What is Christian Conversion?

Lesson 8, Part 7


Why We Need the Holy Spirit

Do we, on our own, have the ability to carry out our commitment to God?

What should be our top priority once we repent and are baptized?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God …” (Ephesians 2:8).

“… Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’ ” (Matthew 19:23-26).

At baptism we commit our life to God. But, within ourselves alone, we possess neither the power nor the faith to keep that commitment as we should. We desperately need divine power to assist us in fulfilling God’s wonderful calling. That strength comes as a gift from God.

How do we receive strength from God?

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …” (Acts 1:8).

As Paul explained: “… It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He also wrote, with great confidence, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Is receiving God’s Spirit, like baptism, a necessary part of conversion?

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit …’” (Acts 2:38).

“But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, unless one is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter God’s kingdom. Human life comes from human parents, but spiritual life comes from the Spirit’ ” (John 3:5-6, New Century Version).

How and when does God give His Spirit?

“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit … Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).

The Scriptures, by example, show that God normally gives the Holy Spirit to those who are baptized when the true ministers of Christ pray for them as they are laying their hands on them (Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:5-6). In Hebrews 6:1-2the “laying on of hands” is listed among “the elementary principles of Christ” that make up the foundational doctrines of the Church—showing it is a procedure we should still practice.

When Should We Be Baptised?

Being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit are the beginning of a new life in Christ. We should request baptism as soon as possible after repenting.

How soon was Paul baptized after God called him?

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

After Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, He sent to him a man named Ananias who spoke the words above that Paul might regain his sight, be baptized and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17-18). Paul was baptized immediately.

Sometimes people delay baptism because they think they must first become perfect. Others think they have not learned enough. But such reasoning is incorrect. The Scriptures record many examples of people who, when they heard the truth of God explained, saw their need to be baptized immediately (Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12-38; Acts 16:30-33; Acts 18:8).

Being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit are the beginning of a new life in Christ. We should request baptism as soon as possible after repenting. Once we understand that our previous way of life needs to be changed and we sincerely want to change it, we must have God’s help to go forward. We receive that help by being baptized and receiving His Spirit.

With whom should we counsel for baptism?

“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? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).

Since baptism is one of the most important actions we can ever take in this life, we should be sure to counsel with a minister who is truly “sent” by God—a minister who faithfully teaches and practices keeping all of God’s commandments and correctly understands the teachings of the Scriptures.

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Points to Ponder

These questions are intended as a study aid, to spur further thought on the concepts discussed in this lesson and to help you apply them on a personal level.

We suggest you take the time to write out your answers to these questions and compare them to the scriptures given. Please feel free to contact us with any comments or suggestions, including questions about the course or this lesson.

• How does the Bible define sin, and how widespread is it? (1 John 3:4; Deuteronomy 10:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:10-23).

• Are some sins obvious while others are hidden within us? (Galatians 5:19-21; Mark 7:20-23; 1 Timothy 5:24).

• What within us leads us to sin? What must we do to deal with and to overcome self-deception? (Romans 8:6-8; Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 14:12; 1 John 1:8-10).

• What influences outside ourselves can tempt us to sin? (Acts 5:3; Mark 4:15-19; Matthew 13:20-21; Ephesians 2:1-3).

• Is God’s help necessary to even start to repent of sin and turn to God? (John 6:44; Hebrews 4:15-16; Romans 2:4).

• Must everyone repent? (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 17:30; Luke 13:1-3).

• What is repentance, and what are some of its fruits? (Psalms 51:1-10; Luke 18:13; Luke 3:7-9; James 1:23-25).

• Why is baptism important? What does it represent, and what responsibility comes with it? (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:4-18).

• Without God’s great mercy and grace, is there any way to be made right with Him? (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 5:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10).

• Does God’s Spirit make it possible for us to carry out our commitment to God? (Matthew 19:25-26; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:38; Philippians 2:13).

Congratulations! You have now completed Lesson 8.

Now click on the button below to take the Lesson 8 Review Quiz to ensure you have remembered the important points in this lesson.

What Next?

It is beyond the scope of this lesson to cover everything God does for us through His Spirit. 

In the next lesson, however, we will examine how God, through the Holy Spirit, works in those who have repented and are baptized to transform their character to reflect His holy, righteous character. We will explore the details of how God continues the conversion process after baptism, creating, in His servants, His own divine nature.

In the meantime we suggest you set aside time to carefully study the Gospel of Luke. This account of the good news of Jesus Christ is particularly focused on His teachings relating to repentance and conversion. We suggest you begin each study period with prayer. Ask God to give you understanding. Ask Him to assist you in applying what you read to your life. After you have finished studying Luke, we suggest you review what you have learned in this lesson.

If you desire personal counseling, you may contact our office nearest you for information on how to get in touch with a faithful minister of Jesus Christ who is serving your area. All of the ministers we recommend keep the commandments of God and are well trained in Bible understanding. They reside in many areas throughout the world. You may request their counsel and guidance free of charge and without any obligation on your part.

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