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Commentary

New converts

Nothing encourages a church like people becoming Christians.

John Benton, Editor

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image: saamvisual.com

When genuine conversions are happening, the whole of church life seems to be reinvig-orated. Our worship becomes more passionate because we know God has been at work. Our fellowship is stimulated because the church is growing – new babies always bring a warm glow to a family. Our evangelism is given new momentum – we feel that the our outreach is making an impact. Christians moving into the area and joining is fine, but it is nothing like as good as seeing salvation.

My wife Ann was very much encouraged recently. Earlier in the year she had been asked to take three parenting evenings for a new church down towards the West Country. A friend had kindly acted as chauffeur on the long night drives. The meetings took place in Café Nero in the town and Ann said there was a real buzz of expectation about those evenings. Just a few weeks ago she received an email from the pastor there. He said that a couple, who had initially started coming on those evenings, had been converted and that he had just married them that day! Two lives had been turned around by God. The pastor’s excitement was palpable.

Heaven and hell

I was taking the anniversary services for a church which God has blessed this year under its young pastor. It was easy to preach there because of the joy, unity and enthusiasm in the congregation. Two teenagers had recently come to Christ but also a 30-something woman. The touch of Christ upon her life was dramatic.

The pastor and his wife had gone out with her and her husband to a restaurant on the Saturday night. She had been deeply disturbed under the ministry of previous Sundays. Over the meal she summed up her position by saying something like: ‘I am a good woman and I am going to heaven.’ When the pastor said ‘That’s not enough,’ it was like a bombshell. The next day, after a powerful gospel sermon, the woman came to the pastor with tears running down her cheeks, obviously afraid of going to hell. That night the pastor went to bed but was woken up at 4am with a deep conviction that God wanted him to pray for the woman – which he did. Later he was to find that it was around just that time that the sleepless woman had turned to Christ. It was a classic conversion, with conviction of sin under the preaching of the Word and subsequently finding forgiveness. No wonder the church was in good heart.

And new converts bring fresh joy to a church often through their startling insights. There is a man I know who was saved just a couple of years ago. He came to me in church and said: ‘John, are you sure there’s a heaven?’ My worried reaction brought a twinkle to his eye. ‘Because, since I’ve been converted,’ he said, ‘this seems like heaven already!’

Prayer

As Paul writes to Timothy stationed in Ephesus, he insists that the first thing the church must prioritise is prayer (1 Timothy 2.1-4). That prayer must have a definite evangelistic concern because even Calvinists must come to grips with the fact that ‘God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ Those Christmas gospel opportunities are coming! Pray for new babes to be born. Only God can do this, not us. How about a daily prayer meeting through December?