Christianity -- Christian Living/Conversion/Becoming a Christian
I struggle between 2 views of conversion:
1.Acts 2:38 - w/baptism required, with Holy Ghost baptism and tongues
2. Romans 10:13-When you call on the name of the Lord. Without the requirement of tongues, baptism.
Can conversion occur instantaneous in a moment?
Please keep Acts2:38 and Rom10:13 without contradiction? I am trying to reconcile this.
Hello, Greg and thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, but in all honesty, I want to be thorough in this particular answer because you ask a VERY good question that isn't so easily defined.
Your question is very common as it is one that I have struggled with myself as I believe it is something that most believer's struggle with ; because it is assumed that conversion is instantaneous but scripturally this is not so.
It may appear that conversion is instantaneous but this is because of two things; 1) Scripture is often taken out of context based on the criterion of what we witness. ( This causes us to make the mistake of forming scripture around our beliefs based on what we see and experience- such as someone coming up out of a full immersion baptism speaking in tongues.) and 2) We are not in a converts life long enough to witness the steps that they have taken that has enabled them to reach the point of conversion. Therefore it is easy to assume that their faith comes to them easily and it may appear instantaneous but the point of conversion is often a long process as this is what sanctification is. ( I'll lightly touch on the definition later.)
So to answer your question, let's look at the specific scriptures you mentioned, because they are not contradictory to one another. It only seems that way because the teaching that goes along with these scriptures has left important detail out ( along with corresponding scripture)
" Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38 NIV
What is the gift of God Ephesians is talking about? It is the gift of the Holy Spirit through a SHOW of faith- how we SHOW our faith in God is through DAILY repentance, but not through our own ingenuity, but through the example of the lifestyle Jesus lead.
It is through HIS righteousness that we emulate ourselves by- that enables us to live a true repentant lifestyle. When His ways become our ways, we are living in repentance and this is through Christs works and not our own, so we can boast to the Lord and not to ourselves. Through our lifestyle of righteousness we give GOD THE GLORY.
Turning to Jesus' ministry in Matthew 4:7, Jesus is quoted as saying ' Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Throughout Matthew we are shown that Jesus performed healing miracles on those who believed Him, but there is an important detail that goes over looked; ' Jesus denounced the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent." Matthew 11:20 NIV
To denounce means to accuse publicly; condemn, inform against. Why would Jesus condemn those He had healed or at the very least the cities in which He performed healings? It is because although some of those people may have accepted that Christ was Lord, they or most of the people in those cities did not have a change of heart to SHOW that they believed that Jesus was who He said He was.
Repentance means that one has a conversion not just of mind but a willingness of heart to change. True repentance follows with a change of heart. Jesus condemned these people verbally because it was their lack of conversion through repentance acted out in daily living ( a lifestyle change) that spiritually condemned them. In other words, they may have accepted the healings from Jesus, but they also accepted and maintained their own sinful ways and maintained a status quo of how they had always lived without changing to emulate a righteous lifestyle.
Turning back to Acts 2:38, Peter states that repentance happens first and THEN a baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
To live a repentant lifestyle not through man's works but through Christ's is a requirement of scripture. Christ's name embodies truth as Truth is what God is. He cannot lie. Truth is constant as it is consistent. His name represents righteousness and so it is through His works we act out in our lives that enable us to walk in HIS NAME. We take on the character of righteousness and take on HIS NAME by emulating ourselves after CHRIST'S WORKS which are his teachings through the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Here's an interesting sideline note that is important to this topic: Many people say ' In the name of Jesus' or ' In Jesus' name' in prayer or in rebuke. It is often used as a sort of 'end to the matter' but perhaps ' In Jesus Name' has more to do with taking on a husband's name in marriage than it does speaking it.
In a marriage the wife takes on the name of the husband as her name becomes his. Her identity is regarded in her husband's name as she is one with her husband. She does not tell people she belongs to her husband by introducing herself in a way such as ' Hi, I'm Shannon in Gilmour's name.' That just seems odd, a wife simply addresses herself by her husband's name which is her family name. ' Hi, I'm Shannon Gilmour.'
When we live in righteousness by living a life of repentance through a lifestyle change that emulates the character of Christ through following His teachings, we then become a part of the spiritual family, the Kingdom of heaven. We walk in Christ's name through the character we emulate. It is then through this lifestyle we are given something as we have proven to God that we are serious about loving Him in the way that we should. We have become dedicated to Him through our dedicated lifestyle and this is when we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit as then we are baptized by Christ through the WORKS of the Cross.
So let's go over some scripture to help us out a bit further. I always like to search for scripture in three's or more. If I find scripture and it can be backed up two more times, then that is what should form a belief one can trust.
" Not everyone who says to me, ' Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.' Matthew 7:21
This is also another important quote from Jesus as we have to properly understand what the will of our Father is, and it goes hand in hand with repentance.
"...offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.' 1 Thes 4: 4
Sanctify means to make holy, legitimize, purify. How we do this is to rid the sin in our lives through repentance that is not just a remorse, but a regret that enables us to do something about our wrongdoing. We have to have a desire to change, and change comes from within.
" Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13.
While Jesus does save, as He did save and heal those people in the cities He later condemned, one has to understand that this scripture cannot stand alone as some teachers have tried to use it to justify their religious stance. To gain the full scope of view of the context of this scripture we have to go to the beginning of Paul's commentary a few verses ahead.
" The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming. That if you confess with your mouth, ' Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ' Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. " For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him., for ' Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10: 8-13
The above scripture is describing a converted heart. A person who believes with thier heart and can confess with thier mouths truthfully what they believe because they are living the truth. When you believe in your heart, you are living that belief, through emulating a lifestyle of Christ. This is what shows you trust God and believe that God raised Christ from the dead. While this may sound confusing, again I'd like to bring scripture into this to back this understanding up correctly.
" A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." Romans 2:29 NIV
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." Matthew 15: 8
"But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean'. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality , theft, false testimony slander. these things are what make a man 'unclean'." Matthew 15:18 NIV
"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done- burn with no one to quench it." Jeremiah 4:4
Circumcise one's heart means to simply cut off the foreskin of sin, once it is gone, it is gone, it cannot grow back. When one is living righteously they are not thinking about sinning, and therefore sin goes into a state of dormancy and a believer becomes blameless and is called an overcomer.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Phillippians 2: 5
"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved genearation..." Phillippians 2: 14
Please read Galatians chapter 5 and 6 as these chapters help us to emulate a Christ like attitude in spirit as following after the ways taught in Galatians help us to live a repentant lifestyle and back up the teachings of Christ.
Peter states clearly that after repentance we will be forgiven of our sins, because to live a repentant lifestyle shows God that we are sorry for our transgressions as we make the effort through His son to never repeat our sinful ways again. This is hard, but that is why it takes daily effort. It is then through our effort and commitment to the Lord we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our effort is a show of faith over a period of time, not instantaneous. I'd like to share with you some scripture that confirms this.
" Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession- to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13
The church teaches that we must be baptized for the remission of sins in Jesus name through a full emersion of water baptism and some teachers even go so far as to say one is not saved if they do not speak in tounges, but those who spoke in toungues at Penticost were FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS of Christ, that led a LIFESTYLE CONVERSION and not just in verbal confession only. Their belief was a process as you will notice that Jesus first called people into His ministry, then He taught them, and led them by example, and THEN when they were ready, they were told to go and heal people just as Jesus did with the Holy Spirit. ( Not on their own accord and this was a process that happened over a period of time. The disciples were not converted overnight or instantaneous, nor are we. )
confession and repentance are two different things, but yet they go together. One cannot confess and be saved if one does not live a lifestyle of repentance. While one may be able to verbalize that Jesus is Lord, we are shown through Christ's words alone that not everyone who says Lord, Lord is saved because the heart has to be circumsiced in order for the confession to be true. Circumsision is a process, as it goes along with repentance as it is what repentance means. You make a determined effort to cut the sin out of your life- for good.
Confession means to acknowledge or admit - in the case of confessing one's sins, one can confess their sins, but that doesn't mean they are repentant. In the case of confessing that Jesus is Lord, one can confess this too- but it doesn't mean that their hearts are truthfully aligned correctly to form a belief that is justified through sanctification. Does this make sense?
I know this is long and drawn out, so let me clarify this in point form. The church teaches that one must be baptized with the Holy spirit to be saved. This is true, but not in the way the church assumes.
Repentance does not mean to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord. Repentance means to have a change of heart and to have a change of heart means to change ones ways from sinful living, to righteous living. This can only occur through daily effort. Repentance can also be viewed as a lifestyle change. It is through this lifestyle change and daily effort to live righteously that the conduct of a believer is changed. No more are they sinful as they live a lifestyle that emulates the teachings of Christ. This is true conversion of the heart which enables God to present the believer with a gift, the Holy Spirit. It is then through the gift of the Holy Spirit can a believer act in Kingdom authority as shown through the disciples at Pentecost. Please note, repentance is a process as it takes a period of time. We are called children of God as children are often rebellious, and then through sanctification we are raised up into our inheritance as mature adults, better known as brides of Christ.
I hope this helps you resolve your conflict. I apologize for being repetitive, but I did want to share with you the importance of scripture to help you understand that believing in God is a way of life. Allow Jesus to teach you through His word and I promise you, you will not be steered wrongly!
God Bless you! If you have any questions or comments concerning this discussion or anything else, by all means, please feel free! We are all in this together and I am here to learn from you as well as we learn and share in the Lord together!