Evangelism – Which Comes First? Law, Gospel, or Neither?

Evangelism – Rock, Paper, or Scissors?

“The Law must precede the gospel.  The Law must come first and kill the person so that the gospel can make him alive.  The Law must convict the person of his sins so he will want salvation.  It is simple.  You preach the Law first, then the gospel.  You must make people thirsty for the water of life before they will want to drink.  The Law makes them thirsty.” ~ Matt Slick

“Biblical evangelism is always, without exception, law to the proud and grace to the humble. Never will you see Jesus giving the gospel, the good news, the cross, the grace of our God, to a proud, arrogant, self-righteous person. No, no. With the law he breaks the hard heart and with the gospel he heals the broken heart.” ~ Ray Comfort

“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin.” ~ Martin Luther 

“I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the Law.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

“Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment.” ~ John Wesley

In the light of the above quotes, it appears that evangelism must start with the law.  I have heard and read from those with similar sentiments. While compelling, these quotes plucked from their original contexts and incorrectly applied, do several things:

1.  They can, and often do, lock evangelism into a method. 

2.  They create an “us law keepers” vs. “them law breakers” mentality.

3.  They tend to grant the would be evangelist the power to dispense law or grace based on their personal agenda or judgement of another’s prideful or humble disposition.  

4.  Their starting point is man, not God.

5.  They can lead to attempting to make disciples with the law of Moses rather than “the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21) (Galatians 6:2) and “all that Jesus commanded.”  (Matthew 28:19,20)

Further, in examining every post resurrection evangelism event in scripture, I fail to find a single instance that starts with the law or starts out pointing at one’s sin.  Let’s take a look at a few:

Acts 2:17-40 – Commonly addressed as “Peter’s First Sermon”  Peter starts with this idea, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  – Peter starts with God and His promise. 

Acts 3:11-26 – Commonly referred to as “Peters Second Sermon.”  Again, Peter starts this way, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.”  Peter starts with God Himself.

Acts 7 – Stephen’s famous speech to the Sanhedrin.  Stephen starts in this manner, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.”  This evangelistic message, again, starts with God and His promise.

Acts 8:26-40 – Philip and the Ethiopian – The Ethiopian was reading about Jesus and Phillip started by declaring who Jesus is.  “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” 

Immediately after Paul’s conversion he began to evangelize in the synagogues by starting with “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.”  (Acts 9:20)

Finally, for now, in Acts 17, Paul’s famous encounter on the Areopagus had started earlier in the market place (Acts 17:18).  Those who heard him speaking “the good news about Jesus and the resurrection,” brought him to the hill where he continued with “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”  Again, Paul starts with God.  

In each of these cases and more, evangelistic encounters start with who God is, His Promises, and His Son Jesus.  None of these evangelistic encounters start with the Law.  

Perhaps we need to look directly to the Master himself for where one of His evangelism encounters started with the law.  The woman at the well is perhaps Jesus’ best known and most used “evangelistic” encounter.  He starts in this way; “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  Note here that God IS the one standing in front of her.  But, he doesn’t start with the law, he starts with who He is and His promise.

What about the rich young ruler?  Jesus starts off with the following; Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus starts off with who God is before going into a very tricky unwinding of the ruler’s presuppositions about salvation.  Ultimately it was not the law that convicted him, it was laying his life down and following Jesus.   (Mark 10:17-27)

Maybe Jesus with Nicodemus?  Jesus again starts of in this way; “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3) Jesus started off this conversation with God, His Kingdom, and His Promise. 

Final thought:  How were old testament saints evangelized before the law was given?  Was it by presenting the law first?  No, it was by being made aware God and His promise first.  We too, as gentiles are to embrace the same God and promise. “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  Abraham was evangelized first by God and His Promise. (Galatians 3:8)

Paul Washer wrote;

“Evangelism begins with the nature of God. Who is God? Can a man recognize anything about his sin if he has no standard by which to compare himself?”[1]  

The striking absence of the law being used first in evangelism is telling.  What does it tell you?  The works of the Law is already written on the hearts of people before you ever get to them. (Romans 2:15)  They know it.  What they don’t know clearly, is who God is and what His true nature is.  Why start with the law instead of the starting with the one who fulfilled it?  Are you really going to law law them first and love later? 

 

This post is designed to engage you.  And so, I’d like to ask you a few questions:

 

1.  What biblical warrant is there, if any, that says we must use the law first in evangelism?  

2.  Did Jesus use the law first in the proclamation of His own Good News? Where?

3.  Is it correct to Make Disciples using the law of Moses (The 10 Commandments), or are we to Make Disciples by teaching Christ’s law (1 Corinthians 9:21) (Galatians 6:2), and to obey all that Christ Commanded? (Matthew 28:19,20)

This is a repost from 2013.

[1] Ten Indictments against the Modern Church (Kindle Locations 341-342). Chapel Library. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

0 thoughts on “Evangelism – Which Comes First? Law, Gospel, or Neither?

  1. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve been bothered by rigid adherence to this method to the exclusion of all others, even to labeling as false converts those who came to faith by a different gospel outline.

    This approach doesn’t make sense when dealing in tribal regions that never had a bible and they have deified the alligator. The worldview basis is entirely different.

    If your contact doesn’t even believe in the authority of the bible, the LAW is simply a religious rule book that they choose not to follow.

    Likewise, when I look at how Jesus did evangelism, many of his conversations have no dealing with the law at all. Some do (such as the conversation about the great commandment), but others don’t.

    I think the Law/Gospel is one approach, not the exclusive approach.

    • Miguel says:

      EvangelismCoach,

      Thanks for your comment. If you can’t point out where one has said that people converted under other methods are false converts, I’d appreciate the data.

      I agree with you that there are many “approaches” to evangelism. In fact, I like the word approach. It seams more open ended than “method.”

      All considered, our focus is to preach the Gospel (The true essence of evangelism) and NOT make converts or win souls.

  2. Rick Knock says:

    It seems generaly best to start with people where they are and then lead them to Christ from there. The Jews already had the law, no need to give them that again. In Athens they had an unknown god – seems like a good place to start. The Ethiopian was already reading about Jesus – again, seems like a good place to start; and as we find out in the story that he was already thirsty, there was no need to create the thirst again.

    In general, if you don’t present the law first, then you’ll have to present in anyway after the “I’m a good person” objection, and by then they’ve already rejected their need for Christ, placing one more obstacle in their path.

    • Sean Isaacs says:

      Well said Rick. I believe your response is very insightful and consistent with scripture. No method should be made an idol. But much of our approach to the sinner in the gentile world has lost the idea of sin, guilt….. Therefore, a revived concentration on the need for Law before Grace, was warranted. Some now, have turned the method into the only way to reach the Lost. We must be armed with the armor of God and always be ready to be led by the Spirit and His Word – based on the need of the hearer!

      Thanks brother!

    • Miguel says:

      Rick,

      You said, “If you don’t present the law first, then you’ll have to present it anyway after the “I’m a good person” objection.” You’re absolutely right. But the moral law is an expression of the nature of God. One can not embrace the law with understanding without knowing who He is.

      The idea of preaching the law first because you’ll eventually have to do it anyway, seems a little presumptuous and lacks biblical support? Don’t you think?

      • Rick Knock says:

        Hi Miguel,

        Good to hear from you! What took so long? 🙂

        As to your comment:

        1. That’s not what I said. I said, “It seems generally best to start with people where they are and then lead them to Christ from there.” This was my main point in that comment, and included several examples from Scripture.

        2. After this I concluded with the additional thought that you mentioned, prefacing it with “in general,” meaning that this will often – though not always – be the case. This wasn’t stated as a biblical command, or as the main reason for presenting the law first, but as one of the likely consequences of not doing so. This is based on experience, not presumption.

        3. Not every analysis or word of advice needs direct biblical support. For example, where will one find biblical support for the safety benefits of wearing a seatbelt? However, in this case one can turn to the first three chapters of Romans to see how Paul approached the matter when writing to the church at Rome. Here he began by showing that Gentiles, Jews, and all mankind are unrighteous. He concluded this section in Romans 3:20 by saying, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Having thus used the law to show them why they needed to be saved apart from the law, he began presenting the solution to their problem in Romans 3:21 by saying, “But now…”

        To the Romans, Paul first demonstrated their need for salvation, and then presented the means of salvation. However, Paul did not always proceed in the same manner. Rather, he based his presentation on the needs of his audience. Thus, in his exposition at Athens in Acts 17:22-34, Paul didn’t even quote Scripture, but instead quoted their own poets. As a result, “some of the people became followers of Paul and believed” (Acts 17:34).

        God Bless!
        Rick

        • Marshall says:

          “To the Romans, Paul first demonstrated their need for salvation, and then presented the means of salvation. However, Paul did not always proceed in the same manner. Rather, he based his presentation on the needs of his audience.”

          quite true, Rick, and as also throughout the Acts of the Apostles, where presentation of the evangel of Christ is coming forth to match specific need in the hearer(s). This significantly has the effect of dismantling “evangelical method”. (good-bye “Four Spiritual Laws”)

          Still, it becomes no surprise to see how the Law (as to a child) becomes a significant portion pointing men to Christ inside a western world where so many people still live and think within childish frames. example: how many do not drive over the posted speed limits because they might get a ticket vs. how many travel inside speed limits with safety and sanity fully in mind (rather than fearing the police)..

  3. Ed says:

    I like Rick’s answer. The examples of Scripture show different starting places according to the audience. But beware, Jesus and Paul noted that sometimes the place where people are was NOT where they wanted to start. “The Jews demand a sign, the Greeks want wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified”. Hmm. So it appears that starting with the law might be a possible way to start but not THE place to start.

  4. Denny says:

    Lets see, first may I ask are you a unbelieving Jewish man then yes the Law comes first. If you are a man who believes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 then your not under the law as stated by Paul (for the reasons to this see the book of Galatians)

    Paul brought us the Gospel of Grace which brings us out to the Law because the Law shows us we are sinners and under the bondage of the law.

    We must tell all unbelievers that Paul brought us this great Gospel with Jesus the foundation.

    Jesus and the Twelve brought the Gospel of the Kingdom. Now Paul brings the Gospel of Grace.

  5. Eric Adams says:

    What about the woman at the well? What about the rich young ruler? What about His call “Repent, and believe the Gospel”? This is a false dilemma.

    I’m not Lutheran, so I hope I’m getting this right. Christ led with the Law when he met with self-righteous non-repentance; he led with Gospel when he met with humble brokenness. It has taken me a long time to finally understand this principle. I’m not sure I have the Law/Gospel distinction right yet, but I’m trying-lol.

    In our culture, especially here in the South, it is very rare to meet someone with the humility of the Syrophoenician woman, and even then, Jesus was not overly “Gospelly” with her.

    In dealing with the homeless here in Chattanooga, I have met with many people who have been presented with the “Jesus-is-my-social-worker” Gospel, which never presents our sin as the main obstacle to salvation. It is difficult to get them to consider the awfulness of their sin. They’ve “accepted Jesus into their hearts”, prayed a prayer, and signed a card, but there is no sense of guilt or release from that guilt. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what conversion is…objective guilt, and subjective guilt, dealt with by the Cross of Christ?

    I am convinced that it is a safe assumption that nearly any one you meet needs the Law first, followed by the Gospel. It’s the nature of our culture. That is not to say there aren’t exceptions, and we always have to be sensitive to the situation. Jesus met the woman caught in adultery with Gospel first, and not Law. That was a unique situation, however, and she was caught by Law, and was broken, and humiliated. I don’t find this very often.

    I spent several years using an outline that begins with “God loves you and has an awesome plan for your life”. It then uses the two Evangelism questions, and makes a vague, single line reference to sin. That’s a huge problem!

    There are such things as false conversion. I was one. As R.C. Sproul responded when he was asked “are you saved?”, I have to ask “saved from what”? That’s a serious question we all need to ask. People need to know they have offended a Holy and righteous God. The ten commandments are a summary of God’s Law written in our hearts. Using it is not converting to Moses’ Law, but pointing sinful men to a saving Christ.

    I had to repent of using that outline. I will never use that again. Besides, how cruel is it to make that declaration (God loves you and has and awesome plan for your life) to a homeless person?

    All “canned” outlines have their problems, but I feel more comfortable using a Ray Comfort style outline than any other, with exceptions, as mentioned.

    Either Paul was correct, and the Law in some form, is universally written on man’s heart (wherever they be found) or he’s wrong.

    Am I wrong?

    • Miguel says:

      Regarding the rich young ruler, Jesus said, “There is only One who is good,” before He began taking about the law.

      With the woman at the well, Jesus started with, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, ’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

      Again, He starts with who God is before He gets to what’s wrong with her.

    • Miguel says:

      Eric,

      You say, “Christ led with the Law when he met with self-righteous non-repentance; he led with Gospel when he met with humble brokenness.” Can you show me some examples?

  6. Your criticisms of the “you NEED to start with the law” are valid- it reduces evangelism to one specific method, and it puts the emphasis on people, not God. I think it makes a lot more sense to start with something immediately relevant to a person’s life- for example, Paul’s preaching in Athens started with the fact that Athenians worshiped a lot of gods.

    On the other hand, John the Baptist preached repentance, and the first thing Jesus preached (in Matthew 4) was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” And I think a gospel presentation NEEDS to include something about people’s need for God, because of our sin, our brokenness, the brokenness of the world, the injustice/oppression in the world- some variation on that theme, depending on what resonates with the person you’re talking to.

    • Miguel says:

      PerfectNumber,

      What if repentance had less to do with turning away from your sins and more to do with turning to God? Much evangelism focuses on the former and forgets the latter.

      But I agree with you in “a gospel presentation NEEDS to include something about people’s need for God, because of our sin, our brokenness, the brokenness of the world, the injustice/oppression in the world- some variation on that theme, depending on what resonates with the person you’re talking to.”

  7. I’m with you all the way on this, Miguel. Uncompromisingly so. I certainly can’t agree with Eric’s view.

    Every one of us needs Jesus first, and every one of us needs only Jesus. What did he mean when he claimed to be the fulfilment of the Law? And why did he ask which commandment is the greatest?

    He fulfils the Law so that it no longer has any power or authority. Jesus himself is the author of the universe, he has all authority. He loves us and changes us just as he finds us. He is not looking for people who will obey rules, but for those who will receive his gift of a heart of flesh, will love the Father as children, and will live under the rule of love, not Law. The Law is less than the One who fulfils it. How is it possible for you to need the lesser thing when you already have the greater One, Eric? I don’t understand.

    And he asked which commandment is the greatest because he knew that the answer is, again, not obedience but love.

    Love is the fulfilment of the Law, the Father IS love, and so is the Son because the Son only does what he sees the Father do, and only says what he hears the Father say. That’s why Paul can write that of the three things that remain (love, faith and hope), love is the greatest.

    Some people will need to discover their sinfulness, some will already know, all will recognise that the world is seriously broken. For some it may be helpful to learn about the Law before they learn about grace, for others it will be far more useful to hear about grace first.

    • GaryFPatton says:

      Chris Jefferies, you say: “He fulfils the Law so that it no longer has any power or authority.”

      WOW!

      If so, would you please explain to me then what Galatians 3:19-25 means in the context of Miguel’s comments which seem to involve non-Followers of Jesus? Without a clear understanding of our “sin nature” and the horror of our personal sins against the Ten Commandments, which I feel is the Law referred to here, from what do we need a Saviour?

      However, we use the Law, Miguel, in sharing Jesus, does not Galatians 3:24-25 say it is a “sine qua non” component of the Gospel message for non-Followers and a key part of how all we Followers entered the Kingdom?

      • Miguel says:

        Gary,

        We can not understand our sin nature with knowing God’s nature. So, which should come first in evangelism?

  8. David Woods says:

    I always wondered where this came from. I never saw it in the Bible myself, and wondered where people got the idea that they had to convince people of their sin. Then it hit me….

    I know this is probably getting old hearing this from me, but this too goes right back to the whole Sola Scriptura thing (or whatever you wanna call it). The people who think this way don’t believe that God has written anything on their hearts, speaks to them in any way (other than the written Scriptures), and don’t think God is out there right now convincing sinners of their sin. If He doesn’t even speak directly to those who ARE saved, then perish the thought that He might actually speak to an unsaved heathen!!!

    The idea that God and man are both equally free-willed agents is as prevalent IN the church as out because of this whole “The Word” or “Sola Scriptura” teaching, and that in and of itself creates the very problem that you speak of. People think they first have to convince sinners of their sin because they don’t think God can–or will–or does–or whatever it is they think.

    The fact is, from what I see in Scripture, it’s understood that people KNOW they are sinning, and our job is to present the good news of salvation FROM that sin to them.

  9. Tony Festa says:

    Great questions!!! I’ll have to agree with Eric. But let me first qualify the answer by saying you can’t put God in a box. We need to be sensitive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit. You and I both know (and have seen) how God can use something as simple as a Bible story or a testimony to bring people to Christ.

    The method of using the law is used when dealing with the proud and self righteous, and grace is for the humble. Those of us that knew well enough that we were sinners, didn’t need the law to convince us. We needed to hear about God’s plan of forgiveness and how we could be cleansed. AND WHAT A RELIEF IT WAS TO HEAR THAT PLAN.

    But so many we talk with think they are sinless because they compare themselves to others … instead of to the back drop of God’s standard which is PERFECTION. So the method of using the law is simply to show how imperfect we really are according to God’s standard … not mans. So now we can explain the problem (sin), the cause (Adam) and then the solution (Jesus).

    • Miguel says:

      Hey Tony! Thanks for joining the conversation.

      You’re absolutely right about putting God in a box. We must come to understand just how unfathomably big God’s love is in order to keep from putting God in that box, so to speak. We can fall for the trap of putting limits upon God based upon what we believe or don’t believe and by trusting in form and function rather than the work, filling, and leading of the Spirit. God isn’t interested in our systems or programs but in our hearts. He wants us to be caught up in exhilaration about Who He is and what He has done, is doing, and is able to do. He wants us to be enraptured with His power, strength, ability, provision, and love. We must have a big view of God, and we cannot tie Him down, thereby exalting ourselves and our abilities, ideas, plans, and agendas. We must give Him full authority, and we must yield to it. We must depend upon Him, and we must let Him fill us. We must open our hearts to Him and let Him lead us. We must step out in faith, and let Him sustain us. God is bigger than our circumstances, our fears, and our small plans and ambitions. He desires to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we could ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)

      You said, “The method of using the law is used when dealing with the proud and self righteous, and grace is for the humble.” My question for you is “Who gets to decide?” Who gets to decide who’s being prideful or humble? Who get’s to decide when to dispense law or grace?

      Again, I think you’re right on target when you said, “But so many we talk with think they are sinless because they compare themselves to others … instead of to the back drop of God’s standard which is PERFECTION.”

      Awesome! Only God is never the backdrop. He’s always the forefront. In order for people to begin to understand the law, they must first begin to understand the lawgiver. That’s my base proposition in this post.

  10. Marshall says:

    It is Jesus, and by His Spirit, who “starts” to introduce the Father to any man. No matter how deep your jungle, God is there presenting Himself ahead of you.
    [Romans 1:20; 2:14:15]
    The Law is tutor prime in our awareness of sin, most especially when we are children and too young to comprehend the gravity of our redemption. Therefore, the Law is a very significant aspect toward our need and best not be marginalized.
    So then, we would be considering an insertion point for the good news we herald and live: such as when Philip approached the Ethiopian’s chariot, or Simon greeting Cornelius, or Simon taking a stand at Pentecost, all of a convergence specific to the vector(s) of people coming into the Kingdom of God — like meeting someone along the road.

  11. I find those most critical of evangelism methods (law to the proud and grace to the humble) do no evangelism at all,… In 10 years of evangelism seven as a missionary-evangelist in Asia,.. I have heard a lot of criticism from people who do no evangelism “at all.” I like my wrong way of doing evangelism much better than you not doing your “supposed” right way! Friday night four of us shared our faith with 150 people in 2 1/2 hours and the previous Friday, we shared it with 91 people in 2 1/2 hours,… We also passed out nearly twice that number of tracts! Nearly every person we shared with thanked us for taking the time to share our faith with them,… We also share our faith daily with strangers and friends. Coming up with a method that is not a method is still a method! I find the Law first followed by the gospel (grace) to be powerful and that it brings many people under conviction… It leaves them thinking deeply about eternal things. In the end, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and converts sinners after we speak the words to them,… I will keep on doing my wrong way and you keep on discussing your better way and we will see who bares the most fruit,… There is to much talk and not enough working in the modern church,… Talk is just talk,..don’t fool yourself! Grace and peace

    • Miguel says:

      Carl, Thanks for the first time comment and the quote from Moody. For those who do not know it, the story goes like this:

      One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” The lady replied, “I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

      As someone who has done evangelism for over 25 years, I will be the first to admit that I have done it wrong time and again. The problem we all have with evangelism over all is that we’re married to the idea that evangelism = the winning of souls. It’s not. Evangelism is simply the preaching, proclaiming, and heralding of the Gospel.

      I will share a personal story as well. For many years I saw those that I evangelized walk away from the Lord. I excused it by saying things like “well, they heard the truth, so it’s not my problem.” Until I started Making Disciples. Where previously over 90 percent defected from the faith with my “evangelism methods,” not the percentages are reversed. Actually, in the last 4 years, we’ve only seen about 3 percent of those who received (not accepted) Christ walk away. So, from one who “does it,” and doesn’t just talk about it, I’d say that most methods are weak and potentially dangerous. I prefer “frameworks” or as I have called them “frameless frameworks.” Grace and Peace to you as well.

  12. Alex van Nes says:

    Starting with the Law is starting with God. His Law, His viewpoint, His standard and His desire for people. Jesus always did that, except when people were convinced of their problem and guild already, like the Samaritan woman. The golden rule is: Law for the proud, Grace for the humble (those who are humbled by the Law and those who already were aware of their sins and lostness.

    I have been active as a fulltime evangelist for over 30 years here in Europe now. Since the beginning of this year I have taken the “Law first, Gospel next” approach. What I see that suddenly a lot, especially the young, do listen and understand the meaning of the Cross a lot better now.

    http://www.wayofthemaster.com has helped me tremendously.

  13. Miguel, I love your answer to Carl above. The difference between making disciples and making converts is in our understanding of the task Jesus did actually give the Church to do. Modern evangelicalism methodologies have shown they don’t work in making disciples, because we start from the wrong place, with the wrong purpose in mind. Those who who such methods often do more harm than good, as they seek decisions for Christ and not disciples of Christ. And there’s a huge life-transforming difference. It’s easy to get decisions based on an emotional response or a group think (crusade) approach, even as some of these posts above indicate. But the hard work is in making disciples who make disciples and actually live for Christ the way we are called to, for narrow is the way that leads to life and few find it.

    Such methodologies are part of our quick fix mentality that looks for instant results. We think we win points in heaven because we got someone to pray the “sinners prayer” and make a confession for Christ. I don’t know how many times I did that over the years, and taught others to do so – “get them to the prayer” as if that’s some magical formula. Then they’ll be “saved” and “get their ticket to heaven.” Of course, no where in Scripture do we see this approach used.

    You are right that the place to start is with God and I would add what people understand about God. It is where Jesus began as he spoke about our Father, it is where Peter began on the Day of Pentecost and with Cornelius (Acts 10), it is where Paul begins at the Areopagus (Acts 17). It is where cross-cultural missionaries need to begin to build understanding and trust.

    Thanks for reposting this today on Facebook as it helps me in my blog series on Rethinking Evangelism. http://livingsenttoday.blogspot.com/2013/06/rethinking-evangelism-demostration-is.html

    Keep up the great work!

  14. Tom Schultz says:

    Galatians 3:23-27(NET) Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    It seems that Paul was focussed on the role of faith and how it replaced law…not on methods of evangelism. In every situation he evangelized based on his perception of where his hearers were. The sadder thing to me is how so many Christian groups seem to keep their members firmly under the law in spite of Paul’s teaching!

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