“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” - Philippians 1:6
Imagine for a moment a book filled with the stories of the millions of lives that God has changed. What a book that would be: countless pages telling the stories of every conceivable kind of person from every conceivable walk of life and every area of need—all changed by the transforming power of God. Wow! Did you know that God wants to add your story to His book? Not just when you came to salvation but your whole story—the crisis of your conversion and the process of your transformation. Here’s what I’m talking about…
A Crisis Called Conversion
The Bible calls all people everywhere to a crisis of conversion. The words are important—saved, justified, redeemed, and converted—but more significant is the actual event. This crisis of conversion means a complete change of direction, what Jesus called “getting off the broad road and getting on the narrow road” (Matthew 7:13). As in, “At one point in my life, I was going in this direction and I thought, ‘There is no God,’ or ‘Everyone’s going to heaven,’ or ‘You get to heaven by being a good person.’ Then one day, I heard the truth and I converted. I changed the way I thought; I changed the direction I was heading. Now I believe that the only way to get to heaven is by confessing Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world; that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins; and I have placed my faith and trust in Him as my only hope for God’s forgiveness and eternal life.”
Have you had this crisis of conversion—a pivotal point when you converted, turning from self to God alone? This is the first step in change. Without a spiritual conversion, you will never experience the process of transformation. “Well, how exactly do you convert?” It’s just these two things: repentance and faith. Repentance is where you change your mind about your life. “I used to think I was a good person, but then I figured out I was sinful. I realized that God’s standard was perfection and I couldn’t make it on my own. I repented of my sin. I told God how sorry I was that I didn’t meet His standard. And then I placed my faith in Christ for my forgiveness—I chose to believe that Jesus paid for my sin and that was the only basis upon which God would forgive me.”
Can you look to a time in your life when you changed the road that you were on? You cannot fall into this by accident. I’m not pressing you for the exact date and the time, but if you are not absolutely certain that you have converted and become a follower of Jesus Christ, you haven’t. You can’t merely say, “Oh, you know, I think somewhere, sometime that might have happened.” If you don’t have a conversion story, you probably don’t have a conversion. Let today be the day. Your story can be: “I knew some things about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him personally, so I repented of my sin. I told God how sorry I was, and I thanked Him for sending Jesus to pay for my sin. I invited Christ to come into my life, to forgive me, and begin a new work of transformation in my life.” If you stop now and do that from your heart, you can be converted. That’s where real life change always begins.
A Process Called Sanctification
Conversion is just the beginning! When God forgives you and wipes the slate clean in your life at conversion, He begins a process called sanctification. This is the real work that God wants to do in you. This is why He forgave us.
The apostle Paul described the beginning of the process in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” That kind of ongoing change is supposed to take place the rest of our lives—more and more.
When you’re a new Christian, you begin with immense uncertainty. You step in stuff all the time and then have to clean up the mess. But eventually you learn how to walk as a follower of Jesus Christ. As Paul explained, “You ought to walk . . . to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:1–3).
God wants to change you to the point where you see Christ when you look at your life, the same way you see your physical self by looking in a mirror. He is transforming us, gradually, one step at a time. Every little opportunity to display His glory, every little bump in the road of life equals an opportunity to change.
If God is not changing you, you have to honestly ask, “Have I ever really converted?” To put it another way, “If your faith isn’t changing you, it hasn’t saved you.” The people who really have the new birth—the people who really have that conversion experience—are changing.
“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Paul wrote (Philippians 1:6). It’s not like God dropped down into your life and forgave you and then went on to somebody else. He came to stay. The day you converted, God started something and He’s not stopping it until the very last day that you’re on this earth. It’s the process of transformation, and it produces holiness.
Are you ready to commit yourself to full cooperation with the work of transformation that God wants to do in you? It involves a crisis and a process. For life change to happen, you must commit.