From Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
If conversion is understood as merely a sincere commitment made once, then we need to get everyone to that point of verbal confession and commitment any way we can. Biblically, though, while we are to care, to plead, and to persuade, our first duty is to be faithful to the obligation we have from God, which is to present the same Good News that He’s given to us. God will bring conversions from our presenting the Good News (see John 1:13; Acts 18:9-10).
It is heartening how new Christians often seem innately aware of the gracious nature of their salvation. Probably you have heard testimonies, even in the last few weeks or months, which remind you that conversion is the work of God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If a church’s membership is markedly larger than its attendance, the question should be asked: does that church have a biblical understanding of conversion? Furthermore, we should ask what kind of evangelism has been practiced that would result in such a large number of people who are uninvolved in the life of the church, and yet consider their membership in good standing an evidence of their own salvation? Has the church objected in any way, or has it seemed to condone this situation by silence? Biblical church discipline is part of the church’s evangelism.
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