Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Life Changing Experience

Some years ago, I got to through the F.A.I.T.H. training in El Paso, Texas. F.A.I.T.H. is an evangelism strategy for reaching people with the gospel. Central to this strategy is the gospel presentation. The presentation follows a three part format ... how I was before I was a Christian and it ends with how I am now that I know Jesus. In between the two parts however is a phrase. We were told to use the same phrase all the time. This is the phrase we were taught to use ... "Then I had a life changing experience." You see, F.A.I.T.H. taught what the Bible teaches, that meeting and knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, is a life changing experience.

Henry Blackaby echoes this idea in his study "Experiencing God." He says that no one can truly meet God and walk away unchanged. To see God, to meet God, to speak with God, to hear God, to know God, is always a life changing experience.

But too often in our churches it is not a life changing experience. There has been a lot of discussion about this in the SBC in recent months. Our many programs have made us numbers conscious and it has hurt our churches. We rely on people signing a decision card, or raising their hands, or praying a prayer or some other non-obtrusive way to show they are responding to what we are saying. We are afraid of driving people away, so we soften the gospel to make it not be offensive. In these ways and many others, we keep on moving ourselves away from the very things that made us Baptists to begin with.

One Baptist distinctive is a regenerate church membership. That means that no one should be a member of our churches who has not given evidence of being born again. You see, being born again is another word for regeneration. They are the same thing. Our church membership ought to be born again people. Regeneration is the sovereign act of God by which He imparts spiritual life to the soul of the sinner. We don't ask for it but we respond to it when it happens to us. Our eyes are open and our ears can hear, and we hear the gospel and see Jesus Christ in His glory as our God and Savior and we do what? We have a life changing experience!

But too often our churches are like the Jews described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 2. Paul's indictment of the Jews is summed up in verse 24 where he says,

"For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written."

Even though they all the spiritual blessings available to any earthly people, they did the very things they were not supposed to do. So much so that the Name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles because of how they saw the Hebrews, the People of God, acting. It is the same with Christians today. Now I am not denying that there are many good and holy people in our churches. But friends, it doesn't take a prophet to see that North American Evangelical Christianity is in trouble. Studies demonstrate that incidents of child and spouse abuse, of divorce, of adultery, of pornographic addiction (and many other things) are NO DIFFERENT in the Church as in the world!

Beloved, we are to be different than the world. We are God's children, Christ's brothers and sisters. We are holy people. We are Priests to God and Kings in heaven. We hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. We have the indwelling Christ. We have the holy scriptures and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. We are the light of the world, a city set on a hill. Our lives are supposed to be living testimonies to the truths we proclaim. As Tom Ascol cried out many years ago "Can't we agree that being a Christian means something!?"

If you cannot see in yourself a life changing experience in meeting Christ, it is possible you were never genuinely converted. If that is you, then look to Christ alone and be saved. If you are a Christian and have had that life changing experience, then live it out. Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. For the sake of truth and the glory of the Living God, go out and be what you are. You are a disciple of the Lord God, Jesus Christ! You are a Christian!

2 Comments:

Blogger john said...

I have been told there is a problem with making comments on the blog right now. This comment is a test to see if it will post.

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
Amen, very powerful. I appreciate you!

James

6:15 AM  

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