And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.( Mark 10:17-19)
We have been discussing the fact that a primary function of the true church must be Evangelism. We are called to “go into all of the World and preach the Gospel to all Creation…” We have a Great commission, given us by Jesus.
I would like to continue this discussion, by pointing to the Evangelism of Jesus himself. How did Jesus Evangelize?
In the example above, we note that in the case of the rich young ruler who asked Jesus for direction regarding eternal Life, Jesus spoke to him in a way that many would find to be counter-intuitive. Rather than explain to the young seeker, the plan of salvation, Jesus pointed him instead to two things; a discussion on the meaning of the word”good” and he also pointed him to the Law of God.
What or Who is truly ‘Good’?
” Good Master….” is how the young man adressed Jesus, to which Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God alone!”.
Why would Jesus quibble over the use of the word “good” in the light of such a momentous , frank, question, “What must I do to inherit eternal Life?”.
Jesus knew that unless we come to understand something about “good”, we could never inherit eternal life, even if the “plan of salvation” was explained to us. First we have to come to the point where we truly believe what Jesus told this seeker, (who obviously felt his need for salvation),
There is none good but God.
In this humanistic generation, unfortunately, there are very few who actually believe that, therefore there are few who will ever find the path to eternal life. The reception of the gift of eternal life, is premised upon the belief that “there is none good , no not One…”, in fact we are so bad, so spiritually and morally bankrupt, and so far removed from God, that it took nothing less than the Messiah to come from heaven to die on the cross to save us.We really are the “wretches” we sing about in Amazing Grace.
But so few truly believe this.Even if they have been taught the doctrine that “all have sinned and are coming short of the Glory of God…” in their head, very few believe in their heart that they are truly bad, undeserving and wretched sinners. There is such a strong instinct in all of us fallen beings, to justify ourselves at any cost, it is just plain hard to accept that we are not Good.
The rich young ruler thought He was good. In calling Jesus a “Good Master” he was acting as though he was qualified to evaluate the savior, according to his own standards. As Far as He was concerned, Jesus was Good, (just as he was good), all he needed to know was “how to attain eternal life’?
“Why do you call me good”? Jesus wasn’t denying his own goodness here, he was challenging the rich young ruler’s ability to judge what is good as opposed to what is evil for himself. It didn’t matter what the Rich Young Ruler thought of Jesus, all that matters is God’s evaluation.
In our fallenness we lack the ability to independently decide what is truly good or truly evil. Adam and Eve thought the forbidden fruit looked good. Saul saved for himself all of the ‘good Amalekites’, and Job’s wife decided by her standards, that God was no longer ‘good’.
We need an objective standard in order to perceive good and evil, because our own heart is desperately wicked, we tend to fool ourselves about the subject, to our eternal ruin.
This brings us to the other issue… Jesus pointed the young seeker for eternal life, to the Law of God. “What does the Law say…?” Why? Will the law give us eternal life? Can it show us the way to eternal life? Why would Jesus point a young man, seeking salvation to the Law?
“The Law of the Lord is perfect,, converting the soul…”Psalm 19:7
The Law of God is what shows us the true state of our own hearts. Without exposure to the Law of God, we think we are all right, fine in comparison with others…thus deceiving ourselves. When the Law of God does it’s work, we are crushed, we forsake our own sense of self righteousness, it actually turns us the seek another way of Salvation, in Jesus Christ.
The use of the Law in evangelism and in preaching has the same effect on our hearers.
Because the young man thought he was already good, and fully capable of determining ‘good and evil’ from himself, there would be no possibility of him believing the gospel. So Jesus didn’t tell him how to be saved, nor did he preach the plan of salvation to Him.
Instead he quizzed him on his own observance of the Law. What does the Law say?
Notice that Jesus quoted the commands of God from the second table of the Law, which deals with how we are to love our fellow man. But then Jesus tested the youth on the first commandment, which is the primal commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me….”,
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.( Mark 10:20-22)
Do you keep all of the Law? What about Loving God more than anything? Even more than wealth?
The answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is not”Sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow me…” . That isn’t what we tell people who are ready to be saved and give their lives to the One who purchased them with his blood. Jesus still hasn’t answered the young man, that question.
“Sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow me” is rather the answer to the statement,”Master I have kept all of these from my youth up…”. Really? Have you fully kept the law?
The Law pierced him. He went away sad! Jesus didn’t send Peter after him to try to make him feel better, either. Would to God that others would leave church sad, or walk away sad after an encounter with a witnessing Christian. That sadness is essential to some people being saved.The law makes us sad because it deflates our pride and self righteousness and shows us our sin and misery.
This is the Law/Gospel paradigm. look closely at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles in the gospels and Acts. The Law of God breaks the heart up, preparing it for the gospel;
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.( John 4:16-19)
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.(Acts 24:24-25)
The Law of God was given to convict people of their sin, it is a Divine mirror to show us our faults, and to turn us to the gospel of the grace of God which saves. So many will never see the light, till they feel the heat. This is a major facet of evangelism which has been utilized from the beginning of the church to this day.
I highly recommend the works of evangelists such as Ray Comfort, who has been utilizing this paradigm and records his evangelism on YouTube videos. Watch him as he speaks to sinners, asks them questions, and gets them to confess their sinfulness through quizzing them on the ten commandments. I would that more Christians witness this way. Another resource is the tracts of Jack Chick. I really appreciate his signature tract, “This Was Your Life” , which is as clever a use of the threatenings of the law and the grace of the gospel as I have ever seen. ( I can’t verify all of Chick’s tracts but He has been wonderful on strict evangelism.
I Close with some precious gems from preachers of old….
“God be thanked when the Law so works as to take off the sinner from all confidence in himself! To make the leper confess that he is incurable is going a great way toward compelling him to go to that divine Savior, who alone is able to heal him. This is the whole end of the Law toward men whom God will save.” Charles Spurgeon
Lower the Law, and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt. This is a very serious loss to the sinner, rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion …I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ…they will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary and blessed purpose, and it must not be removed from its place.
When the sinner sees the awful consequences of breaking the Law of God—that he cannot escape the certainty of judgment—he will see his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we preach future punishment by the Law, the sinner comes to Christ solely to flee from “the wrath to come.”Charles Spurgeon
Martin Luther – “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and show the nature of sin, because it will act as a schoolmaster and bring him to everlasting life which is in Jesus Christ.”
John Wesley – “Before I preach love, mercy and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgment.”
Wesley advised a friend, “Preach 90 percent law and 10 percent grace.”
Charles Spurgeon – “They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and Holy God
John Wycliffe – “The highest service to which a man may attain on earth is to preach the law of God.“
D.L. Moody – “God, being a perfect God, had to give a perfect law, and the law was given not to save men, but to measure them.”