If Jesus is shown, people are drawn to Him
The tone and tenor of Jesus’ ministry was one of tender affection toward those who were loved by the Father. Jesus specifically came to reveal the Father and be about His Father’s business and that business was attractive to people whose lives had been downtrodden and condemned by the religious rulers and teachers of the Law.
The occasion of Nicodemus who visited Jesus at night (John 3) becomes the setting for some of Jesus’ most quoted statements. Jesus could have used that meeting with a very well-versed-in-the-Law Pharisee to reinforce the necessity of following the Law as a requirement for eternal life. Instead, He says this…
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” – Jesus – John 3:5-8
Apparently, at least according to Jesus, eternal life comes because of belief in Jesus and through supernatural action by the Holy Spirit. The ‘saved’ man is now owned and ‘blown’ along by the Spirit. Jesus could have mentioned here that the saved believer’s life is best guided by Law. He doesn’t say that. Instead, He speaks of a very very different life, one that is governed by an ‘unpredictable’ Spirit.
The believer, who because of the new Spirit within him, responds with the same infectious enthusiasm of love that was shown him when he meets Jesus. Amazing Grace!
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – Jesus – John 3:14-18
Introducing people to Jesus introduces them to the drawing, supernatural, influence of the Holy Spirit. There is a readiness to respond to the offer of love, forgiveness, and freedom.
“…God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (NIV) “God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (MSG) – Romans 2:4
Jesus never used the Law or condemnation from God or the Law to evangelize… “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17
Now watch this video clip… It’s supposed to show us how we should evangelize.
The background to this clip is that it was recorded to demonstrate how we should use the Law, or Ten Commandments to evangelize. We are told to use the Law to get people to admit that they are dirty, rotten sinners, liars, thieves, adulterers, and murderers. They should then recognize that, despite God being angry with them and is judging them, Jesus is the only way out of the mess they’re in.
First, the good parts…
1. Being bold enough to evangelize. ie. confront people with their need of a Saviour. Good! (to a point).
2. Having a friendly approach, even though you are condemning them for their intrinsic ‘evilness’. (Half good, faulty foundation!)
Some issues I have with this approach and with this example…
- The foundation of this approach to evangelism comes from Galatians 3:24 which says (NIV 1984) “..the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ..” Therefore, we need to emphasize the Law (the Ten Commandments in this case), convict a person of their dire sinfulness so that they can be led to Christ. The problem with this approach is that Paul was not speaking about how the Law leads to Jesus in an experiential evangelistic sense. He was speaking about the HISTORICAL TIMELINE from Sinai to the time of Jesus. The Law was “added” – had a beginning, “until” – had an end when Jesus brought faith. The rest of the verse (Gal 3:24) says, “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” This last half of the verse is entirely consistent with the first half. The Law (Old Covenant) is placed in charge from Sinai to when, or UNTIL, Jesus came. Now that Jesus (Faith) has come, the Law is no longer in charge of believers.To be consistent then, if we use the Law to evangelize (and I don’t think we should), at which point do we start teaching the new believer that the Law is no longer in charge or relevant? Therefore why use it in evangelism? The Law (and the entire Old Covenant) has no authority now. The Law is actually inadequate to either define sin or to encourage righteousness. The Holy Spirit is fully capable to both define sin and empower for righteousness.
- The person doing the interview (I am declining to mention his name) bases his argument specifically on the Ten Commandments and proceeds to ask if they (the person in the plane seat being interrogated) have ever lied, stolen, committed adultery etc. He (the interviewer) then says that Jesus says that hatred is the same as murder, therefore if they have ever hated anyone they have committed murder also. The same with lust, therefore they are an adulterer. The problem with this is that hatred and lust are not mentioned in the Ten Commandments. I am not saying they are not sinful, they are “rules” from Jesus. The Ten Commandments don’t tell us to love either. However, Jesus does say that the greatest commandment is (and He quotes from the Law outside the Ten Commandments) to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. “All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40). Why purport to base the argument on just the Ten when if we start there why not bring in all of them. I find this approach (ie. condemning on the basis of the Ten Commandments) entirely inconsistent. Why don’t we start “evangelizing” by accusing people of lacking the Fruit of the Spirit? Now it’s becoming awkward.
- Nowhere in the New Testament, either by Jesus or by the disciples (particularly Paul) is there an example of this form of evangelism. Why do we need to start with condemnation when the Gospel is actually “Good News!” and there is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus. Before you think that that means you’re ‘free to sin’, think again. The Holy Spirit is fully capable of inspiring us to righteous living. In fact, according to John 16:8-13, The Holy Spirit will convict the world (unbelievers) of their sin, He will convict believers of their righteousness, and announce judgment against the Devil. Marvelous news indeed!
I suspect that there will be a lot more said in this and other regards in relationship to the New Covenant and Grace.
Much Grace to you!