And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (KJV)
Converted – With this simple word comes an entire theology about the conversion of unbelievers into Christianity. Every time someone accepts Yeshua as their Savior we rejoice thinking that Christianity has grown by one more number. And because of this many actively pursue the unbelievers by preaching in the streets, passing out flyers, and even traveling to far off places with the hopes that they might convert others. If we get them to just believe in Yeshua, then alls well and our Greek understanding of conversion, a cognitive process, is fulfilled.
But is that what Yeshua is referring to here? Is it our minds that the Lord desires? If we follow the Greek view of conversion, then this is exactly what we’re after. If the convert just believes in Yeshua, then everything else will happen… somehow, right? Epistrephō is not a mental action, but rather it’s a physical return to something. To be converted in Hebrew is to return again to the love and obedience of God. To return under the guidance and instruction of the Father as a little child would. Ah, now this verse is coming together.
So often do we hear that the Torah was meant for old Israel alone because they were like children that required these trivial and archaic laws. We hear that we’re much more spiritual than they were and we now have a much more deeper understanding given to us by the Spirit. In fact, many claim that we follow the spirit of the law, not the physical. But Yeshua mentions nothing about the Spirit in the act of conversion. Yeshua instead, instructs us to return again to Torah and be like children who are in need for their Father’s commandments, statutes, and judgments.
The street preachers, flyer distributors, and missionaries take on a new role with this understanding. They become closer to the Apostolic origins and Hebrew world view. How can someone repent without knowing what sin is? How does someone convert if there is no action? These answers are found in Torah.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
It is a great and wonderful thing to believe in the Son of God, but that’s just the beginning. God has always wanted our hearts. The heart is the root of every action performed according to Hebraic views. It is where the law is written for this very purpose – that we may love His commandments and His teachings, and live by them. Conversion has never been about moving forward into a new religion, but rather about returning again to something God has already established.
With this realization of what it means to be converted, it’s time to do some self examination. Are you truly converted? It is a process, so it’s OK if it takes some time. But the goal should be to return to YHWH’s Torah. So repent, return again as a little child to Him and His teachings. If we know that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), then repentance is to return again to keeping the law. Repentance and conversion go hand in hand. Without repentance, you cannot be converted, and it is impossible to repent and not be obedient to Torah.