Thursday, April 8, 2010

“The Evangelistic Use of the Law: A Timely Method, or an Eternal Principle?”

Originally published on facebook

1.1 The Only Way?

The Way of the Master is a United States-based Christian evangelism ministry, founded in 2002 and headed by American actor Kirk Cameron, New Zealand-born evangelist Ray Comfort, and American radio host Todd Friel. The organization produces a television show, a radio show, books and tracts, an online course in evangelism, small-group training courses, and a website. 
Comfort believes that evangelism is the main reason that the Christian Church exists and that many of the evangelistic methods used by the church over the last century have produced more false conversions to Christianity than true ones. The key component Comfort uses is the "Moral Law of God" - the Ten Commandments - to speak about evidence of sin in the lives of his listeners before presenting the gospel of Christ to them.

Living waters- Hell's best kept secret on Vimeo.

Despite the success and growth of Ray Comfort’s ministry and the many lives that have been touched through his teachings (mine especially), it has not been without detractors – both within and outside the Body of Christ.

In refuting modern evangelistic strategies (secifically Campus Crusade for Christ's 4 Spiritual Laws, best known for the erroneous "God has a Wonderful plan for your Life" tag), Comfort has become the subject of scepticism from critics who feel that in showing the errors other evangelistic strategies and ministries, Comfort makes a rather interesting claim for exclusivity of practice with regards to the use of the Law.

The purpose of this article is to respond to the critics’ objections against the testimony of inspired Scripture to see if they are indeed justifiable.

1.2 “Which Law are we talking about?”

When it comes to using the Law as an objective moral standard in evangelism, it is important that we understand from Scripture who, what, when and why it was given.

1.2.1. The Use of the word “Law”:

“The Law” in both the Old and New Covenants can refer to several things:
- The Word of God overall (e.g., Ps119)
- The 10 Commandments
- The Laws of Nature (Romans 2)
- The “Law of the Land” created and imposed by man
- The Mosaic Covenant (Moral, Ritual and Ceremonial Laws)
- The Battle between the desires of the flesh vs the desires of the Spirit (Romans 7)
- God's own Eternal moral standard (The Sermon on the Mount)

Hence, when reading scripture, it is essential that we understand a) which law is being spoken of and b) the context of it's use.

1.2.2. The Mosaic Law within the Old Covenant

The Mosaic Law is what we are most concerned about in relation to the New Testament believer. This consisted of 365 negative commands and 248 positive for a total of 613 commands. These may also be divided into three parts or sections —the moral, the social, and the ceremonial.
Part 1: The Judgments, or the Social Law.
This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).
Part 2: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law.
This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).As such, it covered every possible area of the life of Israel.
Part 3: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments.
This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).

1.2.3. Jesus' use of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount

This sermon as featured in Matthew 5 not only reveals God’s divine nature, it puts into our hands the most powerful of evangelistic weapons. It is the greatest evangelistic sermon ever preached by the greatest evangelist who ever lived. The straight edge of God’s Law reveals how crooked we are:
v. 3: 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The unregenerate heart isn’t poor in spirit. It is proud, self-righteous, and boastful ( “every man is pure in his own eyes—“ Proverbs 16:2).

v. 4: 4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

The unsaved don’t mourn over their sin; they “love the darkness and hate the light” (John 3:19).

v. 5: 5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

The ungodly are not meek and lowly of heart. Their sinful condition is described in Romans 3:13–18.

v. 6: 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Sinners don’t hunger and thirst after righteousness. Instead, they “drink iniquity like water” (Job 15:16).

v. 7: 7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

The world is shallow in its ability to show true mercy. It is by nature cruel and vindictive (Genesis 6:5).

v. 8: 8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

The heart of the unregenerate is not pure; it is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).

v. 9-16: 9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Those who are born again manifest the fruit of the Spirit, live godly lifestyles in Christ Jesus, and therefore suffer persecution at the hands of those who do not. However, their purpose on earth is to be salt and light: to be a moral influence, and to bring the light to those who sit in the shadow of death.

v. 17-20 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Look now at how the Messiah expounds the Law and “makes it honorable” (Isaiah 42:21). He establishes that He didn’t come to destroy the Law; not even the smallest part of it will pass away. It is constant and unchanging as it reflects the character and attributes of God

1.2.3. Paul's explanation of the Law
The book of Romans could best be thought of as the magnus opus of the Bible theology. In chapters 1-3, he makes the case for the purpose of the law for humanity:

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-31

Paul begins his contention for the sinfulness of man by starting with man's gradual degeneration from a revelation of God, to idolatry and corrupted relations with his brethren. Though God reveals himself through the act of creation in a way that should leave man without excuse as to the existence of God, man by default prefers to reject God entirely.

12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(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, 15since 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.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. Romans 2:12-16

Paul then challenges the Roman Jewish believers who exercise unfair judgment by having them confront their own sinful nature. He makes the case that those who are faithful and obedient will be rewarded, yet those who sin will face judgment. The Jews, having been given the Mosaic Law will be judged first, those without second. Although the Bible consistantly teaches that salvation is not by works, it also teaches that God's judgement is always on the basis of man's deeds, that is, the evidence of righteousness within a person's life.
While Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” , the Bible gives a more specific definition in 1 John 3:4 - “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
In Romans 2:14-15, Paul continues his argument that while the Jews have an advantage in having been taught the law and being “entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2) , the gentiles demonstrate by their words and actions that they too are under the law as demonstrated by the fact that they transgress it and their conscience testifies accordingly; human beings have been hard-wired to respond to God's moral standard whether it be a posteri or not to the point that it will be the basis of their judgment.
17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? Romans 2:17-23

Paul then turns the Moral Law upon the Jewish believers who would otherwise try to boast in their heritage. Under the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel was called to serve as an example to the nations by way of their obedience to God. Yet Paul openly questions whether the Jewish believers have fulfilled such a role themselves by keeping the law, saying that what makes a “Jew” a genuine Jew lies not on what is done on the outside, but rather the condition of the inside which comes from the work of the Holy Spirit through receiving Christ Jesus.

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. Romans 3:9

We come to the end of Paul's diagnosis of the human condition. He in effect asks “Among everyone whom God has revealed himself through creation and the testimony of the concience, has anyone called out to God? What of those selected as a nation to receive his oracles only to have a history of repeated disobedience and infidelity?”

10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Romans 3:10-18

Despite God having done so much to reveal himself to man, the ultimate condition of fallen man is that he is totally depraved; completely resistant and unwilling to seek or turn to God on his own natural ability. What then, is the purpose of the law?

19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Romans 3:19-20

The purpose of the Law as summarised by the 10 Commandments is to reveal the sinfulness of human nature – not the Jews only, but the whole world -, to silence the mouth and leave no room for self-righteousness as one becomes accountable for their sin. Any attempt to keep the law is futile, as it only reveals a man's sinfulness. Secondly, since the Moral Law reflects the character of God, there is an immediate clash whenever it encounters the sinful nature of man:
7What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." 8But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
 14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
      So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:7-25

2. Does the Law apply to Christians?

2.1 Simple answer: No.

There are several passages in the New Testament where believers are encouraged that they are no longer under the “curse of the law”, as the requirements of the law have been fulfilled by faith in Christ and his death.
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26

Secondly, the New Testament gives clear warnings against legalism, that is, trying to justify oneself by works despite what Christ has done via the cross. One of the earliest controversies to strike the early church was whether the law still had to be kept. False teachers had crept who even went as far as to impose the Jewish ceremonial laws upon gentile Christians. This is the very theme behind Paul's letter to the Galatians.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:23-28

2.2 What did Jesus accomplish in satisfying the Law?

Mark Driscoll outlines 10 accomplishments Jesus made on the cross:

1. Jesus is our Propitiation

1 John 4:10
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

In this we see that while God justly and rightly hates our sin, he also is so loving that he poured out his wrath upon himself so that it would be propitiated, or diverted, from guilty deserving sinners. In propitiation Jesus fulfills the role of the first goat slaughtered every year on the Day of Atonement in place of guilty sinners. Tragically, most modern English translations of the Bible translate this word with words including expiation or sacrifice or atonement, which change the meaning of God’s inspired Scriptures. But, thankfully my friends at Crossway have preserved this and other significant theological words in the English Standard Version of the Bible, one of the reasons why I have chosen the English Standard Version as my primary preaching, teaching, and writing translation, although there are other versions I appreciate in varying degrees.

2. Jesus is our Expiation

1 John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 

When we sin and are sinned against, the Bible says (particularly in many Old Testament ceremonies, cleansings, and metaphors) that we are defiled, dirty, filthy, and unclean. But on the cross Jesus took away our sin so that we could be cleansed from the presence and power of defiling sin. In expiation Jesus fulfills the role of the second goat, or scapegoat, who was not slaughtered but rather sent away from the people, showing how God alone can take our sin away.

3. Jesus is our New Covenant Sacrifice

1 Peter 1:18–19

“. . . you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 

Blood is mentioned some 450 times in the Bible and is associated with death that is the penalty for sin. Many of the references to blood in Scripture are found in the Old Testament, foreshadowing Jesus coming as our High Priest, he whose body was the Temple, he who bled and died as a sacrifice so that we would be admitted into New Covenant relationship with God.

4. Jesus is our Victory

Colossians 2:13–15
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

On the cross Jesus seemed to have suffered the worst defeat in history. But in fact he was triumphing over Satan and demons by destroying any claim they had to his people because of their sin. Therefore, Jesus is the only Victor over Satan and demons, and in Jesus we can live free of demonic control.

5. Jesus is our Redemption

Titus 2:13- 14
“. . . our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Sin enslaves us and rules over us as a cruel taskmaster, much like the Pharaoh who ruled over God’s people in the days of Exodus. In that day, God crushed Pharaoh and liberated his people into freedom to worship him. That event is spoken of repeatedly throughout Scripture as a day of redemption, and it is the pattern of how Jesus liberated us from Satan, sin, and death on the cross. That was the day of our great Exodus.

6. Jesus is our Justification

Galatians 2:16
“a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

2 Corinthians 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Because we are all by nature and choice guilty sinners, we have no right to stand before God and be declared righteous. But on the cross Jesus accomplished our justification through what Martin Luther rightly called “the great exchange.” On the cross Jesus took our sin and gave us his righteousness. The result is that by grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone, we can be justified and declared righteous in the sight of God.

7. Jesus is our Ransom

1 Timothy 2:5–6
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom . . .”

Our sin includes both omission (not doing what God commands) and commission (doing what God forbids) so that we accrue an ever-mounting debt to God. To resolve this debt, Jesus came as fully God and fully human to mediate perfectly between God and us. In his death, Jesus paid our debt to God, described as our ransom.

8. Jesus is our Example

1 Peter 2:21
“Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

While on the cross suffering and dying in our place for our sins, while remaining obedient to the Father and loving to his enemies, Jesus gave for us the perfect example of how to live, especially in the face of the unjust, evil, atrocity of sin. In so doing, he trusted the sovereignty of God to bring good out of evil. Jesus is our example that life in this world is marked by the pains of sin and we have opportunities to demonstrate the glory of Jesus to the world by following in his example and embracing our suffering without questioning the goodness of God.

9. Jesus is our Reconciliation

Ephesians 4:31-5:2
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Sin breaks our relationship with God and others, as we first see in Genesis 3, where immediately following sin our first parents hid from God and from one another. But by dying for our sin, Jesus takes our sin away so that we can be in a loving, reconciled relationship with God and one another.

10. Jesus is our Revelation

John 1:18
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

Colossians 1:15
“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.”

Because of sin, the Bible says we are spiritually ignorant and blind concerning God. But in Jesus God made himself visible. And at the cross the character and nature of God was revealed, unlike anywhere else in all creation, because it was there that God’s wrath and mercy were one. Therefore, for God to be known, the cross of Jesus must be understood, because it was there that God’s person shown forth in perfect glory.

   Propitiation, Expiation, Atonement, Reconciliation, justification, Ransom.
    These are legal terms that the inspired Scriptures employs to describe the salvation that is made possible in Christ. Unless placed within the framework of a tangible legal system, Propitiation, Expiation, Atonement, Reconciliation, justification and Ransom in context of salvation in Christ are nothing but abstract words that are without relevant meaning.

2.3. How is one not under Law expected to behave, then?

At the same time, the New Testament – in books addressed to Jews and Gentiles alike - rebukes lawlessness and licentious living, making reference to specific sins and their consequences in detail:

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality [8th Commandment], or of any kind of impurity, or of greed [10th Commandment], because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater [2 Commandment]—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.
Ephesians 5:3-7

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust [7th Commandment], evil desires and greed [10th Commandment], which is idolatry [2nd Commandment]. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice [6th Commandment], slander [9th Commandment], and filthy language [3rd Commandment] from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other [9th Commandment], since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:5-10

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder [6th Commandment]. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel [10th Commandment]. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? [1st Commandment] Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:1-4

8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers [5th and 6th Commandments] , 10for adulterers and perverts [7th Commandment], for kidnappers [8th Commandment] and liars and perjurers [9th Commandment] —and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Timothy 1:8-11

It is interesting to note that Paul’s list of sins in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 directly copies the order of the Decalogue with regards to citing the 5th commandment through to the ninth. Paul gives Timothy clear instructions that the preaching or moral virtue was to come from only one source as opposed to having an arbitrary view of morality that pulls its values out of anywhere as some are inclined to suggest.

2.3.1 The Promise of the New Covenant

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:33

What is the Law in this passage referring to?
   The law here ( refers to something that was set before the Old Covenant people of God. This is not our own human law but God's law that has already been revealed to God's Old Covenant People at the time of Jeremiah's writing - the Decalogue/Ten Commandments.
   Therefore, Jeremiah is teaching that the law of God under the New Covenant is a law that both HAS BEEN and WILL BE written by God Himself. Jeremiah clearly teaches that this law of God under the New Covenant is a law that was written in stone by God (Moses on Mt. Sinai) and that will be written on hearts by God.
   Therefore, this passage refutes the ethnocentric view of the Mosaic Law being for the Jews in the Old Covenant alone which claims that there is no continuity of the Ten Commandments in the New Covenant.
    The text of Jeremiah 31 clearly teaches that the basic, fundamental law of God under the New Covenant is the Decalogue/Ten Commandments. Those who reject the Ten Commandments reject the very foundation of New Covenant. In the New Covenant, God writes the Law on the hearts of all covenant citizens. There is discountinuity and continuity. There is continuity of law -- the Ten Commandments, and discontinuity of place – from the stone tablet to man’s beating hearts. The promise of the New Covenant includes both a law to follow and a disposition of heart to obey that was not already present.

19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 11:19-21

3. The Evangelistic use of the Law to the Gentiles

   One of the frequent objections I receive about the evangelistic use of the law is “What about [insert people group here]? They do not know the 10 Commandments, so your method can’t be expected to work with them!”
    The underlying flaw behind this argument is that it equates knowledge with guilt of transgression, i.e., one can only be guilty of breaking God’s law if one has knowledge of it. But as we’re about to discover, when this view is weighed against the example of scripture, such an argument falls apart completely.
    Does the Bible give a clear precedent on how we are to address manmade philosophies and belief systems, especially when those who hold to such a view may have no idea about the gospel at all? The best example of “Law to the Proud, Grace to the Humble” in the context of those unfamiliar with the Judeo-Christian worldview can be found within the accounts of the Apostle Paul’s own ministry to the gentiles:

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Acts 17:16-31

The Situation
Paul came to Athens after being forced to flee Thessalonica and Berea. Athens was the heart of Greek culture and thought, renowned for its art and philosophy and some of the most famous philosophers. The founders of two dominant philosophies, Epicurus (Epicureanism) and Zeno (Stoicism), had taught in Athens.
(v. 16) Athens was also the home of almost every man-made god in existence. In fact it was Athenian idolatry that drove Paul to preach the gospel in Athens--such idolatry offended him to the core .

(v. 17) In customary fashion, he marched directly to the local synagogue and was reasoning from the Scriptures (cf. v. 2) "with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present" .

(v. 18-21) Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers heard Paul's message in the market place and brought him to the Areopagus on Mars Hill before some of the most astute philosophers in Athens. Epicureanism taught that the chief end of man was the avoidance of pain. Epicureans were materialists – they did not deny the existence of a Supreme God, but they believed he did not become involved with the affairs of mortal men. When a person died, they believed that both the body and the soul together cease to exist.
Stoics believed in pantheism – All reality consists of one substance, God is simply a part of everything else. Stoicism taught self-mastery, that the goal of life was to reach a place of indifference between pleasure and pain.
Both groups had no interest in the gospel; Paul was simply a novelty to them. They set him in their midst as a specimen that would amuse their interest in "telling or hearing something new" . That's the setting for Paul's message and method for confronting a godless culture.

The Response
Paul spoke his message to an indifferent and arrogant audience, like many to whom you and I speak today. As we look at how Paul preached to the philosophers, you'll see three essential elements of an effective message to confront our post-Christian culture with the truth.
1. First, tell them what God is (vv. 22-23).
Here's Paul's first point: "You are all ignorant pagans and I'm going to give you the truth!" Try recommending that opening line as a missionary to an unreached people group. Some people think Paul commended their religiosity when he mentioned their many objects of worship. However, the word “religious” deisidaimonesteros actually means “superstitious".

2. Second, tell them who God is (vv. 24-29).
This is Paul's lesson to the ignorant about the unknown God. This is Theology 101. It's ironic that Paul was teaching the ABCs of theology to those who were known worldwide as supreme intellectuals.

Here are five things ignorant, rebellious men need to know about the "Unknown God."

God is the Creator.
Verse 24a: He "made the world and all things in it." In Paul's day and ours, the truth makes no room for men's opinions regarding origins.

God is the Ruler.
Verse 24b: "He is Lord of heaven and earth [and] does not dwell in temples made with hands."

God is the Giver.
Verse 25: "He [is not] served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things."

God is Sovereign.
Verse 26: "He made from one man every nation of mankind ... having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation." That statement was a blow to the national pride of the Greeks, who scornfully referred to non-Greeks as "barbarians." Nonetheless, God controls the affairs and destinies of men and nations.

God is the Revealer.
Verses 27-29: Men should "seek God...He is not far from each one of us...Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like [anything] formed by the art and thought of man." God, by creating, ruling, giving, and controlling all things, has clearly revealed Himself in what He has made--men are truly without excuse (Rom. 1:20).
It logically follows that if God is the Creator, He is also the rightful Ruler of what He created. And if He is Creator and Ruler, He doesn't live in what His creatures have made.

3. Third, tell them what God wants (vv. 30-31).
Paul's evangelism method ends with a simple, powerful point: tell them to repent or be judged. In the past, God was patient. But a day is coming when He will judge the world through Jesus Christ. Some may say “What about the remote tribes that have never heard the gospel?” The truth is that cultural ignorance simply does not negate the Law of God, let alone the need for a savior. The apostles by no mean accepted the idea of a “wider mercy”. God gave sufficient proof of the truth of His Word in the resurrection of His Son--He holds all men accountable to that evidence. His grace in the past and His wrath in the future require repentance in the present. As Paul said elsewhere, "Now is 'the acceptable time,' behold, now is 'the day of salvation'" (2 Cor. 6:2). That message isn't popular today, but then again, it has never been popular.
"Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to Paul went out of their midst" (v. 32-33). Paul expounded the essence of the 1st and 2nd Commandments, holding the greeks responsible for their idolatry.

Paul honestly saw nothing commendable about the Greek culture. It went against everything he as a Jewish Christian considered to be good and had to be refuted so that people could instead receive life through Christ. Although Paul explained the concept of God (v24-27) and contextualized his message for the greek culture (v28-29), there were still those who didn't believe

We mentioned earlier that Paul's method was effective, and it is. Look back at Acts 17:34: "But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them."
It was effective to save those whom God chose to save. Paul was faithful to proclaim the truth.

He left the end-results to God.

4. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it

4.1 Revival's Golden Key

The idea of using God's moral standard to bring about conviction of sin is by no means a new idea or invention. One would think that in today's context, expounding on the sinfulness and depravity of man in such specific detail would be a turn-off to the gospel, a hindrance to evngelism and missions. To the contrary, the testimony of church history reveals the opposite; that in the church's darkest hours, this form of preaching has been a vital key to unlocking the floodgates of heaven leading to some of the mightiest revivals and spiritual awakenings:

William Tyndale (1494-1536): “Be cold, sober, wise, circumspect. Keep yourself low by the ground avoiding high questions. Expound the law truly and open the veil of Moses to condemn all flesh and prove all men sinners, and set at broach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let wounded consciences drink of Him.”

Martin Luther (1483-1586, pioneer of the Protestant Reformation):
"...we would not see nor realize it (what a distressing and horrible fall in which we lie), if it were not for the Law, and we would have to remain forever lost, if we were not again helped out of it through Christ. Therefore the Law and the Gospel are given to the end that we may learn to know both how guilty we are and to what we should again return."

John Wesley (1703-1791, Founder of Methodism): " is the ordinary method of the Spirit of God to convict sinners by the Law. It is this which, being set home on the conscience, generally breaketh the rocks in pieces. It is more especially this part of the Word of God which is quick and powerful, full of life and energy and sharper than any two-edged sword."

George Whitefield (1714-1770, Pioneer of Methodism in North America and contemporary of Jonathan Edwards):First, then, before you can speak peace to your hearts, you must be made to see, made to feel, made to weep over, made to bewail, your actual transgressions against the Law of God.”

Charles Finney (1792-1875, leader of the Second Great Awakening of the United States):Ever more the Law must prepare the way for the Gospel. To overlook this in instructing souls, is almost certain to result in false hope, the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the Church with false converts... time will make this plain.”

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892, Reformed Baptist)
: “I do
not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the Law. Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt; this is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [its most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ . . . They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place.”

D. L. Moody (1837-1899, American Evangelist and Publisher):
Ask Paul why [the Law] was given. Here is his answer, ‘That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God’ (Romans 3:19). The Law stops every man’s mouth. I can always tell a man who is near the kingdom of God; his mouth is stopped. This, then, is why God gives us the Law—to show us ourselves in our true colors.”

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900, Anglican): People will never set their faces decidedly towards heaven, and live like pilgrims, until they really feel that they are in danger of hell ... Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments, and show the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of their requirements. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. We cannot do better than follow His plan. We may depend on it, men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those who the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season, but they will soon fall away and return to the world

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963, writer of
Chronicles of Narnia, Church of England):
When we merely say that we are bad, the ‘wrath’ of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our bad-ness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God’s goodness...

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981, Senior Pastor of Westminster Chapel)
: "The trouble with people, who are not seeking for a Savior, and for salvation, is that they do not understand the nature of sin. It is the peculiar function of the Law to bring such an understanding to a man’s mind and conscience. That is why great evangelical preachers 300 years ago in the time of the Puritans, and 200 years ago in the time of Whitefield and others, always engaged in what they called a preliminary 'Law work.' 

D. James Kennedy (1930-2007, Presbyterian, dounder of Evangelism Explosion)
: There are those who say that it [the Moral Law] has no use at all; that is far from the truth. Just as there are three kinds of law, so to are there three kinds of Moral Law today. The first use is that by it’s promises and by its threatening it restrains wicked men and causes them within ths time of probation to seek to follow the ways of God. Secondly, it has the use of convincing men of their sin and bringing them to Christ; as a schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24).

David Wilkerson (1931-, Pentecostal):
Now, as you read these New Testament verses, you may be alarmed: "You mean, I'm to be as holy as Jesus was? Impossible! He was spotless, blameless, perfect. How on earth could anyone live up to that standard? Besides, doesn't the Bible say, 'There is none holy as the Lord'?" That was the very purpose of the law - to show us it is impossible for us to measure up to God's standard of holiness. No amount of human willpower, strength or ability could ever make us holy.

John Macarthur (1939-): What you're looking for when you do evangelism is a true seeker. And you know how you can tell a true seeker? A true seeker has come under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit by virtue of a true understanding of the law of God. A true seeker has been broken and contrite in heart by being measured by the law of God and found guilty before God.

John Piper (1946-, Baptist):
If this is what happened among the people who had the greatest advantages -if the Jewish people are so sinful that the "holy," "just," "good" and "spiritual" Law of God (Romans 7:12,14) can, by itself, only awaken sin and rebellion, rather than faith, then there is no reason to believe that the rest of the world would respond any better. So the lesson of Israel's response to the Law of God is that every mouth is stopped and all the world is guilty before God. If Israel can't be justified by the works of the Law, nobody can.

The diversity of the quotes in terms of the speakers’ generational, theological and denominational differences show that the use of the law to bring about the conviction of sin is not some new idea exclusive to a specific group of Christians, rather it is the commonly held view that adherents to biblical Christianity have recognized as being orthodox and genuine. According to R.C. Sproul:
"Although tradition does not rule out interpretation, it does guide it. If, upon reading a particular passage, you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two thousand years, or that has been championed universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation"

It has only been during the 20th century that the Law has been deemed “out of date” by most.
Says A.W. Pink:
These mutilators of the Word tell us that all of the Old Testament from Genesis 12 onwards belongs entirely to Israel after the flesh, and that none of its precepts (as such) are binding upon those who are members of the Church which is the Body of Christ, nor may any of the promises found therein be legitimately appropriated by them. And this, be it duly noted, without a single word to that effect by either the Lord or any of His apostles, and despite the use which the Holy Spirit makes of the earliest scriptures in every part of the New Testament. So far from the Holy Spirit teaching Christians practically to look upon the Old Testament much as they would upon an obsolete almanac, He declares, 'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the (Old Testament) scriptures might have hope' (Romans 15:4).

4.2 Why not tell a sinner of God's love rather than of His Judgment?

Here's a question: How do we know of God's love for the sinner? Only through the Cross. always given in direct correlation to the cross: herein is love, for God soloved, God commended His love, etc. (See John 3:16; Romans 5:5,6,8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:4,5; 5:2,25; 1 John 3:16; 4:10; and Revelation 1:5, among others.) The cross is the focal point of God’s love for the world.
    How can we point to the cross without making reference to sin?
    How can we refer to sin without the Law (Romans 7:7)?
   The biblical way to express God’s love to a sinner is to show him how great his sin is (using the Law—see Romans 7:13; Galatians 3:24), and then give him the incredible grace of God in Christ. This was the key to reaching so many on the Day of Pentecost. They were "devout" Jews who knew the Law and its holy demands, and therefore readily accepted the
mercy of God in Christ to escape its fearful wrath. When you use the Law to show the world their true state, get ready for sinners to thank you. For the first time in their lives, they will see the Christian message as an expression of love and concern for their eternal welfare, rather than of merely commercializing for a better lifestyle while on this earth.

4.3 What about people going through personal tragedy?

Another objection I get is “What about someone who just lost a family member to tragedy or is going through a time of great difficulty. I don’t see how you can justify accusing them of being liars, thieves and adulterers knowing that is perhaps the last thing they need to hear.”

Let me answer by way of a page from my own life:
    2005. It felt everything in life at that moment was going good. I was doing a Cert 3 in Office Studies at Logan TAFE under a government grant and my grades were going well, I was getting on with the members of my Small Group; life was enjoyable.
   Around August, after a Sunday leadership meeting, I turned on my mobile phone and in one minute had my life turned upside down: my sister, who had been working as a pharmacy assistant, had been rushed to Princess Alexandra hospital after experience a brain hemorrhage resulting in stroke. My voicemail contained a message given at 2:00pm from my parents asking me to come home immediately. I looked at my watch and saw it was 5:15pm. From that day onward I vowed to never turn my phone off whenever I carry it, not matter who or what.
   The next day I visited my sister in the intensive care ward where she was placed in an induced coma. My pastor came with me and together we prayed for her recovery. My heart broke because I knew as a result of having cerebral palsy for my whole life that even if she woke up, there was no way she was going to experience life the way she did before.
   The rest of the year was just depressing. Both of my parents worked full time and I was still on the Dole. To make matters worse, late October, when I was hoping to have TAFE over and done with, I broke my right foot on the way to church one Sunday, fracturing the metatarsals. I couldn’t walk, and for a month and a half, had to use a wheelchair because I lacked the balance to use crutches. To make matters worse, because of my condition, I lack sufficient strength in my hands to push my own weight, so I had to ask people at TAFE to push me from here to there, including the men’s room. I was humiliated, because I grew up telling myself “I will never be put into a wheelchair as long as I live. Never!”
   Eventually I recovered of my injury when during the Praise and Worship at a church camp, God in his providence saw fit to miraculously healed my foot. However, the whole experience plus what my sister was going through left me shaken. You see, prior to 2005, I honestly couldn’t care less how one defined the gospel as long as it had what I thought were the “essentials” (God, Christ, Cross). I thought that so long as one understood the cross and believed, that was it. To me, salvation was simply a matter of “just believe.”
But it wasn’t until tragedy struck and I was faced with the possibility of losing a loved one plus the subsequent season of personal injury that the truth started to sink in. It was almost impossible to come into that secret place of personal prayer where I could speak to Jesus one-to-one and corporate worship felt like swimming through a waterfall upstream.

   The solution? I knew that the issue was simply that if my faith could not withstand the tidal wave of personal tragedy, the problem had to do with what I was putting my faith in. While I could “do church” Sunday after Sunday, what I seemed to lack was a sense of eternal concern. For me, Christianity was framed within this current time on earth. After much prayer, the Holy Spirit convicted me about what I knew was true but failed by acknowledge: that if I were a non-believer and I was to suddenly be brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it wouldn’t matter if I had cerebral palsy, broken bones, or close relatives in the intensive care ward at hospital. Those things would immediately be brushed aside and the charges will be brought against the real reason why Jesus entered the world to die on the cross: my sin.

   If one is more worried about offending an individual than about being upfront and honest, what does that say with regards to ourselves as faithful ministers?
When called forth by God, the prophet Ezekiel was told upfront that if God’s people were to die without hearing the call to repentance, their blood would be on his hands:
17 Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die, and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul. Ezekiel 3:17-21

If only today’s pastors, evangelists and missionaries had even a tenth of such concern for the eternal welfare of the Lost! In lieu of such a call to ministry, Charles Spurgeon likened such well-meaning preachers concerned about the present emotional state of unbelievers to medical malpractice:
"Ho, Ho sir surgeon! You are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill. You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them. And what happens? They laugh at you. They dance upon their own graves and at last they die. Your delicacy is cruelty, your flatteries are poisons-
You are a murderer.
Shall we keep men in a fool's paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches?
In the name of God, we will not!"

   So in response to the criticism that the preaching of moral law and eternal judgment is inappropriate to those going through tragedy, my response speaking from personal experience would be “What would motivate you to hold back knowing what is really at stake here?” Being conscious of what we ourselves have been saved from, is that not sufficient grounds to warn people regardless of wherever they may be at?

To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:59-62

5.3 The testimony of Common Sense

   What is it that the Bible defines as being the primary reason why non-believers should flee to the cross?
    Lack of peace? Lack of purpose? Lack of fulfilment? Unmet felt-needs? Self-Esteem?
    OR, is it that apart from the grace of Christ, man is by choice and by nature not a child of God, but a child of The Devil (John 8:44, Ephesians 2:1-3) who is inclined not to seek God out of worship and devotion, but rather turns away out of rebellion? That we were born radically depraved and God hating to the degree that left to ourselves we would have never sought God, never come to acknowledge his power and majesty despite his constant demonstrations of grace, love and mercy. It’s not that we have sinned once and should feel regretful. The issue is we’ve never done anything but sin against God. The Bible says in that even our greatest works are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). And because of that, what we deserve is not dignity, self-esteem, peace, purpose or fulfilment, but rather the wrath of a just and holy God.
That’s God’s diagnosis of the human condition. The “cure” comes through the sovereign work of the holy Spirit – as opposed to human works or will-power – in the area regeneration causing a person to be born again so that he/she may enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3-8) by partaking via repentance and faith the atonement Christ made available through the Cross.

It’s essential that we describe to the best of our ability the disease, the diagnosis and the cure together in a balanced, relevant manner. To illustrate this point, I’d like to use the following illustration:
A hospital laboratory with a three-man team of specialists has come up with a revolutionary cure for cancer and is eager to perform experimental treatments.
    The first specialist stands in the lobby and advertises the cure as a recreational drug, saying that it will give the haze and the high of most illegal narcotics without the harm to one’s health. Aside from the fact that this is completely not what the cure was intended for, little number of people take interest on the grounds that it is merely a commodity item; and of those that do, it simply fails to meet the expectations that were encouraged from the initial onset.
    The second specialist runs from bed to bed with a scalpel in his hand in the cancer ward, screaming “YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” The patients lay in their beds not just terrified, but turned off from the specialist as he makes no mention of the solution to their sickness. While it is indeed true that those patients will inevitably die if they are not cured, the specialist comes across as malicious and hateful as he’s failed to tell the full story.
   Now listen to what the third specialist does: he gently approaches the cancer patient one-to-one. He describes in great detail the nature, symptoms and status of the condition. He doesn’t hold back the details, but he gives it with empathy and understanding. He then gives the verdict as to how long the patient has to live. The patient is on the verge of breaking into tears, then the specialist goes on to describe the cure. The patient’s despair turns to excitement and joy, he’s wondering how soon can he be treated? The specialist makes an appointment for that very same day, of which the patient feels exceedingly thankful.
   That knowledge which the third speacialist provided in detail makes all the difference! In fact, that knowledge makes patient THANKFUL that there is indeed hope. In the same way, how ridiculous is it for Christians to tell sinners that they must repent of the sin they enjoy and believe in a man they don't even know. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The good news gospel makes no sense at all if we do not first present the bad news of the Law!

6. Conclusions: The Consequences of ideas

6.1 The Root of the Issue – The Minister’s View of Scripture and Christ’s Headship over the Church

    Whether it likes it or not, how the church - from it's senior leaders down to the new believers - chooses to define the gospel message via preaching and evangelism has a systemic impact upon all aspects of church life. If the message is constantly being watered down, then not only will it fail to lead people to salvation, but it will stunt and hinder the growth of those who already have been justified through Christ.
    It is by the inspired Scriptures that one discovers the nature of God, of man, of sin, of Christ and of course, the Gospel. With that in mind, the minister must be quick to ask themselves “What is my view of the things that clearly have scriptural precedent to the point of not being a modern invention?”

Worship must include all the elements that Scripture commands and may include others so long as they are not prohibited by Scripture.

Worship must include all the elements that Scripture commands or are a good and necessary implication of a biblical text and nothing more, nothing less.

The Bible, being written several centuries ago in a different cultural context to our own, is not binding in application and is thus open to improvement in light of contemporary disciplines.

6.2 Principle, not method. Passion, not pragmatism.

”Law to the proud, grace to the Humble” is a principle, not a method. The rule is to use the Law in evangelism to soften a hard heart to receive the gospel. How we then choose to present that faithfully is something we can freely leave to our own creative expressions. That being said however, while every witnessing encounter will be unique, there are only so many things that can be said and done.
    Very often we can get so caught up in “how to” strategies that we fall into pragmatism – an “ends justifies the means” mentality wherein we forsake what God’s Word tells us and instead resort to our own ways of doing things to the point that we find ourselves regarding God’s instructions as being merely a preference from which we can build upon. This can usually come because of discouragement: people don’t respond to our message; no new converts in church; the natural inclination is to shut our Bibles and go to our own drawing board.
When Christ gave the Great Commission, he wasn’t commanding us to be successful, with numerical results to vindicate our efforts. In the final chapter of Acts, Luke, reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s ministry quotes Isaiah 6 in lament at the hardness of the Jews in contrast to the openness of the gentiles:
The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.”
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.
Acts 28:25-28

Instead, we are called to be faithful and obedient regardless of whichever immediate outcome may occur. It is not in our place to accuse God of error when we rightly obey his word only to yield no immediate fruit.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:17-18



Ray Comfort. The Evidence Bible. Bridge-Logos.

Ray Comfort. What Did Jesus Do? Tyndale, 2005.!/notes/joel-tay/is-the-ten-commandments-still-applicable-in-the-new-covenant/498169460467

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