Unlikely Converts

Men on the subway

In the following passage, James described a scenario in which two individuals visited the assembly of the church. After they arrived, the brethren treated them differently based upon their appearances.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).

James warned these brethren that they were not to treat others differently based upon their appearances. He explained in the next verse that “God [chose] the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). Yet they treated the poor as if they were unimportant. By this kind of treatment, they were putting a barrier between these individuals and the salvation that the Lord offered to them – all because they made a judgment about them based upon their appearance.

Sometimes when we think of evangelism and converting the lost, we might have a picture in our minds of the type of person we could see being receptive to the gospel. However, if we are not careful we could subconsciously reject or overlook some who might have otherwise been interested (the single mother, the person with tattoos, the immigrant who speaks broken English, or, in the example given by James, the poor man who cannot afford nice clothes to wear to the assembly of the church). Sometimes the ones who are converted to Christ are not the ones we would expect.

The New Testament contains several examples of individuals who would have been unlikely converts because they did not fit the mold of one who might be considered a good prospect. Yet they obeyed the gospel and became disciples of Christ. Let us notice some of these in this article.Continue Reading

How to Determine If One Is a Christian

Paul Before Agrippa

When Paul was on trial before King Agrippa, he used the opportunity to preach the gospel (Acts 26:19-23). One of the apostle’s goals was to persuade the king to become a Christian. Agrippa recognized this because he stated, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28).

We are trying to do the same thing today that Paul was doing on that occasion – trying to persuade people to become a Christian. However, if we are going to persuade them to become a Christian, we need to know what a Christian is. Also, they need to understand what a Christian is before they can be persuaded to become one.

So how can we determine if one is a Christian? How can one determine if he/she is a Christian or not? We can consult the Scriptures to find an answer.Continue Reading

The Real Pharisees (Part 16): The Pharisees Overemphasized Making Converts

The Real Pharisees

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

One might wonder how it could be possible to overemphasize making converts. After all, one of the principal works that we have been given – both individually and collectively – is to try to turn people to the Lord. The New Testament places a good deal of emphasis on making converts.
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Three Thousand Souls

Crowd

The Lord’s church was established on the day of Pentecost following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Acts 2). The Scriptures indicate that three thousand individuals responded to the preaching of the apostles on that day by obeying the gospel (Acts 2:41). As a result, God added them to the church (Acts 2:47).

There were many others in Jerusalem on this day than just the three thousand who obeyed the gospel – including many who would have heard but did not respond to the preaching done by Peter and the other apostles. What can we know about these “three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41) that contributed to their reception of the gospel? Let us consider six things we know about these individuals from the text:
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Conversion

U-Turn

In the second recorded gospel sermon following the healing of the lame man, Peter told the crowd that had gathered, “Repent…and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19, KJV).

What is conversion? The dictionary would define this as a change in form, character, or function. In the New Testament, it refers to a change to follow Christ. In this article, we will notice three things that happen in our conversion – not only to see how conversion happens, but also to learn how to keep from reverting back to the world.
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Lessons from the Conversion of Apollos

There are several accounts of people being converted to Christ in the book of Acts. One such example was the conversion of Apollos in Ephesus.

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue.

But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:24-28).

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Book Review: Coming To Christ

Coming To Christ: A Study of the Detailed Conversions in ActsI recently finished reading Aaron Erhardt’s book, Coming to Christ: A Study of the Detailed Conversions in Acts. As you can probably gather from the title, this book examines the conversion accounts in the book of Acts in order to show the consistent pattern for God’s plan of salvation.

Aaron does a good job explaining these passages in a way that is easy to understand. The Scriptures teach the essentiality of baptism for salvation and Aaron points this out in every case. Of course, much of the religious world denies that baptism is necessary for salvation. So Aaron also has a chapter addressing several arguments that are made against baptism.

The material in this book would be good for anyone who needs to learn what the Bible says about obeying the gospel. It is also good for Christians so that they might be prepared to teach others who are outside of the body of Christ and be equipped to show them what God requires of man.

You can learn more about this book by visiting the author’s website: Erhardt Publications.