What does it mean to be a convert, as Elder Costa professed in October conference? We typically use it to identify someone who was not ‘born in the covenant;’ who joined the church based on their own spiritual quest. We know that 280,106 converts joined the church in 2009 (I can’t hazard a guess as to how many of those who joined last year are still active).

Let’s consider Simon Peter. Here is a man who had spent the better part of three years following Christ, seeing the miracles, and hearing the sermons. He was likely there when Christ cleansed the temple and when he confounded the scribes and Pharisees. He had a testimony; when Christ asked him “whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered “Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29).” Yet, with all this firsthand knowledge, Peter was still not converted. At the last supper, Christ told Simon Peter that “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32).”

So what does it mean to be converted? It appears from the above example that we can have a testimony; we can dedicate our lives to Christ and strive, in faith, to do all that is asked of us, yet still not be truly converted. In the original Greek, the word translated as ‘converted’ means to turn, turn about, or return. To me, it signifies a change in direction with us now moving in the direction of God rather than away from Him.

I would suggest that Simon Peter’s conversion occurred on the day of Pentecost when he was baptized by fire. Following that event, the apostles began to speak in tongues followed shortly by the healing of the lame man at the gates of the temple. As people gathered in awe at this event, Peter took the opportunity to preach; “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:19).” Conversion, by this guide, is how one’s sins can be blotted out; how one can receive a remission of sins ‘by fire and by the Holy Ghost.’ (2 Nephi 31:17)

Conversion, in a scriptural sense, differs from its use in the church vernacular. We are not truly converted when we are baptized and confirmed. We are converted when a mighty change has been wrought in our hearts.

The people who came to the temple and set up their tents to listen to King Benjamin were likely good ‘members’ of the spiritual community at the time. They were faithful in their community and family and came at the call of the leadership to hear the words of their leader. But, they were not yet converted. It was not until

“they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.  And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.

And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.” (Mosiah 4:2-3)

It was at this point that the people of King Benjamin were truly converted. It was through this unforgettable experience that their hearts were changed; that they turned to God and were spiritually born again.

After all that he witnessed, Simon Peter was converted by the Holy Spirit and went on the strengthen his brethren.

What does it mean when we call someone a ‘convert?’

What think ye?

3 Responses to “I Am A Convert”

  • I agree, the meaning of the word “convert” has been watered down in modern day vernacular. When I read this scripture not too long ago, I had similar thoughts come to me. I often think about King David, whom it is said was a man after God’s own heart… and yet he fell miserably. He burned in his lust for a woman so badly that he arranged to have her husband killed so that he could be with her. All I can think is, “Oh how the mighty have fallen!” It worries me, but I feel I must try despite the potential for great failure. There is a sliver of a chance that I can stand where he failed. It might seem arrogant, but I do believe that God sent some of his finest spirits into this final battle. If I am a believer, I must believe I might be one of them. I pray that I can live up to the expectations of my maker.

  • As to the Baptism of Fire, I’m under the impression that the Baptism of Water is the covenant (called) and the Baptism of Fire is the realization (chosen). The Baptism of Water symbolically shows us burying the old man and being born again, a new person, a Saint, spotless of sin. Obviously this doesn’t last long, because pretty much everyone sins shortly thereafter. However, we have made the covenant to love righteousness and hate sin.

    “Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.”
    (D&C 22:2)

    We obviously need to repent of ALL of our sins or the baptismal covenant is broken and worthless. Of course God knows he is working with weak man who will fail again and again, but he gives us the standard and has us commit to it. His hope is that, like a little child, we won’t stop trying. That every time we fall, we will get up and try to walk again. If we are persistent enough, we should eventually lay claim on the ability to walk confidently with our spiritual legs. Once God has tried us and found we are willing to give up all for him, then we are sealed his. This is the Second Endowment/Anointing. Jesus lays his hands on your head and sealing you his. He is the fire that purifies. At this point the heavens are not hidden from you. You are a true Saint. In other words, you have no more doubts. You are a convert.

  • Adam:

    In the church we refer to a convert as someone that has gained a testimony through the Holy Ghost. True conversion is to be changed, to become a new creature for the Holy Ghost. After Jesus was baptized the Holy Ghost descended upon HIM. This was the baptism of fire. Adam, after he was baptized by water, had the Holy Ghost descend upon him. The baptism of fire is an immersion in the spirit. If the body is not completely immersed in the spirit it is not a baptism. It is an event. I’ve had it and can testify of it.

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