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What It Means to Be Converted 

Stop acting your age!

Matthew 18.1–6

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • April 21, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. We say to our children, “Start acting your age.” 
    1. Jesus says to us, “Stop acting your age.”
      1. We want our children to act older than their age.
      2. Jesus wants us to act younger than our age.
    2. No, this does not mean
      1. to act childish, or
      2. not to grow up, but
        1. we need to capture something
        2. that we once had, which little children now have.
  2. If your parents permit it, I need Kelly Crisp, Nash Crisp, Logan Garrison, Laine Garrison, Billy Henshall, Taylor Henshall, Kayleigh Meyer, Dominic Meyer, McKinley Meyer, Jacob Noveske, Zoe Peugh to come to the front pew.
    1. As they come forward,
      1. I want you to think about what I am doing, and
      2. think about what it means to be converted.
    2. [Have them sit on the front pew to my right]
    3. When you die where do you want to go?
    4. When you get older, and you become a Christian, what would you like to do for the church?
      1. Do you love Jesus?
      2. Do you want to teach a Bible class?
      3. Do you want to sweep the floors?
      4. Do you want to help old people?
      5. Do you want to clean up after potlucks?
      6. Do you want to be a song leader?
      7. Do you want to help people when they are sick?
      8. Do you want to be an elder?
      9. Do you want to hold the door open for people?
      10. Do you want to be last in line?
  3. Do you know what I just did? 
    1. I did what Jesus did in Matthew 18, after the disciples asked about greatness,

      1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt 18.1).

      1. “At that time”? What time?
      2. They questioned, “Who then…”
        1. showing something had just happened
        2. that prompted this question.
    2. In Matthew 17.24, some people asked Peter whether His Teacher, Jesus,
      1. paid taxes, specifically the temple tax.
      2. Peter answered, Yes, in verse 25.
        1. Later Jesus questioned Peter,

          25b “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” (Matt 17.25).

        2. To which Peter answered Jesus,

          26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you” (Matt 17.26, 27).

        3. Jesus spoke of kings, hence of their kingdoms, and
          1. the disciples knew that Jesus was the King of kings, and
          2. that they obviously had some great and grand part in it.
    3. “By the way, Jesus, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” [winking]

      2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 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” (Matt 18.2, 3).

      1. They had been little children themselves, but
      2. they grew up, losing something vital for entering the kingdom.
    4. Then Jesus explained what they had lost and needed to have again,

      4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18.4).

      1. Humility typifies little children, as I just demonstrated.
      2. Humility must typify any adult who hopes to enter the kingdom of heaven.
        1. This rebuked the apostles who wanted to be the greatest, but
        2. Matthew himself wrote this for us,
          1. showing that he had been converted, because
          2. it did not make him look very good, yet,
            1. he published this story
            2. for all the church and all the world to see.
    5. Jesus continued to show what He thought of little children,

      5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18.5, 6).

      1. Receive a child, receive Jesus.
      2. Make a child sin, and
        1. having a millstone hung around your neck and
        2. you then be thrown into the sea,
          1. is a better fate
          2. than the one that is coming.
  4. In what are we converted, what must change? 


  1. Change Your Conviction 
    1. Acts 2 shows Peter presenting evidence for
      1. the Lordship and Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, and
      2. the people accepting that evidence,
        1. leading them to change
        2. their conviction about the identity of Jesus.
    2. First, Peter reminded the people of the evidence that Jesus presented,

      22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…” (Acts 2.22, 23).

      1. God verified Jesus through the miracles He performed.
      2. The people rejected that evidence,
        1. showing they believed Jesus to be a fraud, yet,
        2. Peter knew that if they thought about those miracles,
          1. they would begin to change their opinion.
    3. Second, Peter reminded the people of the local talk,

      24 “…whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2.24).

      1. From there to verse 32, Peter used
        1. the testimony of the Scriptures and
        2. the testimony of the apostles
      2. to confirm the resurrection of Christ,
        1. which fit in with what the Gospels show
        2. was the talk of the town.
    4. Third, Peter reminded the people of why Jesus was not there now,

      33 “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

      “The Lord said to my Lord,
      ‘Sit at My right hand,
      35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

      1. Jesus had been raised from the dead, and
      2. ascended to heaven, that is why He was not there.
    5. Fourth, Peter delivered the final blow, which the people had come to believe,

      36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36).

    6. Then Luke shows how the people responded
      1. to the evidence, and
      2. to Peter’s declaration,

        37 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?” (Acts 2.37).

        1. Their cry of desperation shows that they had changed their conviction.
        2. They now believed
          1. Jesus to be the Lord of the Hebrew Scriptures and
          2. the promised Christ.
            1. We cannot enter heaven without having this conviction.
            2. Changing our conviction shows that we have converted.
    7. It shows that we have acquired
      1. the child-like humility
      2. that believes in Jesus.
  2. Change Your Mind and Your Life 
    1. Luke 3 shows John the Baptist in action, explaining how to change,

      7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Luke 3.7, 8).

      1. John revealed that wrath was on the way.
        1. In anticipation of that day of wrath from God,
        2. John told the people two things:
          1. Bear fruits worthy of repentance, and
          2. do not claim sonship in Abraham as a way of escaping wrath.
      2. What is fruit?
        1. Fruit is what a tree produces.
        2. Fruit identifies the variety of tree.
      3. Our way of thinking and our lives have to show
        1. that we have changed,
        2. that we no longer live in the way
          1. that made us subjects of God’s wrath, but
          2. we have conformed ourselves to the way He teaches.
    2. If we do not change, John revealed serious consequences,

      9 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3.9).

      1. Even as the orchardist plants the trees and they belong to him, so
      2. God created us and He owns us.
        1. Therefore, He expects us to produce good fruit.
        2. If we do not,
          1. He will cut us down and
          2. throw us into the fire.
    3. The people did not know how or in what to change,

      10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3.10–14).

      1. John pointed them in the direction of
        1. stop taking from people, and
        2. start giving to others.
      2. He could have listed other things, but
        1. we get the idea,
        2. our behavior has to change.
    4. If our behavior does not change,
      1. we have not converted to Christ, but
      2. changing our minds and our lives shows
        1. that we have the childlike nature
        2. that makes us want to be like Jesus.
  3. Change Your Relationship 
    1. Romans 6 shows how we change our relationship,

      3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6.3–11).

    2. In baptism, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, said,
      1. we are buried with Jesus,
      2. we are united together in the likeness of His death,
      3. we are crucified with Him,
      4. we die with Him,
      5. we live with Him, and
      6. we are alive to God in Jesus.
    3. Previously we were separated from God, but
      1. when we change our conviction about the identity of Jesus, and
      2. when we change our minds and our lives,
        1. we then qualify ourselves
        2. to change our relationship with God, and with His Son,
          1. so that, as Paul said in Romans 6,
          2. we are with Jesus in several ways.
    4. Can you find a little child who does not want to be with Jesus?
      1. Let us, therefore, be converted as little children and
      2. seek to be with Him.


  1. What do you need to change? 
    1. Do you need to change your conviction?
    2. Do you need to change your mind and your life?
    3. Do you need to change your relationship?
  2. If you need to change, we would be happy to assist you.