Wednesday, January 24, 2007


In a chapter on 'Conversion' from his book Humble Apologetics, John Stachhouse writes,

We can conclude, then, with some questions that Christians shouldn’t ask, and a question we should always ask instead.

“Is he saved?” I don’t know, and I cannot know until “the roll is called up yonder.” The actual condition of another person’s heart is mysterious, even to the individual. So from the outside I certainly cannot presume to know, and therefore I do not need to try to know. The whole agenda of some Christians to figure out “who is in and who is out” is therefore mistaken.

“What can I do to convert him?” Nothing. God’s Spirit alone can truly convert. Again, God does not call us to do what we cannot do. So we need not, and must not, try to convert anyone, including through what we might pride ourselves on as being impressive apologetics.

“Does he need to hear the gospel?” Of course he does. We all do, again and again, until we see Christ face to face. That’s one of the reasons Christians take the Lord’s Supper regularly: to hear in it the gospel once again, the gospel of everlasting forgiveness and empowerment to overcome evil and enjoy the good. If we therefore have any opportunity to tell the gospel to another, we should tell it. No one outgrows it.

The good question to ask instead is simply this: “How shall I treat him? How shall I treat her?" And the answer is just as simple: with love. Until all of our neighbors are fully mature in Christ, there is something left for serious Christians to do, and when we have the opportunity to assist the neighbor somehow, then we should take it. I daresay that will keep us all plenty busy until the Lord Jesus returns.

We never outgrow the need to hear the gospel, and to show the gospel in love to others.


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