In the midst of a busy family life, it can sometimes be difficult to get or make the time to sit down with our wife or husband and discuss the Bible. The Bible can be at the center of our church life in weekly services, at the center of our personal lives in private devotions, and even at the center of our family life in family worship, and yet not be at the center of our marriage.

Shona and I have tried various strategies over the years to make sure that we are regularly discussing the Bible together, fellowshipping in the living Word. One thing we hadn’t tried, until recently, was for both of us to be reading the same book in our private devotional reading so that we can discuss the same passage when we get together. It also keeps us accountable knowing that she is going to be asking me what I thought about such and such a verse, and vice versa.

We started with 1 Thessalonians because it’s not such a familiar book as many of the others, and also because it’s quite short and do-able. No point in starting with 2 Chronicles and running out of steam by chapter 3.

After reading chapter 1, I decided to look up one of John Macarthur’s sermon on the chapter and it was a a wonderful eye- and heart-opener for me. He used the chapter to highlight 10 marks of true conversion that Paul noted in the Thessalonians. I’d recommend you read the whole thing, but here’s a summary of the ten effects of true conversion in a Christian’s life:

1. Production: He has a faith that works (3)

2. Affection: He has a love that labors (3)

3. Continuation: He has a hope that perseveres (3)

4. Presentation: He has has been under a preaching that is powerful (5)

5. Transformation: He has a life that is new (6)

6. Jubilation: He has a joy that is transcendent (6)

7. Reproduction: He has a behavior that is exemplary (7)

8. Proclamation: He has a witness that is strong (9)

9. Submission: He has an allegiance that submits (9)

10. Patience: He is waiting for Jesus (10)

Macarthur makes three important additional points:

1. This is not just what happens at the at the beginning of conversion, but it becomes an increasing pattern in the Christian’s life.

2. Sin can make a Christian lose touch with the reality of these things in his life for a time.

Listen, sin…sin can stop the product in your life. Sin can tear at the affection you have for Christ. Sin can steal your hope. Sin can make your life look old. Sin can rob you of your joy. Sin can make your behavior something that is the opposite of exemplary. Sin can destroy your witness. Sin can make you disobedient and devastate your allegiance to Christ. Sin can make you not even want to see Jesus.

3. But he solemnly concludes: “Now listen carefully. If these don’t mark you, then I can’t tell if you’re a Christian and very likely, neither can you.”

Personal Note
This chapter is very special to me as it played a role in my own conversion. A few weeks after I believe I was converted, I was given a tape of an Al Martin sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 called “True Biblical Conversion.” If I wasn’t converted before hearing that, I certainly was after it.

I’ll never forget the impact of that sermon on my soul. It made me realize my need of a deep and deeper divine work of God on my heart if I was every to produce the fruits of true conversion. It drove me to my knees to call out to God for His sovereign and merciful work in my heart. The echoes of that sermon still reverberate in my soul to this day.

  • Ray

    There are scores of people who trace their conversion to Al Martin’s clear, convicting preaching, myself being one of them. Praise God for men like him (and John MacArthur) who deal faithfully with souls, and who clearly spell out what conversion is and what it is not and what its effects are.

  • Bryan Burke

    “Now listen carefully. If these don’t mark you, then I can’t tell if you’re a Christian and very likely, neither can you.”—John Macarthur

    Have you ever met anyone that has consistently presented all of these alleged conversion-assurance fruit requirements? I mean, really.

    I can appreciate your individual journey toward understanding you are truly converted. However, if any person, if they’re not deluded, but honest with themselves about their own journey, went strictly by the above criteria presented by you and Macarthur, should/would never be assured of their conversion. I’m really afraid of what kind of Christians they’d be if that is where their confidence and faith rested.

    Does God know us by our fruit or by our faith?

    • terry

      This isn’t about how God knows us. If God saved us I’m pretty sure He’s aware of that. Macarthur has been accused of teaching “works salvation” but the command to examine ourselves so we can be sure we are in the Faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5) is the very obvious fruit of a person AFTER one has BEEN converted. Scripture is clear that even the demons believe “and shudder” so simply saying “I believe, therefore I have faith” is nothing more than self-deception. You may have missed the statement after the list… “This is not just what happens at the beginning of conversion but it becomes an increasing pattern within the Christian’s life”. Point: These things are impossible to attain 100% but they are most certainly the HEART of a true Christian and the things he/she prays for because the goal is to glorify Him who saves. Most of the prayers hear/read from professing Christians are rarely spiritual but self serving and temporal… but not always.

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  • Goodlyheritage

    It is a wonderful list but where is the repentance part it seems to be missing??? Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins. This is not only once but needs to be experienced every day.