God's work moves from experience to the intellectual to the personal: first He gives us the experience, then He gives us the understanding of it, and then He expects a response. He initiates contact with an experience, He then offers understanding, and then gives us the responsibility to do something with them.
When God speaks, it is not simply in the abstract. The experience He gives is not simply to attract our attention: it is also part and parcel of the message. The message flows out of the experience, out of real life. Theology is always grounded in reality. Time and time again, when God speaks He first connects with us, and then provides the theological meat: "Fear not, little flock" (personal) Why? Because "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom" (theological).
Theology gives rise to action. You know what a person really believes by seeing how they behave. This is what Jesus taught: by their fruit you shall know them. Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. In New Testament days, the heart was regarded as the seat of the intellect, so we would say 'mind' instead of 'heart'. What you say and what you do reveals what you believe.
We have a slight problem here. We are too used to deception. People are often dishonest, even with themselves, about what they believe. Time and time again, people say they believe one thing, think they believe it, and then go off and do something completely different. But the kind of belief the Bible tells us about is belief which results in action.
Religion has become a 'spiritual' activity. It is an inner activity, a search for peace within. Society today approves of that kind of mysticism. People are familiar with terms like 'peace' and 'inner light'. They are not familiar with a faith that says 'because God loves me, I do what I can to feed the hungry and bind up the wounded.'
God's work is to change our minds so that our lives will change. The objective is not to stop people sinning (that is a by-product of discipleship) but to get people involved in building the Kingdom of God. People see - and we so often present - the Christian life as a series of things we don't do, a set of things to avoid. But God's will for our lives is active and creative. The response that God draws out of us is far more exciting and demanding than anything He asks us to give up.
Our Churches are full of partly-converted people. The greatest problem with evangelism is not that too few are getting saved, but that too many are. Or, rather, too many are responding to half a gospel.
In the New Testament, Jesus is proclaimed as Lord. The Galilean peasant is revealed to have an authority that is far higher than that of any earthly King or Emperor. The message is clear: Jesus is Lord. You can choose to submit to Him now or later, but one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. You can postpone, but you cannot avoid, recognising Jesus Christ as your rightful Lord and Master.
He is also our Saviour. He plucks me from the miry clay and sets my feet upon a rock. But why? So that I can continue to live my life as before? No - so that I can follow Him. He has saved my life, my life now belongs to Him. He now has a two-fold claim on my life, both as the Lord of Creation and as my personal Saviour and Redeemer.
I have seen several versions of the Engel Scale over the years. This is one of the first I met, and seems to be fairly representative of the other variants.
|The Dynamics of New Birth|
|What God is Doing||What Our Task Is||Man's Response (The Engel Scale)|
|-10 No God Framework|
|"||Prayer (Acts 6:4)||-9 Vague awareness and belief|
|"||"||-8 No knowledge of Christianity|
|"||" Presence (being a model) (Matthew 5:16)||-7 Aware of Christianity|
|" " Preparation (Hos 10:12; 2 Cor 5:11)||-6 Interested in Christianity|
|"||" " "||-5 Aware of the basic facts of the gospel|
|"||" " "
(Mark 1:4; 2 Tim 4:2; Rom 16:25-27)
|-4 Grasp of the implications of the gospel|
|"||" " " "||-3 Awareness of personal need|
|" " " "||-2 Challenge and decision to act|
|"||" " "
(Mat 4:23; Acts 2:43; Acts 14:9-10)
|-1 Repentance and faith|
|+1 Join a Church Bible Study Group|
|Transforming (2 Cor 3:18)||Follow-up and discipling (2 Tim 2:2)||+2 Growth in Christian Character|
|+3 Use of gifts in the Church|
|+4 Christian Lifestyle|
|Effective sharing of faith|
These are some possible questions to help determine where a person is on the revised scale.
No God framework (-12)
Experience of emptiness (-11)
God framework (-10)
Vague awareness and belief in God (-9)
Wondering if God can be known (-8)
Aware of Jesus (-7)
Interested in Jesus (-6)
Experience of Christian love (-5)
Aware of the basic facts of the gospel (-4)
Aware of personal need (-3)
Grasp the implications of the gospel (-2)
Challenged to respond personally (-1)
Repentance and faith (0)