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Converting People

-- "Are you trying to convert me?" asks the unbeliever.

-- "Oh, no, no, no, no" replies the evangelist. "I can't convert anyone, only God can do that."

... Later on in that same conversation...

-- "Can I do anything to become a Christian?"

-- "Why yes.  Here are the three steps to getting saved."

Anyone see a problem here?

Interestingly Paul had no problem talking about "winning" and even "saving" people (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).  At the same time he never prays the sinners prayer with people.  What does this tell us?

Well I think it diagnoses a funny kind of "sovereignty when it suits us" thinking.  The evangelist can't convert the unbeliever but the unbeliever can convert themselves!

It also betrays a very enlightenment view of the interaction between "the natural" and "the supernatural."  We assume that "the natural" equals the mechanics of evangelism and "the supernatural" equals a capricious and arbitrary zapping from on high.

This is not the way the bible co-ordinates things.  There is the realm of the flesh, in which human reason and the basic principles of this world rule (Colossians 2:8a).  And there is the realm of the Spirit, in which Christ is offered in the word (Colossians 2:8a-9).

Paul wins (and even saves) people in that he points away from all the powers of the flesh and offers Christ in the word - all praise to the almighty Spirit.  And the unbeliever is saved quite apart from the steps they take to convert themselves - Christ in His word has conquered them - all praise to the almighty Spirit.

Don't be afraid to try to convert people.  Everyone's trying to convert everyone. All the time.  Just don't do it according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  In other words: Preach the Word!


6 thoughts on “Converting People

  1. Ephrem Hagos

    Converting people has never been on the agenda of Jesus. He clearly said, "How terrible for you teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!" (Matt. 23:15)

    In other words, salvation is impossible for man but not for God, who is in the exclusive business of transforming lives for eternal salvation by the power of Christ's death on the cross!

  2. Steve Martin

    When preachers ask for a 'response', then they are turning the gospel into just another law.

    Talk to folks. Find out their pain and suffering. Speak to that pain and suffering. tell them of yours. And then let them know what Christ Jesus has done for the world...for them. Announce the Good News...and the Spirit of the Lord will use that Word for His purposes.

    Of course, leave them your number...or invite them to church if they want to learn more. And pray for them.

  3. Kebs

    "It is finished" should be our message.

    Focusing on the "response" would lead to a lot of trouble, even unbelief at times. I, personally, focused on my response - "Am I believing enough? Am I doing good enough? Do I really believe?" And I tell you, with no exaggeration, I felt miserable.

    The "Christ alone" truth liberates.

  4. Theo K


    Reading the book of Acts one can say that the apostles

    - Declared the gospel
    - And called people to repentance and faith

    Let's faithfully follow their example!

  5. theoldadam

    Romans 1:16.

    The Lord will grab a hold of whom He will. "We are not born of the will...but of God."

    Jesus called people and they just came. He still does. When we speak the Word, the two edged sword of law and gospel...that Word will not return void.

  6. Ephrem Hagos

    @Theo K The gospel declared in the Book of Acts, which produced repentance and faith in the people, was nothing more or less than the power of Christ's death on the cross which transforms lives.

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