Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Preaching the Law

Testimonies Change, The Gospel Remains the Same

When teaching people how to share the gospel with the lost, I have noticed that there is often an emphasis placed on personal testimonies for sharing Christ with the lost (or unchurched seems to be the preferred term despite it not being in the Bible at all).  Testimonies are often seen as less offensive, full of hope, often come down on a practical level, and leave the “unchurched” wondering about this Man called Jesus.  While I am not 100% opposed to testimonies when witnessing with the lost (Paul used his testimony after all in Acts 26:12-18), we must be clear in our gospel presentation and must remember that God saves sinners (sorry, I mean the unchurched) by His own power and every person comes to Christ by His grace and His grace alone (John 6:44). Every person then will have a different testimony of God’s saving grace.  My testimony is not like yours but the gospel I was saved by remains forever the same (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

My advice then is to share your testimony but don’t neglect the gospel.  I fear that people won’t to share their testimony because they don’t really know the gospel.  In fact, I have encountered “former” Christians who could share with you both their testimony of how they came to Christ and now their testimony of why they don’t believe in Christ.  Testimonies come and go.  Testimonies often change.  People will add to their testimony or take away from it depending on the situation.  The gospel does not change.  The gospel must be our focus.

The fact remains that every person we share Christ with is lost.  They are not unchurched.  In fact, they hate God (Romans 1:18-19).  People are not seeking after truth.  They hate the truth (Romans 1:25).  People love their sins and they especially love themselves (Romans 1:21-23).  They don’t want the God of the Bible.  They want their own gods.  They want a moral therapeutic God who will solve their problems, heal all their diseases, meet all their needs, and bless their socks off.  They don’t want a holy God who is wrathful against sin (Psalm 7:11 NKJV).  They don’t want a holy God who judges sinners (Romans 2:7-10; Revelation 20:11-15).  They don’t want a holy God who calls out to us to repent and turn from our wicked ways (Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9).  They want a loving God, a soft God, a God who will not judge them.  They want to live in their sins while claiming heaven (Matthew 1:21) but they are in error about God’s holy character (Romans 6:23) and His call to perfection (Matthew 5:48).

We must preach the holy wrath of God against sin.  We must open our Bibles and preach the law of God on sin (Romans 7:7).  We must warn sinners that those who break God’s law will be judged by that very law (James 2:10-13).  We must show sinners that the moral law exposes their guilt before God (Galatians 3:23-24).  The law shows us our guilt and the gospel shows us the mercy of God in the giving of His Son for our sins.  Without the preaching of the law, the sinner does not see their desperate need for salvation.  The law prepares the heart of the sinner to see the grace of God.  When the sinner sees their sinfulness before a holy God (1 John 3:4), the beauty of the cross shines forth and the gospel becomes precious to the sinner.

Testimonies don’t always do all that.  Again, I don’t have an issue with sharing with a sinner how I came to Christ.  In reality, He found me (2 Timothy 1:9).  The Bible says that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  The great Shepherd goes after His sheep (Luke 15:1-7).  The Holy Spirit opens the sinner’s eyes to the gospel and reveals our need for salvation (John 16:8-11).  The Spirit does this through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  While testimonies can be good to show the goodness of the Lord in saving us, the gospel is what saves (Romans 1:16-17).

One final note.  In Revelation 12:11 we read that the saints overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb.  Both go hand in hand.  To merely share your testimony is not enough.  We must preach the blood of the Lamb!  Without the blood of Jesus, none can be saved (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28).  The blood of Jesus alone cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The blood of Jesus alone is what enables us to stand before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  We must preach the shed blood of Jesus to the lost sinner.  It is by the blood of Jesus that I am holy before God (Hebrews 10:10).

May we preach both our testimony and the truth of the gospel to the lost (that would be unchurched for some of you).

The Major Problem With Some Evangelistic Methods

I rejoice that there are people who desire to share the gospel with the lost.  I was introduced just this evening to one method that I will not share here but will critique from afar.  Let me state up front that I have no doubt that the heart of the brother who “invented” this method has a heart for the lost.  His desire appears genuine in his appeal to disciples of Christ to obey Christ and go and preach the gospel to the lost as He commanded in Matthew 28:19.  I have no doubt that the method was invented to provide a useful way for disciples to share the gospel with sinners in a quick and easy way.

Yet with this method (and many other methods I see these days), I see a major flaw.  In this case the emphasis on your own personal story of how you came to Christ.  It is designed to help you share Jesus quickly by using your own testimony to point the sinner to the hope that is found in Christ.

But the problem is that testimonies often are very subjected.  The major flaw is the lack of biblical content.  The Bible is what we should be quoting (even quickly) to sinners.  While I rejoice that each of us who are disciples of Jesus have testimonies of His grace and His mercy, each of us are different and often we don’t quote Scripture while sharing our testimony and thus it becomes our subjective view of Christ compared to the sinners view of Christ.  The Bible is the revealed Word of God that the Holy Spirit has given to His Church to preach the gospel with (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Notice that Paul the Apostle didn’t tell Timothy to share his testimony in 2 Timothy 4:2 but to preach the Word.  The Word of God is what brings conviction as it cuts both believers and unbelievers to the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Paul further preached in Romans 10:14-17 that it is the supernatural revelation of the Word of God that produces saving faith.  Notice his words by the Spirit (NASB):

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

It is the divine revelation of the Word of God that produces saving faith.  It is not our testimony or pointing to natural (or general) revelation that saves.  It is the power of God’s Word that points sinners to the Savior and to their salvation (Psalm 19:7).

I believe then that what is needed is more quoting from the Word of God when witnessing to the lost.  If the Word of God is effective for destroying the lies of Satan (Matthew 4:1-13), how much more is it useful for destroying the lies of the world and the flesh (Romans 3:19-20).  The Law of God (the Word of God) is our tutor (NASB) to bring us to Christ so that the Law shows us our sins and reveals to us our need for justification by faith in Christ alone (Galatians 3:24).  1 Peter 1:23 (NASB) reads:

for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

It is the preaching of the supernatural, inerrant, infallible Word of God that brings true salvation.  I pray that I would quote the Word of God more and more in my own witnessing and you would as well.  Let us preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

Common Sense Evangelism Tips

Here are a few common sense evangelism tips I have gleamed over the years.  I’m sure that we all who love Jesus and preach Him to the lost could add many more to this short list.

  1. Preach Christ above all other things. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  2. Don’t get into vein arguments over points that do not matter (Bible translations, baptism issues, theological points not necessary for salvation).  2 Timothy 2:24-25.
  3. Use the Law to reveal the sinner’s sin (Romans 7:7) but don’t spend all your time on the Law without pointing sinners to the truth of justification by faith (Galatians 3:24).
  4. Keep breath mints nearby.  No one likes smelly breath especially when you are giving someone the eternal truth of God.
  5. Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in this life such as sports teams, politics, social ills.  Make the gospel the focus.  Let the gospel deal with the sinner’s sin.  That is what matters.
  6. Depend on the Holy Spirit and not your own wisdom (John 16:8-11).  The Bible promises us that the Spirit will empower us (Acts 1:8) to be effective witnesses for Christ.
  7. Trust God to bring forth the fruit of our evangelism (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
  8. Pray!  1 Timothy 2:1-6.
  9. Fill your witnessing with Scripture.  Scripture brings conversion (Psalm 19:7 NKJV).  Scripture is the supernatural revelation of God that He uses to reveal His Son to the lost (John 20:31) and Isaiah 55:11 promises that God’s Word will bring forth the results He desires.  Furthermore, Scripture brings forth faith (Romans 10:17).  Scripture is the disciple’s only weapon (Ephesians 6:17).
  10. Don’t answer fools with their own foolishness (Proverbs 26:4).
  11. Recognize that people, by nature, do not want God (Romans 3:10-18).  People will naturally reject God and His reign over us.  We must preach the gospel to them despite their rebellion (Romans 1:16-17).
  12. When I take people through the Ten Commandments, I admit that I too have violated these laws.  Admit our sins.  Admit that we too need Christ both before our salvation and even now (John 15:1-11).  I have no trouble admitting to sinners that I still need Christ but I am walking in repentance (1 John 2:1-2).
  13. People often will try to change the subject when they either don’t have an answer for us or they are under conviction.  Don’t give in to this tactic.  Keep the focus on the gospel and on the sinner’s guilt before God.  Don’t let the person try to get you to explain the Trinity or why God didn’t heal their grandmother.  Focus on Christ and His glory.
  14. When dealing with the self-righteous, use the Law.  Ray Comfort calls this “grace to the humble, law to the proud.”  The law shuts people’s self-righteous mouths (Romans 3:19-20).
  15.  Lastly, no two people are the same.  We must depend on the Spirit to guide us when witnessing just as He did the disciples in the book of Acts (Acts 8:29).  I have had witnessing encounters with people that went great while others did not go great.  We must simply let God lead us and guide us.  He is faithful to do this for His passion is for souls (Matthew 28:19).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/15/2014 at 10:57 AM

Arminius on the Preaching of the Law

Here Arminius states how God brings sinners to repentance.  Notice that Arminius affirms that it is through the Law that sinners repent of their sins.

The instrumental causes which God ordinarily uses for our conversion, and by which we are solicited and led to repentance, are the law and the gospel. Yet the office of each in this matter is quite distinct, so that the more excellent province in it is assigned to the gospel, and the law acts the part of its servant or attendant. For, in the first place, the very command to repent is evangelical; and the promise of pardon, and the peremptory threat of eternal destruction, unless the man repents, which are added to it, belong peculiarly to the gospel. (Matt. iii, 1; Mark i, 4; Luke xxiv, 47.) But the law proves the necessity of repentance, by convincing man of sin and of the anger of the offended Deity, from which conviction arise a certain sorrow and a fear of punishment, which, in its commencement is servile or slavish solely through a regard to the law, but which, in its progress, becomes a filial fear through a view of the gospel. (Rom. iii, 13, 20; vii, 7.) From these, also, proceed, by the direction of an inducement to remove, or repent, a certain external abstinence from evil works, and such a performance of some righteousness as is not hypocritical. (Matt. iii, 8; vii, 17; James ii, 14-26.) But as the law does not proceed beyond “the ministration of death and of the letter,” the services of the gospel here again become necessary, which administers the Spirit, by whose illumination, inspiration and gracious and efficacious strengthening, repentance itself, in its essential and integral parts is completed and perfected. Nay the very conviction of sin belongs in some measure to the gospel, since sin itself has been committed against the command both concerning faith and repentance. (Mark xvi, 16; John xvi, 8- 15.)

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/23/2013 at 6:47 PM

John Calvin on 1 Timothy 1:9

1 Timothy 1:9 reads:

Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers.

John Calvin’s comments on this verse are well worth reading:

The apostle did not intend to argue about the whole office of the law, but views it in reference to men. It frequently happens that they who wish to be regarded as the greatest zealots for the law, give evidence by their whole life that they are the greatest despisers of it. A remarkable and striking instance of this is found in those who maintain the righteousness of works and defend free-will. They have continually in their mouth these words, “Perfect holiness, merits, satisfactions;” but their whole life cries out against them, that they are outrageously wicked and ungodly, that they provoke in every possible way the wrath of God, and fearlessly set his judgment at naught. They extol in lofty terms the free choice of good and evil; but they openly shew, by their actions, that they are the slaves of Satan, and are most firmly held by him in the chains of slavery.

Having such adversaries, in order to restrain their haughty insolence, Paul remonstrates that the law is, as it were, the sword of God to slay them; and that neither he nor any like him have reason for viewing the law with dread or aversion; for it is not opposed to righteous persons, that is, to the godly and to those who willingly obey God. I am well aware that some learned men draw an ingenious sense out of these words; as if Paul were treating theologically about the nature of “the law.” They argue that the law has nothing to do with the sons of God, who have been regenerated by the Spirit; because it was not given for righteous persons. But the connection in which these words occur shuts me up to the necessity of giving a more simple interpretation to this statement. He takes for granted the well-known sentiment, that “from bad manners have sprung good laws,” and maintains that the law of God was given in order to restrain the licentiousness of wicked men; because they who are good of their own accord do not need the authoritative injunction of the law.

A question now arises, “Is there any mortal man who does not belong to this class?” I reply, in this passage Paul gives the appellation “righteous” to those who are not absolutely perfect, (for no such person will be found,) but who, with the strongest desire of their heart, aim at what is good; so that godly desire is to them a kind of voluntary law, without any motive or restraint from another quarter. He therefore wished to repress the impudence of adversaries, who armed themselves with the name of “the law” against godly men, whose whole life exhibits the actual role of the law, since they had very great need of the law, and yet did not care much about it; which is more clearly expressed by the opposite clause. If there be any who refuse to admit that Paul brings an implied or indirect charge against his adversaries as guilty of those wicked acts which he enumerates, still it will be acknowledged to be a simple repelling of the slander; and if they were animated by a sincere and unfeigned zeal for the law, they ought rather to have made use of their armor for carrying on war with offenses and crimes, instead of employing it as a pretext for their own ambition and silly talking.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/31/2013 at 8:00 AM

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Defining Sin in Evangelism

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this:

There is no true evangelism without the doctrine of sin, and without an understanding of what sin is.  I do not want to be unfair, but I say that a gospel which merely says, ‘Come to Jesus,’ and offers Him as a Friend, and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism.  The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the Law; and it is because the Law has not been preached that we have had so much superficial evangelism.  True evangelism must always start by preaching the Law.

Without the Law, the sinner does not tremble before a holy God and declare they have sinned against Him alone (Psalm 51:4).  The Law shows us our sins (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and the Law reveals that we are in need of a Savior (Romans 7:7).  The Law shows us that we deserve the just wrath of God against our sins for we have violated His Law (1 John 3:4).  Our own conscience bears witness against us that we have sinned by breaking His commandments (Romans 2:14-16).  The Law is never meant to save us but just to reveal our sinfulness and our guilt so that we might come to Christ Jesus by faith to receive forgiveness of our sins (Galatians 3:23-26).

I pray that more and more evangelists will preach the Law of God and convict sinners hearts.  To the humble and broken, preach grace.  To the proud and foolish, preach the Law.

HT: Ray Comfort, God Has A Wonderful Plan for Your Life.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/30/2013 at 2:45 PM

%d bloggers like this: