What practical difference does a biblical understanding of conversion make in the life of a church?
A church with a biblical understanding of conversion will…
- Be careful about who it admits as a member.
- Ask everyone applying for membership to explain the gospel.
- Enquire into whether there are any areas of unrepentant sin.
- Administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper carefully. Members won’t pressure their pastors to baptize people hastily and without examination. The Lord’s Table will be properly fenced (that is, the person administering it will explain who it’s for and who it’s not for).
- Be careful about forms of evangelism that might encourage false professions, whether through manipulating emotions or presenting a watered-down gospel.
- Refuse to take sin lightly. Members will seek out accountability, encouragement, and rebuke from one another. Also, they will…
- Practice formal church discipline.
- Seek formal ways of keeping a clear line between church and world, such as reserving public acts of service for members only.
A church with an unbiblical understanding of conversion may well…
- Become filled with people who made sincere pronouncements about Jesus, but who have not experienced the radical change the Bible presents as conversion.
- Call themselves Christians when they aren’t. Non-Christians will look at these “Christians” and say, “You’re a Christian? But you live just like me! Why am I supposed to believe what you do if our lives are the same?”