February 11, 2006
Ah, CJ is again lamenting that most undeniable proof of the Fall – another Duke basketball victory. Alas, this one over his beloved Terrapins. And to think that Mark graduated without ever being caught up with the Cameron crazies. Providence – guess that has made his friendship with CJ possible!
Now Mark, thanks for another good post today on conversion. I regularly hear (I’ll not say where) evangelism and missions reports, even of the short-term variety, touting staggering numbers of decisions or professions, meaning in the reporters’ mind "conversions." I have the same reaction as you express in the post.
One sure fire sign that something short of the New Testament fullness of discipleship is in view is when their is no real, vital and lasting connection of the "new convert" with the local church. The local church often hasn’t been involved in witness-bearing to the individual. The individual has not given account of his faith and publicly professed Christ in the midst of the congregation – nor can pastor, elders and people lend confirmation to the evidences of new life. No commitment to an on-going discipleship has been indicated by the person – and often sadly no such discipleship has ever been practically in view by those who were engaged in the initial "evangelism."
With you, Mark, one of my constant prayers for the ministry here at First Pres., is that we would see conversions, and more of them. But I mean conversion in all its glorious, supernatural reality. The Spirit must do it. It is always surprising in light of our spiritual deadness. And it yields not merely a momentary decision and assent to a Gospel presentation, but a grace-endowed, Gospel-rooted, Spirit-transformed, church-shaped life of discipleship.
After all, Jesus told us to "make disciples."