A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 3 – The necessity of conversion

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.


A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 2 – Mistakes about conversion


This is a very sobering and humbling article to write, as I think about my own life and the lives of so many that are dear to me.  I think of those that I believe have truly been converted.  I marvel at God’s work and how He is the author of salvation.  He does the work … according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace… (Ephesians 1:5-6).

I also consider those, just like I once was that are deceived in their conversion and have a false hope.  They don’t know they have a false hope; they are comfortable in their “christianity” and you can’t convince them otherwise because they are blinded with pride.  They’ve been “good”, they’ve been moral, they’ve gone to church, they know the right people, and they have been properly set up to believe in their hope.  Yet if you were able to really dig deep and really examine the claims closely you would get a troubling picture that may actually challenge their lives, yet they won’t allow it.

It is my earnest prayer, and desire that those of us that are truly regenerated, and are new creations in Christ can lovingly call those to examine their lives by the truth of God’s Word and these powerful words penned over four centuries ago will have an impact on us today, as it has for centuries.  It will awaken those out of their slumber, it will turn off this cruise control “christianity” that so many have become accustomed to and the Lord of Glory will shine His light in a dark place and reveal their true natures.  May His name rise above all names as the “One” that is worthy.

Alleine gives us (5) mistakes about conversion that continue to condemn people to hell the same today as they have since time began.    Let’s take a look at those today as outlined in this first chapter of A Sure Guide to Heaven.

Conversion is not the taking upon us the profession of Christianity

With a twenty dollar bill in my hand I can get anyone I want to profess the name of Christ.  Just try it and see.  Approach someone and say if you say these words I will give you this twenty dollar bill.  “Jesus is Lord and Savior”.  Are they now saved and on their way to heaven?  Of course not that’s ridiculous; anyone that has any sort of knowledge of God knows this.  Don’t they?  Yet many will think because they said a prayer at one point in their life they are okay with God.

Are there not many that name the name of the Lord Jesus, that do not depart from iniquity (2 Tim ii 19), and profess they know God, but in works deny Him? (Titus I 16), And will God receive these for true converts?  What! Converts from sin, when they still live in sin?  It is a visible contradiction. Page 19

Conversion is not putting on the badge of Christ in baptism

‘If this is true, thousands may go in abreast; and we will no more teach that the righteous are scarcely saved, or that there is need of such a stir in taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, and striving to enter in (1 Peter iv 18; Mt xi 12; Lk xiii 24).  Surely, if the way be so easy as many supposed, that little more is necessary than to be baptized and to cry out, ‘Lord, have mercy’, we need not put ourselves to such seeking, and knocking, and wrestling, as the Word require in order to salvation.  Again, if this is true, we shall no more say, ‘Few there be that fine it’; we will rather say, ‘Few there be that miss it.’ Page 20

… If men are evidently unsanctified, they must be renewed by a thorough and powerful change, or else they cannot escape the damnation of hell.  ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked.’  Whether it be your baptism, or whatever else you pretend, I tell you from the living God, that if any of you be a prayerless person, or a scoffer, or a lover of evil company (Prov xiii20), in a word, if you are not a holy, strict, and self denying Christian, you cannot be saved (Heb xii 14; Mt xv 14). Page 21

Conversion does not lie in moral righteousness

Paul, while unconverted, touching the righteousness which is in the law was blameless (Phil iii 6).  The Pharisee could say, ‘I am no extortioner, adulterer, unjust’, etc. (Lk xviii 11).  You must have something more than all this to show, or else, however you may justify yourself, God will condemn you.  I do not condemn morality, but I warn you not to rest in it.  Piety includes morality, as Christianity does humanity, and as grace does reason; but we must not divide the tables. Pages 21, 22

Conversion does not consist in an external conformity to the rules of piety

It is manifest that men may have a form of godliness, without the power (2 Tim iii 5).  Men may pray long (Mt xxiii 14), and fast often (Lk xviii 12), and hear gladly (Mk vi 20), and be very forward in the service of God, though costly and expensive (Is i 11), and yet be strangers to conversion.  They must have more to plead for themselves than that they go to church, give alms, and make use of prayer, to prove themselves sound converts. Page 22

Please don’t let this one slip past you.  Consider this in your life.  Do you have a form of godliness?  Have you been converted?  Do you know when this happened?  Do you have a testimony?

Conversion is not the mere chaining up of corruption by education, human laws or the force of affliction

It is too common and easy to mistake education for grace… Page 22

In short, conversion does not consist in illumination or conviction or in a superficial change or partial reformation.  An apostate may be an enlightened man (Heb vi 4), and a Felix tremble under conviction (Acts xxiv 25), and a Herod do many things (Mk vi 20).  It is one thing to have sin alarmed only by convictions, and another to have it crucified by converting grace.

Others think that because they have given up their riotous ways, and are broken off from evil company or some particular lust, and are reduced to sobriety and civility, they are now real converts.  They forget that there is a vast difference between being sanctified and civilized.

O sinner, let the Word convince you now in time, and let go your false and self-deluding hopes, than have death open your eyes too late, and find yourself in hell before you are aware?

O wretched sinners, with whom God is scarcely in all your thoughts; that are so ignorant that you cannot pray, or so careless that you will not?  O repent and be converted, break off your sins by righteousness… O that you would heed the warnings of God!  In His name I once more admonish you.  Turn ye at my reproof.  Forsake the foolish, and live.  Be sober, righteous, and godly.  Wash your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Pages 21, 22 & 23

Friends are you double-minded?  Do you want to hold things of the world dear?  How much do you dwell on God in your thoughts and in your mind on a daily basis?  How much do you read His Word?  How much time do you spend in prayer?  How much time do you speak of His glory with others?

Test yourself and be challenged, if Christ dwells within you, this should not offend you.


A Sure Guide to Heaven – Part 1 – Introduction

Friends as I begin this endeavor today I have a sweet joy of anticipation and excitement.   The more I’ve studied the words of this incredible man the more I see the beauty of God that gifts those whom He chooses to perform His good pleasures.  Joseph Alleine is a man that had a passion for winning souls.  I hope his words will profoundly affect you as they have me.  I will once again encourage you to join with me if you have not.  Here is the link  A Sure Guide to Heaven


Biographical Introduction

As I began reading about Joseph Alleine, I’m immediately struck by God’s promises to parents that raise their children in fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), that it produces fruit and righteousness (Deuteronomy 6:24-25).  Alleine had a passion for God’s Word from a very young age.  Being born and raised in a Puritan family he desired to pursue a life of ministry.

Alleine’s years at Oxford were characterized by piety and diligent study.  His warm disposition found him many friends, but if their visits interrupted his studying time ‘he had no leasure to let them in, saying, “It is better that they should wonder at my rudeness than that I should lose my time; for only a few will take notice of the rudeness, but many may feel my loss of time.”’  As a chaplain he labored to evangelize country villages around Oxford and also preached ot the prisoners in the gaol every fortnight.  Such was his training for this future ministry.  Not yet twenty-one, he had already learned to be ‘infinitely and insatiably greedy for the conversion of souls and to this end he poured out his very heart in prayer and in preaching’. Page 8

In a day when most Christians spend little time in prayer and little time in study of the word, Alleine was ravenous for the study of God’s Word and the conversion of souls.

When the week began he would say, ‘Another week is now before us, let us spend this week for God’, and each morning, ‘Now let us live this one day well!’  ‘All the time of his health’, writes his wife, ‘he did rise constantly at or before four o’clock, and on the Sabbath sooner, if he did wake; he would be much troubled if he heard any smiths, or shoemakers, or such tradesmen, at work at their trades before he was in his duties with God; saying to me after, “O how this noise shames me! doth not my master deserve more than theirs?”  From four till eight he spent in prayer, holy contemplation, and signing of psalms, which he much delighted in, and did daily practice alone, as well as in his family.’  (Page 8 and 9)

A Sure Guide to Heaven has influenced many of the greatest evangelists of all of time including George Whitefield and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Speaking of Spurgeon; when he was a child, his mother would often read a piece of Allein’s Alarm to them as they sat round the fire on a Sunday evening, and when brought under conviction of sin it was to this old book he turned.  ‘I remember’, he writes, ‘when I used to awake in the morning, the first thing I took up was Alleine’s Alarm or Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted.  (Page 11)

Introduction – An earnest invitation to sinners to turn to God

We can grasp Alleine’s passion for winning souls in his opening call to his readers.

But from where shall I fetch my argument?  With what shall I win them?  O that I could tell!  I would write to them in tears, I would weep out every argument, I would empty my veins for ink, I would petition them on my knees.  O how thankful should I be if they would be prevailed with to repent and turn. (Page 15)

He quickly turns to the gospel for the answer to his question.

There is no entering into heaven but by the strait passage of the second birth; without holiness you shall never see God (Heb xii 14).  Therefore give yourselves unto the Lord now.  Set yourselves to seek Him now.  Set up the Lord Jesus in your hearts, and set Him up in your houses….

I am not playing the orator to make a learned speech to you, nor dressing the dish with eloquence in order to please you.  These lines are upon a weighty errand indeed – to convince, and convert, and save you.  I am not baiting my hook with rhetoric, nor fishing for your applause, but for your souls.  My work is not to please you, but to save you; nor is my business with your fancies, but with your hearts….

…if we cannot get your consent to arise and come away, you will perish for ever.  No conversion – no salvation!  I must get your good-will, or leave you miserable.  (Page 16 & 17)

In this day of ear tickling, man centered, feel good gospel Alleine quickly gets to the point.  He had no interest in whether they liked the message or not, only to plead with them and to diligently show them the truth.  Without conversion there is no salvation, a message which desperately needs to be heard today just as it needed to be heard in his day.

What is biblical conversion?

Some of you do not know what I mean by conversion, and in vain shall I attempt to persuade you to that which you do not understand.   Therefore for your sakes I will show what conversion is.

Others cherish secret hopes of mercy, though they continue as they are.  For them I must show the necessity of conversion

Others are likely to harden themselves with a vain conceit that they are converted already.  To them I must show the marks of the unconverted

Others, because they feel no harm, fear none, and so sleep as upon the mast.  To them I shall show the misery of the unconverted

Others still sit still, because they do not see the way of escape.  To them I shall show the means of conversion

And finally, for the quickening of all, I shall close with the motives to conversion.

If this is a new concept for you, I plead with you to continue in this exploration with me and let’s understand this thing called the second birth and biblical conversion, if you are saved or if you think you are saved I urge you to look critically at your own life and examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Is there anything that could possibly matter more?



Happy New Year!  Thank you for reading Uncommon Faith this past year.  God has taught me much through the writing of these blog posts and I’m hopeful you have enjoyed what I’ve had to say.  I’m grateful for this small platform to have an opportunity to share what God is doing in my life and what I hope He will do in the lives of others through the thoughts He has given me.

With that being said, I wanted to share something I desire to accomplish for the upcoming year.  Every day I wake up with new topics that I wish to discuss.  They always seem so rich and real in my life and I don’t have enough time to write about them all.  I’m grateful that God refocuses my mind to the things I believe He wants me to discuss.  Sometimes those are topical; sometimes they are a brief series or occasionally just random musings.

sure guide

Next week I’m going to begin a series on the book called A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine.  Consistent readers of this blog will notice I speak of Alleine and this book often.  My church family will know I speak of Alleine and this book often.  Why?  Because I believe it’s one of the most significant writings next to the Bible that exists today.  If you are ever going to read any Puritan writings I would recommend this along with John Bunyon’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Quoting from A Sure Guide to Heaven:

Countless editions of this book have been issued since it first saw the light in 1671.  Dr. Calamy wrote concerning it in 1702: ‘Multitudes will have cause for ever to be thankful for it.  No book in the English tongues (the Bible only excepted) can equal it for the number that hath been dispersed; there have been twenty thousand sold under the title of the “Call”, or “Alarm”, and fifty thousand of the same under the title of the “Sure Guide to Heaven”, thirty thousand of which were sold at one impression.’

Practically I want to write about this little book because many people will never pick it up despite urgings to do so, also I’ve personally seen two people come to saving faith this past year in response to Alleine’s writing.   I don’t say his writing saved them, but God used his words along with His Word to show these two their sin and the need for a remedy through Jesus Christ.  There are countless professions of just this same thing happening all over the world through this powerful book.

My desire is to post once a week about A Sure Guide to Heaven and then a more traditional post my other day.  For those newer to my blog, I typically post on Tuesday and Friday.  I can’t stress enough how beneficial this book can be to those in the church that are truly redeemed and those that are falsely converted.  Because of sin’s deceitfulness how can you test your faith?  What are the signs of true conversion and false conversion?  Alleine explores all these topics in such a wonderfully, powerful way.   The writing is a little difficult to read but is certainly worth the effort.

In an age of uncertainty when institutions regarded as “churches” preach a man focused theology there needs to be a call to look at the doctrines of regeneration and “true” biblical conversion.  These “churches” are in a wretched state and nothing short of God’s grace can save them and those that attend.  Without an understanding of the difficulty of salvation more will be lead to hell on that wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  This flies in the face of the “easy to believe” methods of today.  I may be speaking to you today if your testimony includes any of the following.

“I accepted Christ…”

“I prayed the sinner’s prayer…”

“I walked the aisle and prayed at an altar call…”

“I made a decision and asked Jesus into my heart…”

Friends these are NOT biblical conversions, nowhere is this modeled in scripture.

I encourage you to read along with me as we explore what it really means to be “saved”.  You can find A Sure Guide to Heaven available online for free if you follow this link

A Sure Guide to Heaven

I would encourage you to print it out as I believe you will want to take lots of notes.  It is also available from many online book retailers for about $7.00 per copy.  You might want to have several copies on hand to give out to friends and those professing Christ.

As Paul calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)  and this is a wonderful place to start.  Nothing of value comes easy and I believe if you invest some time into something that is this important God will bless your efforts.

Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end?  Is not the word before you?  What saith it? ‘Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.’  ‘If you mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.’  ‘Believe and be saved’ (Acts 3:19: Romans 8:13; Acts 16:31).  What can be plainer?  Page 30 A Sure Guide to Heaven