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Have you Benn Converted?

“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt.18:3).

The above words, spoken from the lips of Christ Himself, are indeed solemn, and they need I to be pondered by all who would have any part in God’s Kingdom. Whoever we are, Christians or otherwise, conversion is essential.

We shall now seek to show what our Savior actually meant when He spoke of "conversion", and also how each one of us may have that necessary experience.

Quite clearly referring here to what is often' referred to as a "change of religion". That is plain from the wording of the statement itself; where the Lord goes on to speak of "becoming as little children". That, certainly, is not just an official thing, but also something personal and profound, and suggesting a total change of character. It is a matter of the proud and the strong and the self-sufficient becoming meek and humble and beautifully "trusting". That is the kind of "conversion" Christ was speaking of, -a total inward renewal.

One of the clearest examples of conversion in the Bible is that of the dying thief. We are told that when Christ was crucified there were two thieves crucified with Him, "one on the right hand, and the other on the left" (See Matt.27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33). Full details are given, but the end - result was that one of the thieves was converted and the other was not! We propose, then, to examine what it was, precisely, that led up to this conversion, for, in principle, it was typical of every true and real conversion, -such as all of us need to know.

In our story, of course, we are dealing with a man who had probably spent most of his life disregarding the laws of God, -not least the eighth commandment, -"Thou shalt not steal"(Exod. 20:15). The law of the land had finally caught up with him, and now we see him paying the ultimate price for his crimes. He is already engulfed in the jaws of judgment, and it seems there is no hope for him. But then a remarkable takes place. Something has happened which has made this thief refer to Jesus as his "Lord", and to cast Himself on His mercy, with the result that he is immediately assured of a place "with Christ in paradise" (Luke 23:42,43). High drama indeed; - another sinner converted to the Lord!

As the Lord may help us, we propose to show how three clear steps to this conversion. For the present, however, we shall concentrate on the first of these; -perhaps the most important, namely:

We note that he did not see this at first, but, thank God, he came to see it, and that was the basic factor in all that later transpired. The record we have is most illuminating, -specially when we read the report of Matthew alongside that of Luke. It is important to notice that at the beginning (as told by Matthew) BOTH the thieves were "casting insults into Christ's teeth" (Matt.27:44). Both were mocking at Christ's deity (v.40), and both were ridiculing the very idea of His Kingship (v.42). But later it was different. At the end of the story {as told by Luke) we find that one of those thieves is silent, while the other is calling Christ his "Lord" (Luke 23:42) and openly pleading for a place in Christ’s kingdom. From those few words, we learn that God's own light had shined into that awful darkness, and another sinner was being converted, -"brought from darkness to light and from the power of Satan! unto God" (Acts 26:18). God Himself has shined in and given "the light of the knowledge of His glory", -and all "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor.4:6). The same miracle which was later to take place with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus is now taking place on the hill of Calvary, as one of those two thieves suddenly realizes that that Cross beside him is not carrying some deranged imposter after all, but is lifting up to heaven "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1Tim.6:15).

Some have asked what it was that brought about this complete change of attitude. Perhaps we should simply answer that it was just God's mercy. But there were other factors, which we should remember. Doubtless the thief had been watching Christ, and he would have heard the amazing words that were issuing from Christ's lips, including the prayer, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke23:34). Here, he would have realized, was a death different from all other deaths; -an innocent victim of crucifixion beseeching God's mercy on the very ones that : were responsible for the crime. Here was a Life being willingly "laid down", and "no man taking it from Him" (John 10: 17, 18). We can only suggest-that the seeing of that sight, and the hearing of those words, opened the poor man's eyes, and compelled him to call out to Christ as "LORD". Even in that dark hour he had come to see who Jesus was. And that, we say again, is the very foundation of every true and genuine conversion.

In our next message we shall try to point out the two remaining factors in this conversion. But we urge you not to wait for that; -it could easily be too late. You need to be converted now, -and you may be. perhaps what we have written has already helped you to see who Jesus is; -the Great Son of God and the Great King of Glory. If that is so, come personally to Him right now. Humbly repent of your sins and put your trust in Christ. He loves you also and died for your sins and rose again. You can be converted today, and you, too, will be with Christ in paradise

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