart of flesh? Do you know the day you were born again? If not do something about that. I suggest get on your knees and beg Him to show you your sin and then beg for His converting grace. This is sorrow not to be regretted.
One thought on “A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 3 – The necessity of conversion”
Oh Brother Kevin, what a wonderful, joyful, and yet very humbling reminder of the day God gave me a new heart. Thank you and praise God for His perfect plan of redemption, that we, His people, can be deemed innocent of our sinful, self serving, retched lives prior to salvation. All praise and honor to Him!