"And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Luke 19:8 ESV
Zacchaeus was a man who experienced a genuine life change after he met Jesus. This man, who previously made his living from cheating people and misusing his authority, stood before our Lord and pledged to follow a new path. In my opinion, this renewed attitude and desire to make things right with his fellow man is clear evidence of conversion.
I believe that those who have truly encountered the risen Christ are going to show evidence of that encounter through their changed life. Paul tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This change is the direct result of the work of the Holy Spirit who purges our sins and regenerates our hardened hearts.
In the last article, I mentioned a man who gave his heart to Christ during a Harvest Sunday that I conducted at a church in Eastern North Carolina. Yesterday, I saw his pastor. He told me how much different this man was since his conversion experience.
Richard, the man who was saved, used to coach one of the athletic teams in the community. Apparently, he treated his team harshly. There were times when he got into some serious "discussions" with some of the parents of the children.
His pastor told me that Richard had been tracking down all of the young people that he had coached in order to apologize for the way he had treated them! I find it ironic that Richard was saved after I preached a message on Zacchaeus who vowed to reconcile with the people he had wronged.
Another example of someone who experienced a life change is Julia Champion.
When I met Julia, she was a homeless drug-addict living on the streets of Raleigh. In this YouTube testimony, you can hear about the difference that Jesus has made in her life. This video was taken one month after her conversion to Christ at Moore Square in Raleigh. I was preaching on Psalm 130 that day.
I have seen Julia another time since then and she is still walking with Jesus.
Sometimes, people ask me if all of the people who make decisions for Christ through my evangelism ministry are genuine. I wish I knew that for sure. That is not my job. My job is to share the gospel, invite people to give their lives to Christ, and trust God for the results.
One thing is clear; A changed life speaks for itself. The one sharing the gospel does not affect the change; the Holy Spirit does. Let us trust Him to do His job of changing lives..