Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Backbone of the Gospel Message

In Chapter 8 of "The Way of the Master" book, there is a list of statistics that most churches and evangelical crusade workers would NOT want people to read or even know about. It is, to say the least, VERY disheartening for any Christian to find out. These aren't just "statistics", they are tragic results of the modern evangelical methods that omit first preaching the Law in order to prepare sinners hearts for genuine conversion.

Here are two examples:

At a 1990 crusade in the U.S., 600 "decisions for Christ" were obtained. No doubt there was much rejoicing. However, ninety days later, follow-up workers couldn't find even one who was continuing in his or her faith. That crusade created 600 backsliders - or, to be more scriptural, false converts.

In 1991, organizers of a Salt Lake City concert encouraged follow-up. They said, "Less than 5 percent of those who respond to an altar call during a public crusade....are living a Christian life one year later." In other words, more than 95 percent proved to be false converts.

Why is it that modern preachers have allowed the gospel to degenerate into a means of happiness rather than one of righteousness? Why have they failed to show sinners that they are lawbreakers who have violated the Law of holy God?

Maybe it is because the use of the Law seems confrontational and judgmental. Maybe it is because they assume that sinners know that they are sinners and therefore don't need to be confronted with that fact. But, if unsaved people only find out that God loves them and can forgive them WITHOUT pointing out WHAT constitutes sin according to the Law of God, then how are they to understand sin's true nature and how it separates them from God?

There are many who think that they are good (see Proverbs 20:6). In one Los Angeles Times article and survey, nearly two-thirds interviewed think they are heaven bound. Only one-half of one percent said they were hell-bound.

Most of these think they are heaven bound because they are deceived into thinking that they are morally good. (See former blog post for a "test" on how "good" you are). The problem is that many do not have any idea what sin is until the Law gives them that knowledge!

Look at our world today. Look at the things that are being touted as "normal", "rights" and demanded to be "accepted." The new book that is out called, "The Marketing of Evil" goes into great detail about how mind-seige types of propaganda have affectively glossed over what used to be unequivocably viewed as evil and sinful in the past. But now, much of these dangerous and deceptive ideas are being indoctrinated into the minds of people in America as the "norm." In fact, it is the Christians who are now being labeled as "abnormal", "bigoted", "hateful", "intolerant" , "undesirable" and some of these propagandist leaders are even calling for the need for Christians to be "eliminated"!

Does this sound hauntingly like the Islamic extremists rhetoric against Jews and Christians or what?!!

How true, faithful and filled with wisdom God's ancient Word is! The Bible's ancient wisdom is as revealing now, as it was then, as well as throughout history! When it comes to describing today's contemporary culture, we see the examples included in the "marketing of evil" being presented to an unsuspecting public as "good" and the true Good being labeled as evil!!

Isaiah 5:20 - Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Jesus' own words!

John 15:18 - If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.

John 15:24 - If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:25 - But [this cometh to pass], that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

The Law needs to be presented as the backbone of our gospel presentation because its function is to prepare the heart for grace. Martin Luther said of the Law, "In its true and proper work and purpose it humbles a man and prepares him - if he uses the Law correctly - to yearn and seek for grace."

In Chapter 6 of "TWOTM", we see the extreme importance of the Law:

1. If the Law didn't demand death for sin, we wouldn't need a Savior.
2. God chose the Ten Commandments to carry the message for the need for repentance.
3. The true convert comes to the Savior, Jesus Christ, to satisfy the demands of a holy Law because he/she realizes that he/she could never satisfy it!!
4. The true convert isn't like Adam who ran from God in the Garden after sinning.
5. The true convert delights to do God's will because God's Law is within his heart (Psalm 40:7- 10)
6. The Messiah became a curse for us and redeemed us from the curse of the Law.
7. The Old Testament said of the Messiah that He would "magnify the law and make it honourable" (Isaiah 42:21).
9. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my Commandments."

Next, look at what the religious leaders did by their tradition. They had twisted God's law and rendered it ineffectual (Matthew 15:6)!! They even hindered others from entering God's kingdom. This is what Jesus said to them:

"Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered"
(Luke 11:52).

The lawyers were professing to be experts in God's Law. But because they didn't use the "key of knowledge" to bring sinners to the Savior, they hindered the work of the Law as a "groundbreaking" instrument in people's hearts!

God's Law prepares the heart of the sinner for the good news of the gospel. Without this preparatory work, his heart is hardened, and he therefore becomes a candidate for a false conversion.

(Next: Catching a glimpse of the difference between the true and false converts.)


Jojo said...

Hi Christine,
I just wanted to say hello and let you know I have been reading all your posts derived from "The Way of the Master". I think this is such a good book. I have not had anything to add - but wanted you to know I appreciate what you've been writing. Hope all is well with you and your family.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jojo!

It is good to hear from you again! Yes! "The Way of the Master" is such an excellent book and I have you to thank for recommending it to me! If you ever do have anything to add, please feel free to do so. Sometimes it is difficult to summarize a book as powerfully presented as this one.

My family is doing very well, thanks! My two kids are off to their respective colleges living in apartments. I've got to get out, find a job and start working to help pay for all of this! Yikes!

I'm not sure if I will take the Christian book store job. I know that I would really love working there. However, the manager said that part time workers must work every Saturday! I looked at my upcoming "Saturday" schedule over the next two months and I have plans for 4 out of the next 8 Saturdays! I don't think that they would appreciate me asking for so many days off as a new employee! I may apply at a few other Christian bookstores as well as Office Depot and Michael's craft store. I recently visited them and they had "help wanted" signs up.

So many people called me on the phone yesterday because they knew that my kids left for college! I'm doing fine...so far. I guess the reality of it all hasn't hit me yet. At least they aren't that far away and have the ability to come home on weekends occasionally.

How are you and your family? I read (at Stephen's blog, I think) that your son passed his driver test! Congrats to him (and you)! That means that you trained him well!

Have a great day, Jojo!


Susan Smith said...

Hi JoJo and Christine!

I purchased "TWOTM" from Amazon, because of Christine's blog... little did I know it was you, JoJo, that recommended it! You have a great habit of spreading blessings wherever you go!

Love to you both.(ss)

Jojo said...

Yes, my son got his license last Fri. He just pulled in the driveway as I type. It is such a wonderful sound/feeling to hear the buzz of his truck pull in and know he is safe and sound. Praise God for His protection!

You are doing a fine job summarizing the book! Yes, Susan, I ran across it online oneday and ordered it and then kinda forgot about it. When it came in and I started reading it - I thought it was so good. I really understand their points and observations. I mentioned it to Stephen and he said they were doing it at his Church and in his ministry. Then we went to my in-laws house and they had a 1,000,000 bill laying on the counter and it was from "TWOTM" too. It was something you could give as a witness tool that asked the million dollar question - (If you were to die do you know where you will go?) I thought it no coincidence that I kept hearing and seeing things from that ministry.

Christine, I'm sure the Lord will show you where you are to work. I know it has to be a big adjustment for you that both kids are gone to college. Are either of them in Christian colleges? What are they studying?

Susan Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Smith said...

I agree with JoJo, Christine. The Lord has just the right job for you. It is HIS job to lead and our job to follow.

I am praying for you to have ears to hear the voice of His Spirit regarding your new job! Have a great day. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jojo and Susan,

Thanks for your encouragement! I have been so indecisive about this job thing for weeks now.

Last night, my director (and friend) from Mary Kay called me to invite me to a special event. I'm sure that she is trying to motivate me (I need it!) back into the business. The past few years I have been treating it more as a hobby than a business. Anyway, after hanging up the phone I was composing in my mind an email to send her. I was coming up with all kinds of excuses for not working my business! Later, one of my customers called me and ordered product. A 15 min. phonecall with a 20 min. delivery to her home will net $40.00 in income. If I worked at retail earning $8.00 an hour it would take me 5 hrs. to make that! I wonder...is the Lord trying to tell me something here???

I really don't want to work on Saturdays, so if I could find something part time during the week then I could do that too. My business allows me to set my own hours and I love the philosophy of the company: God first, family second, job third.

I read a few days ahead in Charles Stanley's daily devotions and ran across this in the August 30th devotional:

God gives clear instruction. He does not bring confusion. Whether we receive His direction in stages or all at once, He asks us to trust in Him rather than our own thinking. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This is what both of you have been telling me! The special event my director invited me to is on Sept. 1st. This seems like some clear instruction to me!

I wanted to work at the Christian bookstore so that I could work at something that would be a way to serve the Lord. It's the Saturday requirement that bugs me, though. My director pointed out to me that working my business again will enable me to most likely meet many women who not only need cosmetics but need the Lord too!

Jojo -

My son attends Biola U. which is a Christian university. He was recruited to pitch for the baseball team. He told me that he has grown so much in his faith! They require a Bible minor so he is getting into the Word at school. His major is Physical Ed. and he wants to teach and coach baseball at the high school level.

My daughter is attending Cal. State Long Beach. It's one of the most liberal colleges out there! Yikes! But my former "AWANA" girl has a deep faith and love for Jesus so I'm confident (and praying!) that her faith remains strong in the face of all the liberalism she will be exposed to! Her major is undeclared, but she thinks it will be Communications. I was advised that she should apply with an undeclared major because she would have a better chance getting in. Many times the majors chosen by freshman are compacted (to many applicants) and their application gets declined. She actually got accepted at all three schools she applied to! CSULB was her first choice, however.

There is a job fair on Saturday and I might attend that just to see if I can find something to do in addition to my cosmetics business. I also might apply to work some temp office jobs. I need to update my office computer skills, though. Many ads require powerpoint and other skills that I'm not to familiar with. Any suggestions on how to learn these extra skills quickly?

I'm so glad we are all reading TWOTM book! Please share any thoughts or additional information that helped you in the study of this book!

Love in Christ,

Saltnlight said...

Hi Christine:
Thank you again for this.
“Maybe it is because the use of the Law seems confrontational and judgmental. Maybe it is because they assume that sinners know that they are sinners and therefore don't need to be confronted with that fact. But, if unsaved people only find out that God loves them and can forgive them WITHOUT pointing out WHAT constitutes sin according to the Law of God, then how are they to understand sin's true nature and how it separates them from God?”

Exactly what I have been trying to abide by. “they are deceived into thinking that they are morally good”. This is what is happening on a larger scale with the homosexual. They are told this lie about their sin and they fall for it like someone I recently spoke to on another blog. They think they can be homosexual and still be accepted as Christian by a Holy God.

Christinewjc said...

Yes Saltnlight,

As the original post pointed out, something is terribly wrong when over 200,000 supposed converts to the Christian faith could not be accounted for 2 months after the crusade! Modern evangelism has seriously neglected the key to the sinner's heart. When Christian evangelists set aside the Law of God and its designed function to convert the soul (Psalm 19:7), we remove the very means by which the sinners are able to see their need of God's forgiveness.

How many times have we seen homosexuals exclaim, "what sin" when confronted by Christians? They don't even regard their behavior as sinful in the first place. Thus, they don't see a need to confess it. Thus, they do not see that they have broken God's Law. Thus, they do not see that the penalty for breaking God's Law is death. Thus, they do not see the Good News of the Gospel nor the grace, mercy and forgiveness that they need through the Savior, Jesus Christ. The good news of Jesus paying the "fine" for their lawbreaking sin cannot be seen without FIRST telling them that they have broken the law. They need conviction of this within their own hearts, otherwise, they will be left thinking that the "good news" is nothing but nonsense. However, clearly making known their transgression gives SENSE to the good news. A crystal clear explanation of the law is necessary so that they can plainly see their own individual violation. This helps them understand and appreciate the news that their penalty has been paid.

Now, let's look at false converts. Let's say that a homosexual knows about the good news of Jesus but hasn't taken the step to be CONVICTED of their own sin within their own hearts. The fact that Jesus died on the cross for his/her sins makes no sense to them because "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Therefore, telling someone who labels himself/herself a "gay Christian" would have the typical reaction we are getting when they claim that "God made me this way" and they "haven't got any 'sins' and they try to live a good life." etc. Our insinuation that he/she is a sinner, when he/she doesn't think so, will be offensive to him/her!

This is why the gay-behavior affirming 'Christian' churches disagree with the the Bible-based evangelical Christian ones. Without opening up the spirituality of the Law and carefully explaining the meaning of the Ten Commandments, these false converts have not become "convicted by the law as transgressors" (James 2:9) They don't see that they are in danger of Jesus saying to them at the Judgment seat, "I never knew you."

However, once they understand their transgression, the good news will be neither offensive nor foolish, but the power of God to salvation.

Susan Smith said...

It is very easy for me to see the negative and address what is wrong with the world.

When I practiced homosexuality and abused alcohol, I thought these were the main sins I needed to conquer as a Christian. Now I see more clearly. I can now see the pride in my heart. God’s Spirit makes me so aware of the “secret” thought sins in my life and my desperate need of a savior. I am saved by God’s grace through faith. My salvation does not hinge on my confession of sin. I can no more confess every sin in my life than I can thank God for every blessing. Those who teach confession of sin is the way to salvation are misguided. God is merciful. I am saved, because Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Christ crucified, no more and no less is the reason I can rejoice in my salvation. When I lose fellowship with God, then I begin to walk in darkness. Confession of sin gets me back in His light. If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Confession of sin keeps me in His light and the blood of Jesus cleanses me from sin (see 1John 1:7). This is continuous cleansing, not a one time thing.

When you accept Jesus as your savior, then He will NEVER leave you. You can yield and surrender your life to God’s will or you can complain and rebel. It makes no difference. God will minister to your life exactly what you need as an individual to become the spiritual person He desires you to be. Let us face a fact of life: When you “fall out” with other people, you have already fallen out with God. If you are in a right relationship with God, then you will have a right relationship with others. How do I know this? I know this, because for many years I lived in rebellion and my life was miserable and unhappy most of the time. I did not have ears to hear or eyes to see what God was doing in my life. I was deaf and blind!

Jojo said...

Absolutely and Amen. But it is a process to come to this understanding. And I believe, only achieveable, by getting into the Word of God.

It took me awhile to understand God's grace and not think I had to work to stay in His good graces. But that is what Christianity is really about. It is not a religion (as so may like to call it) - it is the truth and about having a relationship with the One who created us and who died for us. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. Realizing that is what makes us want the relationship. It is so simple, yet so complex.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Susan,

You stated: "Confession of sin keeps me in His light and the blood of Jesus cleanses me from sin (see 1John 1:7). This is continuous cleansing, not a one time thing."

Well said! When I attended Bible Study Fellowship, our lecture leader often mentioned our need to confess sin; she called it the "daily dirties".

Yes. Sanctification is a lifelong process and we never "arrive" until we get to heaven and see Jesus face to face!

Isn't it awesome to know that He will never leave us? Human companions, friends, aquaintances and even family members can disappoint us terribly when they hurt us and/or end up leaving us. That is why we ALL need the Lord. No one else can love us like He does!

I think we were all deaf and blind until the Light of the world, Jesus Christ came into our lives! He changes us from the inside and His effect on my life has been so drastic! I would NEVER want to go back to who I was prior to knowing the Lord! I'm sure you feel the same way, too.

Looking back, when I was living a life in rebellion to God I WAS often miserable and unhappy. I was empty too. But, I didn't really know why.

Through knowing the Lord and reading His Word, I have found peace and understanding; even in the midst of all the turmoil going on in the world around me.

His peace, alone, surpasses all human understanding.

His revealed Word shows us not only His great love, mercy, and grace towards us, but also how His Law is just, yet, can't be kept by our own effort. The Law reveals our dire need for the gift of Jesus Christs' shed blood on the cross! This leads us to see our need for confession and repentance because we ALL have broken God's Law.

God's provision (Christs' cross)for our forgiveness of our transgressions reveals His mercy as well as His holiness!

Our goal should focus on becoming more and more like Jesus while on this earth while sharing the message of the gospel with others.

Not all people will like us for that.

Not all people will listen.

But we are called to preach 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified' until we either leave this earth to be with Him or He comes back to 'rescue' us.

Even though evangelism in an often hostile and non-believing world can be difficult at times, what a great privilege it is!

Love in the Lord,

Susan Smith said...

Amen, Christine, your choice of some powerful words are expressing the "absolute" TRUTH! God bless you, my friend.

The encouragement received from you and Jojo is a blessing in my life and it is a privilege to be allowed to post on your blog.

The world knows we are HIS disciples when we love one another. (ss)