In the late seventies, God very graciously opened an itinerant ministry to me. As I began to travel, I found that I had access to church growth records, and found to my horror that something like 80 to 90% of those making a decision for Christ were falling away from the faith. That is, modern evangelism with its methods is creating something like 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders for every hundred decisions for Christ.
Let me make it more real for you. In 1991, in the first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S. was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year, this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship, which means they couldn’t account for 280,000 of their decisions, and this is normal, modern evangelical results, and something I discovered way back in the late seventies; it greatly concerned me. I began to study the book of Romans intently and, specifically, the gospel proclamation of men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Whitfield, Luther, and others that God used down through the ages, and I found they used a principle which is almost entirely neglected by modern evangelical methods. I began teaching that principle; I was eventually invited to base our ministry in southern California, the city of Bellflower, specifically to bring this teaching to the church of the U.S.
Things were quiet for the first three years, until I received a call from Bill Gothard, who had seen the teaching on video. He flew me to San Jose in northern California; I shared it with a thousand pastors. Then in 1992 he screened that video to 30,000 pastors. The same year David Wilkerson called from New York. He called from his car. (He had been listening to the teaching in his car and called me on his car phone.) Immediately, he flew me 3,000 miles from L.A. to New York to share the one-hour teaching with his church; he considered it to be that important. And recently I heard of a pastor who had listened to the audio tape 250 times. I’d be happy if you’d listen just once to this teaching which is called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.”
The Bible says in Psalm 19, verse 7, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” What is it that the Bible says is perfect and actually converts the soul? Why scripture makes it very clear: “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” Now to illustrate the function of God’s law, let’s just look for a moment at civil law. Imagine if I said to you, “I’ve got some good news for you: someone has just paid a $25,000 speeding fine on your behalf.” You’d probably react by saying, “What are you talking about? That’s not good news: it doesn’t make sense. I don’t have a $25,000 speeding fine.” My good news wouldn’t be good news to you: it would seem foolishness. But more than that, it would be offensive to you, because I’m insinuating you’ve broken the law when you don’t think you have. However, if I put it this way, it may make more sense: “On the way to this meeting, the law clocked you at going 55 miles an hour through an area set aside for a blind children’s convention. There were ten clear warning signs stating that fifteen miles an hour was the maximum speed, but you went straight through at 55 miles an hour. What you did was extremely dangerous; there’s a $25,000 fine. The law was about to take its course, when someone you don’t even know stepped in and paid the fine for you. You are very fortunate.”
Can you see that telling you precisely what you’ve done wrong first actually makes the good news make sense. If I don’t clearly bring instruction and understanding that you’ve violated the law, then the good news will seem foolishness; it will seem offensive. But once you understand that you’ve broken the law, then that good news will become good news indeed.
Now in the same way, if I approach an impenitent sinner and say, “Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins,” it will be foolishness and offensive to him. Foolishness because it won’t make sense. The Bible says that: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” (1Cor. 1:18). And offensive because I’m insinuating he’s a sinner when he doesn’t think he is. As far as he’s concerned, there are a lot of people far worse than him. But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it may make more sense. If I take the time to open up the divine law, the ten commandments, and show the sinner precisely what he’s done wrong, that he has offended God by violating His law, then when he becomes, as James says, “convinced of the law as a transgressor” (Jam. 2:9), the good news of the fine being paid for will not be foolishness, it will not be offensive, it will be “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
Author: Ray Confort (The Way of the Master)
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