Saved, But Not Converted
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 8 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, From Vapor to Floods)
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32)
I seek your sympathy this morning. Would you consider the problem that a preacher faces? A preacher has to try to sell three products to three different people at the same time: He tries to sell salvation to the unsaved, followship to the saved, and conversion to the follower. The Apostle Peter was saved in John 1:40-42, “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou are Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” Andrew said, “Peter, we’ve found the Messiah!” He brought him to Jesus. That took care of the decision: Peter had to decide to be saved. He had to make the decision to be saved, but that was not the only decision he had to make. After he was saved, he still had to face another decision: What kind of Christian am I going to be? So he had to come to the place where he said, “I will leave everything and follow Jesus.” People who have left everything and followed Jesus still have another decision that they must make: Will I be converted? You say, “Preacher, explain that,” Okay, listen carefully and I’ll explain.
1. Saved or Lost?
This world is divided into two groups: saved or lost; going to hell or going to Heaven; born again or without God. There were two thieves on the cross, one on either side of our Lord. One was saved; the other was lost. Two men went into the temple to pray. One was justified; the other was not. One was saved; the other was lost. John 3:18, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believes not is condemned already.” There are two classes of people as God sees them in this room this morning. Either you are saved, or you are lost. There is no “hope so.” There is no “trying to be.” There is no “maybe so.” There is no “wishing so.” Either you are saved and on your way to Heaven or you are lost and on your way to hell.
The Jews had what they called the “ten awesome days.” These were the first ten days of the year. The Jews thought there were three books, and they thought the very, very good people had their names written in the every, very good book. These people were right with God. They were going to Heaven. The very, very bad people had their names written in the very, very bad book, so they thought, and they were going to hell. The Jews thought that since not very many folks were very, very good, and not many folks were very, very bad, most were in the center book, not good enough to be good and not bed enough to be bad. They had enough good to keep them from being gad and enough bad to keep them from being good. Most of their names were in the center book. During what they called the “ten awesome days” everybody could get right, confess all of his sins, and then get his name transferred from the middle book to the good book.
The person who owed debts would get all of his debts paid to get his name transferred from the center book to the very good book. He that had anything against his brother or anybody else would make it right to get his name transferred from the middle book to the very good book. If you were really in bad shape, and if you were listed in the very bad book, you could work mighty hard and get transferred from the bad book to the middle book. Then next year you could get from the middle book to the good book. However, the truth is, that is not so! There is no purgatory. There is a Heaven and there is a hell. You are going to Heaven or you are going to hell. The decision is yours. You have to decide. Nobody can do it for you. The priest cannot do it for you. The preacher cannot do it for you. You can join the church, but that will not do I. You can get sprinkled, but that will not do it. You can get confirmed, but that will not do it. You can get dedicated, but that will not do it. You can turn over a new leaf, but that will not do it. You can live a good life, but that will not do it. You can tithe, but that will not do it. You can take communion, but that will not do it. You can take the Eucharist, but that will not do it. You must decide one question and one question only: Where would you go if you died this morning? Jesus died for you on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. If you in faith will receive Him as your Saviour, God will impart to you His righteousness and will impart to Jesus your sins. Jesus will bear your sins, give you His righteousness and though you will still be a sinner, in the sight of God Almighty your record will be clear, clean, perfect, because the sins that you committed were imputed, imparted to Jesus and His righteousness covers you sins. Now I ask the question again: Where would you go if you died this morning?
You say, “I don’t plan to die.” That sixteen-year-old boy who went fishing over here in Tinley Park didn’t either. He did not plan to die. You say, “Well, I don’t intend on facing a tragedy.” Neither did Governor Wallace plan to face a tragedy last week. He did not plan that he would be at the point of death before this Sunday. Tens of thousands of people will die tomorrow who are not planning today to die soon. You are going to hell or you are going to Heaven!
“I don’t believe it!” you say. That does not change it a bit. You are going to hell or you are going to Heaven. Either you are saved or you are lost. You belong to God or you belong to Satan. You are on your way to Heaven or you are on your way to hell. The difference is not to what church you belong, not what baptism you have experienced, not the good deeds you have done, but the question is this: What have you done with Jesus Christ Who paid the penalty for your sin?
You are saved or lost. Let us suppose this morning that you do face the issue. You say, “I am not saved. I know that I am a sinner. I am lost and I know that I am going to hell. This morning, I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I receive Him now as my Saviour. Jesus, I trust You.”
If you are not saved, in God’s name, do it today! Do not take a chance on walking out those doors not prepared to meet God.
2. Spiritual or Carnal?
You face still another decision. A person’s first decision is to be saved or lost. When a person is saved, he faces another decision: Will I be spiritual or carnal? After you come to Christ, the next decision you face is what kind of Christian you are going to be. Are you going to live after the flesh or after the Spirit? Are you going to live a carnal life or a spiritual life? Paul writes to the church at Corinth and says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” I Corinthians 3:1.
“Oh,” you say, “I have decided to be saved. I am going to go to Heaven.”
I know, but as soon as you are saved, you face another decision. You face being either a spiritual Christian or a carnal Christian. Are you going to come to Prayer Meeting on Wednesday night? Are you going to give God tithes and offerings, or are you going to rob God and be selfish and steal God’s money? Are you going to read your Bible and become acquainted with God in His Word, or are you going to read it just every once in awhile and never learn much about the Bible? Are you going to bow your head and pray before you eat or are you going to dig in without praying just like any ungrateful pig? One fellow prayed, “Lord God of the Holy Ghost, the one who eats the fastest gets the most.” Many don’t even do that. Are you going to eat without thanking God, or are you going to say, “God, thank You for the food You have provided, Amen”? Are you going to live as if there were no God?
Now I am not talking to unsaved people. I am talking to saved people. America is going to hell. America is headed for destruction this morning, not because of the Hollywood crowd, not because of the President, not because of the Supreme Court, and not because of the homosexuals, but because we have a generation of people whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life but they live lives as carnally as the unsaved. They are carnal Christians. Oh yes, they are saved. I am simply saying that our country is perishing because we have a generation of Christians who don’t love God as much as the revolutionary loves Communism. We are perishing because we have Sunday morning Christians, half in and half out, half on and half off, half hot and half cold, lukewarm Christians who won’t give God the tithe, who don’t know what the church looks like on the inside on Sunday night, who don’t come back on Wednesday night, who won’t read one chapter a day out of God’s blessed Book, who won’t spend ten minutes a day in prayer with God, who won’t bow their heads to thank God for the food. They are living carnal lives. Oh, you are going to Heaven, but you are carnal on your way to Heaven. God help you to come this morning, face to face, to the decision that every Christian needs to face: Am I spiritual or am I carnal?
Peter had to face that. Peter was already saved. That did not stop the decision that Peter had to face. After he got saved he had to make another decision: Will I stay in the fishing business or will I leave all and follow Jesus? Will I be a carnal kind of Christian, living like I used to live, or will I leave all?
This morning I was walking down the alley behind our church buildings. I met four or five young ladies (Pardon me, they were females) who had skirts on that made them look like harlots. You say, “Preacher, you are trying to preach somebody off.” I never try to preach anybody on or off. I try to preach that which is true. All through these years I have done that, and I am not about to change at age 45. They looked like harlots. When they sit down, you can see things that are unlawful to see. When they stand up, you see things that nobody ought to see. I said to myself, “They are probably not Wednesday night people. I know they are probably visitors.” Listen, I want you visitors to know how you ought to dress. Somebody somewhere ought to tell you to wear some clothes.
God help this sensual generation of ours! I said to myself as I walked down the alley, “How hard does a fellow have to preach? Nobody has preached any harder than I have on the fact that ladies should wear decent, modest clothing!”
In spite of that fact, listen, you can see as much walking down the alley as you used to see in burlesque shows! It’s time God’s people decide to be spiritual instead of carnal! It is no wonder that Communism is taking over! No wonder topless bathing suits are becoming the fad. No wonder homosexuality is running wild. People who are saved just live like the world, dress like the world, talk like the world, act like the world, wear their hair like the world, tell jokes like the world, read what the world reads, watch what the world watches, sing what the world sings, and say what the world says. Oh, people of God, give all to Christ! Live the spiritual life!
So Peter faced the question, “Shall I be carnal or shall I be spiritual?” He left all and followed Jesus.
3. Converted or Unconverted?
Peter has made two decisions. He has come down the road and found a fork in the road. “Shall I go this way and be saved or shall I go this way and not be saved?” He decided to be saved. Then all of a sudden, he finds another fork in the road. “Shall I be carnal and go this way or should I be spiritual and go this way?” He chose to be spiritual, but now he comes to yet another fork in the road-the choice of conversion or unconversion.
You say, “Pastor, what are you talking about? Isn’t a person converted when he is saved?”
No, he is not converted when he is saved. Conversion should be a result of salvation, but it is not salvation. Let me illustrate it.
Back in World War II, I was a paratrooper. I used to jump out of airplanes. We jumped out of airplanes called C-46’s and C-47’s. Eighteen of us would jump. They had two engines; they were prop planes, of course. Back in those days, we had no jets.
After the war was over, I was out at Love Field, an airport in Dallas. I got on a plane, and they said, “Welcome aboard Delta Airlines DC-3 plane.” I felt at home on that plane. We got up in the air, and I asked the stewardess, “Can I ask you a question? What kind of plane is this?”
She said, “DC-3. The pilot just announced it.”
“Has this plane always been a passenger plane?”
“No, they used to be called C-47’s.”
I said, “Go open the door.”
She said, “Why?”
“I might jump!”
“What do you mean?”
“I used to jump out of C-47’s.”
“Mister, after the war was over they converted all of those planes!”
What did she mean? She meant that that plane was once used for something else, but it has been reconditioned; its purpose has been changed. Now there is a new purpose. That which was used for war is now used for peace. It has been converted.
Listen to me. Here is an unsaved person. He smokes. He drinks. He lies. He never reads his Bible, never bows his head to pray, never says grace. Now he comes down the aisle and gets saved. He receives Christ. When he goes back home, he still does not read his Bible, he still does not pray. He still does not come to church on Sunday nights. He still does not come to church on Wednesday night. Is he saved? Yes, but he is not converted. His body is being used to do exactly as it did before he got saved.
Listen, Delta airlines went to the United States Army and said, “We would like to purchase all your C-47’s.” Now then, listen to me. Does the United States Army own the C-47? No, Delta owns it. It has a new owner. Suppose that paratroopers still jump out of it even though it is owned by a new owner. Is it converted? No, it is not. The ownership has nothing to do with its conversion. The conversion comes about when the use is changed. Let me ask you a question: Are you converted?
“Oh,” you say, “I am saved.”
Are you converted? Are your habits like those of the unsaved? Then you are not converted. Is your language like that of the unsaved? Then you are not converted.
When a lady comes to Christ and does not lengthen her skirts, she is not converted. When a young man comes to Christ and does not cut his hair and wear decent-length hair, then he is not converted. He is saved, but not converted. When a man comes to Christ and does not quit his smoking, he is saved but not converted. Conversion means using the body for something else other than the original use.
Peter came to the place where he had to choose to be lost or saved. He chose to be saved. He came to a place where he had to face another decision: To be carnal or spiritual. He chose the spiritual. He then had to face another decision: to be converted or unconverted.
I know a lot of folks who pray but never win a soul. A lot of folks never start a bus route or bring the unsaved to church. Their lives have never changed.
I was out at Munster’s shopping center not long ago. A big family walked by and one young lady said, “Mama, who is he?”
She said, “That’s Reverend Hyles from down on Sibley Street.”
Then the girl whispered something to her mother and came over and spit on me. Then the boy did the same thing. Do you know why they spit one me? They did it because I believe in decency. I am against the liquor traffic. I am against the narcotics traffic. I am against Communism. I am for America! I am for the Bible! I am for clean living! I believe that Christian people ought to be different from the people of the world! Christians ought to be “converted,” if you please.
Let the people of Hammond criticize First Baptist Church if they will, but let them see there is something in our people that differs from the world. We have not only been saved but we have also been converted.
Listen carefully, and I’ll illustrate exactly what I am saying.
Across the street there used to be several apartment buildings. Our church bought all but one. For a season we kept renting out one of the apartment buildings. The same people lived in there for awhile that lived there before we bought it.
We owned it, right? It was still occupied by the same people. The same things went on in that apartment that went on before we bought it. There was no change at all. There was only a change of ownership. I am talking to a lot of people in this room this morning who have had only a change of ownership. That is all. Aren’t you ashamed to call yourself a Christian and that the only change in your life is that you have received Christ as your Saviour? Don’t you think God deserves more than that? Okay, you have been saved. Many of you are just like that building. You are owned by God, but you are no use to Him at all.
Now let me give you a second illustration. There was a diner, a “greasy spoon” kind of a place that once operated next door to our church. For many years the same owner had it. He paid us rent. We owned it. It was ours, but there was no change in what went on there. The saved man who is carnal is just like that.
Here is another illustration. Across the alley this morning there is an empty building. It used to be the Werth Furniture Store. We bought it. No longer is there a furniture store. Now it is empty. Now, bear in mind, nobody curses over there. Nobody gambles over there. Nobody drinks over there. Nobody smokes over there. Nobody tells lies over there. Nobody lives in wicked sin over there, but it is empty! Do you follow me? We bought the diner and there was no change. The building we bought, and it is no longer carnal, but it is empty.
There is a building down in the next block. We bought it from a liberal church. They didn’t stay in it, but we didn’t leave it empty either. Now it is being used for the glory of God as the Hammond Baptist Grade School.
Now listen to me. Every Christian in this house is either like the Temple Diner, the Werth Furniture building, or the Hammond Baptist Grade School. Think for a minute:
Where are you? Think! Are you living any differently from the time before Jesus bought you?
Are you any different from what you were back yonder before you got redeemed? You say, “Thank God, I’m saved!” Okay, but is it like the Temple Diner where the same things are going on now as they were before you got saved? You are saved, but you are not spiritual; you are carnal. Perhaps you say, “Of course, Preacher, I don’t drink, I don’t use dope, I don’t curse; I’m clean!” Okay, then maybe you are like the Werth Furniture Building. You never win a soul, never teach a Sunday school class, never run a bus route, but you are clean. You are spiritual; you are not carnal. Perhaps you are like the Hammond Baptist Grade School building. Are you bought, spiritual and converted?
Most of you are Werth Furniture Companies. You are “worthless.” You do not do what is wrong. Listen. You can sweep out that building and you can paint the walls, but it is not converted until its use is changed to do something constructive for God. Now, where are you? There are folks right here this morning that are Temple Diners. You are saved and on your way to Heaven, but that is all. You use the same language the world uses, the same literature the world uses, the same television programs the world watches, same magazines, same books, same radio programs. You are redeemed, you are bought, you belong to Christ, but the same thins is going on in that building now as before.
Then there are those who are like the Werth Furniture building. You are spiritual; you are not carnal, but you are just no doing anything for God! You have not been converted.
May I say this morning, if you are saved and not spiritual, I beseech you to ask God to forgive the sins of your life. I beseech you to give everything you have to God. This morning, if you are spiritual, but you are not converted, may I say to you, let good come from your life. Get a bus route. Go out and win souls. Get a Sunday school class. Work for God. Become converted!
I look at our teenagers and say, “Oh God, use them.” Oh, so many prayers have gone into these kids. I have sat in my office with them. I have wept with them. I have pleaded with them to give all they had to God. Yesterday morning I sat in my study with numbers of kids and said, “Don’t stop short! Don’t stop short! Turn from sin! Don’t let your body be a vessel of dishonor! God wants more than that. Let God use you! Be converted! Be converted! Be converted!”
Let me ask you a question. Are you going to Heaven? How many can say this morning, “Brother Hyles, I know that if I died today, I would go to Heaven; I am on the right side; I am saved, and I know it?” Raise your hand. All right, you can drop your hands. If you could not lift your hand, may I beseech you this morning to say “yes” to God.
Everyone whose hand was raised still faces another fork in the road. Are you spiritual or are you carnal?
You say, “I’m spiritual!” Then I ask, are you converted or are you unconverted?
May we search hearts today!