Some New Testament Examples
The conversion of the Apostle Peter, as recorded in the Bible, serves as a classic example of "a previously non-Christian person upon the Christian way of life":As Luke tells the story, it was the miraculous catch of fish that awakened Peter's consciousness to an awareness that there was more to Jesus than meets the eye. Peter found himself in the presence of someone or something which elicited from him that most natural of all gestures of awe, reverence, and holy fear—he fell on his knees. This gesture was accompanied by a confession of his own wretched condition: "Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man" (5:9). Once again, however, this insight is incomplete. Immediately a new life, a new direction is held out to Peter. "Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch" (11a). And Peter followed Jesus, leaving everything behind.
An even more dramatic conversion to Christianity occurred in the life of the Apostle Paul whose pre-conversion name was Saul. He was a zealot for the cause of Second Temple Judaism who had been "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (v. 1). While traveling to Damascus to arrest Jewish Christians, he fell to the ground upon being surrounded by a bright light "from heaven." He heard a voice accusing him: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (v. 4). The experience rendered him temporarily blind. The voice directed him to go on to Damascus where he was cured and baptized by Ananias of Damascus, was described as being filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to passionately proclaim the Christian gospel (good news).
Hanigan perceives a common "death and rebirth" experience in these and other conversions which he describes as "encounters with the living God." His analysis is that these individuals responded not so much out of a sense of guilt, but from their awe, reverence, and holy fear of God's presence. The pattern, he writes, begins with God taking initiative in the individual's life. Then, the person responds by acknowledging and confessing personal lostness and sinfulness, and then accepting a call to holiness.
Read more about this topic: Conversion To Christianity
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