We are currently going through a short series on the order of salvation (ordo salutis) in the Pastor's Pondering section of the newsletter. So far we have looked at “effectual calling” and “regeneration”. All of these steps in the order of salvation are linked together. If one is not present the others fall apart. Therefore, if we are going to get a better understanding of salvation, we need a better understanding of this ordo salutis.
The next step in the order after effectual calling and regeneration is “conversion.” We get the term conversion from the Greek word “metanoia” which means literally “a change of mind.” The concept of conversion is more complex than a simple “change of mind” and we do well to remember that fact. “Metanoia” includes a conscious opposition to the way things were before. That is a critical element of conversion, “to be converted is not merely to pass from one conscious direction to another, but to do it with a clearly perceived aversion to the former direction,” according to Louis Berkhof. “So we see that conversion has both a positive and a negative side; looking backward as well as forward in our lives. The converted person becomes conscious of his ignorance and error, his willfulness and folly. That person's conversion includes both faith and repentance.” These are important distinctions for us to understand because the focus of conversion has become over the years an emphasis on the emotional aspect of human response. The emotional aspect has its place but there is more to it than just human response.
True conversion is born of godly sorrow, and issues in a life of devotion to God. Look at
2Cor. 7:10, For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. Our conversion is rooted in God's work of effectual calling and regeneration. It is fundamentally a work of God; apart from God's working in the life of a person there would be no conversion. Here is a two-part definition of conversion from Berkhof that is very helpful: “Active conversion, is that act of God whereby, He causes the regenerated sinner, in His conscious life, to turn to Him in repentance and faith. Passive conversion is the resulting conscious act of the regenerated sinner whereby he, through the grace of God, turns to God in repentance and faith.” There are some striking biblical examples of this kind of conversion, think of Naaman in 2Kings 5, or of Zaccheus in Luke 19. Of course there are many examples from the Scripture and I am sure there are examples of people from your life. I hope you have a clear testimony that points to God's work of conversion in your life.
Conversion marks a moment in time when we consciously begin to not only put away the old man and flee from sin, but also to put on the new man with a striving after holiness of life. Do you remember your conversion? If you do not come talk to me or to one of the elders about that, it could not be more important. Christians are a converted people. We have been effectually called, regenerated, and converted all by God's grace.