“Director of Internships” is one of the job titles assigned to me at Heritage College & Theological Seminary. Heritage exists to train present and future ministry leaders in their God given responsibilities. This fall, I ramp up my leadership of this large aspect of training and have framed my thinking around 4 areas.
1) Conversion 2) Calling 3) Character & 4) Competencies
Let’s think today through the area of CONVERSION. This is the outward change, the evidence of regeneration, the life-transforming work of the Spirit of God in an individual’s heart.
As I read through the pages of the New Testament, I see two types of converts, adult and childhood. Adult conversions are typically seen in the pattern of Saul of Tarsus. Here is an adult, who describes his ‘pre-conversion’ conduct as that of a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man. (I Timothy 1:13) He was religious, very religious in fact, but was not in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As he headed to the city of Damascus, intent on obliterating this new sect, known as ‘The Way,’ God met him. He entered the city an unbeliever, he left as a propagator of the faith. He had met Jesus Christ, and had experienced the grace of God, which he so fully describes in Ephesians 2:1-10.
Childhood conversions are typically seen in the pattern of Timothy. This colleague of Paul, a much younger ‘intern,’ spoken of as a servant of Christ, and a brother in Christ, came to faith at an early age. He had a sincere faith, which was passed on through the maternal side of his family tree. His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice had modelled the faith and despite the apparent lack of spiritual engagement of the men in his family, this young man grew into a key early leader. Timothy “from infancy” had “known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make on wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Here are some questions to think through –
1) If you have been converted as an adult, what has been your biggest struggle in ‘leaving your past behind?’
2) Why do those raised in Christian homes ‘think they don’t have much of a testimony?’ Why might 2nd or 3rd generation ‘Christians’ struggle with doubt?
3) What is the evidence of regeneration in a child? What are some of the dangers in working with children?
4) What ‘assumptions’ might each type of convert make about other Christ followers?
5) How would you share your experience of God’s grace in 3-4 minutes? Write out a simple testimony and share it with one person this week. Include relevant Scriptures that describe your own experience.
6) Can you recommend other questions that could be used ‘diagnostically’ in determining an individual’s spiritual status?