In my last post, I argued that the Holy Spirit was the one who closes the deal in evangelism. You can read that post here. Even so, knowing the Holy Spirit is the one who closes the deal does not mean we don’t call others to either accept or reject the message. We are not just presenting knowledge for knowledge sake. When we evangelize the lost we are challenging them to accept or reject our message. In other words, evangelism always aims at conversion.
Let’s explore a few passages of Scripture to see that this is true.
1 Corinthians 9:19
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”
Paul desired to win others to Christ, and we should do the same.
1 Peter 3:1
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,”
One of the reasons given for wives to be submissive to their husbands is so that they might win them to Christ. Through their submission they model Christ’s submission to the Father, presenting to their husbands a picture of Christ’s submission, which led Him to the cross to die for the sins of mankind, so that we might have life.
“and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.””
Jesus tells them their role is not to be fishers of the sea, but fishers of men. Their aim was now to be catching men for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20
“that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Paul implores others as an ambassador for Christ to be reconciled to Christ. So then, his evangelism aimed at converting the lost to Christ.
Conversion is Still the Work of the Holy Spirit
Even though we implore others to be reconciled to Christ, challenging them and calling them to repent, we rest in the finished work of the Holy Spirit, knowing He is the one who ultimately brings about repentance.
What Conversion is Not
Converting the lost is not calling them to take up our religious actions - We are calling for heart change, which only happens through the work of the Holy Spirit as they are converted from a life of sin to a life in Christ.
Converting the lost is not getting them to come to church with us – Again, we are after a real commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There are many God fearing, but unconverted people who attend church.
Converting the lost is not helping someone out of financial trouble - While that may give us inroads to present the gospel to them, helping someone get back on their feet doesn’t mean they have been converted to Christianity.
Converting the lost is not helping someone overcome an addiction – Even though that may help them get in the right mind to hear the gospel, getting clean is not a conversion.
What Converting the Lost Involves
Converting the lost involves calling someone to repent of their sins, turn from their rebellion against God, and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It involves helping others recognize that their relationship with God has been severed because of their sin, and it cannot be reconciled apart from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. So then, converting the lost aims at conversion to a life in Christ, which is always evangelism’s aim.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you believe there is another aim to evangelism besides conversion to Christ?
- How might you define conversion?
- Can you think of other things conversion is not?