Friday, January 23, 2009

Acts 26:18, 20b - content of discipling

Paul has recounted his conversion story several times in the book of Acts. In the version in chapter 26, he makes especial mention of what his Christ-given mandate was:
  1. to open the eyes of the Gentiles so that they might turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, in order that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who would be sanctified by faith in Christ
  2. to declare to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with their repentance.

In other words, he was called to reveal and help Gentiles recognise sin so that they might turn to God in repentance, seeking his forgiveness, bearing the fruit of repentance as they were sanctified by faith in Christ.

This is instructive for my evangelism. Often, I am too afraid to deal with sin. I only ask my contact to turn to God. But turn from what? Even indifference to God is sin but I don't let them recognise it as such because I don't talk about it as such. So they either don't know or don't care. Could it be that when a person is confronted with sin in his life, he will never choose to remain in it by rejecting the divine grace of salvation - and so John Calvin, rather than Josef Arminius, is right about irresistible grace?

My evangelism has also been to target at intellectual integrity rather than moral uprightness. I myself became a Christian because it made intellectual sense to believe that Christ is the Saviour of the world but I guess, I never really felt I needed to be saved from my sins; I was just awed by Christ's reality. No wonder I struggled with sin through so much of my supposedly Christian life. People tell me it's a process of sanctification but I was never really sure why it had to be so acute. I guess because my conversion was not particularly dramatic that this full appreciation that repentance from sin is at the root of Christian conversion had come and grown very, very slowly in my life. I am very slow to see the ugliness of my own sinfulness in all its starkness that I should want to flee from it, beg to be rid of it, and cry to be freed from it.

My prayer is that even as I am realising the centrality of the gospel in the preaching ministry my life should be marked more and more by the growing fruit of repentance, to demonstrate a Christ-ward transformation, to the glory of the grace of God. I want to be complete. Perhaps this is where the missing part had been all this time.

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