I can make you believe something by appealing to your emotions, drawing out an emotional response, and giving you an answer that you already wanted to believe in the first place.
Set the mood, sing the songs, share a testimony, get friends around you who tell you it's true, and offer an answer to the cry of your spirit. It's the church conversion, with its climax being an altar call. It's effective. It gets the desired response and adds people to the church. It requires a commitment and gives you security that your movement will continue on.
I invited my friend to church to hear me translate the message on Sunday, but he refused. When I asked him why, he said he had been to many other religious meetings and they were all similar. People shared testimonies of how touched they were by the religion and it was a very emotional meeting. He said it made him very afraid and felt confused, not knowing what to believe.
I told him he should try Christianity, but I'm not sure he will think it's very different from those other religions. Perhaps there will be an emotional message and an altar call and he will see past the facade of the preacher and be scared of making a decision from an emotional response, confused again as to what truth really is.
Many people have entered the Christian faith because of an altar call or emotional response. Perhaps that emotional response was really from God, who is the creator of emotions and shares emotions through scripture. Emotions are powerful and effective to getting others to believe our message. The danger is you can have an emotional response without actually counting the cost of following Jesus and knowing the truth of the Gospel. When we share the Gospel without appealing to emotions, it seems it doesn't work. How often do you see someone preach the Gospel like Paul did.
Acts 28:23b From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Paul preached the Gospel from scripture first and let an emotional response follow from the truth of scripture. He testified of the kingdom of God from the Law of Moses and the Prophets. When people didn't listen, it was a sign that their eyes and ears were closed and their hearts were dull. When they did listen, it was a sign that God had sent salvation to those people. We put so much emphasis on getting the set up and punch line correct, that we forget where the power is.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The Gospel message has the power. What is the message? Jesus brought the kingdom of God near to us. What is the kingdom of God? It is heaven coming to earth. What are the effects? The end of the kingdom of darkness: no more poverty, war, famine, sickness, and death. And the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What's the stipulation? Repentance from sins and dead works, and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That is the message and it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. We don't need an emotional response to see people believe. We need to trust the Spirit to move, soften hearts, and open eyes and ears to the truth. There are too many religions using altar call methods and emotional attraction to gain converts. If I draw up emotions inside you by my many words and clever speech, is it a real encounter with God? But if I depend solely on the message and let the Spirit do what He wills, then I know the kingdom of God has come to us.
Let's move out of the church building, no longer relying on the pastor to draw people to repentance, but instead preaching the simple Gospel message and allowing the goodness of God to draw people to repentance. Every Christian has a right and privilege to share the message of salvation, over and over again to as many as will listen. When the Spirit incites the emotional response, we praise God that they believed the Good News and are ready to repent and be born again.
Let's move into a new type of conversion, one where we rely on the Spirit to change people as they repent and believe the Gospel we preach, and watch as we see conversions that set people on fire for God for a lifetime, no longer relying on one man to teach them, but relying on the Spirit who is always leading and teaching, not abandoning meeting together, but anxious to share in the fellowship with the saints and expand the kingdom of God to the glory of the Father forever and ever. Amen.
Repent and believe the Good News, for the kingdom of God has come near to you.