Mike Riley wrote, “New Testament conversion is begun by the sinner being taught the Word of the Lord (Acts 8:29-39; Acts 17:1-3; Acts 18:24-28).” That reminded me …
… as he replied to the question, “What is essential to conversion?”, that comprehension is the starter fluid.
Comprehension includes the what and why. Not only that Jesus is the Messiah, but why he came to earth. So Matthew shows that only when the disciples got down the what (Jesus = Messiah), did he started explaining the why (mission = crucifixion) (Matthew 16:21). They needed both.
Much we will never catch — for who can fathom the mind of the Lord? — but understanding is the basic requirement of the Lord. The wicked are those who “do not understand the Lord’s actions, or the way he carries out justice” (Psalm 28:5 NET). Lump the wealthy in with them (Psalm 49:20).
Jesus declared, “Listen and understand” (Matthew 15:10). He got frustrated at the slow learner who had plenty of opportunity to get it (Matthew 16:9-11; John 3:10).
Understanding isn’t everything. It’s tied to doing (John 13:17). An atheist can memorize the Bible; he can’t submit to Jesus as Lord or appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:20).
Bottom line: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17 NASB). This is real conversion and true wisdom.