Proof of Conversion7 min read
Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.
It is amazing to examine the testimony of Paul in his ministry. In it, he could confidently defend that his motives were genuine and that he was ordained by God; no man could rightfully demean Paul’s ministry. Interestingly, the same can be said of his salvation and his personal testimony: it was self-evident. As we look at a few things we can notice from our text, continually challenge yourself as to the validity of your salvation: examine yourself. And afterward, ask yourself “Is my salvation self-evident?” Do people have a reason to question your claims of belief?
Conversion is Evident to the Believers
Paul had never seen the believers in Judaea, he never met them, and they never met him. But yet they understood who he was, what he converted from, and what his mission was at that point in time. It was no longer to persecute, but to profit. They had assurance, once they knew Paul’s identity, that they were in good company. Paul had never said anything or had ever done gospel work in their area, and yet just by word-of-mouth these believers were confident in the faith of this fairly new convert. From this we learn three lessons.
- Your testimony should be sufficient to prove your salvation. Many people are so-called “Christians” only because they claim the name, and yet it all seems to be a game with them. They call themselves believers, but in works deny the Truth of the One they claim to believe. They compromise morality. They compromise doctrine. They compromise clear Scriptural statements. And yet in all this, they claim to be Christians, with the only thing differentiating them from the atheist being their title. This is sadly very often the case, and it really is unfortunate, because it makes unbelievers think that Christianity is only a title, not a responsibility. Dear reader, don’t “play Christian.” Don’t profess Christ if you don’t want to live Christ. Paul didn’t even have to say a word, and yet people knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man was saved. Can the same be said about you? Or do you have to constantly tell people that you think you’re saved and then have to defend that to them since they cannot tell by your works? It should not be the case. Live the faith you claim to have.
- Your testimony means responsibility to be blameless. News of Paul’s conversion spread, which means there are many talkative believers – in this case it was a good thing. But this should also serve as a warning to us that your actions will be known of by many that you never imagined would know. If you have a good testimony, it will be a pleasant surprise when people say for example “Oh, you’re so-and-so? Pleasure to meet you! I’ve heard that you have a burden for souls, and you’ve inspired me.” But remember that if you have a bad reputation, that may very well spread also, and it can be a scary thing. Claiming to be a Christian is serious business, and you must learn to be blameless so that people do not have any reason to accuse you of sin or of false profession. Beware, people know what you’re doing, and your reputation will take character from that.
- As believers, we should be watchful for evidence of conversion. The reason Paul was accepted by the believers that he had never met was because they knew of his testimony. And they cared about the testimony, because they were no doubt a people who were careful to watch for false professors. Now, they were probably not questioning the salvation of every believer who came unto them, but they were serious about reputation, which is why they are recorded as having received Paul on the basis of his solid testimony. So must we be a people concerned about genuineness in our Christianity. We must be careful as assemblies to beware of false teachers. Let us watch for evidence of conversion.
Conversion is Proven by Allegiance
In watching for true conversion, we must understand the true evidence of it, which is a change of allegiance. The element which proved beyond doubt Paul’s genuineness was the stark contrast between his post-conversion life and his past. At one point the faith of believers was disgusting to him, but at this point he was preaching it. No man can serve two masters, and Paul proved just which one he was going to serve.
Similarly, the Thessalonians also provided clear evidence of conversion: “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 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.” People cannot simply serve the living God and wait for His Son in sincerity while they have no allegiance toward Him. Rather, conversion is seen as a change of masters and a change of service. So also in our lives should there be such a stark contrast with our pre-conversion lives that men are without reason when they question the validity of our faith. “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
Conversion Glorifies God
While the people did not glorify Paul, he was instrumental in their glorifying God. The response of the believers to Paul’s conversion is the proof of this verse: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
When people see the action of your faith, what does that sight promote? Do you give others a reason to think Christianity is only about hypocrisy, or do you make them without excuse as to their rejection of the Saviour? It is a solemn question. You see, if our testimony is a main source for the glorification of God, then this places a tremendous responsibility on our shoulders to have a good testimony. Your life should be an evidence of God’s working and power. Can people look at your lifestyle and say “God has clearly worked in this person’s life”? Or do they say “I thought Christians were supposed to be different; evidently he’s an exception”? Sad thing if that is so.
But not only ask yourself if you give cause to glorify God; ask yourself what your motivation is for service. Do you serve for the purpose that God might be glorified? Do you care about what others think about Him? Does the cross so warm your heart that your response is “How can I not glorify the One Who went to such lengths to save me?”? O that we would be motivated by such incentive! We owe so much to our Saviour, and He deserves so much more than we can give. Should we not then give our hearts to Him and live our lives so that He receives all the glory? Is there anyone else who deserves such glory? Let our motivation be to please our Lord, and from that we can know that He will be glorified. It is a tremendous privilege to be part of that, and some day we will also share in glory with Him, for we shall be like Him and see Him as He is. Let us not lose sight of what really matters in life, and by that let our testimonies be sound and blameless.