Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ponder This

I once got into a rather huge debate at Clemson over a publication
that I wrote regarding evangelism. I never wanted to have the "I was
right and you were wrong" attitude but when it comes to souls and
people, sometimes it's okay. :)

A good read:

Concerning The Four Spiritual Laws and the late Dr. Bill Bright:
(Taken from The Way Of The Master, by Ray Comfort, Chapter 10, page 78.)

Over the years that I have shared my concerns about contemporary
evangelism, I have been careful never to name names. However, many
have guessed that on occasion I have been referring to the incredibly
popular tract The Four Spiritual Laws, penned by the late Dr. Bill
Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ. More than a billion copies have
been distributed in all the major languages of the world, and his
approach has become the model for the modern gospel presentation.

In July 2002, Kirk and I were invited to Orlando, Florida, to join Dr.
Bright at his home for breakfast. After breakfast, we sat down in his
living room and heard this warm, humble, sincere man of God (then
eighty-one) confess that he had been in error. Let me use his own
words from his book Heaven or Hell - Your Ultimate Choice (published
the same year) to tell you what he said to us:

"In his approximately 42 months of public ministry, there are 33
recorded instances of Jesus speaking about hell. No doubt He warned of
hell thousands of times. The Bible refers to hell a total of 167
times. I wonder with what frequency this eternal subject is found in
today's pulpits. I confess I have failed in my ministry to declare the
reality of hell as often as I have the love of God and the benefits of
a personal relationship with Christ. But Jesus spent more of His time
warning His listeners of the impending judgement of hell than of
speaking of the joys of heaven....I have never felt the need to focus
on telling people about hell. However, as a result of a steady decline
in morals and spiritual vitality in today's culture and a growing
indifference to the afterlife, I have come to realize the need for
greater discussion of hell....I have thus come to see that silence, or
even benign neglect on these subjects, is disobedience on my part. To
be silent on the eternal destinations of souls is to be like a sentry
failing to warn his fellow soldiers of impending attack." [Bill
Bright, Heaven or Hell - Your Ultimate Choice (Orlando, Fla.: New Life
Publications, 2002), 32, 48]

Dr. Bright even took the time to use the Law lawfully, by quoting
every one of the Ten Commandments, then expounding the Law by saying,
"Breaking these commandments will take us to hell without the
intervening grace and mercy of Jesus Christ." [Ibid., 37] By admitting
that "benign neglect on these subjects is disobedience on my part,"
Dr. Bright revealed his honest humility and his genuine love of the
truth.

Please, follow Dr. Bright's example and examine your evangelism
methods in light of God's Word. At stake is the eternal salvation of
millions of people. You don't have to throw away The Four Spiritual
Laws. Simply make four important changes. First, don't tell sinners
that Jesus will improve their lives with a wonderful plan. Second,
don't make the unbiblical mistake of giving the cure before you've
convinced them of the disease. Third, take the time to follow in the
way of the Master by "opening up" (or explaining) the Ten
Commandments. And fourth, faithfully remember to include the terrible
realities of Judgement Day and hell.

4 comments:

Jason said...

Great read man. I absoultely agree that we are slow to speak of Hell to people who don't know Jesus. Who actually enjoys revealing to someone that they are doomed to spend eternity in Hell? Things would suck if they ended there, but you also get to exclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ and that's a great thing.

At the same time, I think it's pretty amazing that God uses any effort to tell others about him for His glory regardless of what "approach" is used and/or how badly we may screw that up.

I'm thankful we have Jesus' life as an example of how to love others and show them who God is, and I'm definitely appreciative that our "success" is not based on how we present the gospel.

In 1 Cor. 2:1-5, "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

I'm glad it was Paul who wrote this too, because if the inspired author of half the New Testament considers himself to simply proclaim Jesus Christ without eloquent words or a wise presentation.....then I have no doubts that my words are weak and broken...and that the power of God and His Spirit are more than sufficient regardless of any misguided "techniques".

JT said...

Jeeson!!!!!!! Very well said, I couldn't agree with you more. I like the part you mentioned about Paul...I always use that in talks about the qualifications to witness...u gotta be weak, not very eloquent in your speech...trembling...that is a very encouraging thing to read and hear.. i just wish we cared more to do it.

jerri said...

The first time I tried to share Jesus with a complete stranger was, sadly enough, not until a mission trip in college. The guy was also a college student, and he was walking down the street to a club. I overheard him talking to his friends about a conversation he had with someone else earlier that evening concerning religion. I decided to be brave and jump in. His other friends went in the club, but he stayed outside to talk to me a bit.

I say talk, but what he really wanted to do was put me in my place. He proceeded to quiz me with a bunch of questions that I did not know the answers to (many of which I'm not sure even had answers). He used lots of multi-syllable words and I'm pretty sure most of them had nothing to do with the Gospel (the Renaissance came way after the Crucifixion, right?).

Anyway, by the end of the conversation, I was very frustrated and disheartened because I had definitely lost his little debate. I couldn't understand why, when I wanted to go out and share hope with others, God would send this guy to me first to make me never want to do it again. As the guy walked away to go in the club, my face dropped and I was very disappointed in myself.

But then the guy turned around. He said, "There is one thing I don't understand. Why would you guys give up your Spring Break to come down to Daytona to do this instead of going out and partying like everyone else?" And that was when I knew God had gotten his point across. It didn't matter that I didn't have all the answers and completely botched his debate. God used me anyway.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 Now that's a great concept. :)

JT said...

Jerrilea!

I love it. Isn't it amazing how when we think we have lost, God is still in there??? He's going to take what we give and make it something beautiful whether it looks like it or not. You can debate the Bible and you debate faith to a certain extent, but you can never really debate love and what it looks like poured on a city or a person.

I had a HUGE talk with this guy from Clemson one time...he was so hard hearted and wouldn't listen to a word. I was supposed to eat with some friends and I just told them to go on without me. Well it started pouring rain and me and this guy continued to talk in the rain. About 30-45 minutes had passed and I was going to give him a ride to his car, but my car was FAR away. As we walked around the corner, the friend I had told to go on and eat had been waiting on us so we wouldn't have to walk in the rain. You should have seen this guy. His face and heart changed from tough and callous to very soft and appreciative. We had such a good car ride home.

I could have debated him all night long and gotten NOWHERE. A close beautiful friend of mine waiting in a car on her time spoke more than I could have studied at 20 years in seminary.

Thanks for your words, they were gobbled up. :)