Summary: Questions to ponder to see if converted from 1 John (outline and material adapted from Thabiti M. Anyabwile's book, What Is a Healthy Church Member?, Mark 4, pgs. 47-55)
There’s an old joke among preachers that goes like this: An older preacher and a younger preacher are talking. The younger preacher is complaining that his church’s bell tower is full of bats, and they’re making a mess all over the place, and nothing is getting rid of them. So the older preacher, wise in his years, says, “We used to have that problem, but not anymore.” “What did you do?” says the young preacher. “Well, I took in those bats, I baptized them and made them into members, and they haven’t been back since.”
Sadly, this is a common issue in the church. Someone comes down the aisle, is baptized, and then after a period of time we no longer see them at church. What happened?
The core issue is conversion. “for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” 1 Thessalonians 1:9, NIV. Turning to God, turning away from idols is the essence of conversion, being converted. The Greek word used here is often translated as converted. “they (Paul and Barnabas) told how the Gentiles had been converted.” Acts 15:3, NIV.
Jack Hyles- Back in World War II, I was a paratrooper. I used to jump out of airplanes. We jumped out of airplanes called C-47's. After the war was over, I got on a plane, and they said, "Welcome aboard Delta Airlines DC-3 plane." I felt at home on that plane. We got up in the air, and I asked the flight attendant, "Can I ask you a question? What kind of plane is this?” She said, "A DC-3." "Has this plane always been a passenger plane?" "No, they used to be called C-47's." I said, "Go open the door." She said, "Why?" "I might jump!" "What do you mean?" "I used to jump out of C-47's." "Mister, after the war was over they converted all of these planes!" What did she mean? She meant that that plane was once used for something else, but it was reconditioned; its purpose had been changed. The plane has a new purpose. That which was used for war is now used for peace. It was converted. Though Christ we have been converted from serving idols to serving the living and true God. Once we were used for sin and the world but now we are used for God’s purposes.
Conversion is a change of life, not just a one time decision. Conversion is relying on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and a conviction of sin that leads to turning around (repentance). When we refuse to repent of our sins as Christians, does this mean that we are unconverted? Saved but not converted? Biblically these two things go together.
At times I remain unconverted. All of us need to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). 1 John helps us to do that: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13, NIV.
Thesis: Questions to ponder to see if converted from 1 John
Do we walk in the light or the darkness?
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6, 7, NIV.
Genuine converts to Christ grieve over their sin. They hate their sins, and they desire the light of life in Christ, which is to say they desire and work to walk in integrity and holiness.
People habitually and unrepentantly living in sin, who deny that they are sinners, are not genuinely converted. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:8-10, NIV.
Preacher, I have bad habits and habitual sins in my life. Concern about this shows that we are converted. Lack of concern about this shows that we are unconverted. “No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9, NIV.
Goes back to whom or what are we serving. “to open their eyes and turn (convert) them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God...’” Acts 26:18, NIV.