Conversion And Baptism In A Baptist (Or Baptistic) Youth Ministry -- By: Adam Harwood
JBTM 13:1 (Spring 2016) p. 53
Conversion And Baptism In A Baptist (Or Baptistic) Youth Ministry
Adam Harwood is Associate Professor of Theology, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology; Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry; and Editor, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The goal of this article is to address the doctrines of conversion and baptism and the implications for ministry among Baptist and baptistic students in 6–12 grades. The word baptistic refers to Christian groups, regardless of their denominational name, who believe that the only proper candidates for baptism are individuals who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.
What Is Conversion?
A Biblical-Theological Explanation
In Christian theology, conversion refers to the human act of repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation. This definition presupposes that those who convert will first understand their sinful and needful condition before they can respond to the good news of the gospel. Those who convert will have received God’s provision for forgiveness through the atoning work of Christ on the cross. In the moment they first repent of sin and believe in Jesus, they will (among other biblical images): be united with Christ, have peace with God, and be indwelt by His Holy Spirit.
Conversion In Biblical Theology
English Bibles rarely mention conversion, but it appears both in word and concept in the Old and the New Testaments. The Old Testament refers to people either turning or failing to turn to the Lord (e.g., Isa 6:10; 31:6; Jer 3:10, 12, 14, 22; Amos 4:6, 8, 10; Zech 1:2–4). Isaiah announces, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isa 55:6).1
JBTM 13:1 (Spring 2016) p. 54
In the next verse, the prophet says of the wicked person: “let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:7b).2
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