Conversion Means Change

Gospel of John #42: An exposition of John 15:12-17. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 23, 2011.

Incredible.  Spectacular.  Unbelievable.  The difference is night and day.  That is why it is described as passing from death to life.  It is called “the new birth.”  To come to faith in Christ is to enter into a completely new kind of life.  It means to undergo fundamental change.  That is why it bothers me when there is no visible difference between a pagan and one who claims to be a child of God.  To be a Christian is to be different.  You should not have to have a program to point out the different teams – it should be obvious!  Your life, as a Christian, should be distinctly different from the nonbeliever.  Yet statistically, in today’s world, there is virtually no difference morally or ethically.  I understand that we are all sinners.  I know that we are in the process of being made holy.  We are not there yet.  It is a lifelong process.  I get that.  But when the divorce rates is the same inside the church as outside the church, something is wrong.  When there is little to no difference in lifestyle inside the church, something is wrong.  I’m not suggesting that you must trade your SUV for a horse and buggy.  I’m not saying that you your wardrobe must be limited to basic black and certain shades of gray and brown.  I am suggesting that your lifestyle should differ from your lost neighbor.  I am saying that your worldview ought to stand in sharp contrast to that of the atheist.  Your values should clash with the secularist.  When you read the Gospels you find our Lord talking a lot about character.  He makes it clear, in the Sermon on the Mount, that character precedes conduct.  What we do flows out of who we are.  He said, the Christian is to be “known by their fruit.”  A good tree produces good fruit.  A bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.  In other words a “professed faith” ought to be backed up by a life of faith.

Yes we are saved by grace alone through faith alone but not by a faith that is alone.  Genuine faith produces works of righteousness.  As Jesus says repeatedly in John 15, and elsewhere, “If you love me you will do what I say.”  It is the night of His betrayal.  He is in the upper room with His apostles.  He is instructing them, equipping them, preparing them for the trial that is to come.  He pulls no punches, He refuses to “sugarcoat” it, He speak directly and powerfully to issues central to their survival and their carrying on the work of the Kingdom.  Our text this morning is found in John chapter 15 beginning with verse 12.

Text: John 15:12-17
Our Lord is clear…

Thesis: Life in Christ radically alters the believer’s life.

This is basic, or fundamental to the Christian life yet almost forgotten.
For too long we’ve talked of “putting faith in Christ” without stressing what that means.
It has come to mean, “pray a prescribed prayer and then live however you want to live.”
Walk the aisle, get baptized, get your name on the roll – then kick back – you’re done.

Scripture talks of “conversion.”
Conversion means change – radical, fundamental, to the core change.
When you come to Christ your life changes fundamentally.

It is not that you become a Christian version of what you were before your faith in Christ.  Rather if any man is in Christ he is a new creation.  The old has passed away and everything is made new.

Our Lord speaks of three great changes in our text.

  1. Life in Christ demands a totally new approach to life.  (15:12-13)
  2. Life in Christ enables intimacy with God.  (15:14-15)
  3. Life in Christ grants ambassador status.  (15:16)
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