Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I was recently listening to "You Can Be an Effective Witness for Christ" by John MacArthur. Here's what he said regarding witnessing, using the story of the rich young ruler:

"What do I have to do to obtain eternal life?" That was a felt need, wasn't it? But the Lord didn't say, "Hey, sign on the dotted line, guy and you're in!" "Hey, believe!", ya know? The Lord hit him with something that was absolutely unbelievable. He said, "Keep all the Commandments." Keep all the Commandments? Which Commandments? God's Commandments, remember He listed some of them there in Matthew.

"What was the Lord doing? The Lord was taking him to the next step in evangelism. It's got to be beyond a felt need, they have to realize that they're living in sin and rebellion against God. And sometimes that is the hardest thing to tell someone.

"You can find a person searching for purpose and they can get all excited about that. "Oh man, meaning and purpose and value and life and fullfillment and potential..." And then you say, "But wait. You see, the real issue with you is, the reason you don't know those things, is because you're living in rebellion to the God who gives those things. And you'll never know them until you come to grips with that rebellion. You're living in violation of God's Law, you're a sinner. You have broken God's Commandments. And then you can name those Commandments, and you need to bring them to the point where they admit it.

"Now, Jesus gave all those Commandments to the rich young ruler and what did he say? "All those things have I kept, what am I lacking?" Impossible to bring that guy to conversion because he didn't admit that he was, what? A sinner. I mean he wouldn't admit that he was out of sync with God. Therefore, all he was looking for was a placebo, all he was looking for was a panacea, a temporary relief from the symptoms and he wouldn't admit that there was a deeper problem. And so you have to take people to the point where they really affirm the fact that they are sinful. And that sometimes is hard to do."
End of MacArthur quote.

Now then, using the WOTM, I have found this is not so hard to do at all. In fact, Ray Comfort uses this same verse to explain how to witness - I mean, this is Jesus Christ Himself, in an encounter with a man who comes right up and asks how to get into heaven, we should be paying attention if we call Him Lord.

The first thing Jesus does is ask the ruler, why do you call Me good? Only God is good. People really need to understand God's definition of good, as contrasted to man's ever changing definition. We compare ourselves to people like Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein, to murderers and rapists, and then we claim that we are pretty good compared to those people. But that's not the way God does it. He has given us a moral standard and He demands perfection. We will not be graded on a curve or compared to other people. We will stand alone, compared to His holy standard, which is based on His nature and revealed to us in the Ten Commandments.

We can open a conversation fairly easily by giving a person an interesting Gospel tract - a million dollar bill, a smart card or a coin with the Commandments on it (interesting tracts can be found at Living Waters or Custom Tract Source, as well as other websites).

Follow up with, "The million dollar question is, do you think you're good enough to get into heaven?" Or, "That coin has the Ten Commandments on it, do you think you've kept them?" Or, "What do you think happens to a person after they die? Do you believe in heaven and hell?" Any number of inquiries can transition from the Gospel tract you've just given them to "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?"

Most people do, just as Prov 20:6 says they will. Then, just like Jesus did, we can bring out some of the Commandments to see if this person can hold up to God's standard.

It may sound harsh, but it's really not taken that way as long as you ask these questions with a tone of concern and not in an accusing way. We want to do this out of love, so the person can judge themselves by God's standard, not out of self-righteousness, or arrogance because we want to prove ourselves right (if that is the sort of attitude you have, stop witnessing immediately and examine your own life - check out the Book of 1 John, and test yourself by Scripture).

If you ask these questions with loving concern and the person still gets angry, simply apologize and move on to someone else who God has prepared to hear the Gospel. We're not going to convince anyone, only God will make a convert, so don't feel like you have to get some sort of confession, or feel bad because someone rejects it. We are only called to be witnesses, in obedience to the Lord. He will bring the increase.

Soli Deo Gloria

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