Arminian Today

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Anything To Not Evangelize (And Justify Their Unwillingness)

It was a year ago at the 2012 Shepherd’s Conference that Jesse Johnson lectured on The Ways of the Master in which he critiqued Ray Comfort’s ministry and their focus on the use of the Law in evangelism.  Comfort places emphasis especially upon the use of the Ten Commandments in evangelism (Exodus 20:1-17).  In Comfort’s book, The Way of the Master, he shows not just how the Bible uses the Law to convict sinners (Romans 7:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11) but he shows what great Christian leaders such as Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, or John Wesley have said about the use of the Law and even the Ten Commandments.

After Johnson’s talk, the blogging world was abuzz with those lining up against Comfort and The Way of the Master.  I found that it seemed those who wanted to avoid evangelizing seemed to favor Johnson’s talk and those who were already sharing their faith lined up with Comfort.  It seemed, as I was afraid of, that the lazy would be hungry for Johnson’s talk because they wanted to be able to point to Ray Comfort and say that he was not biblical in his approach.  While Johnson did not give any “method” for evangelizing, he did seek to debunk any methods for evangelism it seemed.  I know that it is personal judgement statement (and I don’t know Johnson at all) but his talk and his writings at his blog seemed to suggest that he just wanted to avoid evangelism and his talk seemed to give others a reason to as well.

It happened that Dr. John MacArthur joined in.  Dr. MacArthur and Ray Comfort exchanged letters over the issue and in the end, Dr. MacArthur stated that he would have changed some aspects of Jesse Johnson’s talk if he knew the content.  He stated,

For the record, we have no problem using the Ten Commandments as a mirror to show people their sin. We agree with Living Waters that the Decalogue is a summary of the moral content of God’s law. The law’s moral principles reflect the unchanging character of God, so they are eternal, universally applicable, and by definition unchanging. Given those facts, surely it is appropriate to use the Decalogue as Jesus and the apostle Paul often did – to confront sinners with their sin.

Furthermore, we’re grateful for the way you have trained and encouraged so many people to do hands-on evangelism. You deserve a lot of credit for stirring the consciences of countless young believers and motivating them to share the gospel boldly. In no way would we ever want to discourage that.

We continue to believe that it is critically important for people training in the Living Waters method to 1) strengthen the gospel content of their presentation so as to be equal to the law, 2) see the law as not simply Ten Commandments, but much more as Scripture reveals, 3) To place particular emphasis on passages such as John 8:24 where Jesus says they would die in their sins for refusal to acknowledge Him. This is the greatest sin that goes beyond the Ten Commandments in its condemnation extending to every sinner.

I am grateful for your eagerness to enrich the people you train in these ways.

Yours for the Master,

John MacArthur

That pretty much ended the blogging debate since Johnson had been speaking at MacArthur’s conference, he graciously backed down from the fight.

I have found over the years that people want to not share not their faith.  Certainly there are those who want to share their faith but do not know how to begin.  They need training.  Ray Comfort has been a great source for evangelism training as have many other brothers and sisters who have learned from Ray Comfort.  I first picked up Comfort’s book back in the early 1990’s after I was saved only because Leonard Ravenhill had endorsed the book.  My thought was that if Ravenhill endorsed a book, it must be good.  And it was.  It was eye-opening.  I had never heard what Comfort was teaching.  Shortly after my conversion to Christ, I was trained in the Evangelism Explosion method which focused on the question of, “If you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?”  It was created by Dr. D. James Kennedy.  EE, as it was known, was a popular method at that time in the evangelical church.  I was taught to go door-to-door with EE to ask questions focused on getting people to respond to Christ and His claims.  While I don’t feel EE was effective at dealing with sin, it was a good tool to get me motivated to evangelize.

Comforts book though opened my eyes to the need for true conviction.  I remember he quoted from Charles Finney, “If you have a convicted sinner, convert him; if you have a converted sinner, convict him.”  Finney’s point was that the Law should be preached to bring about guilt and conviction.  Finney said further in Comfort’s book, “Where grace has been preached, I preach Law; where Law has been preached, I preach grace.”  Comfort showed me that the Law of God was there to convict me and to show me my need for Christ (Galatians 3:24 NKJV).  Comfort also showed how Jesus and the Apostles used the Law.  I had never seen this and it was refreshing to my evangelism.  I begin to use the Law to show people they were guilty before God (Romans 3:19-20).

Since that time, I have been using the Law nearly all the time in my evangelism.  I do believe we need to be discerning and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in evangelism.  As is stated often, “Law to the proud; grace to the humble.”  The Spirit of God can help us discern where people are.  I have met many proud people.  Yet I have met some who were broken over their sin and needed grace and not law.  We need to be led by the Spirit during those times.  Like Philip in Acts 8:26-40, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in evangelism while we must be ready to witness for Christ and be ready to answer those who question us (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Yet I still meet those who want to question all forms of evangelism.  If you bring up open air preaching, they want to know how many people have become Christians from it (as if numbers were the focus of evangelism instead of the glory of God).  If you bring up Ray Comfort, they want to attack the method and say that Comfort spends too much time on the Law and not enough on the doctrine of justification.  If you bring up this or that form of evangelism, they will question every aspect of.  Why?  I believe it is to appease their guilty for not sharing their own faith.  I know many “Bible scholars” who can attack Ray Comfort’s method up and down but do they share their faith?  Do they offer solutions other than theological points about evangelism?  Do they provide us insights from their personal evangelism to show what we need to be doing to spread the gospel of Christ?

I frankly believe we can learn much from evangelists such as Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Tony Miano, and many others.  Our focus should not be upon numbers but upon seeking to be biblical in our approach.  We want to exalt Christ and to bring His salvation to the nations (Mark 16:15).  Our passion should be to see people justified through faith (Romans 5:1).  But our main focus should be on the glory and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our aim is to please Him in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/09/2013 at 9:47 AM

One Response

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  1. Reminds me of a statement generally attributed to D. L. Moody. He is said to have made this reply to a critic of his evangelism methods: “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

    Sam Loveall

    03/09/2013 at 12:53 PM

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