When our Lord spoke of conversion He used a word which meant "to turn around, revert, or to come again". The definition suggests that persons who are converted are changed and are set on a different course or direction. The Lord associated forgiveness of sins with conversion when he said "lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" Mark 4: 12. Peter said, Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" Acts 3: 19. Repentance, forgiveness of sins and refreshing from the presence of the Lord accompany this change in a person's life which we all call conversion.
The Lord saw fit to record for us in His Holy Word at least eight specific examples of conversion in the book of Acts. It is worth noting that in each example of conversion, there is preaching or teaching of the Gospel followed by a certain response to that preaching or teaching by the person converted.
The first recorded example is found in Acts, Chapter 2. When Peter and the other apostles filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke to the great multitude on the day of Pentecost and told them that God had raised His Son, whom they had crucified, to be the Saviour of all who call upon His name (verse 21). Believing the apostle's message and being convicted of the enormous sin of rejecting and consenting to the crucifixion of God's Son, they asked "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them. 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.' And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, 'save yourselves from this untoward generation'. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" Acts 2: 37-41. Another example of conversion is recorded in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts. Philip the evangelist preached the Gospel in the city of Samaria and "when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" Acts 8: 12. Philip was the teacher in another example of conversion, also recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts. An Ethiopian eunuch, who was treasurer for Candace, queen of Ethiopia, was returning home from worship in Jerusalem and met Philip. The Ethiopian was reading from the 53rd chapter of the prophet Isaiah, a prophecy about Christ, Philip joined the Ethiopian, who did not understand the prophecy. "Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came into a certain water: and the enuch said. 'See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?' Acts 8: 35,36. Then, following the enuch's confession of faith in Christ, we read in verse 38: "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him".
A fourth example of conversion is that of Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians who later became Paul the Apostle. The conversion of Saul is recorded in Acts Chapters 9 and 22. When the Lord appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, He told Saul "go into the city and it shall be told thee what thou must do", Acts 9: 6. Ananias, the preacher, told Saul "and now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" Acts 22: 16. Saul responded to the teachings of Ananias by being baptized, Acts 9: 18.
It might be noted at this point that in each case of conversion there was preaching or teaching the Gospel, belief of the Gospel, repentance, an acknowledgment or confession stated or implied, and baptism. Cornelius and his household heard the Gospel, believed and obeyed the commands of the Gospel. The conversion of Cornelius is recorded in the 10th chapter of Acts and recounted in more detail by Peter in the 11th chapter of Acts. Cornelius was told in a vision to send for Peter "who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" Acts 11: 14. After preaching the Gospel to Cornelius and his house, Peter "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" Acts 10: 48. In commanding baptism, Peter was doing no more than carrying out that portion of the great commission which the Lord had given him and the other apostles: "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" Mark 16: 15,16.
Two more examples of conversion are recorded in the 16th chapter of Acts. When the Apostle Paul took the Gospel into Macedonia, he found certain women worshipping by a river side. "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, (of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God), heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us saying, 'If you have judged me faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there" Acts 16: 14,15.
A short time later, Paul was imprisoned in Philippi because he was falsely accused by those who opposed the Gospel, and was able to teach the Gospel to the jailer with the result that the jailer and his household heard, believed and obeyed. "And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, and he and all his, straightway" Acts 16: 30-33.
Finally, when the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in the city of Corinth "many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized" Acts 18:8.