Steps to Initial Repentance and Conversion

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Steps to Initial Repentance and Conversion

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First, a person must be spiritually called or drawn by God. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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To call someone, God causes him to hear (or read) the preaching of the “gospel” (the good news of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind) while using His Holy Spirit to enlighten and convict the person with spiritual understanding (compare Romans 10:14-15 Romans 10:14-15 [14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
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; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 2 Thessalonians 2:14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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; Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
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; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 [10] But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. [11] For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
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To become a real Christian, you must believe, repent, be baptized, experience the laying on of hands from one of God’s ministers, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Once God calls a person, He expects a twofold response expressed by Jesus in Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Faith and grace are gifts of God (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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). Likewise, God grants repentance, especially when a person prays for it (Acts 11:18 Acts 11:18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.
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; 2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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). And Paul said, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
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As we read in Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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, once a person repents and believes the gospel, he must then be baptized to receive forgiveness of sins and spiritual conversion. The word baptize means immerse or submerge, and other scriptures clearly show that Peter meant total immersion in water as a sign of one’s repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Master.

Why is this important? Because of what baptism represents. Being put into and underwater pictures a burial, and rising from the water pictures a resurrection.

Baptism actually pictures three deaths, burials and resurrections.

1. Baptism symbolizes our faith “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 [3] For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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2. Baptism symbolizes our acknowledgement of the need for our old sinful way of life to be “put to death” and be buried forever (Colossians 3:5 Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
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; Colossians 2:12 Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.
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). And our rising from the water symbolizes our beginning to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-6 Romans 6:3-6 [3] Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
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). Of course our spiritual character isn’t immediately transformed in those few seconds. Baptism is a sign of our lifelong dedication and commitment to that goal.

3. Baptism symbolizes one’s faith in the hope of the literal resurrection to come—”that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15 Acts 24:15And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
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Baptism is a vital step. God holds each person guilty of every sin he has ever committed until those sins are blotted out at baptism (Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
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; Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
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). At the moment the repentant person is immersed in water, all his past sins are forgiven! What a joy it is to stand clean before God!

But we are not forgiven just to go back to the way we were. We must be changed. And that comes through the next step.

Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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states that after a person genuinely repents and is baptized, he will receive God’s Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit does not come during the baptism. Scripture shows that God gives His Spirit immediately afterwards during the laying on of hands by one of God’s ministers as he prays for the baptized person to receive the gift of God’s Spirit (Acts 8:14-17 Acts 8:14-17 [14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John: [15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: [16] (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) [17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
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; Acts 19:6 Acts 19:6And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.
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; 2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
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).

Once you have the Holy Spirit, you have “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
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). You are “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27 Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
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). You abide in Christ and He abides in you (1 John 3:24 1 John 3:24And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
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). You are among the “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
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). You have a “new heart” and are becoming a “new man” (Ezekiel 18:31 Ezekiel 18:31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel?
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; Ephesians 4:24 Ephesians 4:24And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
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“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”—he doesn’t belong to Christ (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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). He is not a true Christian or “son of God” (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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). To become a real Christian, you must believe, repent, be baptized, experience the laying on of hands from one of God’s ministers, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Once a mature person has spiritual understanding and faith and has repented of his sins, he should not delay baptism. When God is offering you a gift, why not accept it? Jesus warned against rejecting God’s offer: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 Mark 16:16He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.
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). As Ananias said to Saul (later referred to as Paul), “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
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).

After one receives the Holy Spirit, that is when real spiritual growth begins! (To learn more, read the free Bible study aid Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.)

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