Conversion of the Heart – an Evangelical perspective

Continuous ConversionJesus said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:3)

‘These words of our Lord refer to our initial conversion, but we should continue to turn to God as children, being continuously converted every day of our lives. If we trust in our own abilities, instead of God’s, we produce consequences for which God will hold us responsible. When God through His sovereignty brings us into new situations, we should immediately make sure that our natural life submits to the spiritual, obeying the orders of the Spirit of God. Just because we have responded properly in the past is no guarantee that we will do so again. The response of the natural to the spiritual should be continuous conversion, but this is where we so often refuse to be obedient. No matter what our situation is, the Spirit of God remains unchanged and His salvation unaltered. But we must “put on the new man…” (Eph 4:24). God holds us accountable every time we refuse to convert ourselves, and He sees our refusal as wilful disobedience. Our natural life must not rule— God must rule in us.

To refuse to be continuously converted puts a stumbling block in the growth of our spiritual life. There are areas of self-will in our lives where our pride pours contempt on the throne of God and says, “I won’t submit.”  We deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn weakness, we call strength. There are whole areas of our lives that have not yet been brought into submission, and this can only be done by this continuous conversion. Slowly but surely we can claim the whole territory for the Spirit of God.’

(from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, an early twentieth-century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher)

Whilst devotion to the ‘Sacred Heart’ might be regarded as something only for Roman Catholics it’s clear that much of the evangelical devotional imperative is rooted in a deep and passionate love for Jesus who is one with the Father (cf. John 10: 30).  He invites us, his disciples, to live in ever closer union with him and to model our lives on him and his teaching.  So devotion to the Divine Compassion might be considered beneficial for all Christians.  After all it was as a consequence of Charles Wesley’s heart being “deeply warmed” when he heard Luther’s Preface to the Letter to the Romans describing the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ, that the 18th cent. Evangelical Revival could be said to have blossomed.  Christianity, to Wesley, concerns: “the loving God with all our heart (sic), and our neighbours as ourselves, and in that love abstaining from all evil, and doing all possible good to all men.”