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LESSONS FROM RECENT CONVERSION TESTIMONIES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, September 11, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).


Conversion is the most important thing that will ever happen to you in this life. It is the turning point. It is the beginning of the Christian life. Without conversion there is no starting point, no beginning, no foundation.

The prevailing "decisionism" of our day deemphasizes the great importance of conversion. Thus, true conversion is considered a very small, unimportant thing to many. The "big" thing is what happens after conversion, whether it be Bible study, discipleship, or some "deeper" experience, these secondary things are considered highly important, while conversion itself is often thought of as small, even unessential, certainly not of any great consequence.

And yet this is not what we find in the Bible. Conversion is given great prominence in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts. Read through the Book of Acts with that in mind and you will see how prominent conversion was to the early Christians. In chapter two you have the conversion of three thousand people on the day of Pentecost. In chapter four you have the conversion of five thousand men (4:4). In chapter five you have more conversions (5:14). In chapter six you have "a great company of the priests" converted (6:7). In chapter eight you have a large number of conversions in Samaria (8:5-8), and the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch (8:26-39). In chapter nine you have the conversion of Paul (9:1-18), and the conversion of many people in Joppa (9:42). In chapter ten you have the conversion of Cornelius and his household. In chapter eleven a great number of Grecians were converted (11:20-21). In chapter thirteen you have the conversion of Sergius Paulus (13:6-12), and a number of Gentiles (13:48). In chapter fourteen a "great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks" was converted (14:1). In chapter sixteen you have the conversion of Lydia (16:14-15) and the Philippian jailor and his family (16:30-34). In chapter seventeen you have the conversion of a number of people in the city of Thessalonica (17:12) and "certain men" at Athens (17:34). In chapter eighteen you have the conversion of Crispus and many others at Corinth (18:8). In chapter nineteen many people at Ephesus were converted (19:18). In chapter after chapter throughout the Book of Acts, conversions are the main theme. This shows the high value the Bible gives to conversion, although it is downplayed in most churches today, and unheard of in many others.

Then, think of the lives of great Christians. What is it that we remember most about them? Why, their conversions, of course! What do we remember most about Augustine? His conversion. What do we remember most about Luther? His conversion. What do we remember most about Bunyan? His conversion. What do we remember most about Whitefield and Wesley? Their conversions. What do we remember most about Spurgeon? His conversion.

So, it is clear, from both the Bible and history, that conversion is not a small or insignificant thing. In fact, history and the Bible show that it is the most important thing of all! Jesus said,

"Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

We have had many conversions in our church recently. We ask people to write their testimonies after they are converted. I have been reading these testimonies and I will share parts of some of them with you. These testimonies illustrate some great truths about conversion. If you have been struggling in an unconverted state, you should hang on every word of these testimonies, and ask God to give you a similar conversion. There are vitally important features about conversion illustrated in these testimonies. You must experience the same things or you will not find true conversion in Christ Jesus.

I. First, the importance of preaching in conversion.

True conversions usually come as a direct result of evangelistic preaching. Richard Baxter, the great Puritan preacher, summed up what we mean by this when he said to preachers, "Let the awful and important thoughts of souls being saved by my preaching, or left to perish and be condemned to hell by negligence, I say let this awful and tremendous thought dwell ever upon your spirit." It is obvious that he was not talking about the quiet little Bible studies that far too often are "passed off" as preaching today. Notice the role that preaching played in the written testimonies given to our church recently. These are quotations from the testimonies of young people who were recently converted. Listen to the role that preaching played in their conversions.

"The week before I was converted, Dr. Hymers preached a sermon that really bothered me. It was on my mind every day throughout the whole week. The text he [spoke from] was the last part of Jonah 2:9, 'Salvation is of the Lord.' In it, he made clear that the work of salvation is solely of God through Jesus, and man can do nothing to contribute to this miracle. The reason this sermon bothered me was because I was trying to get saved by my own efforts…After I heard this sermon…I started to see and feel my depravity."

Another person said that his mind would "fuzz out" during the preaching. But he prayed for God to help him listen more carefully to the preaching. Then he said,

"I noticed that the preaching of the gospel became crystal clear to me - that salvation is of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Another person said,

"Dr. Hymers preached a sermon titled, 'You Can Be Saved.' During the sermon, he said that there was no reason for me to be lost. All one had to do to be rid of his sins was to come to Jesus…Though I had heard Dr. Hymers say this hundreds of times, I now heard it and actually listened to it."

Another person said,

"Every sermon that I heard began to sink into my heart. Then I finally realized that sin was not worth it. What would I gain if I were to continue the way I was?"

Another person said,

"[Dr. Hymers] spoke on 'Martin Luther on Justification.' He was beginning to give special attention to the Blood of Christ during this time. The Blood was at the front of my mind. The part in Romans 3:25 where it says, 'Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,' really hit me."

II. Second, the importance of conviction in conversion.

True conversions come after conviction of sin - which may be long or short. But being convinced of sin is critical in real conversion. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "They see their own sinfulness, they are horrified" (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Revival, Crossway Books, 1987, p. 41). Notice the role that conviction of sin played in the testimonies I am quoting.

"After I heard this sermon, though, the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my sins. I started to see and feel my depravity. I was a lost sinner, ignorant of God, and against His nature. I was on my way to Hell, deservingly so, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I was afraid God would strike me down at any moment. I would die, unprepared to face judgment. These truths haunted me every day."

Another person said,

"The amount of conviction I had over my sins was almost overwhelming. It was difficult to think of anything else except my sins - recorded in the books in Heaven."

Another person said,

"God made it clear to me that I had broken His law, and had been highly proud and presumptuous in not regarding Him … There I was, dead to God, dead to man, with no hope for tomorrow, no hope for eternity. A lost soul without forgiveness…sick and sad."

Another person said,

"In the inquiry room, I was told that it was not the amount of conviction that saves me, or any conviction at all, but that it was Jesus who saves a person and washes his sins away with His Blood…The following morning, though, my sin became unbearable."

III. Third, the importance of coming to Christ in conversion.

Listen carefully to the following testimonies.

"I was desperate for Jesus to forgive my sins…I began to think about what Jesus had done for me. He was humiliated and spat upon. He was beaten and scourged. He bore all my sins on His body. He shed His Blood for a ruined sinner like me. He suffered the punishment for my sins. He died in my [place]. He rose physically from the dead to give me eternal life. He went through all of this because He loves me. I had not known His love for me until that moment. Never had I seen such love displayed. That morning, by the grace of God, I came to know Jesus…The instant I came to Him I was washed in His precious and powerful Blood."

Another person said,

"I was left alone in the [inquiry] room. There was nothing at that point and time that mattered but Jesus…I was completely given over to Jesus and the saving grace He offered me. There was no room for anything else but Jesus and faith in Him alone…Only Jesus could set me straight with God. This amazes me…I can only now say that all glory belongs to God for the amazing gift of salvation through His Son. I can now say with certainty that my sins are forgiven. My boldness is in Christ and His Blood."

Another person said,

"I came to Jesus as a wretched sinner with no hope in myself, but hope in Jesus Christ. With God all things are possible. The most important thing to me was coming to Jesus and my sins being washed in His Blood."

Another person said,

"In the inquiry room, Dr. Hymers told me to kneel down and come to Jesus and look to Him. At that moment, with tears coming down my face, I threw myself on Jesus. I believed on Jesus with simple blind faith and He saved me, in that moment in which I came to Him."

And another person said,

"I threw myself on Him and laid completely flat upon His Blood. There is no feeling that can be explained, but I was overwhelmed and thankful that God had spread His mercy upon me, and knowing that Jesus' Blood had paid for my sins…His Blood is now real to me."

These are some quotations from testimonies that were given by young people between the ages of 17 and 21 in our church. I hope what they said will help you as you seek salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. You must go through a similar conversion or you will never "enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). The evangelistic sermons you hear must grip your very soul. The sermons must become vital and highly important in your mind. You must be inwardly convinced of your utter sinfulness, the depravity of your very nature, and you must give up all hope of self-reformation, since you are inwardly so ruined, deceitful and rebellious against Christ. The truth of your awful, sinful, totally depraved state must trouble you deeply. When this happens, whether over a long period or a short one, you must then come to Christ as a beggar, seeking pardon from Him for your sinful nature and sinful acts of rebellion against God.

False professions will not save you from the wrath of God. You must experience the true conversions these high school and college students went through if you ever hope to be saved by Christ Jesus.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Romans 3:20-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Complete in Thee" (by Aaron R. Wolfe, 1821-1902;
refrain by James M. Gray, 1851-1935).


THE OUTLINE OF

LESSONS FROM RECENT CONVERSION TESTIMONIES

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

I.   First, the importance of preaching in conversion.

II.  Second, the importance of conviction in conversion.

III. Third, the importance of coming to Christ in conversion.