How To Keep Converted
“As He spake those words, many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
God intends that the world shall be converted through human instrumentality, and that largely through the spoken word. It was Christ’s faithful preaching and plain statements, which produced a change of opinion, and it is presumed a change of life, in the persons addressed, referred to in the statement, “And as He spake these words many believed on Him.”
God has so arranged that the world is to be converted through preaching. One of Christ’s last instructions, contained in His parting benediction, was, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”; and after receiving the Holy Spirit, who was to be their traveling companion, they proceeded to carry out their marching orders. The great spiritual revolution of the day of Pentecost, was brought about through the instrumentality of the spoken word of Peter.
Jesus, at the time of His appointment of the Seventy, said unto them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth more laborers into His harvest,” and the sickle of each harvester so sent is his tongue, speaking words which are given him by God. The greatest honor conferred upon Christ’s disciples is, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The emblem accompanying the gift of the Holy Spirit was a tongue, and a cloven tongue; perhaps indicating that it was to be used in many languages, and the tongue was duplicated and sat upon each of them.
Paul stated that, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” I do not know of any account in the Bible, of any person having been converted, without the instrumentality of spoken words by a human being. Saul of Tarsus, it may be answered, was so converted; it will be remembered that even in his case, it was the Divine-human Jesus who spake to him, and as He spake the words Saul believed on Him. God did appear to Cornelius and talked to him, but it was to refer him to Peter; and said the Lord, “He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do,” and we read, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”
I do not know of a case in the Scriptures of a conversion either through reading, or apart from the human voice. Since the days of the Apostles, doubtless there have been many converted through reading, yet the vast majority have believed through the spoken words of Christ’s ambassadors, as those referred to believed through Christ’s own words.
So far as my experience and knowledge extend, no man is converted but through the medium of some other man. For while God could do the work direct, and bring about spiritual life without human instrumentality, just as He could propagate the race without such instrumentality, yet as a matter of fact, God has chosen not to do so.
>From these words of Jesus we also learn, that upon the way men receive God’s message depends their salvation. If a man believes the words of Jesus, he is saved, and immediately receives spiritual life; if he will not believe the words of Jesus, the wrath of God abides on him; ” But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” The men referred to were not merely convinced of the truth of Christ’s teaching, but their wills were so influenced that they verily resolved to become His disciples.
Belief in Christ is moral and spiritual, and not merely intellectual. Christ so adjusted, and so continues to adjust His words to those that hear them, that a man with honest purposes always sees the truth; and will instinctively believe on Him; while the man who will not forsake his sins; and is therefore dishonest, becomes confused, by the very words which are so luminous and plain to the other. Jesus said, “If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.” As He said to His disciples on another occasion, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables; that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand.” While belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, saves a man’s soul, the very moment he believes, yet an isolated, or a momentary act of faith, will not save forever. Faith must be a perpetual act in order to perpetual salvation. The warning to these young converts is, “If ye CONTINUE in My word then are ye My disciples indeed.” I will not here enter into the disputed question, whether a man truly converted can finally apostatize; but I certainly maintain, and all must agree that, a Christian may backslide, and it is also clear that very many young converts do go back again into the world, and turn their backs upon Jesus Christ. Men are “Chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth”; and as Peter puts it,” Through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience.” Obedience and faith, are the necessary conditions to commence a spiritual life; and it can only be maintained as long as these conditions are observed. “If ye CONTINUE in My word then are ye My disciples indeed.” Success in a Christian life is conditioned upon the same principles as success in all lines of human endeavor.
There is an “If” in all things human. If one commences to study and continues, he will become educated; if one gets in harmony with the laws of commerce and so continues, he will be successful in business; if a farmer sows he will reap; if nature’s laws are obeyed we get the blessings of nature, while if they are broken we get the cursings of nature; and so there is a condition attached to obtaining any desirable thing in this life. The pathway of life is strewn with wrecks and failures, because the “If” of Jesus has not been observed, and because the similar “If” in all God’s laws has been ignored.
Because of this failure there are but few who maintain an unbroken walk with God from the time of conversion, even of those who keep up the form of Godliness ; not to speak of the many who give up the form as well as the power. How many are there who keep as good an experience as they had on that happy day when Jesus washed their sins away? Now there must be a cause for this sad condition of things. It may be that many who profess to be converted never were so in fact, and this may account for the majority who seem to go back into the world; but what about that large number of persons, of whose conversion there can be no doubt; who still have some desire to serve Christ, and keep up the form, but who have lost their spirituality and power? These are backsliders to all intents and purposes. The great problem which I am now to solve is, “How to keep converted”? How to have the same joy, confidence and communion with God all through life, that we had on the day of our conversion? Jesus solves that problem.