The Meaning of Conversion -- By: George W. Peters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:479 (Jul 1963)
Article: The Meaning of Conversion
Author: George W. Peters


The Meaning of Conversion

George W. Peters

[George W. Peters, Professor of Missions, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

The salvation of God has an objective as well as a subjective aspect, which is eternal as well as in-time.

The eternal and objective aspect refers to God’s gracious purpose and plan of salvation when His saving entrance into history in and through Christ Jesus, who was born of the virgin Mary, took on true humanity and thus was the true God-man. According to the Scriptures: “He was made sin for us who knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), “Was made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). In obedience “He emptied himself…and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:7–8). His sinless, yea perfect life, vicarious death, victorious bodily resurrection and glorious exaltation procured salvation for all mankind. Thus stands the eternal salvation of God in Christ, having neither been foreseen nor pleaded for by man. It is of God alone as it is also in Christ alone that our glorying be in God and not in man.

The salvation of God, however, has very definitely a subjective and an in-time aspect. Eternity with its spiritual glory, fullness, and blessings is invading time. Salvation is now and here. God in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit is entering the human life, it is entering me. Thus salvation is not merely an objective reality to be wondered at, a theological dictum to be debated about, a philosophical theory to be speculated about, not even merely a marvelous subject to be preached about. It is a divine reality entering the human being to transform his fundamental disposition, clean him from sin and unrighteousness, redeem him from bondage and corruption, impart unto him the nature of God, recreate him into the image of Christ, make him a child of

God, a member of the household of God, and qualify him in the gift of the Holy Spirit to live for God in a life of true discipleship in the midst of a world almost destitute of the consciousness of God and eternity.

Our study concerns itself with the subjective and in-time aspect of salvation under the subject “The Meaning of Conversion.” After a brief general statement we shall consider the subject in the following order: the historical-exegetical unfolding of the doctrine; the exegetical-theological presentation of conversion; essential elements of Biblical conversion; the theological interpretation of conversion.

A brief gener...

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