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Evangelism

Information to help Christians share their faith and to share it accurately.

Index Of Evangelism Articles:

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Inspirational Street Preaching Evangelism Quotes

Inspirational Street Preaching Evangelism Quotes

christian-street-preacher-evangelist-17a

 

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” – Luke 14:23

 
“Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world.” – William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army
 
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.” – John Wesley
 
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one GO there UNWARNED and UNPRAYED for.” – Charles Spurgeon
 
“I’d rather have people hate me with the knowledge that I tried to save them.” – Keith Green
 

“The church that does not evangelize will fossilize.” – Oswald J. Smith

 
“No sort of defense is needed for preaching outdoors, but it would take a very strong argument to prove that a man who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse has done his duty. A defense is required for services within buildings rather than for worship outside of them.” – William Booth
 
“It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?” – John Wesley
 
“Preach abroad….It is the cooping yourselves up in rooms that has dampened the work of God, which never was and never will be carried out to any purpose without going into the highways and hedges and compelling men and women to come in.” – Jonathan Edwards
 
“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment.” – Jonathan Edwards
 
“I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields…I now preach to ten times more people than I would if I had been confined to the churches.” – George Whitfield
 
“I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.” John Wesley
 
“Lord, make me a crisis man. Let me not be a mile- post on a single road, but make me a fork that men must turn one way or another in facing Christ in me.” – Jim Elliot
 
“Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“Make it an object of constant study, and of daily reflection and prayer, to learn how to deal with sinners so as to promote their conversion.” – Charles G. Finney
 

“We can speak appropriately and please men. Or we can trust God and risk everything.” – Art Katz

 
“It is to be ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell. O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in!” – Jonathan Edwards
 
“Make it an object of constant study, and of daily reflection and prayer, to learn how to deal with sinners so as to promote their conversion.” – Charles G. Finney
 
“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end!” – William Booth
 
“Isn’t it staggering when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? And we had some cities yesterday where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“Ministers often preach about the Gospel instead of preaching the Gospel. They often preach about sinners instead of preaching to them.” – Charles Finney
 
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through atonement, and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-ax and weapons of war.” – C. H. Spurgeon
 
“Christian people, are you figuring round and round to get a little property, yet neglecting souls? Beware lest you ruin souls that can never live again! Do you say — I thought they knew it all? They reply to you, “I did not suppose you believed a word of it yourselves. You did not act as if you did. Are you going to heaven? Well, I am going down to hell! There is no help for me now. You will sometimes think of me then, as you shall see the smoke of my woe rising up darkly athwart the glorious heavens. After I have been there a long, long time, you will sometimes think that I, who once lived by your side, am there. O remember, you cannot pray for me then; but you will remember that once you might have warned and might have saved me.” – Charles G. Finney
 
“Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can as long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
 
“Apostolic preaching is not marked by its beautiful diction, or literary polish, or Cleverness of expression, but Operates in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” – Arthur Wallis
 
“It is not the bigness of the words you utter, but the force with which you deliver them” – C. H. Spurgeon
 
“In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the Law, doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.” – John Bunyan
 
“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.” – William Tyndale
 
“The man who does not know the nature of the Law, cannot know the nature of sin.” – John Bunyan
 
“Rash preaching, disgusts; timid preaching, leaves poor souls fast asleep; bold preaching is the only preaching that is owned of God” – Rowland Hill
 

“If you’re not meeting the Devil head on, then you’re going in the same direction” – Billy Sunday

 
“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” – George Whitefield
 
“It is imperative that preachers of today learn how to declare the spiritual law of God; for, until we learn how to wound consciences, we shall have no wounds to bind with Gospel bandages.” – Walter Chantry
 
“It is either all of Christ or none of Christ! I believe we need to preach again a whole Christ to the world–a Christ who does not need our apologies, a Christ who will not be divided, a Christ who will either be Lord of all or will not be Lord at all!” – A. W. Tozer
 
(Speaking of the Holy Spirit coming upon him:) “I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world – it would be as dust in the balance.” – D. L. Moody
 
“Finney preached and sometimes the whole congregation would get up and leave! That‟s good preaching.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“He with whom the ministry is a secondary thing, may be a correct, a learned, an elegant, even an oratorical, but will never be a powerful preacher.” – J. W. Alexander
 
“Preach not calmly and quietly as though you were asleep, but preach with fire and pathos and passion.” – C. H. Spurgeon
 
“I would say that a „dull preacher‟ is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher.” – David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
 
“The great reason why we have so little good preaching is that we have so little piety. To be eloquent one must be in earnest; he must not only act as if he were in earnest, or try to be in earnest, but be in earnest.” – C. H. Spurgeon
 
“Would ministers preach for eternity! They would then act the part of true Christian orators, and not only calmly and coolly inform the understanding, but, by persuasive, pathetic address, endeavor to move the affections and warm the heart.” – George Whitefield
 
“Unless we have the spirit of the prophets resting upon us, the mantle which we wear is nothing but a rough garment to deceive. We ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit of God rests not upon us.” – C. H. Spurgeon
 
“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us – so everyone was happy.” – Richard Wurmbrand
 
“Should I comfort those who do not mourn?” Some preachers are too quick and too willing to hand out pardons to sinners who do not mourn over their crimes!” – John Fletcher
 
“Art thou ready, Oh preacher, to take the consequences of letting the Lord speak through thee as He will?” – Keith Daniel
 
“Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment.” – John Wesley
 
“The kind of sermon which is likely to break the hearer‟s heart is that which first has broken the preacher‟s heart, and the sermon which is likely to reach the heart of the hearer is the one which has come straight from the heart of the preacher.” – Charles Spurgeon
 
“Preach 90% Law and 10% grace.” – John Wesley
 

“The preacher’s work is to throw sinners down into utter helplessness that they may be compelled to look up to Him who alone can help them.” – Charles Spurgeon

 
“The God of holiness and eternal majesty is hardly mentioned these days. The preachers used to declare with holy boldness to the pew dwellers, “You are lost.” Today it is, “You are loved.” It takes living men to deliver the living Word. Unless the preachers walk in the fear of the Lord and step out of eternity into the pulpits, the spiritual life of the nation will continue in its descent to weakness and finally apostasy.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“The power that is in the Gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher, otherwise men would be the converters of souls, nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning, otherwise it would consist in the wisdom of men. We might preach until our tongues rotted, till we would exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless the Holy Spirit be with the Word of God to give it the power to convert.” – Kevin Turner
 
“A wet eyed preacher will never preach dry sermons” – Leonard Ravenhill
 

“The preachers are the greatest problem in the United States of America.” – Paul Washer

 
“Shouldst thou not weep over such a people, and should not thy tears interrupt thy words? Shouldst thou not cry aloud, and show them their transgressions; and entreat and beseech them as for life and death?” – Richard Baxter
 
“The world will never believe in a religion in which there is no power. A rationalized faith, a socialized church, and a moralized gospel may gain applause, but they awaken no conviction and win no converts.” – Samuel Chadwick
 
“If you release me today, I’ll preach tomorrow,” – John Bunyan (while imprisoned as a non-conformist)
 
“Preach abroad…It is the cooping yourselves up in rooms that has damped the work of God, which never was and never will be carried out to any purpose without going out into the highways and hedges and compelling them to come in.” – John Wesley
 
“May the Lord send us prophets – terrible men, who cry aloud and spare not, who sprinkle nations with unctionized woes – men too hot to hold, too hard to be heard, too merciless to spare.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“Some men will spin out a long prayer telling God who and what he is, or they pray out a whole system of divinity. Some people preach, others exhort the people, till everybody wishes they would stop, and God wishes so, too, most undoubtedly.” – Charles Finney
 
“Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.” – D. L. Moody
 
“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.” – E. M. Bounds
 
“The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe.” – D. L. Moody
 

“If you have no wish to bring others to heaven, you are not going there yourself.” – C. H. Spurgeon

 
“Isn’t it staggering when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? And we had some cities yesterday where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” – Leonard Ravenhill
 
“Make it an object of constant study, and of daily reflection and prayer, to learn how to deal with sinners so as to promote their conversion.” – Charles G. Finney
 
“Who cares who frowns, if God smiles.” – Catherine Booth
 
“Whenever you find a preacher who takes the Bible allegorically and figuratively…that preacher is preaching an allegorical gospel which is no gospel. I thank God for a literal Christ, for a literal salvation. There is literal sorrow, literal death, literal Hell, and, thank God, there is a literal Heaven.” – J. Frank Norris
 
“In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the Law, doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.” – John Bunyan
 
“I set myself on FIRE, they come to watch me burn.” – Wesley
 
“What marvel the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit But where is my zeal, if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?” – John Wesley
 
“It is not our strength we want. It is not our work to make them believe. That is the work of the Spirit. Our work is to give them the Word of God. I cannot convert men; I can only proclaim the Gospel” – D. L. Moody
 
“God had an only Son and he made him a missionary.” – David Livingstone
 
“You have one business on earth – to save souls.” – John Wesley
 
“Brethren, do something; do something, do something! While societies and unions make constitutions, let us win souls. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suvarov’s idea of war is mine: `Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form a column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy! Our one aim is to win souls; and this we are not to talk about, but do in the power of God!’” – Charles Spurgeon
 


 

The Law – A Much Needed Tool for Evangelism

The Law – A Much Needed Tool for Evangelism

By William Hatfield

 
Most believers want that old time-religion, that first-century faith that shook the Roman Empire to its very foundations. It’s good enough for us! We want to be like that vibrant early church. We want to see our world turned upside down with the Gospel of Christ.
 
Sadly, although we long for that old-time religion, we seriously deviate from that old-time evangelism. For decades we have omitted an element of it that the Lord Jesus Christ, His apostles, and one of our most esteemed Baptist forefathers deemed important enough to include. This is especially ironic, considering that much of the evangelical church emphasizes praying for worldwide revival.
 
I am writing to call us back to this powerful implement in soul-winning: the Ten Commandments, which I will refer to as the Law of God, the Decalogue, and the Commandments. Unlike most of modern Christendom, the premier evangelists of all time used the Law in their efforts to reach the lost. This article will, by the grace of God, demonstrate that fact and present a methodology of doing it in today’s setting.
 

What the Law Cannot Do

 
To avoid misunderstanding, I must first underscore that the Commandments cannot save from sin. Obeying them will not make one right in the sight of Holy God, for they were designed for no such purpose. Gal. 3:11 declares that the Commandments do not acquit one of the charge of sin: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident.”
 
If that were not enough, Rom. 3:20 likewise thunders this truth in crystal-clear language: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”
 
Anyone who counts on his obedience to the Decalogue to get him to heaven is as doomed as one who defends himself against an enraged grizzly bear with a B-B gun. To trust the Law to make one acceptable to the Lord is an utterly false hope.
 

What the Law Can Do

 
Even so, Holy Scripture asserts that God’s Law has three uses. This article is concerned only with the pedagogical (theological) use–its utilization in evangelism. Rom. 3:20 ends by describing this use: “for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.”
 
Although it cannot save him, it can show him that he needs to be saved. It teaches man that he is a hopelessly lost and undone sinner. It performs this wondrous task by teaching him what sin is–the breaking of it (1 John 3:4, which defines sin, literally, as “lawlessness”)–and making him realize that his life falls short of what God demands–perfection.
 
It may come as a great surprise to many Christians, but few lost people know what sin is. They do not have a clue. Western civilization is fast approaching the paganism of the first century, and, except in rural areas, Christian influence upon those outside the church is a thing of the past. Far more pervasive and powerful is the influence of pop culture. Many movies trivialize theft by portraying robbers in a very sympathetic light, even as heroes. The police on TV cop shows are as sexually immoral as the cocaine dealers they pursue. Magazines like Time and Newsweek, rock and country-western music, TV sitcoms, and even government agencies condition people to view promiscuity and homosexuality as morally neutral or even good.
 
Consequently, the concept of sin is an empty bucket to most unbelievers–it contains very little meaning. The images it conjures up in their minds, if any, encompass only the most heinous crimes: murder (with an exception for abortion, of course), rape, and child molesting.
 
Neither do non-Christians have any inkling how terribly evil sin is in the sight of Holy God. They do not consider such matters as coveting or children disobeying parents to be what they are: abominable sins, high-handed treason against the Almighty. Consequently, man needs an objective standard to teach him not only what sin is, but also how bad it is.
 
Thankfully, the Lord has provided just such a criterion: His holy Law. As the unbeliever compares his life to its demands, he finds that, try as he may, he can never measure up to its strict requirements. If he strives ever more to obey it, he only falls farther short. It is a slave driver who cannot be pleased, for it allows no room for error. The sinner is like a high jumper who runs for the bar and leaps with all his might, only to realize that the bar is five hundred feet above the ground. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot even come close.
 
It then begins to dawn on the non-Christian that the taskmaster he serves makes a demand that, even at his best, he cannot meet: moral perfection. He begins to despair of ever saving himself. He agonizes, “Is there any hope for me?” The Law has done its job. It has plowed the soil of his heart. It has exposed the evil that he long overlooked, and he is now ready as never before to hear of the love and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on behalf of sinners. Gal. 3:24 explains: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
 
The mercy of Christ and the freeness of grace appear wonderfully precious when set against the backdrop of the Law. The Law cannot save the sinner, but it can drive him to despair of attempting to save himself and can direct him to turn to the only one who can. It can be his teacher to bring him to Christ, that he might be justified by faith.
 

Christ Used the Law Evangelistically

 
Let us now examine how the premier evangelists of all time used the Law to reach the lost. We will begin by considering how the Son of God employed it in His encounter with the man known as the rich young ruler in Matt. 19:16-22. For years I puzzled over Christ’s approach in dealing with this individual. Why, when asked a question that would thrill the heart of any Christian–“What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”–did He quote from the Decalogue, rather than exhorting him to trust in Him?
 
The answer is simple. The Lord Jesus was using the Law to show the ruler that he fell short of God’s standard of righteousness. In verse 17 our Savior called the man to recognize the unique goodness of God (His holiness). In the next two verses He applied the Law to him in a general manner by walking him through its Second Table (the commandments concerning one’s conduct toward his fellow man). When the ruler responded that he had obeyed all these, the Lord narrowed His focus and applied the Law more specifically in verse 21. He preceded His demand for radical discipleship (“come and follow me”) by commands to sell all his possessions and to donate the proceeds to the poor.
 
Christ was not teaching salvation by self-denial, but, rather, was making the ruler aware that he had by no means kept the Commandments. Indeed, he had flagrantly violated the First–his real god was his possessions–and the Tenth–he was quite covetous and materialistic. The sinner was then face to face with his own failure to live up to the Law’s demands. In this manner Christ used the Law to show him that he was guilty in the eyes of Holy God.
 
Now let us turn our attention to Christ’s dealing with the Samaritan woman in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John. Rather than merely asking her, “You know you’re a sinner, don’t you?,” our Savior wisely made her face a Law of God that she had broken repeatedly. In verses 16-18 He instructed her to call her husband, then reminded her that she had had five husbands and was living in adultery with a sixth. In so doing He was making her realize that she had violated the Seventh Commandment and therefore stood condemned before the Lord. When she, unlike the rich young ruler who turned away, showed more interest in the person of Christ, He revealed to her that He was indeed the Messiah (verse 26), the Redeemer of Jew and Samaritan alike. Her subsequent actions indicate than she came into a saving relationship with Him by faith.
 
The Son of God brilliantly used the Law as a search light to show the lost their sin. This by itself is reason enough for us to do likewise. But He was not the only one in the pages of the New Testament to employ it in this manner.
 

The Apostles Used the Law Evangelistically

 
Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40) contains another prime example of the Law employed in soul-winning. This time the audience was a huge one: Jews from all over the Roman Empire. The Apostle charged them with murdering none other than the promised Messiah. In verse 23 he declared, “Him [Jesus of Nazareth]…ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
 
In verse 36 he hit them again with the same accusation: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” In this terrible act of violence they had transgressed the Sixth Commandment. They stood guilty in the eyes of the Lord, with nowhere to turn. This was a sledgehammer blow that shattered the imagined righteousness of those who knew the Law well. The Decalogue was a vital portion of a message that the Holy Spirit used to call about three thousand souls into the kingdom of God.
 
Next, notice Paul’s soul-winning message in Acts 17:22-31. This time the hearers were people who apparently knew nothing of the true God or His Law: pagan Greek philosophers. The Apostle spent the bulk of his message enlightening them about the nature of their Maker. He declared that God created all that is (verse 24), then verbally slapped their faces with their failure to keep their Creator’s Law. Paul made his audience face their violation of God’s prohibition against the worship of idols. In verses 25 (“[God] neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything”) and 29 (“We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device”) he did little more than state and explain a Commandment that is basic to the nature of true religion. The Second Commandment says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
 
Even though these people probably knew nothing of the God of Israel or His Commandments, for them to break it was sin nevertheless. Their ignorance did not excuse them, and the Almighty demanded that they repent of their wickedness (verse 30). Gloriously, several did just that!
 

Spurgeon Used the Law Evangelistically

 
Finally, let us consider the words of a great man who diligently followed the examples of his greater predecessors. Charles H. Spurgeon, one of our most esteemed Baptist forefathers, asserted:

We usually draw a distinction between law-work and gospel-work; but law-work is the work of the Spirit of God, and is so far a true gospel-work that it is a frequent preliminary to the joy and peace of the gospel. The law is the needle, which draws after it the silken thread of blessing, and you cannot get the thread into the stuff without the needle: men do not receive the liberty wherewith Christ makes them free till, first of all, they have felt bondage within their own spirit driving them to cry for liberty to the great Emancipator.

Spurgeon regarded the Decalogue to be highly effective in evangelism. Modern Baptists and indeed all Christians would do well to heed his admonition.
 
The Son of God and His apostles used the Decalogue in their efforts to reach the lost. So did one of the greatest soul-winners since their day. If it was good enough for them, it certainly should be for us! I do not believe that we can improve on their methodology.
 

We Should Use the Law Evangelistically

 
How do we use the Law in evangelism? Here is a method that I have developed through study of the Scripture and refined through many witnessing encounters. My goal is to make the sinner face the guilt he has incurred before Holy God by using the Law to show him a few specific sins he has committed. I try to do this as humbly, tactfully, and graciously as I can. My desire is that the heavy weight of his sins will become so real to him that, when I then present Christ as his only hope of salvation, he will gladly flee into His loving arms.
 
Because few non-Christians have any idea that God is holy, that is where I begin:

God is holy (Hab. 1:13, Rev. 15:4). That means He is pure. Sinless. He never does anything wrong. We say, “Nobody’s perfect,” but that’s not true of God. He is perfect! And one day everyone will stand before Him to give account of everything he did on earth.

Then I move to man’s sin:

We need to know what this holy God expects of us, and He tells us in the Ten Commandments. Some of these are `Honor thy father and thy mother,’ `Thou shalt not bear false witness,’ and `Thou shalt not covet.’ If you have ever disobeyed your parents, lied, or lusted after something that was not yours, even just one time, you have broken God’s Law. Breaking it is what the Bible calls sin (1 John 3:4).

I then ask my friend if he has broken any of them (no one has yet told me that he has kept them all). I am praying that he will begin to see that there is a huge gulf between his righteousness and that of the Lord.
 
I try to tailor my approach to the individual. The above paragraphs outline witnessing to a child using the commandments he is most likely to break: the Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth. If I am sharing the Gospel with a prison inmate who was convicted of robbery, I emphasize the Eighth–“If you have ever taken something that was not yours…”, if with someone who thinks he is morally good, the Ninth and Tenth coupled with James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all,” and if with a promiscuous person, the Seventh.
 
I then warn him that he, as well as all people, has offended this holy God and is condemned in His sight. The Almighty is angry with him because of his sins. Even if he somehow could stop sinning, that would not erase the guilt of his past transgressions. Unless something is done to remove them, God will one day judge and sentence him to eternal punishment (Rev. 20:11-15). I stress that God would be perfectly fair to send us to hell, because we are guilty–we have real, actual, genuine guilt. We cannot honestly claim to be innocent.
 
At this point I try to get him to admit again his own sinfulness. I am praying that he, like the man Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, will begin to see the huge load of sins he carries as it is: something that will press him into hell unless removed. Then I share the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus and exhort him to repent of his sins and to trust in Him alone. What I hope to see is the godly sorrow for sins that culminates in heart repentance and faith.
 

A Tangible Benefit of Using the Law Evangelistically

 
What practical effect does using the Decalogue as a witnessing tool have? A concern of mine as a pastor is the large number of supposed converts who show no lasting fruit of salvation. Although they can remember “the day and the hour,” their lives are not the slightest bit different from what they were before they professed faith. Their normal way of life has no place for God, His Bible, or His people, and they seem perfectly at home in sin.
 
Wishing not to increase the ranks of these poor deceived souls, but, rather, to see genuine converts, I have found using the Law in witnessing to be of significant benefit. My experience has been that, although this approach does not eliminate false professions, it greatly reduces them. A much higher percentage of those claiming to be saved under this methodology remain faithful to the Lord over the long haul.
 

Conclusion

 
It is my prayer and fervent hope that Southern Baptists, with our passion for soul-winning, will set the pace for the evangelical community in reviving the use of this powerful instrument. Anyone who seeks to obey Christ’s imperative to witness should give it serious consideration. May we once again employ this wonderful, God-ordained method of doing evangelism. Employing the Ten Commandments to lead men to Christ will help us to accomplish the Great Commission in a way that is guaranteed to honor the Lord.
 

Why We Don’t Use The Altar Call

Why We Don’t Use The Altar Call

By Laurence A. Justice

 

An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to “come forward and accept Christ as your Savior.” Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call.

 

Like many of you I grew up in churches which used the invitation system and in the early years of my ministry I used it myself before finally seeing its implications and its inconsistency with God’s grace. In those years we sang verse after verse of invitation hymns like “Just As I Am” and we sometimes sang on for an hour or more trying to get people to come forward. I once had an evangelist in a church where I pastored and his entire program consisted of night after night telling sob story after sob story climaxing with the saddest one of all and then giving an invitation to come to the front and accept Christ.

 

So firmly entrenched has the altar call become in our modern churches that I have had people ask me on several occasions, How can people be saved if you don’t give an invitation? Preachers who do not give altar calls are often criticized as not being evangelistic.

 

We do not have an altar call in the services of our church! We do not extend an invitation at the close of our services for people to make some kind of physical demonstration that they are trusting Christ. What I shall do in this sermon is explain just why we don’t! First of all we do not do it 

 

Because God’s Word Does Not Teach the Altar Call

 

It is vitally important in this practice as in all others that we look closely at the scriptures to find what they teach about this practice. As we do we find that the invitation is never commanded in God’s word. Search the scriptures as you will, there is no command in any scripture for us to use this method. Not only this, there is no precedent in scripture for using the altar call. The Lord Jesus never in his earthly ministry gave an invitation. The apostles of our Lord never in all their ministries used the altar call. 

 

In Acts 2:36-37 we are told that at Pentecost 3,000 people were saved but no altar call was used. The saving of those 3,000 was the work of the Holy Spirit of God and not of clever emotional appeals to come to the front of the meeting place. Whatever reasons one may give for using the altar call, it is a fact that it cannot be supported from the word of God.

 

As we have already pointed out, some people believe and teach that if one does not give an invitation in connection with his sermon he is not evangelistic. But we cannot be more evangelistic than the New Testament and the altar call or invitation system is not to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Actually having an altar call is a departure from scriptural requirements and practice.

 

In the New Testament and in Christian history up until the year 1820 AD sinners were invited to Christ, not to decide at the end of a sermon whether to perform some physical action. You will search Christian history in vain for an altar call or invitation before about 1820. George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist perhaps of all time never used the altar call. Charles Spurgeon under whose preaching more people were saved than perhaps any other pastor over the centuries never gave an invitation.

 

Well, where did the altar call come from if God’s word doesn’t teach it? The answer is that the altar call is a human invention that is less than 200 years old. 

 

It is generally recognized that the altar call was invented by a Presbyterian evangelist named Charles G. Finney who lived from 1792-1875. Finney referred to the altar call as coming to the anxious seat or to the inquiry room and began using it in his evangelistic services in about 1820. Did the churches do it all wrong in the matter of evangelism until Finney came along in 1820 with his new system? How were people saved during the 1800 years of Christian history before the advent of Charles G. Finney? Evangelist D.L. Moody took Finney’s altar call and refined it and in turn it was passed on to its modern champion, Billy Graham.

 

In a paper he wrote called “The Christian,” Billy Graham defends his use of the invitation system by resorting, not to the scriptures but to psychology when he says concerning the invitation, “Many psychologists would say it is psychologically sound.” Biblical practices do not need the endorsement of psychology! There is absolutely no biblical authority for this practice! Yet today virtually all evangelists and pastors and churches use the altar call or invitation system.

 

Second, our church does not use the altar call or invitation system 

 

Because the Altar Call Contradicts the Great Doctrines of God’s Grace

 

1. It contradicts the Bible doctrine of the depravity or the inability of man.

 

God’s word teaches that because of the fall of Adam into sin man is by nature spiritually dead. As Paul states it in Ephesians 2:1 man is “dead in trespasses and sins.” A man who is spiritually dead can do nothing spiritual. He can’t even will to repent of sin and trust in Christ. He is dead!

 

God’s word teaches that because of their depravity men are helpless to save or help save themselves. This means that there is absolutely nothing a sinner can do to save himself or prepare himself for salvation. Spiritually dead sinners can never come to Christ until God calls them with a special, powerful, effectual call. This is what the Lord Jesus is talking about in John 6:44 when He says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” or literally, No man is able or has the power to come to me except the Father draw him.”

 

Charles Finney, the inventor of the altar call, was a Pelagian in theology. Pelagianism is a damnable heresy which teaches that the fall of man in sin did not actually make him dead in sin. It is true man was damaged by the fall but he was not ruined by it this heresy says. Finney’s idea was that man is just sick in sin but he still has within him the ability to obey God and be pleasing to Him.

 

In his book “Systematic Theology” Finney says that man can do anything God requires of him and that all he needs to do so is to be induced to do so. Thus according to Finney man has a free will and has within him the ability to repent and to believe. This thinking of course squarely contradicts the Bible doctrine of man’s inability.

2. Secondly the altar call contradicts the biblical order of salvation.

 

The whole question of the altar call or invitation can be reduced to the order of salvation. The word of God teaches that in the order of salvation, regeneration precedes conversion. In John 3:3 for example the Lord Jesus says that only those who are born again can see or comprehend or understand or appreciate the kingdom of God or spiritual things. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born againhe cannot see the kingdom of God.” God’s word makes clear that the Holy Spirit in the new birth enables a sinner to trust in Christ.

 

Arminians on the other hand say that one must believe or be converted in order to be regenerated. In his great booklet “The Invitation System” Iain Murray quotes Billy Graham as saying that we are “made alive by trust in Christ.” This of course is just the opposite of what God’s word teaches about the order of salvation being regeneration and then faith and conversion.

 

In the same booklet Murray quotes Graham concerning Graham’s own conversion. “They were singing the last verse of the song when I went forward. That first step was the hardest I ever took in my life. But when I took it, God did the rest” and “the rest” in Graham’s thinking is the new birth! In this way of thinking poor God can’t do anything for a sinner until the sinner takes the first step!

 

If, as God’s word clearly teaches, regeneration must come before conversion in the order of salvation then the invitation system must be given up as contradictory to God’s word!

 

3. Thirdly, the altar call contradicts the gospel way of salvation by coming to Christ.

 

The gospel is not, do something physical and if you will, you will be saved! The gospel is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” The duty of sinners is not to come to the front of the building but to believe in Christ! To be saved sinners must come to Christ which means believe in Christ. 

 

The Lord Jesus Himself says in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Think about it! No one can now come to Christ with his feet because Christ is no longer physically present on this earth. Christ is not down here at the front of this church auditorium anymore than he is back there in the pew or outside in the parking lot or out on your back porch. As someone else has said, the fountain of life is not in front of the pulpit in some church building. The fountain of life is Christ Himself!

 

We don’t have to move a muscle to totally commit ourselves to the safe keeping of Christ the Savior for salvation. The altar call implies at least and it is often specifically stated that by coming to the front of a church building or some other auditorium at some preacher’s invitation, the one who comes becomes a Christian.

 

To those who practice the altar call salvation is equated with getting people to occupy a certain piece of geography at the front of a building. In doing this they effectively limit the sphere of God’s saving activity to a few square feet at the front of some building. My friend John Hunter of Anniston, Alabama calls this locational salvation because it makes the front of the church auditorium the location where people must go to be saved.

 

At Billy Graham’s first London Crusade he said one night in giving the invitation, “Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. It’s a long way but Christ went all the way to the cross because he loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps and give your life to Him.” God’s word however does not teach that one is saved by changing his location but by believing in his heart!

 

4. Fourthly, the altar call contradicts the Bible doctrine of salvation by grace without works.

 

Biblical salvation is not of works. It is not by doing something, anything at all. Instead it is by grace through faith according to Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of GodNot of works, lest any man should boast.” Faith itself is the gift of God and not the accomplishment or contribution of man to salvation. Colossians 2:12 calls faith “the operation of God” and Philippians 1:29 calls it a gift given. “For unto you it is givento believe on him…”

 

Under the invitation system the idea constantly presented by the preacher is that the step forward is of great spiritual importance. Faith is presented as something a man does in order to be saved. Believing in Christ is identified with coming to the front of the church building in response to the preacher’s appeal. But making an outward response the same thing as receiving Christ adds a condition of salvation that Christ Jesus never appointed. Works is the necessary evidence of salvation, not the prior condition of it. The altar call satisfies man’s natural desire to do something to save or help save himself.

5. Fifth, it contradicts the Bible doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

 

Sola Scriptura means the scriptures only and it recognizes that God’s written word gives us everything we need for all matters of faith and practice. There is nothing God wants us to know or to do that is not found in His written word. According to II Timothy 3:16-17 God’s word is sufficient or completely adequate for all our spiritual needs. The altar call is a way of promoting religious experience by other means than those clearly appointed in God’s word so it is a denial of Sola Scriptura and of the sufficiency of God’s word.

 

The third reason our church does not use the altar call is 

 

Because It Does Great Damage to the Cause of Christ

 

What have been the results of 200 years of using this unbiblical method called the altar call or the invitation? I submit to you that the results of the use of the altar call have been disastrous! There are at least three things that the invitation system does that cause great damage to the cause of Christ:

 

1. It produces great numbers of obviously false professions of Christ.

 

I say obviously false because so many converts of this system refuse to do the very first thing that Christ the Lord demands of his people and that is submit to scriptural baptism. There is a vast difference in the number claiming to be saved and the number actually baptized in this type of evangelism.

 

The other day I came across some statistics put out by Jim Elliff, a professor at Southern Baptists’ Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Kansas City. By their own statistics Elliff says that among Southern Baptists out of every 100 professions of faith only 30 are later baptized and out of that 30 only 10 will show up at church on a given Sunday morning and of that 30 only 4 will show up on a given Sunday evening.

 

One well known altar call evangelist held a revival meeting in Oklahoma City in which 47 people professed to have been saved. A few weeks after that meeting I called the pastor of that church and asked him how many of those 47 he had baptized and he said, Three!

 

2. A second thing the altar call does which causes great damage to Christ’s cause is it fatally deceives many who respond to it.

 

Walking the aisle and giving the pastor one’s hand often gives people doing so a false hope of salvation. These people believe that they are spiritually right with God simply because they have made the required step down the aisle though they have never truly come to Christ in faith trusting in Him as Lord and Savior. On any number of occasions I have asked people, when were you saved? only to have them respond, I went forward when I was 18 or when I was a child or at some other time.

 

Large numbers of those who have come into the churches with such counterfeit conversions have stayed there as formal, dead and deceived professors. I have known some such persons who have been awakened after years of such deception to realize that in their trips to the altar they did not come to Christ!How many people are in hell today because of this deception?

 

3. Thirdly, the altar call causes much damage to the cause of Christ because it produces skepticism and bitterness in many who respond to it.

Many people who have sincerely and honestly gone through the invitation system have recognized that nothing actually happened to them. They tried it and it didn’t work and they know it is not real. They may also think that others who have tried it know that it doesn’t work and that they just don’t have the honesty to admit it to themselves. If their own experience is not real it is just natural for them to conclude that the experiences of others are false also.

Many converts of the invitation system feel that they have been tricked by the evangelist and their Christian friends into making such a move down the aisle. Ultimately this has produced skepticism and hostility toward the gospel and because of this realization many have fallen away from Christianity altogether.

 

In another city where I was pastor our church decided to knock on every door in our neighborhood and ask people if they were Christians. I was amazed to find that virtually all people responded that they were or used to be Christians but either were no longer so or did not now go to church. They all claimed to have been saved in some crusade or revival service.

 

Such results of the altar call can be seen in the two Southern Baptist churches I pastored in Oklahoma City. One had over 600 members, 300 of whom we could not find. The other had over 900 members, 750 of whom we could not find.

 

In his day Charles Spurgeon commented on the damage done to the cause of Christ by the use of the altar call. Iain Murray in his book “The Forgotten Spurgeon” quotes Spurgeon as saying, “I should like to go to the inquiry room. I dare say you would, but we are not willing to pander to popular superstition. We fear that in those rooms men are warmed into a fictitious confidence. Very few of the supposed converts of inquiry rooms turn out well. Go to your God at once, even where you are now. Cast yourself on Christ, at once, ere you stir an inch!”

 

Conclusion

 

Why do the churches keep on using this unscriptural practice of giving an altar call?

 

1. For one reason they fail to measure all things by God’s word. All of us have a tendency to accept things as being right without comparing them with God’s word to find out if they really are.

 

2. Another reason is the desire on the parts of many pastors and churches to report numbers because they see numbers as equal to success in the church. Counting large numbers of converts is irresistible to these pragmatists. Some of them don’t care if the invitation cannot be found in God’s word. It works and they say that is what is important in God’s work.

 

3. Thirdly the use of the altar call in a church indicates a failure to trust God to do His work in this world. These people do not really believe that God can do His saving work in this world without the wisdom and methods of man to help.

 

But how are people to be saved if we do not “give an invitation” at the close of the sermon? Christ’s invitation is found in Matthew 11:28 where he says to sinners, not, Come to the front of the church but “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

 

If we are to be true to God’s word we must direct sinners to Christ and not to the aisles in the church building. The messages of God’s preachers are filled with invitations for all men everywhere to come to Christ and be saved. We must be careful not to give the impression that a sinner’s eternal destiny hangs on the movement of his feet. Let us determine to stay with biblical methods of evangelism and plant, water and trust God for the increase in seeking the salvation of souls.

 

Recommended Reading

 

Adams, James E. Decisional Regeneration

Chantry, Walter Today’s Gospel, Authentic Or Synthetic?

Dabney, Robert L. An Exposition Of I Corinthians 3:10-15

Murray, Iain The Invitation System

 


SOURCE: http://www.victorybaptist.us/show.wc?msgaltarcall

 

The Wrath of God By Arthur Pink

The Wrath of God

by A.W. Pink

 

IT IS SAD INDEED TO FIND SO MANY PROFESSING Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or who at least wish there were no such thing. While some who would not go so far as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the Divine character, yet they are far from regarding it with delight; they like not to think about it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the Divine wrath that makes it too terrifying to form a theme for profitable contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with his goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.

 

Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the facts concerning His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is:

 

See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me (Deut 32:39-41).

 

A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; and because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner (Psa 7:11).

 

Now the wrath of God is as much a Divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, or mercy. It must be so, for there is no blemish whatever, not the slightest defect in the character of God; yet there would be if “wrath” were absent from Him! Indifference to sin is a moral blemish, and he who hates it not is a moral leper. How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His “severity” (Rom 9:22) toward it? How could He, who delights only in that which is pure and lovely, not loathe and hate that which is impure and vile? The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity, as imperatively and eternally requisite, as Heaven is. Not only is there no imperfection in God, but there is no perfection in Him that is less perfect than another.

 

The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which he passes upon evildoers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No, though God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.

 

That Divine wrath is one of the perfections of God is not only evident from the considerations presented above, but is also clearly established by the express declarations of His own Word. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven “ (Rom 1:18). Robert Haldane comments on this verse as follows:

 

It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterwards by such examples of punishment as those of the Deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice, and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this epistle, the Apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. The same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes His glory, also proves that He is the Enemy of sin and the Avenger of the crimes of men…But above all, the wrath of God came down to manifest the Divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace.

 

Again, that the wrath of God is a Divine perfection is plainly demonstrated by what we read in Psalm 95:11: “Unto whom I sware in My wrath.” There are two occasions of God’s “swearing”: in making promises (Gen 22:16); and in pronouncing judgments (Deut 1:34ff). In the former, He swears in mercy to His children; in the latter, He swears to deprive a wicked generation of its inheritance because of murmuring and unbelief. An oath is for solemn confirmation (Heb 6:16). In Genesis 22:16 God says, “ By Myself have I sworn.” In Psalm 89:35 He declares, “Once have I sworn by My holiness.” While in Psalm 95:11 He affirms, “I swear in My wrath .” Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His “wrath” as a perfection equal to His “holiness”: He swears by the one as much as by the other! Again, as in Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9), and as all the Divine perfections are illustriously displayed by Him (John 1:18), therefore do we read of “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16).

 

The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate.

 

First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinousness.

 

 

Secondly, to beget a true fear in our souls for God: “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:28-29). We cannot serve him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger; and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is a consuming fire.”

 

Thirdly, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for our having been delivered from “the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10).

 

Our readiness or our reluctancy to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of our hearts’ true attitude toward Him. If we do not truly rejoice in God, for what He is in Himself, and that because of all the perfections which are eternally resident in Him, then how dwelleth the love of God in us? Each of us needs to be most prayerfully on his guard against devising an image of God in our thoughts which is patterned after our own evil inclinations. Of old the Lord complained, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself “ (Psa 50:21). If we rejoice not “at the remembrance of His holiness “ (Psa 97:12), if we rejoice not to know that in a soon-coming Day God will make a most glorious display of His wrath by taking vengeance upon all who now oppose Him, it is proof positive that our hearts are not in subjection to Him, that we are yet in our sins, and that we are on the way to the everlasting burnings.

 

Rejoice, O ye nations [Gentiles] with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries” (Deut 32:43). And again we read—

 

I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia (Rev 19:1-3).

 

Great will be the rejoicing of the saints in that day when the Lord shall vindicate His majesty, exercise His awful dominion, magnify His justice, and overthrow the proud rebels who have dared to defy Him.

 

“If thou Lord, shouldest mark [impute] iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Psa 130:3). Well may each of us ask this question, for it is written, “the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment” (Psa 1:5). How sorely was Christ’s soul exercised with thoughts of God’s marking the iniquities of His people when they were upon Him! He was “amazed and very heavy” (Mark 14:33). His awful agony, His bloody sweat, His strong cries and supplications (Heb 5:7), His reiterated prayers (“If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me”), His last dreadful cry (“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”) all manifest what fearful apprehensions He had of what it was for God to “mark iniquities.” Well may poor sinners cry out, “Lord, who shall stand,” when the Son of God Himself so trembled beneath the weight of His wrath! If thou, my reader, hast not “fled for refuge” to Christ, the only Savior, “how wilt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?” (Jer 12:5).

 

When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The greatest miracle in the world is God’s patience and bounty to an ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God, that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and it at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God’s mill goes slow, but grinds small; the more admirable His patience and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire (William Gurnall, 1660).

 

Then “flee,” my reader, flee to Christ; “flee from the wrath to come” (Matt 3:7) ere it be too late.

 

Do not, we earnestly beseech you, suppose that this message is intended for somebody else.  It is to you!

 

Do not be contented by thinking you have already fled to Christ. Make certain! Beg the Lord to search your heart and show you yourself.

 

*******

 

A Word to Preachers:  Brethren, do we in our oral ministry, preach on this solemn subject as much as we ought? The Old Testament prophets frequently told their hearers that their wicked lives provoked the Holy One of Israel, and that they were treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath. And conditions in the world are no better now than they were then! Nothing is so calculated to arouse the careless and cause carnal professors to search their hearts, as to enlarge upon the fact that “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psa 7:11). The forerunner of Christ warned his hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” (Matt 3:7). The Savior bade His auditors, “Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him” (Luke 12:5). The Apostle Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11). Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about Hell as about Heaven.

Preaching The Law Of God

Preaching The Law Of God

by Walter Chantry

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsover thou hast, and give to the poor.  [Mark 10:19-21a]

First nine commandments

 

The more closely we analyse our Lord’s message to the rich sinner, the more striking becomes the contrast with modern evangelism. After mentioning the holiness of God, Jesus spent most of the remainder of the interview talking about God’s holy law,1 especially as summarized in the Ten Commandments.

 

In a sense His first remark to the young man was related to the perfect Law of God. The moral law reveals the character of God. A distorted knowledge of God had kept the inquirer from adequately worshipping according to the first four commandments. He seemed to be more ready to praise men than God. Jesus’ rebuke should have convicted the ruler of breaking the ‘first table of the law.’

 

Our Lord went on with an explicit quotation of the next five commandments, although not in their exact order. Doesn’t this seem to be an odd answer to ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ Surely Jesus didn’t imagine that this fellow could have eternal life by keeping the law. ‘A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ … for by the works of the law shall NO flesh be justified’ [Galatians 2:16]. Why didn’t Jesus speak of the free gift offered to all? That’s it! Why not offer Himself as a ‘personal Saviour?’ Why all this attention to the law?

 

Again, we need to be reminded that Jesus is a better evangelist than any of us! Begin to judge your message by His, not vice versa. God’s law is an essential ingredient of Gospel preaching, for ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin’ [Romans 3:20]. The absence of God’s holy law from modern preaching is perhaps as responsible as any other factor for the evangelistic impotence of our churches and missions.

 

The ruler was perplexed. He had no idea what was lacking to receive eternal life. Whom had he offended? What had he done to offend God? As Jesus listed the commandments, the gentleman sincerely acquitted himself of all guilt before them. Jesus said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ The rich man said, ‘Completely innocent.’ And so, on it went. Thus Jesus continued to press the law on him until his blinded eyes would begin to see, really see, his sin. Only by the light of the law can the vermin of sin in the heart be exposed.

 

After all, what is sin? The Bible’s answer is found in I John 3:4; ‘Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.’ The word ‘sin’ makes no sense apart from God’s righteous law. How could the young ruler understand his sinfulness if he completely misunderstood God’s law? How can today’s sinners, who are totally ignorant of God’s holy law and its demands upon them, look at themselves as condemned sinners? The idea of sin is strange because God’s law is foreign to their minds.

 

Normal evangelical practice is swiftly to run to the cross of Christ. But the cross means nothing apart from the law. Our Lord’s wretched suffering must be tragic and senseless in the eyes of any who have no reverent esteem for the perfect commandments. On the cross Jesus was satisfying the just demands of the law against sinners. If sinners are unaware of the decalogue’s requirements for themselves, they will see no personal significance in Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Without knowledge of the condemnation of God’s holy law, the cross will draw sympathy but not saving faith from sinners. Christ was set forth to be a propitiation [Romans 3:25] — i.e., the substitutionary object of God’s wrath poured out against a violated law.

 

What sense was there in offering the man salvation when he had only a very vague awareness of danger? Though he had doubts that he would inherit eternal life, he certainly did not think of himself as a lawbreaker. But ‘sin is the transgression of the law’ [John 5:4]. So he was saying in effect that he had no real sin. And Jesus ‘came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ [Luke 5:32]. Until this moralist could see his soul in the light of God’s law, he was unprepared for the Gospel.

 

Present-day preaching only pays lip service to the concept that a man must recognize himself to be a sinner before he can genuinely embrace the Saviour. The average witnessing booklet insists on the question, ‘Do you believe that all men are sinners?’ If there is any hesitation, you establish the point with, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ [Romans 3:23]. But no definition of sin is included. There is scarcely a man alive, including the most hardened sinner, who will deny this broad statement. Anyone would answer, ‘Of course I am less holy than God. No one is perfect.’ The young ruler would have conceded as much. But such is hardly an acknowledgment of sin. He would still deny that he was a liar, an adulterer, a thief.

 

Hosts of Christians have a dreadful fear of God’s law, as if it were the useless relic of a past age, the use of which in our day would keep sinners from the grace of God. Our Saviour used the law as a primary tool of evangelism. He knew that preaching the Ten Commandments was the only way to teach a sinner his guilt and thereby stir within him a desire for God’s grace.

 

The woman at the well must have the seventh commandment applied to her conscience or she would never be converted. This nobleman must have the law personally preached or he would dwell in constant confusion. Every true saint would have to agree with Paul, who attributed his own conversion to the agency of the law: ‘I had not known sin, but by the law’ [Romans 7:7]. It is God’s law that convicts of sin. Until its condemnation of particular evils is forcefully pressed upon a sinner, he will not flee to Christ for mercy. At best he can only ask, ‘What is it that I need for eternal life?’ The man who understands the law clearly knows that only God’s grace can help him. What the sinner must do is beg for mercy.

 

The present moment of history finds more ignorance of God’s law than in many previous generations. The pulpit ignores Exodus 20. Even church members despise the fourth command, ‘Remember the Sabbath day.’ How can the world feel guilty in the neglect of worship? Afraid of offending the dime-store theology that has no time for God’s law, many preachers are silent on the very element of truth that is needed in this hour.

 

Satan has effectively used a very clever device to silence the law which is needed as an instrument to bring perishing men to Christ. He has suggested that the law and love are irreconcilable enemies; they are opposites. If they are in conflict, men will obviously choose love and spurn law; for no one would dare to despise love. Thus, the Wicked One has declared that love is independent of law and contrary to it.

 

Precisely the opposite is declared by Holy Scripture. Law and love are mutually affinitive. Jesus plainly taught that the law was urging men to nothing but love. The righteous commandments may be summarized as:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy hearty and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [Matthew 22:57-40]

The law is neither more nor less than an elucidation of the demands of love.

 

In the same manner our Lord defined love by reference to the law. The repetition on this point is striking. ‘If ye love me, keep my .commandments’ [John 14:15]. ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me’ [John 14:21]. Love cannot be expressed without the guidelines of law, and law cannot be kept spiritually except by the motivation of love.

 

John very clearly said, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous’ [I John 5:5]. Love makes the law enjoyable. Anyone who loves God delights in keeping His precepts. The man who loves God cries as David, ‘Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight’ [Psalm 119:55]. To the natural man, God’s laws are as chains, the harsh imposition of a ruler’s will. Thus the law reveals in him an absence of love for God and men. Were his heart loving, he would not find the law grievous.

 

Just as love makes law enjoyable, law makes love practical. Love which is unexpressed will die. ‘How can I show my affections?’, asks the truly loving man. God’s holy commandments give the answer. They are vents for devotion to God, as I John 5:3 declares. They are also guides to displaying love for men, as Romans 15:8-10 so clearly asserts:

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Law and love have no quarrel. The conflict arises between law and grace as a way of salvation. Law provides no pathway to life for the sinner. It slays him and drives him to God’s grace as his only hope for justification. Salvation is by grace through faith only [Ephesians 2:8].

 

But this is not to suggest that law is useless for evangelism. It is useless as a standard to be kept in order to gain approval before God. ‘By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight’ [Romans 5:20]. Nevertheless, Paul extensively wielded the sword of law at the outset in Romans. This he did ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God , . . for by the law is the knowledge of sin’ [Romans 5:19, 20].

 

It is essential to declare the commandments in order to show the sinner his heart of hatred toward God and enmity toward men. Only then will he flee to the grace of God in Jesus Christ to provide him with righteousness and love.

 

Men are not turning to Christ because they haves no sense no sense of sinning against the Lord. They are not convicted of sin because they don’t know what sin is. They have no concept of sin because the law of God is not being preached. You cannot improvise a hasty sop, ‘All men have sinned.’ You must dwell on the subject at length. Exposit the Ten Commandments until men are slain thereby [Romans 7:11]. When you see that men have been wounded by the law, then it is time to pour in the balm of Gospel oil. It is the sharp needle of the law that makes way for the scarlet thread of the Gospel.2

 

Tenth commandment

 

Our Master found the ruler’s knowledge of the commandments superficial. As he mentioned a requirement, the poor deluded man confessed innocence. Exemplary outward behaviour is not the only demand of the commandments. The young man must learn that ‘the law is spiritual’ [Romans 7:14]. Perhaps he did recognize the stringent outward rule of the law. But he failed to appreciate that the law made demands upon the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hence our Saviour would have to be the more thorough in preaching the law. He would have to use it as a probe to bring pain deep within the soul.

 

To any of the commandments our Lord could have added a spiritual application, as He did in His Sermon on the Mount. With ‘Do not commit adultery’, He could have explained, ‘that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’ [Matthew 5:28]. He might have expanded on ‘Do not kill’ to include ‘whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause’ [Matthew 5:22]. But the ‘Good Master’ waited to put His finger on the most darling sin of the rich man’s heart.

 

When Jesus said, ‘Sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor’, he was preaching the tenth commandment in an applicatory fashion. Christ was using God’s word, ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ as a knife to lance the festering sore of greed in the man’s soul. The sin was invisible to the human eye. It did not show its colours on the surface of the ruler’s behaviour. But in all its filth and ugliness, covetousness ruled his soul. Like a dart, the law of God pierced the conscience of this youth for the first time.

 

Had Jesus merely said, ‘Do not covet’, the polite seeker would have said, ‘I do not desire anyone’s property or wealth. I am satisfied with my station in life.’ It would not do simply to quote Exodus 20 again. Jesus translated the tenth of God’s commands into a practical test by demanding that he abandon his riches. The youth loved his riches more than he loved God and His Son, and he turned away. But when he went away, he had a clear consciousness that he was a covetous sinner. He was deficient in love for God, upon which all of the law was hanging [Matthew 22:40].

 

Do you see that Jesus was not looking for intellectual assent to the fact that the young man was less holy than God? Christ wielded the sword of God’s law until it made deep and painful gashes on the ruler’s conscience. The Saviour did not try to argue him into agreeing that ‘all have sinned’. He continued labouring with the law till the man’s soul was deeply impressed that he was a rebel against a holy God and that his soul was dreadfully sold out to Satan in covetousness.

 

Rather than compromise the truth of God’s holy law in the name of love, our Lord allowed the ruler to depart. Had Christ ignored the inviolable character of the perfect law to win this sinner to Himself, He would have destroyed love; for love is bound up in the keeping of the commandments. True love will never negotiate over the truth upon which it is established.

 

It is imperative that preachers of today learn how to declare the spiritual law of God; for, until we learn how to wound consciences, we shall have no wounds to bind with Gospel bandages. In the twentieth century the church has tried to see how little it could say and still get converts. The assumption has been that a minimal message will conserve our forces, spread the Gospel farther, and, of course, preserve a unity among evangelicals. It has succeeded in spreading the truth so thinly that the world cannot see it. Four facts droned over and over have bored sinners around us and weakened the church as well.

 

Now is the hour to recover the full, rich Gospel of Christ. We must preach the holy character of God. We must preach the eternal law of God with diligent and thorough application to our congregations. General terminology is accomplishing just what Jesus’ general mention of the law would have elicited: an ignorant, unfeeling, self-exalting protest. Oh, for the studied application of the moral law to the inward man! Where are there pulpits clearly showing that God’s pure law makes strict demands upon the motives, desires, feelings and attitudes of the soul? When you find them, you also discover churches with convicted sinners prepared to hear the way of salvation.


Notes

  • All references to God’s Law in this chapter have in view only His moral law, which is eternal. Ceremonial and civic laws are not under consideration.
  • Samuel Bolton.

Author

Walter Chantry was born in 1938 at Norristown, Pennsylvania, raised in the Presbyterian Church; graduated B.A. in History from Dickinson College, Carlisle in 1960, and a B.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1963, from which time he has been pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle. He is married with three children. This article is taken from his book, Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic, pp. 35-46 and published by The Banner of Truth.

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The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that there is "none that doeth good"; none "that understandeth"; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will "by no means clear the guilty." <continued>