Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Secret to Change

In chapter 14 of The Ministry of Marriage, Jim Binney points out a very important fact. "You are not capable of changing your mate; therefore, you are certainly not responsible to do so. Since only God can, your responsibility is to appeal to God, who is able to change the mind, the heart, and the will" (p. 163). To support this idea he appeals to Proverbs 21:1, 1 Samuel 10:9, and Philippians 2:13. God is definitely able to change people's hearts and can do so today.

Later in the chapter, Binney compares this to his experience with high pressure evangelism. As a young Christian, he was taught to manipulate people into saying a prayer by asking questions that they could only answer "yes." This and other questionable methods led to a large number of decisions, but he later questioned whether many were truly converted by God.

After the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sinful methods, Binney changed his goal. Instead of seeking to "save" a certain number of people each day, he sought to present the gospel clearly, leaving the results to God. This resulted in "fewer decisions but a higher percentage of public professions and of faithfulness to Christ" (p. 164). That's the way it should be with any spiritual endeavor--do what the Scriptures say and leave the results to God.

I don't think this negates the need to be passionate in our appeal to people about the gospel or other spiritual needs. But after doing what we ought, this way of thinking should encourage us to put our confidence in God instead of our own efforts. True change comes when we rely on God to do it (Matthew 11:28-30 and John 15:5).

Sent from my HTC Tilt™ 2, a Windows® phone from AT&T

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen on both accounts. I have seen my wife become a woman of virtue in nearly 20 years of marriage, largely through prayer and my becoming a man worthy of respect.

Regarding the gospel that's a relief too. I have seen zero adult conversions in my 7 years in full-time ministry. In fact, I am not convinced that half of the child confessions we have heard are genuine.

Certainly the most important improvement I could make is in the frequency and clarity of my gospel presentation. Yet I wonder what are the clear marks of the gospel.

Ray Comfort's "Way of the Master"? Billy Graham's "Steps to Peace With God"?

In my community I have been focusing less on believing that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of the world and more on obedience. It seems that everyone I talk to "believes" in Jesus but so few obey him. My "gospel" these days has been focusing on walking with God through daily Bible reading and prayer ("Way of the Master" does too).

Brad.

Andy Rupert said...

I understand your concerns as I have also met many people who claim to believe but show little or no change in their lives. I don't think that the gospel needs to be modified; it's our presentation that should be.

It's too easy to pass along the good news of forgiveness, heaven, and a changed life without mentioning repentance, hell, and the change that accompanies true faith. Maybe we are too afraid to scare people away with a complete presentation of what God says about our salvation?

The other thing I am thinking about is how Jesus presented himself to people. He was willing to let people leave if they weren't willing to follow him. The disciples followed him for several years before they finally understood. Maybe that's why the Great Commission is more about making disciples than just giving the gospel message.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andy for sharing this. Couldn't agree more about the method of evangelism. It is a huge relief to not be forced to do guilt-driven evangelism. Just did a study of Paul's prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21 and am more convinced than ever that the power behind Paul's ministry was his prayers for God to change lives from the inside out.
Jakejavascript:void(0)