Tonight I decided to go visit a new friend at McAlister Library at Fuller Seminary. While that might sound like an odd place at first, odd people like me like libraries. They have books. Lots and lots of them. As a lover of books there is really no better place to spend an evening.
As I was browsing the stacks I can across a book that should be read, by you, right now. Do your self a favor and dont wait. Its fantastic. Its called FFamous Conversions. Famous Conversions is just that. Its a book that recalls and recounts the conversion of many famous people. Hence Famous Conversions. It makes you wonder who comes up with these names? Amazing!
I spent some time reading the intro and one conversion account. The intro took a look at what conversion is, broke down some of the cultural and contextual ideas of conversion, and defined some of the ways we experience conversion.
Much of my view of conversion has been shaped by the Puritans. The Puritans were well known for the logic and reason of conversion. George Marsden in his magisterial biography of Jonathan Edwards talks about the starting point for conversion. The starting point was viewed as seeing a persons sad estate with reference to eternity. Or as stated in Famous Conversion it can be brought forth by seeing your personal and moral failure. Its what Paul means when he talks about the law being a tutor to bring us to Christ. And that is truly the starting point for conversion. With out an understanding of our sad estates we will never wake to the glories of salvation.
Yet where dose conversion start? Why do some awake to see they have no hope and others never awake? Conversion is truly built out of the human and Divine meeting in a beautiful collision. Yet that is about all that can be said. When all settles we can simple look at conversion and be left with the mystery of God in eternity past being brought about by the wonders of His grace.
So we have look at what conversion is (waking to a sad estate), but what are the effects of conversion? One theme that is common in all conversion is a sense of mission. It is a sense of purpose. It is wanting to follow in the footsteps of Christ. It is a desire to tell others about waking from sleep and entering into delight of the glorious son. Conversion brings with it a desire for the cross and with the cross a desire to see the world changed for Christ.
In spite of the common awaking experience of conversion, you will find that each tale is different. We have Paul dramatically converted while traveling. We also find examples of long and extended conversions. We have conversion where we can point to and say There...Right there is when grace broke in this persons life and we have conversion were there is no beginning and end.
We have those that are once-born and those that are twice born. If you are born once you most likely recall being a Christian as long as you can remember. You have lived your life with highs and lows. You have been close to God and far away. This has been your experience. Or perhaps you have been born twice. You have a sign post and a marker for when you were saved.
And the church has always welcomed both types of converts. We have loved the new brother and we have shepherd the elder brother. No matter what your conversion was like you are welcome and loved by God. Rejoice that you are part of the family. Rest in the mystery of God in conversion. You can see the effects of the wind but you will never know where it will blow. It is always God changing hearts. Sometimes like and earthquake, sudden and swift. Other times it is like a storm on the horizon, slowing moving in.
C.H. Spurgeon was the conversion tail I t I chose to read this evening and my life is richer for it. Spurgeon is know as the price of preachers. He never had any formal training as a pastor. His method of telling others the gospel was simple. It was Sin and Salvation. He made the focus of his ministry. He appealed to the emotion. He called to the heart of people.
The moment that touch Spurgeons life was much like that of Luther. He knew the scriptures. He knew the stories and the gospel. He had read the parables. Yet he had not seen. He had not looked to Christ. Spurgeon puts it this way I have nothing to do but look to Christ and be saved. This is the awakening of the soul. This is where the spirt meets the words. This is the moment when all the lights go on and foolishness of the gospel now makes sense. The scripture become fresh and new. The message was heard as if it had not been heard. It is the difference between knowing about honey and having the sweetness of honey touch your lips for the first time. It is the known becoming known. It is the transition from scholar to lover.
It all started as Spurgeon was wondering home. He found a small chapel and wanted to know how to be saved. The minister was missing that day and a shoemaker or a tailor got up to speak. He was not not well spoken or well prepared. He stubbled over the text and spoke for just a few moments. And in those broken moments God moved. As this unknown soul read from the scripture he recounted a verse about looking to Christ. He called people to look. Just look. Nothing more.
Anyone can look. The poor can look. The weak can look. The blind can look with imagination. There is no waiting for the Spirt to move. Just look. In the midst of this, the man looked out at young Spurgeon and called him to look. Obey and look came from the pulpit. If you dont look you shall live in misery. LOOK AND LIVE. And, as if by magic, salvation become real. He passed from darkness to light in one moment.
And the results? Spurgeon become known as the prince of preachers. He spoke to crowds of thousands. He become one of the best loved pastors that London has ever had.
And what if you have never seen? If you eyes are still dark? If your heart has not awoken to the glories of calvary? I call you to look. Look and see. And if you cannot look or will not look ask for the Almighty to lift your lifeless head and give your blind eyes sight so that you might see Him. Call on the Lord for salvation. Dont wait. Look and Live.