Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"
CONVERSION

BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

CONVERSION

  1. THE USE OF THE ENGLISH WORD IN THE SCRIPTURES
    1. The noun conversion is used only in Acts 15:3.
    2. The verbal form is found in many New Testament references.
      Mt. 13:15; Mk. 4:12; Jn. 12:40; Acts 3:19; 28:27 - all of these are used in connection with Isaiah 6:9-10.

      Mt. 18:3; Lk. 22:32; Jas. 5:19-20

      The words above are derivatives of the Greek word strepho, which means simply a turning about.
       
    3. In the Old Testament we have the following usage.
      Ps. 19:7; 51:13; Isa. 1:27; 6:10; 60:5 - the words translated convert (etc.) come from Hebrew words meaning to turn about or to turn over.
       
  2. THE IMPLICATIONS OF CONVERSION
    1. The physical implication
      It is used to signify the turning about of the physical body, whether of man or animal (Mt. 7:6; 16:23; Acts 16:18).
       
    2. The spiritual implications
      1. In reference to the sinner (Mt. 13:15; Acts 15:3; 1 Thes. 1:9; Acts 26:18)
        WARNING (taken from Chafer's Systematic Theology, Vol.7, p. 93)
        "However, being only the human action of mind and will, conversion in the moral or spiritual sense is not equivalent to salvation, which in all its mighty transformations is ever and only a work of God for the individual who exercises saving faith in Christ.

        "Conversion is the foremost counterfeit of true salvation. It may indicate nothing more than reformation. It may be the response to an evangelist, but not the genuine work of salvation with its accompanying of the new birth and forgiveness.

        "On the other hand, spiritual conversion takes place when the Holy Spirit does His quickening work and man responds in repentance ("a change of mind") towards sin, and faith towards God (1 Thes. 1:9). The student would do well to avoid the use of the word 'conversion' when salvation is in view."
         
      2. In reference to the saint
        A turning back to God through confession after having wandered away from Him (Lk. 22:32; Ps. 19:7; 23:3; 51:12-13).

        Dr. A. H. Strong writes in his Outlines of Theology, p.831: "The changes in the believer's life are but manifestations of a disposition already changed. Conversion can occur but once." John 13:10 (Obviously he is referring to the first or salvation aspect of conversion explained above.)
         
  3. DEFINITIONS
    In the doctrinal use of the word, conversion is:
    1. The act of a sinner in turning from his sins to Christ (Mt. 13:15).
    2. The act of a backslidden saint in turning from his backsliding to Christ (Lk. 22:32).
 

"Mason's Notes"


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