Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Preaching of the Law - Part 2 of 2

Update, June 2010: As I was rereading the two parts of this article, I realized that many of my thoughts on all of this have changed (quite a lot, in some ways) since the time I wrote it, but nevertheless I'll leave it as it is. I still agree that the law can be used to lead some people to Christ, but really the law was only meant for Jews, and never given to Gentiles.  In the Bible it was not used to lead Gentiles to Christ.  And in modern times, some people will have never heard the law, and yet come to faith in Christ in various other ways.

Have you ever listened to Ray Comfort or seen him on TV? You may have seen Comfort's TV program that he does with Kirk Cameron, called "The Way of the Master." I cringe - and yet I cheer at the same time - when I see Comfort doing his "street preaching." I admit that I mostly cringe because my flesh doesn't like the gall he has to blatantly confront people and their sin, but yet I cheer all the way because he's using the Law to help them see their sin so they'll understand their need for Christ. I do also cringe sometimes because I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but yet his overall message to Christians is essentially, "how to use the Law to lead people to Christ," and I'm very much in line with that.

One thing he'll do is to get people to unwittingly admit that they're a liar, a thief and an adulterer.

He'll ask a person this question, "Have you ever told a lie?"

The usual answer is "Yes."

"Then you're a liar."

He'll then ask, "Have you ever stolen anything?"

Some will say "No" and some will say "Yes," but then Comfort will bring up what James said - that if you keep the whole law, but stumble in just one point, you're guilty of all, and he'll say, "Even if you've stolen a paper clip, you've broken the Law and are guilty as a transgressor of the Law."

He'll then ask, "Have you ever looked upon someone with lust?"

This usually draws snickers and giggles from the person and from those standing nearby. Many people will readily admit - and even brag about it - that they've looked upon others with lust. So Comfort will bring up Jesus' words that if you look upon a woman with lust, you've committed adultery in your heart.

And this is where he says, "You've just admitted to me that you're a liar, a thief and an adulterer."

Again, in doing all this he's just enough "in your face" to cause you to cringe, but yet you know he's using all of this to show them their need for Jesus.

Fifteen years ago, someone gave me a cassette tape with a 30 minute teaching by Ray Comfort called "The Ten Cannons of God's Law." I can't tell you how that tape began to affect my understanding of the gospel, and how the Law's purpose is to lead a person to Christ, but not to keep him in Christ. I recently did some internet searching to hopefully find that same message so that I could share it with anyone who might be interested. I found a message that's available for free called "Hell's Best Kept Secret." It's essentially the same message as "Cannons." In fact much of it is the same message verbatim. You can download the mp3, watch the video or read the transcript here. I'm not saying you'll necessarily be in full agreement with everything he says, but again the overall gist is a great message.

One thing (of many) that particularly catches my ear in this message is that Comfort draws attention to the sad reality that Christians have been using the wrong "draw card" to convert people to Christianity. When evangelizing people (trying to lead them to Jesus), Christians will use love, joy, happiness, etc, as the main reasons for people to come to know Jesus. "Come to Jesus and you'll have love, joy and happiness!" But that isn't the reason people need to come to Jesus! Comfort does eventually make the point that those things are legitimate fruits of knowing Jesus, but the reason people need to have faith in Jesus is to avoid the condemnation of the Law.

What do you think of all this? If you've ever seen Comfort and Cameron do their thing on TV, what have your thoughts been. If you get a chance to listen to the mp3 or watch the video, I'd like to hear what you think.


  1. Hey Joel,

    I've seen Ray's show on TBN a few times and it's very interesting and, like you said, makes you want to cringe. I find myself laughing at the people sometimes, but realizing how sad it is, that people think they're in the ok because they haven't physically murdered anyone. Which is also what I used to believe, so I'm no smarter. Makes you wonder if grace and truth is really being preached today. This is the danger of not preaching grace and truth in my opinion. When people teach the Ten Commandments as something to live by, then the focus comes off Jesus and onto your behavior. People are struggling to balance law with grace, when Jesus said you cannot pour new wine into old wineskin's.

    Ray is very articulate and very bold. Like you said, some things I don't agree with, but I very much agree that we must resist the proud with the Law, and give grace to the humble.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Matthew. I see Jesus doing the same thing - resisting the proud through the fine details of the Law and giving grace to the humble.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Joel,

    Great comments with which I must concur!

    I recently read a blog which suggested that we needed to preach grace alone, with the further idea that people would be attracted to such pristine grace.

    Until a person is drowning he doesn't know he needs to be saved, but when he is saved he needs to understand, as you suggested elsewhere, that he is indeed a new creature in Christ, with a new identity!

    We still need to be mindful that in this life he still bears the traits of his Adamic heritage.

    Aussie John

  5. Hi Aussie John,

    I agree that it's very true that if a person who's still in Adam doesn't understand or acknowledge that they're a sinner, or that their sin isn't all that bad, then grace won't mean a thing to them. Pure grace means so much more to a person who has understood that they're nothing apart from it!

  6. I had been so busy thinking about the law speaking to those that are under it (and not to me, as I live under grace) that I had missed this appropriate application. You have given me something to consider.

  7. Yep indeed, eleventh hour, I've been the same in many ways, reveling in the fact that I'm not under the law but under grace, but forgetting that the law still has its purpose in leading unbelievers to Christ.

    Who feels that they really need Christ, if they don't first understand the reality of sin? Grace will mean so much more to them if they first get this. :)