Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 2 -- By: Bard M. Pillette

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 05:2 (Winter 1996)
Article: Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 2
Author: Bard M. Pillette

Paul and His Fellow Workers - Chapter 2

Bard M. Pillette1

The Kind of Person Who Worked Best with Paul

The Power of Early Influences

Psychological studies show that children’s personalities are formed at a very young age. Their early experiences mold their values and their perceptions of themselves. Often some of the most attractive people consider themselves to be ugly. No matter how often they look in the mirror to assure themselves and no matter how many tell them how beautiful they are, their childhood experience of feeling ugly holds sway over all logic. It is no wonder then that our spiritual lives are often marked by our early experiences as believers. Those who talked to us about Christ and those who taught us or guided us in those first few years as a Christian left an indelible mark on our lives.

I became a believer at the University of Oregon and soon attended Campus Crusade for Christ meetings, but I never went to church. I did not attend church until I went to seminary. As a result, I received almost no systematic teaching in my early years as a Christian. The greatest influence in my life came from another source. I just happened to buy a book entitled Grace by Lewis Sperry Chafer. That book captivated me, so I bought other books by Chafer. Those books

forever marked me and set me on a path to a seminary that would teach like Chafer did.

In his book on True Evangelism, Chafer warns against demanding some public action in connection with conversion, such as standing or going forward.2 He was critical of any actions to hasten a person’s decision and to secure visible results. Because of what I learned from him, I have tended to avoid the common practice of saying, “We had twenty professions of faith.” I never talk about a person having believed in Christ until the person’s words and actions demonstrate true belief. Chafer’s concerns about abuses in evangelism made their mark on me.

The first Christian radio program I ever heard was J. Vernon McGee’s “Through the Bible.” I almost did not stay tuned because of his small-town Texas drawl, but I became hooked by his frankness, his lack of superspirituality when discussing his ordeal with cancer, and the simplicity of his Bible teaching.

Fellow seminary students sometimes made disparaging comments about McGee and Chafer: “They were not real scholars. They did not do serious exegesis.” As I struggled with my colleagues’ assessments and my loyalties to McGee and Chafer, I found the pull of early influence to be s...

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