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You Are God's Instrument in Conversion
by Tom Goodman
October 23, 2009

Changing minds is our job.

Of course, Scripture tells us that changing minds is a supernatural work of the Spirit.  But you and I are God's instruments in conversion.

And that means that if we're not actually converting people to Jesus we're, well, failing.

As church leaders (volunteer and paid), we can fall into thinking, "My job is to prepare a program, show up on time, and run it."  But God is looking to see if our leadership is resulting in anyone's conversion.

How do I know this is what God is looking for?  Because of the way he calls and commissions people in the Bible stories.  John Piper wrote a helpful column about this today.  He outlined fived ways the Bible talks about our role in the conversion of others:

  • "I am sending you to open their eyes," the risen Christ said to Paul (Acts 26:17-18).  Opening the eyes of the spiritually blind is God's work (2 Corinthians 4:6), but Jesus sends Paul to open their eyes.
  • "I have become all things to all people," Paul wrote, "that by all means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).  He knew that God does the saving (Jeremiah 24:7), and yet Paul said he did whatever it took to "save" people.
  • "Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering," James wrote, "will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).  Isn't God the one who brings people back to himself (Jeremiah 31:18; Isaiah 57:18)?  And yet the Bible calls us to bring people back from sin and death.
  • "He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God," the angel said of John the Baptist, "and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just." (Luke 1:16-17).  Again, though God works to turn hearts to himself (2 Thessalonians 3:5), John the Baptist was commissioned to turn hearts to God.
  • "You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God," Peter wrote, adding, "and this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:23-25).  So, the same Bible that says the Spirit of God causes new birth, blowing where he wills (John 3:8), also says that the new birth comes from someone preaching the gospel.

So, according to the texts above, we are to "open their eyes," "save some," "bring back" sinners from their wandering, "turn many" to the Lord, and see people born again through announcing the good news to them.

Our purpose is to be a community where people can find and follow Jesus together.  Are you deliberately aiming any of your leadership activity toward helping people find Jesus, or are you just focusing on helping believers follow Jesus?

"God is the decisive, ultimate cause of conversion," Piper writes, "but we are his agents, and he calls us to join him in this goal.  Not to aim at it is to put ourselves out of step with his command and his Spirit."

So . . . are you in step?


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