The story of New Testament conversions is indeed a simple one. The record of Philip and the eunuch, familiar to every Bible student, is typical of these conversions. The keynote of that story is the verse that declares, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus.” (Acts 8:35) The passage from which he began his preaching of “Jesus” was the prophecy of Isaiah which the eunuch had been reading Isaiah 53 which foretells in great detail how Christ should suffer at the hands of men. It was here that Philip began his sermon.
“And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest, and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:36-39) What could be simpler than that? Christ was preached; Christ was believed; Christ was obeyed. That was the pattern of every New Testament conversion; that was the story whether one man was baptized, or whether three thousand were baptized.
<h3> Saul Of Tarsus </h3> <p>As we read right on through the Book of Acts, we come next to the story of Saul of Tarsus, a man who was exceedingly zealous for the law, and who was “breathing out threatening and slaughter” against the disciples of the Lord. In pursuit of his conviction that he “ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth he was enroute to the city of Damascus that he might arrest certain Christians there and bring them bound back to Jerusalem. “And as he journeyed, it came to pass that he drew nigh unto Damascus: and suddenly there shone round about him a light out of heaven: and he fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; but rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (Acts 9:3-6)</p>
When Saul was led by his companions into the city of Damascus, he went to the house of a man named Judas, where he remained for three days without food or water. Blinded and prayerful, he spent his time there awaiting what would happen. Meanwhile, the Lord appeared to a certain disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and said unto him, “Arise and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus; for behold, he prayeth.” Ananias was reluctant to go. He was familiar with the story of Saul’s vengeful persecution against the church; he was fearful that no good could come from any contact with this man of evil reputation. But the Lord said, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.” So Ananias departed, and came to the place where Saul was, and laid his hands on Saul, restoring his sight.
Telling him how the Lord had a great mission for him to fulfill (Ananias said, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16) “And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight, and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.” Here once again we see the beauty and the simplicity of the divine plan. It is simply gospel preaching on the one hand and an honest open heart on the other. When these two elements are brought together, a Bible conversion will always result. And no Bible conversion is completed until there has been a burial through baptism in to Christ.
<h3> Cornelius </h3> <p>The story of Cornelius (Acts 10) is another of those Bible accounts which shows how much conversions may vary in outward circumstances, but how completely identical all of them are in the law of conversion. The circumstances and incidentals and surrounding conditions vary from case to case; the law remains constant. “Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house.” This should be a final answer to all those misguided people who think that any “good” man can be saved regardless of whether he is a member of the church or not. Cornelius’ character was of the highest and noblest; yet he was not a saved man. For as he was praying one day, an angel of the Lord appeared before him and said, “Send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, who is surnamed Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side.” This angel further informed him that Peter would “speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house.” (11:14)</p>
Cornelius obeyed the heavenly vision without question. He sent for Peter immediately. And Peter, having been instructed himself in a vision that he should go, returned with the men whom Cornelius had sent, taking with him certain brethren from Joppa. When they reached the house of Cornelius, they were received at once, and Cornelius related how he had seen the vision, and how he had sent for Peter. He said, “Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord.” (verse 33)
You know full well what followed. Peter opened his mouth and “preached Jesus” unto this gathered company. It is the same old story with which we have become so familiar: the preaching of Jesus brought conviction, and conviction brought obedience. When God demonstrated by a sign that the Gentiles were to be recipients of the blessings of the gospel, Peter said, “Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed them him to tarry certain days.” (10:47,48)