Conversion, which appears forty times in the original (emotpe^), means no more than a turning about, and calls for a twofold treatment, namely:
1. Physical Implications. In this the first use of the terminology convert or conversion the meaning to be conveyed is no more than the turning about of a physical body. At various times it is declared of Christ that He "turned" or "turned about" (cf. Matt. 16:23, atpe9œ), which intimates simply that He turned
His body about. He was thus "converted." Christ warned the disciples against casting pearls before swine lest the swine turn and rend them, or "be converted" and rend them (cf. Matt. 7:6, GTpe9w).
2. Spiritual Implications. As a moral or spiritual act also, the individual may turn about. The Apostle writes: "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). 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. This the second and more important aspect of the term conversion may indicate no more than reformation. It is the foremost counterfeit of true salvation. When doing the work of an evangelist, it is possible to secure conversions which are self-wrought, moral changes quite apart from genuine salvation with its forgiveness, new birth, and imputed righteousness. The student would do well to avoid the use of the word conversion when salvation is in view. Men are not saved except they be spiritually converted. They will then turn from all other confidences respecting their salvation to Christ alone (cf. 1 Thess. 1:9). Israel too might be said to turn about (cf. Ps. 19:7; Isa. 6:10; Matt. 13:15; 18:3; Mark 4:12; Luke 22:32; John 12:40; Acts 3:19; 15:3; 28:27; James 5:19).
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