Conversion is a doctrine that is often assumed. We assume that most people understand what the Bible teaches about the subject because they have been converted. But when we read the Scriptures we find that many people who claim the name of Christ aren’t actually converted (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). It would follow, then, that many we may assume would understand the doctrine of conversion actually do not.
This is especially true in our time. A quick survey of the popular methodologies of religious people (including evangelicals) reveals a heavy emphasis upon pragmatic practices that secure results. But what if our results aren’t the same results that matter in the Bible? What if drawing crowds is not the same as seeing conversions? Clarity is needed.
I picked up Michael Lawrence’s book Conversion: How God Creates a People because I wanted to be better equipped to communicate what the Bible teaches about this subject. I wanted to sharpen my understanding and to improve my care for those who are working through these things. I was pleased with what I found. Lawrence has a keen read on contemporary evangelicalism and the potholes that follow the overloaded trucks filled with popular evangelistic methods. The chapters serve as both correctives and also instructives. They teach what the Scriptures says and show how by saying this it does not say other things. I appreciated the compassionate but burdened tone that accompanied many real-life examples from people the author knows.
There are a couple of other accommodations I give Conversion. The first relates to the amount of systematic theology packed into this book. It’s impressive. In an effort to be brief, the author is forced to be clear. Given the amount of ground covered this is impressive and helpful. The second area will not be a surprise to anyone who has read the other 9Marks books. It provides a healthy (and I believe biblical) emphasis upon the local church. Some might take this doctrine for granted when thinking about the life of the church, but if we don’t have converted people who understand what it means to be converted, then our churches will have a difficult time fulfilling what God requires his church to be and do. The implications for the local church are myriad, and the author teases out many. For example, he shows how important it is that the church establish a healthy process of meaningful membership. But this membership mustn’t be separated from the Lord’s Supper and baptism. They should be all synced. If one is a member then he or she should be baptized and partake of communion. Tying these three together help to mark out who is with Jesus and with one another. Practical examples like this permeate this little book on doctrine.
I think it would be helpful if read by pastors with a similar burden that I expressed above. But also, this would be a useful book for a non-Christian to read as well as a newer believer. I really benefited from this little book and cannot commend it enough.