This article first appeared in: http://www.baptist.org.uk/blogs/big-hearted.html
I spoke at New Wine Scotland this summer at their gathering called CLAN. It’s not as Braveheart as it sounds, it stands for Christians Linked Across the Nation, less sword fighting and more worship, teaching and outreach.
The focus of the week was ‘Today is the day of salvation.’ The theme has really bugged me, as in theory if we are to take the scripture it is based on as truth then each day we should be expecting and seeing people become Christians. Paul commenting in 2 Corinthians 6:2 on a prophecy from Isaiah makes it clear as to when salvation is for: ‘I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’ Paul seems to be saying salvation is pretty immediate for each day. Awkward…when I’m not seeing people become Christians.
So this theme has really got under my skin; especially as I write this in rural Cambridgeshire where I live, the farmers are working like the clappers trying to get the wheat harvest in before it rains. There are more combine harvesters around and about my house then you can shake a stick at. Each mass-harvesting monster reminds me of that theme: now is the day of salvation. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the scripture, but something is amiss with what it says and my day to day reality. I reckon for most of us in the Baptist Union family that is also the case. Yes there are amazing examples of people coming to faith out there but surely there must be more?!
I hunger for the day-to-day reality of people ‘getting it’, not because I’m so evangelistically-clever and have an obsession for notching up souls won for Jesus but rather because the offer of salvation is a gift from God: he loves people, wants to bring them into a living relationship with him through Jesus. People need that!
While at CLAN I had one of these ‘today’ encounters which I am praying may happen more and more. Let me tell you about it: I was leading some outreach in St Andrews when a young man gave me the biggest hug you could imagine while I was offering FREE HUGS. He asked what I was doing and I explained that I was seeking to share something of the love of God with people. “There is no God, and no one will ever convince me otherwise,” he confidently declared. I didn’t respond but rather asked him about his life and what he did for a living. Jack spoke about some ups and downs and after asking him why he was visiting he said that his girlfriend had invited him to CLAN! I asked whether they would visit the large circus-styled tent where the big band lead the sung worship. I was surprised to then hear that they were visiting the youth event… Where I was the speaker for the night!
I simply asked him if he would be kind enough to tell me what he thought about my talk afterwards. He said he would, but to be honest I didn’t believe him yet afterwards Jack came up to me and said “we need to talk!” We walked and talked across the CLAN camp and he spoke about ‘being blown away’ and ‘feeling God.’ We ended up in the speakers lounge where I asked him whether he wanted to become a Christian. He said yes and asked what he had to do. I explained what it meant to be a Christian, believing in the gift of Jesus for our sins, turning from all that we know to be wrong and making Jesus number one in our lives.
“I want to give this a shot,” he said and we prayed. Jack prayed for the first time in his life out loud and asked God to forgive him and help him to forgive those who had hurt him. Jack asked the Holy Spirit to come and live in him.
Today is the day of salvation. As a Baptist family let’s get ready to grow and grow, there are multitudes that will today and each day encounter salvation and we have a part to play in this glorious work of God.