People have the ability to change, the Gospel is the power to initiate that change, and soul winners aid in this change.
"Conversion" (Acts 15:4) means a radical change of character and conduct. This special issue of Why I Changed recounts real, gripping conversion stories from varied backgrounds. This highlights the unchanging power of the Gospel of Christ to change myriads of lives!
Seeing people change from the wrong way to the right way is exciting! This is the thrilling, yet sobering drama of the whole Bible, from Paradise lost (Gen. 3) to Paradise regained in the Bible's last chapter (Rev. 22). Jesus came into the world to bring precious souls back to God (Jno. 14:6; 1 Pet. 3:18).
1. People Can Change!: -- Jesus saw great potential for positive change among lost men. "Lift up your eyes, for the fields are white unto harvest" (Jno. 4:35; see Acts 18:10). The good news of the Gospel is that our Lord offers the real hope of lasting change from the inside out (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Neither the immoral Samaritan woman (Jno. 4) nor the rabid anti-Christian Rabbi Saul (Acts 8:3) would seem likely prospects for conversion. Yet, they changed! Every lost soul is a prospect, and we shouldn't write them off as a suspect.
Yet, Jesus said don't waste your time with someone that's clearly hostile and abusive toward the truth (Matt. 7:6). Otherwise, assume the best, do your best to teach, and let God take care of the results (1 Cor. 3:6).
Jesus saw lost, struggling people have a great potential for change: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:28,29). The Jesus' yoke of discipleship alone offers men hope of a new life that really counts and really works in the overall scheme of human existence. We're looking for those who are looking for the real meaning and purpose of life, which is found only in Jesus the Christ! It's been well-said, "The Son of God became the Son of Man, in order to make the sons of men the sons of God."
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Jesus is the Great Physician of men's souls, but He is specifically a Pediatrician -- men must humble themselves in child-like trust in order to obey the saving Gospel. The Parable of the Sower shows that truly good, sincere people will believe, repent, and change in harmony with God's Word (Lk. 8:15).
2. The Power Of Truth To Change!:-- Jesus proclaims that only His truth can liberate us from ignorance, error, and the penalty and power of sin (Jno. 8:31,32). Getting right with Jesus is the key to real and lasting change. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (Jno. 15:5).
Only by following the Spirit's directions can men be made new or be reborn to enter heaven (Jno. 3:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13). We're not trying to convert people to "the Restoration Movement" or to our way of thinking but rather to the Lord's way of truth. People must see there is an objective standard of divine truth that defines right and wrong. It's not about how we think or feel that settles the matter, but only what God has said about it. This means people must accept the full authority of Scripture to determine every religious question and issue (Lk. 6:46; Matt. 7:12).
Conversion doesn't end with baptism, but life-long discipleship to Jesus begins with baptism and continues for a lifetime (Matt. 28:18-20). True conversion bears fruit of ongoing personal growth! If you're finished growing, you're finished!
3. Soul-winners Aid Change: -- God changes people through His people. Jesus challenges us to prayerfully trust in God for success and to get involved in saving souls: "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. The He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Matt. 9:36-38). Personal evangelism is hard, challenging work, but it is well worth the effort! Will we help our Lord Jesus, who is the head of the body of the redeemed, as his hands, feet, and mouths on earth today, to reach out to the lost?
The power to change is in the content of the Word, but we are commanded to responsibly and wisely use the most effective means to convey that truth (Matt. 10:40-42), to convey eternal truth about spiritual priorities. He use parabolic pictures to teach spiritual concepts in relevant terms people could practically grasp (Mk. 4:33,34). Perceptive, competent soul-winners will do the same (1 Cor. 9:19-23). It's not style (method) over substance (message) or even substance over style: rather, it is the right substance (the truth of the Gospel) conveyed wisely in the most effective style.
By W. Frank Walton in Biblical Insights, Vol. 5, No. 4, April, 2005.
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