Ray Comfort "Way of the Master" Law-Based Evangelism



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  • Ray Comfort "Way of the Master" Law-Based Evangelism

    "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly." 1 Timothy 1:8

    I comprehend Ray Comfort's method and have observed his techniques, however did Christ ever use the law to manipulate souls by use of shame manipulation? Bear with me here, as we explore this topic. Christ did in fact mention Hell, over 70 times in the New Testament, but did he use it to coerce or instill fear for sake of manipulating listeners to accept his message? Did the Apostle Paul use the law to harvest souls as a witnessing tool? We need to look at this conspicuous evangelism model closer.

    "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power." 1 Corinthians 2:4 (ESV)

    Evangelism as a soul tool, is intrinsically not centered around rehearsed techniques or scripted methods. Proper evangelism wells up from a holy life and a surrendered heart, under the power of the Holy Spirit. The soul whose heart overflows with the witness of God. As Scripture says, apart from a holy life, none can see God (Hebrews 12:14). While we walk in counsel with God's Spirit, we do not have to worry what to say, for that which is to be said will be given to us the moment we speak (Mark 13:11). If we are abiding in the presence of God, out of our mouths will come life giving healing (John 7:38), conviction and truth. Peter, when he preached, his words pierced the hearts of the listeners, but it was the Spirit that rent conviction that led to repentance. We are merely tools who have to willingly submit to be used in the hands of the one powerful Creator, universal and fully consuming.

    Jack Hyles, John Rice, David Cloud and Ray Comfort all in part have Lordship Salvation approaches to presenting the Gospel. Although this position is sometimes viewed as problematic, still the Gospel can be used by God to save those whom He chooses. One of the challenges with Ray Comfort's position, is that he disagrees with the other methods of evangelism, resolving that his own Law-Based Evangelism is the correct way--the best way. Ray is in effect a "Gospel Tumbler" mixing law with grace to create an man-authored evangelism technique.

    "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." 1 Corithians 1:17

    Another problem as is sometimes noted, with the theology of Ray Comfort is that he has no theological training. Not that biblical schooling is a prerequisite for God to use any Christian, but it certainly is needful when one develops an instructional website, DVD's and other materials to train, as he has done. The law-based message promoted by Ray is problematic at several key junctures. It mostly fails to address the key components of the Good News message: Justification by Faith; The Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ; and The New Birth. Instead, it uses the law to motivate change by fear and shame motivation.

    “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace…” (Rom 3:21-25).

    A eager soul winner should not be convinced by the zeal of a propagator, to believe they must preach the law to shame a sinner into a confession. While Ray's videos "wow" those not familiar with the biblical standard for evangelism, it is needful that we examine ALL things by the combined teaching of Scripture. In Acts 16:30 we read where an unsaved person asked Paul and Silas around midnight about how to get saved. Their answer did not include a fanciful dialogue of one's violating the law. Nor did they inquire about if they read the Torah or if they prayed three times a day. They merely told him to trust upon, cling to and rely upon Jesus for salvation. This doesn’t mean that repentance is not included in their answer because it is. (ex. see Acts 20:21.) Conviction must come from God, for true salvation to be realized. The first work of the Holy Spirit is the conviction of sin.

    John 16:8 (NEB) "When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world, and show where right and wrong and judgment lie. He will convict them of wrong..."

    The demons believe in God and tremble, but they shall never enter unto divine rest (James 2:19). This similty is what I find in law-based evangelism. A practiced evangelist corners a hapless victim, using Scripture and prepared dialogue, they reduce the listener to shame and guilt. In most cases, if you have an opponent bound with his arm twisted behind his back, he will relent in pleading and agree to anything to gain relief at that moment, but with a fixed heart he will remain the same. He will in measure walk way loathing the oppressor, while being found more hardened than ever toward the gospel of salvation. Additionally, I have heard witness of those who fall deeper into sin, as a result of magnifying the sin through the law.

    "For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death." 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)

    As the Scripture reads above, Godly sorrow is genuine repentance unto salvation. Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, is being sorry for having to suffer for wrong or being caught, but not sorrow unto repentance, which desires change. Law-based evangelism attempts to "force" repentence, but instead, as the Scripture reads, results in spiritual death due to rejection. I have counseled numerous individuals in or advancing discipleship, who had hearts warped against the whole Gospel message due law-based evangelism twisting the tenants of Grace by leverage of the Law. While these evangelists are well-meaning and are confident about their glorious and divine purpose, they were regrettably training souls to despise the gospel and sink deeper into perdition. While, indeed, there may be found a number who will find Christ through this method, the question again requires reflection, "Is this the biblical standard for evangelism?"

    Oswald Chambers aptly stated "Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses the conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God."

    The Emergent Church has diminished the Gospel with a soft serve message. Easy Believism doctrines are bloodless, ecumenical, and demands tolerance for all ways as paths unto the light. And might we add, Law Based evangelists preach the law to shame sinners to confess their deprivation. The candle stand (Holy Spirit) is largely removed from many of churches (Rev. 2), because men in their own wisdom decide what is right, chosing to do things their way, apart from the precise counsel of biblical truth. Christ did not preach the law as the Good News, neither did the Apostles, or the early church fathers such as: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, or Polycarp of Smyrna. The Gospel is summed up in Christ alone, all must point to HIM as the Father's mercy manifest, not unto the law as condemnation. By the law we understand we are sinners, whereas as Paul said, we do not need for one to preach to us the law, for it is already written on our hearts. Did you comprehend that fundamental truth? No one needs to magnify a sinner's sin by use of the law, rather by using the law, it enhances the nature of the sin.

    "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." Romans 2:14-15

    No, the law is not required to convince one of sin, rather it magnifies the curse of the law under the old covenant. The Good News is summed up: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." This is the Gospel, the message salvation is found in no other. This is not a message of law, fear, hell or condemnation... this is a message of hope in the lamb who was slain in our stead. God approaches us with loving and outstretched arms as He did the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, in mercy and compassion, through the blood of Christ.

    How can some apologist call law-based evangelism a different gospel? The fabric of the method would change John 3:16 to read "For God so judged the world and he wrote his moral list of laws, that whoever does not follow them shall not have eternal life." The law-based evangelist can and will prove what a dirty rotten sinner you are, as is the mantra of Ray Comfort. The law-based evangelist believes that if they shame an unsuspecting listener and instill sufficient fear into them, that they will break down and give into the message that follows. Thinking upon this, can you find any place in Scripture where Jesus or the apostles used guilt and shame to coerce change from their hearers?

    Those devout to Comfort's methodologies will reference John 4 as evidence, but this was a dialogue with the Samaritan woman in which he made a law reference, but not as a method of coercion. No, rather, Christ spoke the truth in parables seasoned with mercy for the weak, judgment for the religious proud, but never manipulation for conversion to accept him. The Apostles used references from the Masoretic Text of Judaism, to contend for Christ as the chosen one, the redeemer of mankind, but never through cunning or trickery did they seduce their hearers using law-based evangelism. The power for conversion is in the message of Christ's message, his burial and resurrection.

    "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (ESV)

    The law written on our hearts in the New Covenant is the law of love. It is not the letter of the law written on stone. That law showed no mercy or compassion. We are not judged by that law in stone, but by the law of love in our hearts. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Love is the basis for the New Covenant. “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you”(John 15:12). It is by compassion, truth, love, mercy, humility... the fruits of the spirit that our very lives bears testimony to Christ's Spirit in us. Our witness is our message, and our words should proclaim mercy, not oppression unto shame and guilt.

    Way of the Master: "Biblical evangelism is always, without exception, Law to the proud, Grace to the humble."

    All the unregenerate are sinners who are in rebellion, and pride is the root of sin. The above adage would entail pulling out the law knife for those who would resist the gospel message as arrogantly fixed, and being sweet to those who are unsure and potentially ready to accept the message. Problem with that thinking is not understanding the real nature of the human condition, whereas all are under the curse of pride. The ideology also puts us in the position to discern what methods to use, as if we are the ones who are in control over the mechanics of salvation. I think a fundamental understanding of spiritual matters would imply that we are not to assume or be presumptuous as to be controlling agents in evangelism, to strap on a tool belt as to strategically overcome the unsaved with an arsenal of methodologies. Instead, we should allow the Holy Spirit to direct at the moment of encounter, fully instilled with the knowledge of the Word, fervently devout praying men and woman. The problem with "Gimmick" evangelism methods like Way of the Master, it is essentially religious pride pitted against sinners pride. It has an appearance of good and does achieve results, but it’s methodology is not of God spirit, but of man's devices.

    This can be a difficult subject, whereas Jesus did undeniably teach both law and grace. Preaching the Law is necessary, but it is not the first step in preaching the Gospel as the Law is not the Gospel. As Calvin like Luther rightly observes, "The Law is the content and guide for the Christian but if you begin to hear the Law accusing you must set the Law aside and flee to the cross immediately where true power and true rest is given." The Law never gives what it demands and thus the Gospel is the power. Hence the distinction (contra arminianism, pelgianism, pietism and some dispensationalism) must always be maintained yet without divorcing the two. Those who preach Christ as a "new lawgiver" in opposition to Moses as the "old lawgiver", defile Christ. Yes, Christ preached both but His office is that of Redeemer not lawgiver. Moses' office was that of Lawgiver, yet the Gospel of grace was a part. The Law is natural to all men in a sense and all seek vainly to become righteous by it. The Gospel is alien and must be declared again and again.

    As you read through the gospel accounts, you will find that the message that Jesus is always teaching, that he instructs his disciples to teach, and that his Apostle to the Gentiles teaches is about the Kingdom of God. In fact, our last glimpse of Paul in the third-person account of Acts is this: “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:30-31) As you read the Acts account of Paul and his teaching, he has two specific, but intertwined messages – one is the Kingdom of God and the other is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    In all, the God’s kingdom is mentioned (as either the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven, or just ‘the kingdom’) 102 times in the four Gospels and another 28 times in the remainder of the New Testament. If we Christians claim to follow Jesus, should we not, like Paul, also be ready to speak both about the person we claim to follow (Jesus) AND the message that he taught? The kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal sovereign God over all creatures and things (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:3). The kingdom of God is also the designation for the sphere of salvation entered into at the new birth (John 3:5-7), and is synonymous with the “kingdom of heaven.”

    Christ and John the Baptist announced the good news that the Kingdom was at hand (Matt 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). So in all this, we learn that Christ and the Apostles preached The Kingdom of God being that God will reign over all as the primary message, while using the law to reveal the corrupt nature in some cases (as Way of the Master does effectively) covering all in God’s Grace found in the blood atonement through Christ, which is the only gateway into God's Kingdom now and throughout eternity.

    I believe Ray Comfort means well and is a sincere servant of Christ, motivated to be an effective soul winner. And like other purveyors of new doctrinal methods, God can use them to a point, even if their approach is problematic. Maybe a few souls might be saved, to this we should praise the Lord, but how many more are spiritually damaged? This is the primary concern based on gathered evidence.

  • #2
    Sadly, the Holy Spirit has been for centuries, pushed aside in favor of the man-made techniques. The church at large is powerless because it has departed from the love-based gospel, in favor of new methods, techniques, better ways as seen by men. As if men can outperform God's simple plan. God so loved the world, not God so judged the world.

    God bless.


    • #3
      The way of the master is not the way of the master, I wrote against Rays compromise with Kenneth Copeland and other TV evangelists such as Joyce Meyer.

      First Plumbline Apologetics ~ Way of the Master.

      let me know if you want more info.

      Another problem with Comforts technique it would seem that the attention is program led and not Holy Spirit led, it is a good way at getting people to open their mouths but the problem is they stay on the program and people recognise it is a Ray Comfort thing, for me their is something wrong here.


      • #4
        I basically agree with you Steven - Philip sent to the Eunich to preach in the book of the law, he preached Jesus. The thief on the cross - he preach faith in Jesus only. The power in proclaiming the word comes from the Holy Spirit and his constant leading to the only begotten Son, Jesus.

        I knew a Ron Comfort, I don't know this person Ray Comfort. Ron preaches and believes like your writings speak. Ron has memorized the Bible and knows doctrine and is extremely well trained . I have been in soul winning conferences with some of the old timers you listed Jack Hyles, John R Rice and many more - they are well versed in doctrine that agrees with what you have written.

        It's my opinion you have done a Good Job with this explaination.


        • #5
          I have to admit that I do get sucked into law-based evangelist at times, because of all the zeal they express. I do forget how law based evangelism is dangerous. Once, I took home a self-written tract with me and read it, and it left me empty inside, even doubting if I was a Christian because of the weakness in my life, that sometimes gets the best of me.

          Later, I spoke in private with an elder. He said that often when a believer walks uprightly that Satan uses every weapon possible to discourage this walk. This tract that had hints of legalism was obviously one of his tools.

          Well thank you, my true spiritual friend for the reminder, and I pray that these law-based evangelist learn to follow the Holy Spirit instead of using man made tools to evangelize a fear based Gospel.


          • #6
            Thanks for posting this message.

            I for one love watching "Way of the Master". I agree that the law shows us no one can keep it. Not one. But I also see that when we let the Holy Spirit guide our conversations He brings about a true love for lost souls and true repentence. When a lost soul is confronted in such a way as they sometimes come across, it seems pride is always in the way. But the Holy Spirit will lead them into all Truth. I do pray Living Waters (Ray Comfort...and team) allow the Holy Spirit to lead them into what to say. Always praying for ministries with a heart for getting the Gospel out and being bold about it. Also praying they (we) come in the power of Christ and in His Truth and love. Not of our own, but all to Him be the glory.

            So many lost, so little time. Help us Lord. Harvest is white, workers are few. Praying for more workers... Thank you for taking the time to address legalistic approach to sharing the Gospel.

            We love you Lord!!! No one is perfect, only You are Lord. Because You live in us, help us daily to give up things that we have not yet let go of. Help us to share the Good News with others and help us Lord to pray continually for those lost. You wish not one to perish. Thank You Father for drawing us. In Jesus name, Amen.


            • #7
              which covenant are we living in?

              Law-based evangelism is a result of living with one foot in the old covenant, and one foot in the new. This is where the early Christians lived, and it's where most Christians still live unfortunately, because most of us do not apply 'audience relevance' to the new testament text. 'Audience relevance' is one of the keys in the science of Biblical interpretation. It focuses on how the original, direct recipients of new testament letters understood what was written to them.

              Just as we may read ancient text found from archaeological digs... we read them as an observer of history. And just as we may read our great-grandmother's love letters, we don't automatically become the recipient! Yet, somehow, we do exactly that when it comes to the Bible! We forget who the original YOU are in these letters, and place ourselves in their position.

              The Bible is a supernatural book, inspired by God. It speaks to people of all ages, all cultures and times. It has universal application in many instances. For instance, "Love God and love your neighbor" is communicated throughout, and is for everyone to take to heart. However, none of those new testament letters are written directly to people living in 2010! It is written FOR all people, but TO specific believers within cities and churches at a specific time period. See the difference? Because we know it's God's love letter to mankind, we sometimes fail to see the difference between who it's TO, and who it's FOR.

              Think about this. Let's say in one hundred years, our future progeny find a church bulletin. They read it and it says, "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you,..." and our descendants say, "That's right! Good stuff to live by!" Then they peruse another section that says, "church picnic coming soon" What do you think they will logically conclude? That the church picnic is still waiting to take place -- 100 years later? Or that it did indeed take place already, sometime in the near future for the original readers of that Sunday bulletin? The first example is a universal message for all people. The second is a TIME-BOUND message for a specific audience.

              This is using "audience relevance."

              With this awareness of 'audience relevance,' a reading of the new testament letters will shed new light and eradicate much of the fear that invades the Gospel today. We fear the 'doom and gloom,' the urgency, the warnings, the need to escape, the need to stay on the narrow path... when in reality, this is all in the past. This was all written to the first century believers regarding the transition from the old covenant (what was passing away) to the new covenant (what was in their midst). THEY were the generation that lived from AD30-70, when both covenants existed together. THEY were the ones that must not turn back to the old ways of the Temple worship and sacrifices. THEY were the ones that would endure Tribulation under Nero, unless they escaped Jerusalem before the Roman seiges (AD64-70).

              So because we read their mail, as if it were ours, we live our present moments in the first century Christians' past! We place ourselves into the transition period between law and grace, between old and new covenants! Their world ended, not ours. Their world was the old heavens and earth, or old establishment between God and man, the Law, or old covenant. It ended in the fiery destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in AD70, during the Roman Jewish War. That's what Christ's return was all about. Ushering in the new covenant in its fullness, apart from the old covenant way of life. God could not dwell in the hearts of man until His old dwelling (the Holy of Holies in the Temple) was no more!

              So it's no wonder our Gospel message breeds fear and confusion, and is lost on so many. Modern dispensationalism has become the 'eshatology of the day,' and it's based on a false notion. All we have to do is understand covenant history, and that we are living in a very different time than the early Christians. It's just that simple. A major paradigm shift in our traditional teachings, no doubt. But that's what it's going to take in order to preach a grace-based Gospel in its purity, fullness and triumphant glory! The law brought death, but grace brings life. Let perfect love cast out the fear. And the perfect has come. God's presence restored in the glorious new covenant! Christ in us, THEIR hope of glory, OUR present reality, and the reality of everlasting generations to come. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen! (Eph 3:21)


              • #8
                Having been somewhat of a hermit for the last 3 or 4 years I knew nothing of Ray Comfort until today, so I can't voice an opinion of how or what it is he teaches in his television ministry. For that I bow to the knowledge of our good friend Mr. Ray. However I can voice an opinion of what I found in my researches today. What I found was something I definitely feel is not good. To be quite honest, the deeper I dug, the more nauseated I became. While Ray Comfort may have started his ministry with a genuine pure intent to benefit Christianity, the organization I found today looked more like a modern day version of one of the merchants that Jesus cleared out of the temple.

                Luke 19:45-46. Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.' "

                Comfort's 'Way of the Master' website ( The Way of the Master ) has a home page dominated by a revolving advertisement promoting his products. Beneath it are four boxes containing shortcuts to the 4 steps of the process needed to join his movement as outlined below.

                Learn to share your faith
                Watch witnessing clips
                Join the Alliance
                Visit the online store

                In the first step we are introduced to the 'foundational teachings' by way of a pair of videos that are mandatory to watch in order to join the organization. When watching the first video, "Hell's best kept secret", I found Kirk Cameron twisting and misquoting the story of 'the rich young man' (Mark 10:17) in the first 3 minutes of the video. Seeing this provable deception was enough, I stopped watching at that point. A brief check of the 'Join' link showed a long, complicated form that again stressed watching the videos in the first link. From there I went exploring in the 'Store'.

                Of the over 200 items in the store less than 2% sell for a dollar or less. The rest of the items range from $3.50 USD to $99.95 USD (for the basic course in ministry as well as a few other items). The materials in this basic course show up pictured in one of the rotating ads above the steps with the statement: "Basic Training Course over 16 thousand sold", (@ $99.95 USD) with the cheshire cat grin of Ray Comfort beside it. At a cool $1,599,200.00 USD in sales on this one item alone it's no wonder he's smiling!

                In the parable of the 'Good Samaritan' ( Luke 10:25-37 ) the first four lines read:
                On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
                "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
                He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

                In this answer Jesus simplified the Judaic Law of the old testament's ten commandments, replacing the first four commandments with the love of God, and the remaining six with the 'Golden Rule' of treating others in the loving way we wish to be treated ourselves. What mystified me on my first reading of this passage years ago was that the lawyer accepted His statement so readily, questioning only the definition of 'neighbor'. With much contemplation I later came to the realization that while the simplified 'Golden Rule' did cover the last six commandments it broadened the scope of behavior that it covers as well, sealing up the 'loopholes' that lawyers love. In doing so there could be no denying it's coverage of the commandments.

                By trading this Christian version for the Judaic version of law Ray Comfort has gone to a blended, more complex system that provides much more opportunity for sales of his wide range of 'helpful' products. All at a price of course. I fear this man is likely to find himself the next in the long line of evangelistic scandals that make a Christian's life so difficult in our troubled times. I pray that I'm wrong in this and I hope others will too.
                "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Tim. 2:24-26


                • #9
                  Traditional Methods of Evangelism Reviewed

                  Christian evangelism is, and will ever be, confrontational. Not that the Christian must assume a confrontational style; but that the message of Christ has ever been innately provocative.

                  Other traditional evangelism methods include the Romans Road, Evangelism Explosion, The Four Spiritual Laws, The Bridge as preferred methods of tradition, which are somewhat problematic themselves. They come to the lost person with a prepackaged message that assumes one gospel fits all. The initiator approaches the “lost person” from a position of power as having their answer. They assume the questions to be asked and the answers that shall be given before we have even listened. The message is relayed intellectually, and more important attitudinally. Proponents of those positions are saying with their posture that they already know what the hell-bound sinner needs, what their problem is, and we’re right and you’re lost and confused. None-Christians are reduced to a person of deficiency of spirit and knowledge, as if a social workers case.

                  I find these approaches contrary to the method presented in the gospel. For the gospel always comes incarnationally: i.e. humbly approaching each person according to their situation and culture. The "one message fits all" implies that everyone has the same problem. Only in Christendom, where everyone was already pre-initiated and where the cultural problems are homogenous, would this make sense.

                  As you read the New Testament however, the gospel is posed differently in each context, in each gospel or epistle. The problem the gospel addresses and the way in which the good news of Jesus Christ addresses it – differs between the gospel of John, Luke, the epistles of Romans, versus 1 and 2 Peter, versus James and Hebrews.

                  Additionally, these old methods assume that the Christian terminology is known by all. When the Romans Road has three words on either side of the chasm that is then bridged by the cross, it assumes these words The Romans Road may work in Christendom, but not post Christendom. It is another way our evangelistic strategies are having diminished results, requiring non-believers to come to us on our terms.

                  These traditional evangelistic methodologies of Christendom separate the gospel from real life. We do this by “Cartesianizing” the gospel: i.e. making the gospel into a mental concept separate from real life which is the only place where people can really be touched. These methods worked in Christendom, when people were largely still marrying without premarital restraint, maintaining domestic propriety, and living a moral standard according to the overt influence of the church. In post Christendom this is reversed. People generally come from homes of divorce, sexual abuse, places of despair, often without any sentiment of a God. The gospel cannot be a concept, it must be the invitation into an entirely reordered way of life through a person, Jesus Christ.

                  Most modern interpretation of the Acts 2 passage emphasizes the preaching and public proclamation elements of the narrative. Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:14-40) serves as the impetus for the growth of the church in Acts 2:41 and 47. Emphasis is placed upon the statement that “with many other words he (Peter) warned them; and he pleaded with them” (Acts 2:40). In most English translations, Acts 2:41 (“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day”) is marked off as the culmination of Peter’s sermon and not as part of the following section describing the community life of the church. The twentieth century’s prioritizing of the sermon as a means of persuasion reflects the importance of preaching, and verbal proclamation in evangelism and church growth.

                  Salvation is a mystery as scripture testify, it happens in God’s moment not ours, it is always the work of God. He is already working, we are simply the servants, the very participants in what God is already doing. We will learn that salvation happens as an invitation into the relationship we have with God through Christ, always as a way of life, never a singular moment or transaction. We will learn the gospel is always contextualized, addressing the issue of being lost, separation, disorder, that each person is encountering personally, culturally and socially. We will learn that it is impossible to invite someone into such a life if you yourself are not authentically immersed into that very life with the Triune God yourself.

                  There are three steps. Plowing the fields, planting the seeds, and reaping the harvest. We will never reap the harvest. Only the Holy Spirit can complete this process. But, we are called upon by the Lord in the Great Commission to go out and do the other two steps for him. His word is the best way to convict someone and show them the hope that lies within them.


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