Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1953
NUMBER 28, PAGE 3,5b

Cases Of Bible Conversion

Thomas Allen Robertson, San Bernardino, California

That faith, repentance, confession, and baptism were steps in conversion as taught by the apostles can be clearly seen by taking a look at the cases of conversion as recorded in the Book of Acts. Let us consider the record on these individual examples.

  1. The first case recorded in the Book of Acts is that of the Pentecostians as recorded in Acts 2:1-41. In this case we learn that Peter preached unto them (Acts 2:14-36), they were pricked in their heart; they believed what Peter preached; and asked what to do. (Acts 2:37) Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." (Acts 2:41) Now look at it: They heard, believed, repented, and were baptized.
  2. Now let's shift the scene to Samaria where we find another case of conversion as recorded in Acts 8:5-12. The account of this case is very brief. Philip "went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. (Acts 8:5) Then verse 12 says, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Notice, it is specifically stated that they heard, believed, and were baptized.
  3. Now let us shift the scene again, this time to the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. On this road we find a man, a eunuch, from Ethiopia, who has been to Jerusalem to worship after the manner of the Jews. As he rides along in his chariot he is reading the Bible. As he reads from Isaiah 53 a preacher, whom God has provided, joins himself to the chariot and inquires of him, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30) To this the eunuch replied, "How can I except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:31) And Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (Acts 8:35) Notice Philip preached unto him Jesus and as he preached Jesus, it made the eunuch want to be baptized. This we know because, "as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went own both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-38) In this conversion God performed two miracles: he supplied the preacher miraculously and when the preacher had served his purpose God miraculously took him away. But in spite of the miracles involved the thing the eunuch had to do to be saved was the same as the other cases: He heard, believed, made the good confession, and was baptized into Christ.
  4. The fourth case of conversion we wish to notice is also a road scene. This time on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus. On the road we find a man, a Jew, who is very much opposed to the gospel of Christ and His church. His opposition is so great that he is on his way to a strange city to bind all who call upon the name of Christ. As he goes on his way a great light shines around him and he hears a voice which says, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? and he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." (Acts 9:4-6) Here again we find the miraculous entering into a case of conversion, but notice the Lord did not tell him that he was saved, neither did he tell Saul what to do to be saved. It is God's purpose that the gospel is to be preached to man by man. So, we find a penitent, believing Saul on the way to Damascus. Keep in mind Saul had heard the gospel before, he was present at the sermon Stephen preached and also present at the stoning of Stephen. (Acts 7:58) After a lapse of three days God sends a gospel preacher to Saul with the message of salvation, and according to Saul's own account, the gospel preacher told him, to arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16; see also Acts 9:18) So again we see that the miracles that entered into the conversion in no way became a part of the plan of salvation. Saul had to hear the gospel from man, believe, repent of past sins, and be baptized into Christ to have his sins washed away.
  5. Our next Bible case of conversion takes place in Caesarea. This time we find a gentile, an officer in the Roman army who according to the Bible was a very religious and devout man. (Acts 10:1,2) But his reverence and goodness could not save him for we learn that he needed to be saved. (Acts 11:14) In this case again we shall be confronted with three miracles which do not become a part of the way of salvation. The first miracle is to tell the man where to get the preacher. (Acts 10:3-7) The second miracle was to prepare the preacher to go preach to a gentile. (Acts 10:9-18) The third miracle was to convince the Jews that the Gentiles were fit subjects of salvation, for, such is the use Peter made of it. (Acts 11:15-18) So, we have three miracles and as yet Cornelius is unsaved. What saved him? He was saved by hearing (Acts 10:33); he was saved by faith (Acts 15:7); he was saved by repentance (Acts 11:18); and, he was saved by baptism. (Acts 10:48)
  6. In the conversion of Lydia at Philippi the record simply says that Lydia, "heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, and she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us." (Acts 16:15) Lydia heard the word, her heart was opened (she believed) and she attended unto the things which were spoken (she was baptized into Christ). Thus one more case follows the same pattern.
  7. Now let us shift our attention to a Roman prison. Two men sit in the inner confines of the prison as political prisoners, thrown into jail without trial and now in bonds and in stocks. But as we listen we hear them praying and singing praises unto God. Suddenly there comes a great earthquake; the prison doors swing open; the bonds of the prisoners are loosed; the keeper of the prison awakes and seeing the prison doors open is about to take his life, fearing that he has lost his prisoners. But one of the prisoners cries out from the inner prison, "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here, Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." (Acts 16:2834) In this case again we are made to understand that those converted heard the gospel, believed, repented, and were baptized into Christ.
  8. The last case we wish to notice is stated in the fewest words of any. It is that of the conversion of the Corinthians; of them the record says, "and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

All Cases Of Conversion Basically The Same

As one examines the Bible eases of conversion he will notice that all of the cases are basically the same. All had to hear the gospel, for this is God's plan. (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:2; Rom. 1:16-18) All had to believe in Christ as the Son of God. (John 8:24; Heb. 11:6) All had to repent of past sins. (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30) The good confession of faith in Christ before men is plainly taught. (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:10) And all had to complete their obedience to the gospel by being baptized into Christ. (Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Peter 3:21) In every case it is specifically stated that they heard the gospel and that they were baptized into Christ. Faith alone never saved anyone. (James 2:14-26)