In converting people, where is the line drawn between your faith (believing they will become disciples) and their own personal decision? I have been told that if I believe someone will make the decision to be a disciple, it will happen. On the other hand, the scriptures are clear that we must all change personally by our own free will. We decide to surrender. The scriptures seem to teach both. I need to make sure I have the correct viewpoint and that I teach the correct viewpoint to those I lead. -- Jesse Gibson

I appreciate your insistence on holding to sound theology, because the notion you discuss in your question is as false as it is common. Broadly speaking, such thinking is called "word-faith" theology. In short, if you believe it (or "claim it"), it will happen. This wrongheaded thinking is based on a misunderstanding of Mark 11:24 and other passages. In essence, if we can only convince ourselves that God will answer our prayers, he will: we control God!

This view is first cousin to the eastern "mind over matter" teaching. And yet by sheer willpower we can create nothing! Our prayers must be in accordance with God's will, as 1 John teaches. And the view is second cousin to "prosperity theology," which is so easily justified by the attitude that says: "Whatever I want I can manage to get, if I want it badly enough."

Thank you for noticing this error. Please speak up if ever you hear it propagated again. Our prayers can never obliterate others' free will -- though by God's power minds can be changed. (As happened in the case of your own conversion and mine.)

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