The Gospel in Genesis: The First Conversion

Conversion swept into Abram’s life like a wave, transforming his plans and, more importantly, his character. It was a wonderful but radical experience, because it was a turning from self to God.

The god of the times, the moon, like a night-light in the darkness, presided blindly over the ungodly. Being so much wiser today, many people instead “worship” the image they see in their mirror, and of course that god is just as condoning. The apostle Paul writes about those who love themselves and explains that this foolish mindset runs blindly toward a dead end. They need conversion.

We will point out three things about Abram’s conversion. First, it began with a Simple Call about the year 2000BC.  It wasn’t an invitation to negotiate a better course through the junkyard of moral confusion and self-will. It was a simple call to get out– a child could have easily understood it.

Acts 7 tells us the call came when the God of Glory appeared to him. Conversion, then, is about God, not about becoming a better me. It involves a confrontation and consequent fellowship with God Himself. And God, dictating the course of the conversation, calls on Abram to separate himself from Ur.

The choice was between God’s person and the promised land, or the large city with its outward prosperity and inner decay. Be sure of this – ripping himself from the fabric of his own history, culture and family was painful to Abram. Conversion is always this way.

Second, his conversion involved a Promise which was staggering in its implications. Five times there is “I” in the promise and they all belong to God. He alone was to be the guarantor of everything He said. Nothing has changed. The blessings of salvation that conversion brings are absolutely grounded in God and on the righteous work finished on the cross by the Lord Jesus. Today I have forgiveness because He says I do!

The best of human efforts are flawed. At the giving of the Law, intentions to keep it failed before the end of the first day. Think of your own New Year’s resolutions or the design of the “unsinkable” Titanic. In the moral realm, our best efforts are, at least, flawed with pride. So, the wonderful grace of God comes to us without requirements for human collaboration. Paul writes clearly that “by grace you are saved, through faith, not of works.” Period.

Third, his conversion required a Response. Abram’s heart was rightfully stirred, and he chose to pull out. We are told he had no idea where he was going. When I appreciated Christ as my Savior I only knew, as Abram did, Who I was with, and not much more beyond that. But that was enough.

Abram’s immediate response was the evidence of faith in God. In the days that followed, he occasionally stumbled and failed. But he was always supported by the Lord. The God who saves me will see me safely home.

It is trite but true – today is the first day of the rest of your life. Who will you walk with? Jesus said, “Unless you are converted . . . you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3, NKJV).