30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

September 24, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford


Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. Before we get into today's lesson, I would like to take this time to mention to all of you in our listening audience about our gospel meeting that begins at the Clarksville church of Christ this morning with Jim Ward from Bowling Green, Kentucky doing the preaching. Our Bible classes will begin just 30 minutes from now at 9:30. Our brother in Christ, Jim Ward, will be presenting a lesson during that time for all the adults and teens entitled "Marriage Basics." Then at 10:30 AM we will have our worship assembly with sermon presented by brother Ward entitled "God's Order for Spouses." Then at 2:30 PM we will have an afternoon service instead of our regularly scheduled 6:00 PM time. We will meet at the building at 2:30 and take part in 45 minutes of congregational singing and then Jim Ward will deliver another message from God's word entitled "God's Order for Parents and Children." Everyone in the listening audience is invited to come on out this afternoon and join us in the singing of praises to God and edification from His word. In addition to today's services, we will have services this week on Monday through Friday at 7:30 PM with Jim Ward doing the preaching. The sermon topics for each night of the meeting this week are as follows: Monday, "Whatever Happened to Sin?" Tuesday, "Defeating Sin by Faith." Wednesday, "Defeating Sin by Repentance." Thursday, "Defeating Sin by Baptism." Friday, "Defeating Sin by Godly Living." Won't you please make an effort to come and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed with all sincerity and in truth? It will also give you the opportunity to come and meet the saints at the Clarksville church of Christ and learn more about us. A friendly welcome awaits each and every one of you. We're looking forward to your presence.

It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "Conversion", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.

Plain and simple Bible preaching should always command not only the attention of all sincere, right-thinking people listening to our radio broadcast this morning, but the respect of all men and women who love the Bible as the word of God. All men should want the will of God made known to them in the plainest and most direct manner possible, so they can understand that it will judge them in the last day. The world today needs, as never before, the gospel of Christ preached in its ancient simplicity and power without addition or subtraction. It was with this need in mind that Peter declared in his great sermon in Acts 3, and verse 19: "Repent therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."

Peter is preaching in Jerusalem to the crowd that had gathered as the result of the healing of the lame man. He emphasizes the cardinal need of their salvation with the words of the text, "repent therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out." The blotting out of their sins were made to depend on their repentance and conversion, or their turning to God. If they would repent and turn, the blessing was the forgiveness of their sins. If they did not repent and be converted their sins would not be forgiven. Thus we are led to see in the very beginning of the sermon that conversion, or turning to God, is an all-important matter upon which not only the forgiveness or blotting out of sins depends, but upon which the destiny of the entire race is centered. No man can enter the kingdom of God without repentance and conversion. In Matthew 18:1-3 it states, "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." It was Christ then who said, "except you become converted and become as a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." It is clear, therefore, that we must be converted, and until we are converted we have no hope that we may live in the land that is fairer than day.


I regret to tell you this morning, as I have had to tell you time and time before, that men are wrong in their creeds and manuals on the subject of conversion. They are divided and confused, some teaching one thing and some another. They have shrouded conversion in mystery, and embedded it in the supernatural. Such was not the teaching of Christ. He taught that conversion would make us as a little child whose character and sweetness of spirit would be required of all who enter the kingdom of heaven. Surely if it is to make us as a little child it could not be as fearful and mysterious as men try to make it, with their experiences and feelings-better-felt-than-told. Surely if it is to make us as little children we all can understand it if we will give ear to the scripture. There are many cases of conversion in the New Testament and if we will study these we will have the answer. Let us take as an example the case of the Ethiopian eunuch in the 8th chapter of Acts of the Apostles. We find in this simple story of his conversion the following things were necessary:

First, a sinner, and in this case the alien sinner is the eunuch.

Secondly, a gospel preacher, who in this case is Philip.

Thirdly, the gospel of Christ was preached by the preacher to the sinner.

Fourthly, the sinner believed and obeyed to the salvation of his soul.

Now let us see if this is not exactly what happened as we read the record from the 8th chapter of Acts, beginning with verse 35:"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing." How simple is the story of this New Testament conversion. The gospel is preached, the sinner believes and is baptized, and goes on his way rejoicing. This is New Testament conversion. This is a model conversion, placed in the record for our learning and benefit that we might profit from it. Let us notice now some things which did not take place that men teach that is necessary to conversion, and friends, we would emphasize to you the importance of letting God be true and every man a liar. Let the Bible speak, then do exactly what it commands.


In the first place the eunuch was not told to pray for forgiveness. I listen sometimes to the men who preach on the air and hear them say that if you want to be saved, fall down by your radio, take Christ as your Savior and pray and he will save you. Friends, this is wholly without Bible basis. Philip did not tell the eunuch to pray for forgiveness, in fact, not a word is said about prayer. Prayer was not a part of the conversion of the eunuch, or any other alien sinner mentioned in the Bible. No man out of Christ was ever commanded by an apostle to pray as a step to salvation. The eunuch heard the gospel, believed the gospel, obeyed the gospel, and became a child of God, without prayer in any shape, form or fashion. Now do not take my word for this but when this program goes off the air this morning, turn to the 8th chapter of Acts and read it for yourselves and see if prayer had a part in any way in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.

And now for the second principle, while the reading is fresh on our mind. In the conversion of the eunuch there is a complete absence of what the world calls a "Christian experience." The only experience the eunuch had was the privilege of hearing the gospel and the opportunity of obeying it. The only thing that he felt was the water of baptism as it covered him, and this is exactly what the Bible records. The preaching of men today have incorporated a feeling called an experience in the steps considered necessary to conversion. The eunuch had no such experience and did not have to have one to become a child of God. He had to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, and obey the gospel, and this is all. Baptism was the final step that made him God's child and he rejoiced after baptism, not before. We are led, then, to this conclusion, that no definite feeling called an "experience" was a part of the conversion of this great man. This being an example for our learning, we therefore do not have to have any such experience. All we have to do is hear, believe and obey the gospel of Christ. This caused Paul to say in Romans 1:16,"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek." But, lest I be accused of taking just one case only, I now want us consider another famous case of conversion in the New Testament and see if it runs true to this of the Ethiopian eunuch.


On the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts, the three thousand who were baptized were not commanded to pray or to relate an experience of grace, for such principles had no part in their conversion. Friends, I urge you to just let the Bible speak and that your ear listen to the truth of the Bible and not what man might say concerning the subject. In Acts 2: 37-42 it says, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Now, when these men cried out and asked what they were to do, they were not given the answer which my colleagues of the pulpit and radio give, or Peter did not tell them to pray and their sins would be forgiven. Neither is a word said about an experience of grace. But Peter said "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." That is the answer of the Apostle Peter though it is not the one given by most of the preachers of the world today. Listen to the similarity of this answer, "repent and be baptized for the remission of sins," and that of the text, "repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out." .The same thing is said and the same answer is given. The men from every nation on the day of Pentecost did exactly what the eunuch did. They heard the gospel, believed the gospel, and obeyed the gospel, and Peter said to obey the gospel is to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. But the question will be asked by many in the denominational world at this very moment, "do you think that baptism is for the remission of sin." I don't think it is, I know it is. I know it is for Peter said it was. Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth and he commanded them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins. Now, if we believe the Bible, that settles forever the purpose of baptism. Ananias told Paul in Acts, 22:16 to arise and be baptized and wash away your sins. If I believe the New Testament, I have to believe exactly what the apostles say on the matter, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If the Bible is right then Peter is right, and if the Bible is wrong then Peter is wrong. Listen to verse 41 again: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Those who gladly received the word were baptized, and the baptized were added to the church.

The objection will arise from many quarters that they did have an experience for the Holy Spirit fell on the multitude and this was their experience. Friends, if your preacher has been telling you that, then he is telling something that simply is not true. Listen to the scripture of Acts 2: 1-7, "Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?" The Holy Spirit fell on the apostles, they began to speak with other tongues, and when this, the speaking in tongues was told abroad, then and not until then did the multitude come together. The Holy Spirit did not fall on the multitude, but fell before the multitude gathered. The multitude gathered because the Holy Spirit had fallen on the apostles. The multitude was too late to see the cloven tongues like as fire, and was brought together, not by the appearance of the Holy Spirit, but by the strange and exciting ability of the apostles to speak in different languages. The multitude did not have the Holy Spirit fall on them in any way, and there is not a shred of Bible evidence to indicate that they did. They heard the gospel, believed and obeyed it and were saved. The only experience they had was that which comes to all when they obey the Gospel of Christ.


But now let us consider the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, for it is in this case that the preachers of prayer and experience think they find support for all their contentions. I am not sure how much of the simple facts that you in the listening audience this morning know concerning the conversion of Paul. He went to Damascus to be told the things that he must do. Not the things that he could do if he wanted to, but the things he MUST do. Now verse nine tells us that for three days Paul was without sight, and neither did he eat nor drink, and the 11th verse tells us that he prayed. Now if there ever was a case where a man who was an alien sinner could pray his "way through" and "get religion," this ought to be it. There is no question about that. If a man out of Christ can pray and receive forgiveness this ought to be a clear cut case. But observe carefully that Paul is praying before Ananias tells him the things he MUST do. When Ananias came he told him what he must do in these words from the record of Paul himself in Acts 22:16,"And now why tarriest thou, arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord." This is what he must do, and that which he was doing was simply a method of tarrying in God's sight. Prayer was not included in the things that he must do. for Ananias tells him to stop tarrying and to be baptized, and wash away his sins. If prayer would cause God to forgive the alien sinner's sin, then Paul's sins would already have been forgiven, and he would have had no sins for baptism to wash away. Paul could not receive the forgiveness of his own sins by prayer, but had to arise and be baptized. Read your Bible in Acts 9 and in Acts 22 and see if this is not exactly what the writer says about it.

But now let us notice again that the vision and the conversation that Paul had with Christ, did not make him a child of God for Christ said, in verse six of chapter nine, "there it will be told to you what you must do." Certainly even the Doctors of Divinity and the Professors of Religion could not say that he was a Christian before he did the things that he MUST do. He had to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, and obey the gospel, just as the eunuch, and the Pentecostians did.

When the eunuch was baptized he went on his way rejoicing, when Paul was baptized he received meat and was strengthened. When the men of the day of Pentecost gladly received the word and were baptized, they were added to the church. Paul's vision and conversation caused him to believe in Christ, just as the preaching of Philip caused the eunuch to believe, and the preaching of Peter caused the Pentecostians to believe, but they all had to hear the steps of salvation and act upon them before they were children of God.

Incidentally for all those who hope to have a vision as Paul, I would suggest that you are nearly two thousand years too late, for Paul says in I Cor. 19:8 that Christ was last seen of him as one born out of due time.

Conversion, then, consists of hearing the gospel, believing the gospel and obeying the gospel. These cases of conversion record the fact that the New Testament preacher told men and women to believe, repent, and be baptized for the remission of their sins and this is exactly what they did to be saved.


But some one might say that this makes prayer worthless and what is prayer for anyway? I assure you this morning that such is not the case. Prayer has a very definite part in the religion of Jesus. Every man who believes the Bible believes not only in prayer, but in the willingness of God to answer prayer. The point that this entire world needs to master is that prayer is for the Children of God. Christ taught his disciples to pray. Get the point--He taught disciples to pray, and told them to say, our Father who is in heaven. The disciples were taught to pray, but the man out of Christ was not commanded to pray. He could not call God his Father, for he is not a child of God. Again, we need to let the Bible speak. John makes this clear statement in John 9:31, "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him." We learn then that those who worship God and do his will are the ones he will hear. After Simon the sorcerer, in the 8th chapter of Acts of the Apostles, believed and was baptized and made a child of God, he sinned and was commanded by Peter to pray, for that is the way the erring child of God received forgiveness from sin. Repentance and prayer for the Christian who has fallen away can be correctly called the second law of pardon. The rule for pardon for those who are in Christ. The statements,"pray without ceasing", and"after this manner pray you," and "brethren pray for us," are always directed to those who are disciples of Christ, and who by obedience to the gospel have been baptized into Him.

Friends we need to let the Bible speak to us and obey it. When you hear any preacher or man say anything in the name of religion, verify what he has said by the Bible. The Bible is the absolute truth, the will of God and is infallible. Man is fallible and can only be believed if and when he is teaching the truth of the word of God. Are you obeying God or man?

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"