Well, I read a few pages, and this thread certainly stirs up some emotion. I will try not to get emotional. My emotional response is more or less being pissed at all the deception in the world, and lack of understanding of a true conversion experience.
I also agree with most of what’s being said, but it seems that everyone is lacking just a little thing or 2 here and there.
Let's clear some things up first, so you know where I am coming from.
#1 I am a born again Christian. #2 I have been baptized, twice, once as a child catholic, and once by my own free will. #3 I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. #4 I do not fall down, and get very upset if someone tries to push me over, while being prayed for. I do see people fall down without even being pushed though. #5 I have never spoke in tongues, or do I feel that I will. The bible clearly states that it is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that not all gifts are for everyone. So I do not believe that you must speak in tongues to prove to a congregation that you are converted. 1 Corinthians defines this:
quote: 4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
#6 I do not feel any church has the power to convert anyone, this is a process that the individual must go through by his own experience, in his/her own time. You do not pray a prayer and get converted, that is a lie. You can pray a prayer to Jesus, and accept him as Lord, and be saved. This does not make you born again, or does it produce a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in you. Being saved is a continuous process. Once you accept Jesus, you must repent of your sins. That is the hard part.
#7 My conversion process: I accepted Jesus as my saviour 7 years ago. I felt nothing. I did not go to church, I did not repent. But I think Jesus started working on me. 7 years later, I get called by 3 complete strangers to be a spiritual leader of my family. Then my friends wife tells me about a church. This happens over the course of 3 days, in 2 countries. I go to the church, and listen to the "worship team" who are playing rock and roll, and worshiping God. I get slammed with the spirit, but do not fall over. It feels like being plugged into an electric socket, but in a good way. It rivals an orgasm, rush, being drunk, being stoned, and probably a few other things that I do not know about, without all the heaviness or repercussions of doing those things. It is a pure feeling, and you feel God's pureness through it. It is a cleansing healing feeling also. Then for the next 2 weeks, I started felling this "Holy Spirit" and started listening to Christian music, and praying/talking to God about what it was I was feeling. I was asking him if it was real, and am I cracking up? 1 week had gone by, and I then realized something. I wasn't really sinning, and lost all my desire to sin. I lost all my desire to smoke pot or drink (I wasn't doing either heavy at all, and I had never felt like it was wrong). I did not want anything to interrupt this feeling of pureness, and closeness to God that I was experiencing. Then I was driving down the NYS Thruway, doing about 65, when all of a sudden God started speaking to me in my thoughts. He told me that things were going to be a little different here on out, that he created me, he created the earth for us to exist in, that we screwed it up, and it's not as pure as it should be, he told me that no-one would ever be able to fool me, or lie to me, as long as I had the Holy Spirit close to me (I did not feel like I was lied to any more than the next person, or did I have a childhood problem with it), that some things were going to get tougher, and some things were going to get easier, but that he would be with me. The power of his Holy Spirit was so overwhelming that I had to pull over, and acll up my wife, who is a Christian since she was 12, and ask, what the heck is going on? After that, the trees seemed greener, the air seemed fresher, and life seem to have a true meaning. Keep in mind, that I already love the outdoors, and the woods, and did not think the trees could get any greener or more beautiful, and I certainly did not think that our polluted atmosphere could seem any fresher. It was at that precise moment, that my spirit was born, and then I could understand what the words "born again" mean. Even though I thought I was born again, because I had accepted Christ, I was not until that experience. From that point you are called. The bible says many are called, but few are chosen. 1.5 years later, I can see why. I do not know if I am chosen or not, I hope that I will be. Also keep in mind, that just before that point, I was relatively happy with my life. I have 5 kids, a beautiful log cabin on a lake, boats, cars, toys to play with. I feel so fortunate that I did not have to hit rock bottom to then "find God". I did have some what of a rough childhood, but compared to most people in this world, it was a piece of cake, and I always felt fortunate for my life.
I had gone to many churches, but they all felt so fake to me. I feel so lucky that I have found a church where the people in it, are so full of love, and seem to be very down to earth. I also did not feel like this was missing in my life. The church I go, wouldn't throw you out, if you said the "f" word, or do they demand that you tithe. The do ask that if you are a member, to try tithing, and then judge for yourself if God pours out his blessings on you, as he promises in the bible. I liked this, because it puts it in Gods hands. The church constantly tries to break tradition, but I guess no matter how hard you try, there will always be some tradition. They try to operate in a for-runner spirit, but remain true to scripture. This is not easy to do. I am an assistant worship leader, and play keyboards for the church. There are times, that they let me play whatever I want. We can even mix secular music into if we want, as long as the words fit. I regularly get blasted by the Holy Spirit, during many things in my life. Sometimes, when I least expect it too. I get it while using my gifts for Gods purpose, and sometimes I feel like I am about to fall down, I have not as of yet.
That was my experience, and I know it is exclusive to me. What other people go through is not for me to judge. Or is it for me to judge if they choose not to follow through on their experience, and then stop believing. Who knows, I may do the same thing myself, I hope not at this point.
I have personally developed a detailed rationalization of the conversion process (and am completely immune to it) and have summarized my thoughts in posts on this forum, quoted some time ago.
Again I tell you, no-one can make this conversion process happen, except God. You can immunize yourself from it, extremely easy. There is no pride in doing that.
For starters, I am familiar with (and have submitted to) the following types of Christian conversion experiences:
- Full immersion baptism - Reciting of doctrine in front of congregation, with requisite declaration of faith - "Touch" conversion (where recipient is required to fall backwards)
I am sorry if I offend you, but these are not "conversion experiences" They are empty rituals, that have no meaning, unless it comes from your heart. Not a single one will get you to know God, without your consent. You make it sound like a candy store experience, and maybe that’s what it was for you. Congratulations on knowing that what you went through was not real.