Posted by: Diane | September 5, 2012

Is It Just Semantics?

A friend of mine recently told me that she “led someone to Christ.” I understood what she meant and I rejoiced with her because it’s such a wonderful experience to be involved but I don’t like the phrase. Maybe it’s just semantics but in my opinion, it’s a “Christian-ese” cliché and it’s misleading.

I don’t believe that a person “leads” someone to Christ. I believe the Spirit of God does that life-changing work in a person’s heart.  Traditionally, if a person says she led someone to Christ, it means that she clearly explained the Good News of Christ  (see below) and she had the privilege of being with the individual at the time that she prayed and asked Christ in her heart.

In my mind, this is being available, obedient, prepared and sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.

I’ve been a Christian since I was fourteen years old and I was involved in fulltime Christian work as a missionary and teacher for thirty years.  People make the assumption that I would have “led many to Christ”  but the truth is I’ve only been involved with this process a handful of times in my life.

I firmly believe that I am not responsible for someone’s conversion. I hope that I have lived my life in a way that strongly communicates that “I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Romans 1.16 NIV) I follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words” but I know how to share my testimony and the Gospel message. I am ready and willing. Sometimes, I have had the privilege of witnessing someone else’s conversion.

A few years ago, I was teaching at a Christian school and in late August, all the teachers gathered together to listen to our authority figure prepare us for the year ahead. I don’t remember his exact words but he said something like, “it would be an absolute tragedy if every student in this school wasn’t a Christian by the end of the year” insinuating that it was our job to lead these students to Christ.

Immediately, I put my hand up to speak.

A tragedy would be if each one of us didn’t take the opportunity to boldly proclaim Christ, both by our words and our love towards these students because we have the wonderful freedom to do so in this school. However, it is not tragic – it is not failure – if some students leave this school at the end of the year and they are not Christians.  They will have been exposed to truth and we, as teachers, respect and trust in God’s timing and His Spirit alone, Who will lead them to salvation.  I have been hired to teach with a standard of excellence and to love my students, not to simply convert them.”

A very awkward silence cloaked that room.

God gives us opportunities to be involved in what He is doing in this world. We are instruments in His hands to complete His work. People do not come to Christ because we choose but because God chooses. He doesn’t need our abilities – just our availability. In Acts 8. 26-39, there is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, who was sitting in his chariot, reading from the scriptures. Philip was sensitive to the Spirit of God and initiated a natural conversation with the eunuch – when the eunuch asked questions, Philip answered. Philip was prepared to gently and respectfully give the reason for his hope – he preached Jesus.

So often, we Christians make things so much more complicated and “me-centered” than they really are. People’s conversions are not about us leading them to Christ; it’s about their hearts being softened and their worldview shifting to embrace the wonderful news of Christ’s death and resurrection.

It’s about their new life in Christ.


Each one of us is lost and a sinner – Romans 3.23, 1 John 1.8

Each one of us is under the wrath of God because of our sin and the price of our sin is judgment – Romans 6.23, Romans 1.18

We cannot save ourselves – Titus 3.5,6, Ephesians 2,8,9

Only Jesus Christ can save us – John 14.6, Acts 4.12

We are saved by faith in Jesus – Romans 10.9, Galatians 3.26

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