Converted by the Spirit – Gospel in Life
Sermon

Converted by the Spirit

Tim Keller |  November 30, 2003

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Topics:
  • Doctrine
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Bible
Duration:
45:52
Scripture:
Acts 10:27-47
SKU:
RS 171-13

Overview

Christian conversion is a radical inner transformation. It means to turn completely around and face in a whole new direction. It’s not so much a replacing of what you are but a re-facing of what you are. Everything you are is now lived on a whole new basis. Everything you do is done for a different reason and toward a different goal. Your entire life is changed.

The book of Acts shows us how Christianity spread rapidly through conversion. These stories of conversion are not all the same, but there are commonalities that we learn in the passage in Acts 10: Conversion comes through God’s initiative; it comes through the challenge to religion; it happens through the transformation of the Holy Spirit; and it comes through the words of the gospel.

Acts 10:27–47

When someone becomes a Christian, it’s like they’ve made a U-turn in their life. It’s not about changing who you are, but changing your focus, your reasons for living, and your goals. We can learn about this change by looking at the story of a man named Cornelius in Acts 10. His story shows us four important parts of becoming a Christian, which can help us to understand and live our faith better.

1. Conversion comes through God’s initiative

When someone becomes a Christian, it’s because God started the process. We see this in Cornelius’s story in Acts 10. This has happened throughout history, and people often realize that they started seeking God because God was first seeking them. This can be comforting, because it means that our desire for God is a sign that God is working in us, which is the first sign of a true Christian conversion.

2. Conversion comes through the challenge to religion

The stories of Cornelius and another man named Nicodemus remind us that even good, religious people need to change their hearts. This challenges the usual idea of what it means to be “born again”. The real problem is that people tend to make themselves the center of their lives, either by ignoring rules or by following them too closely. Both of these attitudes come from pride and self-focus. In his book “The Great Divorce”, C.S. Lewis says that being born again is not about being good or religious, but about realizing our spiritual needs, which is a process that God starts and that challenges both our religious and moral ideas.

3. Conversion happens through the transformation of the Holy Spirit

Becoming a Christian and changing our hearts is not something we can do on our own. It’s something the Holy Spirit does in us, which can be seen in people speaking in tongues and praising God. Real change means changing what is most important to us, because this controls what we do and what makes us happy. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs in the Christian faith is to make it relevant in every culture, to get rid of ideas of racial superiority, and to bring people together, showing that all languages and cultures are equal.

4. Conversion comes through the words of the gospel

Believing the good news about Jesus is necessary for receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us the life, death, and rising again of Jesus, who gave himself for us. The book of Luke shows how Jesus’ followers misunderstood him at first, but then came to understand more deeply God’s love, the power of baptism to change lives, and the importance of Jesus’ suffering. The humble, non-showy nature of faith is praised, emphasizing the truth of Christianity and the importance of understanding God’s love and acceptance, as shown by how we treat those who are often left out in societies based on Confucian principles.

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