Understanding Before Conversion

3d human with a red question markIn the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat 28:19-20). In this Jesus showed the process is: teachconvert, and teach all things. So, after one becomes convicted and is Born Again in Jesus’ name, he or she is then to begin the process of becoming more Christlike. Simply said, Jesus taught salvation is instantaneous, but sanctification is a lifelong process. The former saves a man from his past sins; the latter matures a saved man into one who no longer sins.

With that said, the questions then become, what is it that leads a person to such conviction, and, what, if anything, should be said before they are converted? I believe the answer to this is found in various accounts we have of men and women being Born Again in Jesus’ name in Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, and Acts 19. In each of these we find a preacher giving instruction before the people were baptized. Paul’s testimony shows that this type instruction was also his norm (See Act 19:9, Act 1:3, Act 9:20-22, Act 17:1-3, Act 17:17, Act 18:4, Act 18:19, Act 28:23).

As far as how much a person should know before being Born Again, I would think the minimum would be what’s found in these accounts in Acts. These teachings include…

1. Jesus is both Lord and Christ.
2. the things concerning the kingdom of God
3. the name of Jesus Christ
4. (Jesus) is Lord of all
5. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power
6. (Jesus) went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil for God was with him
7. (Jesus was) hanged on a tree
8. He arose the third day
9. His resurrection was shown openly
10. witnesses did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead
11. he was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead
12. all the prophets gave witness that through his name whosoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins
13. baptism is important
14. the way baptism is administered is important
15. people should believe on Christ Jesus

I have talked with preachers who act as if the main goal is getting people baptized in Jesus’ name. One of these men even created a newspaper advertising program where once a week anybody who wants to “be saved” can stop by for baptism. He doesn’t go into the reasons for them being Born Again before their baptism. This is due to him feeling the main issue is calling the name Jesus over them in the water. He does get a certain amount of response, but is such a program really doing the convert any good? How can a person truly be Born Again if they can’t even explain what it means? Is salvation simply a ticket to escape hell, or is it more a way to live? I believe the latter is more aligned with how salvation is described in the Bible.

I do not think a person must become a theologian before conversion, but I also do not think they should be immersed totally ignorant of God’s Kingdom either. Jesus said that a person not yet Born Again would not “see the Kingdom of God” (Joh 3:3). As a result, some things of the Kingdom are impossible to comprehend until a person is actually in God’s Kingdom. But as the afore mentioned passages in Acts attest, there are aspects of Jesus and His Kingdom that can and should be understood before one’s conversion.

I believe the question at hand is why Paul wrote: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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 (Rom 10:13-14)?


Copyright © 2009 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.

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5 Responses to Understanding Before Conversion

  1. Don Salisbury April 25, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    I found your site thru eschatology. I’m not a preacher, just a Christian searching for the truth. I read several of your articles and agree and like the way they were writen. One thing made me pause to consider was your statement “As a result, some things of the Kingdom are impossible to comprehend until a person is actually in God’s Kingdom”. That made me think that you think you are saved before baptism. My understanding is baptism is essential for salvation. The knowledge and understanding of the need for salvation by the recipient is essential, and they may even confess they believe. But being buried with Christ into His death Romans 6:3-7 means being united with Him. In Acts 22:10 Paul recounts to the Jews his salvation. Paul was told by Jesus what he had to do and in verse 16 was told to be baptised to wash away his sins. Can be in “God’s Kingdom” until you have been cleansed from sin? Can you be in Christ without being baptised? Every person that heard and believed in the book of Acts was immediately baptised. In reading other pieces of yours and your quoting of Alexander Campbell, I’m not sure if my interpretation of that was what you meant.

    • TK Burk
      TK Burk April 26, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      Thank you for your input.

      Since you’re new to my site, welcome!

      In this study (Understanding Before Conversion) I make the argument that knowing some things about the kingdom of God is necessary before being Born Again. But this does not mean that this knowledge means you are “saved” and “in the kingdom of God.” When you fully read the area of the quote you used, this is what is said: “Jesus said that a person not yet Born Again would not “see the Kingdom of God” (Joh 3:3). As a result, some things of the Kingdom are impossible to comprehend until a person is actually in God’s Kingdom. But as the aforementioned passages in Acts attest, there are aspects of Jesus and His Kingdom that can and should be understood before one’s conversion.” If “some things of the Kingdom are impossible to comprehend until a person is actually in God’s Kingdom,” then I certainly am not saying they are “in the kingdom” before the New Birth. Amen?

      This study agrees with Jesus’ statement that a person must be fully Born Again of both the water and the Spirit to both “see” and “enter” the kingdom of God. Read any of my studies on the New Birth and you’ll see that is my stance because I believe it is the biblical one to take. One such study where you see this clearly is: Where the Apostles Baptized in Jesus’ Name?

      As far as “quoting Alexander Campbell,” I did use ONE of his quotes in two of my studies. Here it is: “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” I believe his instruction is sound. I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I also do not see where this lone quote in anyway nullifies all else I have written about the Apostolic plan of salvation. Also, concerning using Campbell’s doctrinal views, you will not find where I have done that.

      In the coming days I will add more about the New Birth to the site.

      Jesus’ best to you and yours,

    • TK Burk
      TK Burk April 30, 2017 at 2:35 am #

      Don Salisbury,

      Today I posted the fourth lesson in my GROW Bible Series Part 1. In it I deal with the New Birth as commanded in Acts 2:38. I bring this to your attention in hopes it will further answer what you asked me about my soteriological position.

      Jesus’ best,

  2. Don Salisbury May 2, 2017 at 12:36 am #

    You mentioned one baptism as stated in Eph 4:5. Was that fire? Holy Spirit? water? or something else? Do you think baptism is necessary for salvation or something that should be or would be done to show obediance? I have read the Apostles baptised post. I will read more of your post. Thank you

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