(Captain Carre, after a long and distinguished career In the Merchant Navy, is now Secretary of the “Merchant Service Officers’ Christian Association” and Editor of Its magazine, Living Links, He Is therefore well qualified, from his own experiences and those of others, to testify to the Bible’s truth and power. T.J.L)
This question is undoubtedly one that many who read these lines will be glad to have discussed and answered, as in some Christian circles the word Conversion is seldom if ever heard, or is treated as a sort of religious fad rampant among a certain set of extremists. What, then, does the term actually stand for?
The word in its simplest explanation means, “change,” and
that is precisely what it is. A change which causes the happy recipient to realize to his wondering joy that his life, his nature, his very character have undergone ho complete a transformation and renovation that he has been lifted up into a sphere higher than anything hed ever conceived possible for him to enjoy!
But more than this, he learns that Conversion has wrought another complete change, that of his relationship with that hitherto unknown Supreme Being of whose existence mankind at large is intuitively aware, as is shown in the fact that in every land and race, men worship the true God or one of their own making.
TAKE MY OWN CASE
It was on the night of my 36th birthday, in the year 1907, while in command of a small steamer running round the Island of Ceylon, that this crisis in my life came to me. I had turned in
that night and dropped off to sleep burdened with a weighty sense of sin, which had been deepening in my heart for many months. Before putting out my light, I had prayed earnestly for the faith which 1 realized I needed, but did not possess, and certainly could not manufacture; dreading the fact Hint if death found me in my then condition as an unforgiven sinner, nothing but Hell could possibly be my portion for ever. My heart-cry might be embodied in those seven words that brought the Saviour’s miraculous healing touch to a distraught father, in His days on earth: “Lord. I believe (i.e., I believe, but not fully), help Thou mine unbelief (help me to believe fully)” (Mark 9. 24).
For I knew that there was only one way of deliverance for rat;, as there was for the Philippine jailor, or for any sin-convicted soul; it is : “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
I awoke in the early hours of that fateful morning and–looking back over the years– I still recall the ecstasy of that waking moment, for a joy such as I’d never known before filled my heart! The dreadful sense of guilt and sin, of its judgment and doom, that had so oppressed me a few hours before, was gone I It seemed unbelievable that it could be so, but in the mercy of God the Miracle of Conversion had come into my poor life, transforming it from the darkness of death, into the Light of that heavenly Life which is eternal.
Mow clearly do the Scriptures describe this change: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (there is a new creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new!” (2 Cor. 5. 17).
Yes, my prayer and the many which had preceded it were now answered to the lull by Hire who has promised: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6. 37).
THE NEW RELATIONSHIP
But more still was to follow. With a thankful heart I bowed in prayer before my Maker, to find myself–for the first time in thirty-five years–actually in His holy Presence? For I found myself speaking to One who was listening to w, to that “High and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose Name (character) is Holy,” but who says for our undying comfort, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a. contrite and hum bio spirit” (Isa. 57. 15).
Truly had I been honoured in the grace of God–as is every saved soul–with that highest possible of all the divine blessings, and 1 use the expression with the deepest reverence, a speaking acquaintance or relationship with the God “whose Name is Holy.”
A CAUTIONARY SIGNAL
But just here I would sound a warning note. There is always this danger in ventilating one’s personal experience, that the one who hears it is apt to imagine that their own change of heart cannot be real because it does not coincide in its details with that of another.
But the Book of books dearly shows that this is not so. If one, for instance, turns to the Acts of the Apostles, what a world of difference there is between Paul’s sudden transformation on the Damascus road, and that at the. Eunuch in the previous chapter, and of Cornelius in the one, which follows.
Even so it is today. We all doubtless have known those whose experience has been of such a gradual nature that he or she could hardly tell the year in which the change came; others, again, to whom the event was so instantaneous and striking that they could assert both the very time and place in which it occurred.
But in whatever manner it may please the Saviour to manifest Himself to the needy suppliant, a calm and assured belief in His faithfulness, backed by the fact that the transaction is a Divine and therefore an Eternal one it is well to remember that “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11. 29). Moreover, that the Almighty hath said: “I am the Lord, I change not!” (Mal. 3. 6).
Finally, that a quiet and obedient walk before Him will effectually remove every doubt, as lie deepens the reality of His loving presence with and within one’s soul.