These may well be topics I have blogged on before, but I feel now that it may be time we, as an evangelical ‘tribe’ (for that is what we are, in essence!) need the humility to recognise some things we may well have got wrong.
You see, we certainly do hold to the truth we believe that Jesus is the saviour of the world, and the only saviour, of whomever would believe in him, and we should never dilute that. However, we have many key beliefs and even some ‘pet’ beliefs that go along with it simply because a majority of our members hold to it, or even a vocal minority of pulpit preachers. That can lead to pride, which was the original sin (or was it?…. later!) and so we end up in a state we often condemn others for (being arrogant in ‘our own understanding’) and a place where we condemn anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into all the corners of our Christian-shaped box. My continual question always comes down to this: how much of this ‘shaping’ comes from God, and how much from our own interpretations, values and traditions? It is, in essence, the very nature of my blogging!
Writing the first chapter of my book, I expanded on my reasoning I blogged on in ‘Why I Hate Testimonies‘, which left me with a recollection that on a few occasions in the past, I have heard some say “without conviction of sin, there can be no salvation!” While it is evidently true that when we talk of ‘salvation’ then we must mean there is something we need to be saved from, and that something is either our sin, or the consequence of our sin (that’s a no-brainer), we need to be careful we do not make a consuming awareness of that sin an indispensable prerequisite of faith in Christ. Those who see no need of salvation have a worldview that does not include sin (at least, not in the way Christianity defines it), so you need to create that ‘sin-consciousness’ before you can reach anyone with the gospel if you believe it to be so vital.
In relating my own experience, I have reminded myself how I clearly had zero conviction before I decided to follow Jesus, and this is where I believe many get it wrong – their experience may well be a sense of conviction, of “oh, I’m a sinner who needs Jesus” and they may see many around them with similar stories (or testimonies), but I’m living proof that such a position is not vital for coming to Christ, though such conviction becomes more real each and every day you follow him with your blinkers off, for you will conclude that you, like the Apostle Paul, are the worst or ‘the chief of sinners‘! I shall hazard a guess that the majority of such ‘converts through conviction’ have had an upbringing in a church, or at least a Sunday School attendance, and therefore the ‘topic’ of sin is prevalent in their minds.
But don’t just take my word for it; read through the gospels and find all the moments where Jesus’ disciples were called and followed him. Do you read of any ‘conviction’ there? Or did they all just hear his voice and go? If you find any examples against what I’m saying, please comment below, for I cannot recall any.
Grace be with you.