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Consequences of Conversion 3 April 2011 Elder William Seah

We all know that if we pray not, we receive not for this is what the Bible tells us in James 4:2 that “ have not, because ye ask not.” The Lord Jesus Himself has said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Yet there are times when we ask and receive not. Why is that so? Is not God true to His promise? We know that He is and will always be, as He is a covenant-keeping God. The apostle Paul affirms it thus, “For all the promises of God in Him (Christ) are yea, and in Him (Christ) Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Then why is it that at times we receive not what we ask? The answer is found in James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” No doubt, God delights to hear the prayers of His children and will always give to us what is best for us according to His will and purpose. So we should never stop praying, asking Him to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) However, we must examine our attitude and motive in asking for if we ask just to fulfill our own selfish desires and gains, the Lord will not hear us. This leads us to the general principle that to every action there is a corresponding reaction which bears upon my heart to share with you the consequences of conversion. Immediately my mind turns to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road as recorded in Acts 9:1-20 when the Risen Christ caught up with him. We are all familiar with this account of his conversion which turned him from being a persecutor of the Christian church to be a preacher of the Christian Gospel for which he boldly declared that he was not ashamed (Romans 1:16). What a marvelous transformation because of which he was able to testify to the Corinthian Christians thus, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) To him, whose name was changed to Paul after his conversion, this ‘lifechanging event’ made him declare, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) and “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death”. (Philippians 3:10). As we examine the consequences of Saul’s conversion, may we learn from his experience that like him, our conversion may show forth His praises “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Dearly beloved, Paul’s consuming desire was to know his Master more and more whom he served faithfully to the end. Not so much as to know ‘of or about’ Christ, that’s ‘head knowledge’ but to know Him in a real and personal way. And Paul adds, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord….” (Philippians 3:8). Is this our desire as believers? If so, how much time are we spending in the reading and meditation of the Scriptures? How else can we know Christ except from the Scriptures for Christ Himself has said in John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me”? Hearken to the words of the psalmist (Psalm 1:1-3), “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” And again, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Dearly beloved, Paul’s compelling determination to be empowered by the power of Christ’s resurrection made him totally dependent on his Master. In this he was willing to die to self, sin and the world but be alive unto Christ testifying that “…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). When Paul prayed for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, the answer from his Master was, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness….” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) to which Paul was able to say with deep conviction, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take

pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9b-10). Is our dependence completely upon the Lord? No matter what abilities or resources we possess, without the power of His resurrection (being energized by the Spirit as in the days of Pentecost) we can do nothing and all our endeavours for Him will be in vain! May Christ increase and we decrease that He may be pleased to empower us by His Spirit, as we seek to spend time in much earnest prayer for “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
Dearly beloved, Paul’s consistent dedication was to identify himself with the sufferings of Christ who suffered much for us. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him….” (2 Timothy 2:12) “but let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters” (1 Peter 4:15) but rather for righteousness’ sake. Amidst all the struggles of life “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:7-9) In conclusion let us ask ourselves – “Does our conversion manifest the consequences that His Name through us is glorified?”