In some Arab countries it is against the law for a person to convert to another religion than the religion of her/his birth and upbringing. However, having been raised in a particular religion is no indication of its truth or validity. Religion without spiritual conversion is accepting without questioning — what might be called, blind belief.
Conversion can be defined as: “A change in which a person adopts a religion, faith, or belief for herself/himself based on personal transformation and/or spiritual awakening rather than on upbringing,” or “The experience of coming into a direct, personal relationship with God.”
In the 1700s, John Wesley came to the American Colonies from England to convert the Indians. As he returned home, frustrated from his lack of success, he said: “I came to America to convert the Indians! But, oh, who will convert me?”
Wesley was devoted enough to the religion of his childhood to risk his life trying to convert others, yet he realized that he, himself had never truly been converted to Christ. Later Wesley personally encountered Christ. He said: “I felt my heart strangely warmed!” After he was personally convinced of the reality of the living Jesus Christ, Wesley was on fire. Through his passionate preaching and witnessing, he introduced multitudes to Jesus and helped spark a mighty spiritual movement in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
Perhaps one of the greatest human deceptions is to think that you are a believer in a religion when you are really only adhering to the rote rituals and teachings of your upbringing. Maybe we should all follow this suggestion from Paul of Tarsus: “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith.” Here are a few quotations:
“Conversion by the Holy Spirit is a spiritual illumination of the soul.” –Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
“A man to be converted has to give up his will, his ways, and his thoughts.” –Dwight L. Moody
“Conversion is a deep work—a heart work. It goes throughout the man, throughout the mind, throughout the members, throughout the entire life.” –Joseph Alleine
“However much we may wish it otherwise, when we receive the Spirit at conversion, divine perfection does not set in, but divine ‘infection’ does! We have been invaded by the living God Himself, in the person of His Spirit, whose goal is to infect us thoroughly with God’s own likeness. –Gordon D. Fee
Other names for spiritual conversion are: being saved, salvation, being born again, being redeemed, being justified.