In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy!
The first Christians faced tremendous hostility, first from their own kin, then from the State. But their response was not antagonism, but intercession. The result was some rather dramatic conversions to Christ among the ranks of the former persecutors!
Three events have provoked me to consider one of the greatest privileges that God has given each of us. The first was the movie, Wonder Woman 1984, the second The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s ‘Conversion Therapy Discussion Paper’, and the third, the rescue of Nigel Fox.
It might be easy to assume that all religions are like Christianity and spread by converting people; however, while there might be some exceptions, other religions predominantly grow by being born into them. Christianity is an evangelistic religion that appeals to people to be converted and become disciples of Christ. This might mean that Christianity, perhaps unlike other religions, leaves converts susceptible to falling away from their newfound faith because they would not have had the advantage of years enculturation. But, as Christ and His disciples taught, becoming a disciple is indeed marked by a conversion moment (even if it is subtle and immediately recognised); but, it should not just be an event. When someone becomes a new Christian, their security and development in Christ can be ensured when they are taught the essential truths of Christianity; namely, the Bible, their salvation, and their place in the church…