I am putting these two marks together because I believe they go “hand in hand”, so to speak. Conversion is such a wonderful word – and yet it is seldom used among God’s people any more. If we misunderstand conversion then we will mess up evangelism. The two major elements of conversion are faith and repentance. These things are not worked up within me - they are not qualities that are yet untapped. The only way I can have saving faith and a conviction of my sin and wretchedness, is that God does a work in me. Now this certainly doesn’t exclude man’s action, but it is much deeper than us praying a prayer and going to church. As Dever mentions, we must have our hearts replaced. True conversion will bear fruit - it will change the way I see sin, the way I read the Word, the way I love the church. It involves not only preservation (that God will never let me go) but perseverance (that if I am truly a believer, I will endure to the end). If I understand that conversion is a work of God and God alone, it will also change the way I share the Gospel. Remember if we have a correct understanding of the Gospel, and we know what real biblical conversion looks like, it will not be very difficult to present the Gospel to the unconverted. We must be honest when we handle the Gospel - I’m not focused on a prayer, and I’m not coming to God to improve my life or give me “Hell insurance.” What our focus is when we present the Gospel is our unrighteousness and guilt before a holy God. We must present the fact that the cross is the place where the wrath of God fell on Christ as He became my sin, and where His righteousness is placed upon me. Too many times we miss the main elements of Faith in God, Repentance and Lordship. If you miss these things you miss the Gospel. We must get it right. If we don’t understand this, we will manipulate people to make decisions, we will take pride in “how many we have won” thereby robbing God of the glory that is due Him. We are not salesmen simply trying to get people to “make a decision today and you will win…” – we are giving people the truth their sinfulness according to the law of God and the good news of what Christ has done for us, our requirement to repent in faith and turn to Him. The truth is, this decision will cost them everything – it is not a cheap sales job!
When it comes to sharing the gospel, I am to do this as I am going. It goes beyond Monday night outreach, but it certainly should begin there. While there are always some exceptions with work and other schedules, the truth is you will seldom find one who has a passion for souls that isn’t faithful to outreach. I believe when you have a church with converted people, you will have people with a heart for evangelism. Which brings up a major point Dever mentions on page 90: “One sign that a church may not have a biblical understanding of conversion and evangelism is that its membership is markedly larger than its attendance.” This is a major problem specifically in our Baptist Churches. If all that our evangelism produces is numbers for Nashville, and not converts for Christ, then we have to ask if we are delivering the Gospel correctly! Real conversions produces change – and this change will impact your home, your church and a lost world!