2.18.2006

Are You or Your Loved Ones Soundly Saved? Part I

Disturbing statistics indicate that over 80% of professing Christians fall away from the faith soon after conversion. The International Church of Christ reports here that more than four out of five of those that are baptized leave church within months. The September 1977 issue of Eternity Magazine reported the results of an evangelistic crusade that involved 178 churches. Out of 4,106 decisions for Christ at the altar, only 3 percent joined a local church. That series of meetings created 3,981 backsliders! And this was almost 40 years ago! A more recent campaign reported a 92% rate of real conversions. For every hundred people who make a profession of faith at the altars of American churches, often less than 10 stay in a local fellowship.

Most of these statistics are taken from Ray Comfort's book, Hell's Best Kept Secret. How is it that our best methods of evangelism are failing miserably? As popular as the slogan "What Would Jesus Do" has become, I frankly admit that I do not like it. It allows people to create a Jesus in their own image, according to their own desires. Canadian Senator Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, in comments made during debate of impending same-sex "marriage" legislation, made the astonishing claim that Jesus Christ would have voted in favor of the legislation just like she did. "As a Christian, I often ask myself 'What would Jesus do?'" the senator stated. She answered with, "In this case, in this time, I believe He would say yes. After all, we have come a long way from Old Testament days when adulterers were put to death; and we have come a long way in our understanding of human sexuality." It is so easy for people to rationalize when asked what Jesus would do. So instead, I prefer to ask "What DID Jesus Do?" So, when we are faced with statistics that show 80-90% of converts are falling away, we should immediately ask whether our evangelistic methods concur with the words and actions of Jesus Christ. Since early in the 20th century, modern evangelism has centered around what Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort call the "life enhancement" message. In other words, the idea that "There is a God-shaped hole in you that only God can fill. You will never be satisfied unless you come to Jesus. So just admit you are a sinner and ask for Jesus, and you will be happy and joyful and fulfilled and rich and everything else you ever wanted!" The problem with this approach is that it is totally opposed to Scripture! In Matthew 24, Jesus tell His disciples that that the enemies of the Gospel "will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake." This is anything but a gospel of joy, peace, and lasting fulfillment! Psalm 19:7 says that "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul." How can this be? Haven't we always been taught that Jesus did away with the law of Moses at Calvary? Humans are not under the law any more, or so some would have us to believe. But in Romans 7:7, Paul tell us that "I would not have known sin except through the law." What does the Psalm say? "The law ... is perfect, converting the soul." How is one converted? Jesus said over and over that we are to repent of sin, not to "Try Jesus"! Let us now suppose that I walk up to a person on the street and tell him, "I have some great news for you! Someone you do not even know just paid a $25,000.00 speeding fine on your behalf! That is great news, isn't it?" The man would probably stare daggers at me. "Are you insinuating," he would demand, "that I broke the law? I have not been speeding, and I do not have a $25,000 fine!" Then, I would probably get a sock in the nose for my pains and the man would walk away. But let us suppose that I try this approach: "Excuse me, sir. I have some really bad news for you. Yesterday, you were clocked at 55 miles per hour going through a zone set aside for a blind children's convention. There were ten clear warning signs showing the top speed limit to be 15 miles per hour, but you ignored them all and went through at over three times the legal limit. What you did was incredibly dangerous, and a judge has levied a $25,000 fine on you." Now, if I tell the man his fine has been paid, he will be grateful. But if I omit the bad news, the good news will be foolishness to him. Likewise, if I tell someone that "Jesus died on the cross for your sins," he will be offended and my words will sound like foolishness to him (1 Cor. 1:18). But if I explain that he has broken God's law and is on his way to Hell first, he will be much more likely to welcome the Gospel with open arms. Or try this example. Two men are on an airplane. The flight attendant gives the first man a gigantic parachute backpack and tells him to strap it on. "It will improve your flight!" He is skeptical at first, but he puts it on as an experiment. The first man soon notices that the parachute prevents him from sitting upright in his seat. But he consoles himself with the thought that he was told it would improve his flight. Before long, however, the other passengers are laughing at him, and he is growing more and more uncomfortable. He gets up to use the lavatory and the weight almost pushes him to the ground. Disgusted, he rips the parachute off and throws it to the ground. Now he is "inoculated" against parachute-wearing, because after all "I tried it and it didn't work." The second man, however, is told to "Put this parachute on, because in less than 15 minutes you will be jumping 25,000 feet." He eagerly straps the backpack on, ignoring the weight on his shoulders and the ridicule of those around him. His only thoughts are for the jump to come. Telling someone to "Trust in Jesus!" without telling them about the jump to come is foolishness. Charles Spurgeon said that he preached "90% law and 10% grace." God law, the Ten Commandments, are necessary to show a sinner his need for God. Only when he is thoroughly convinced that he will stand before God guilty can he given the good news that Jesus already paid his fine. The message that Jesus will "improve your flight" is one of the most damaging messages ever created. We need to get back to the way Jesus taught. When the rich young ruler came to Him asking "What must I do to inherit eternal life," Jesus did not walk him through the Roman Road. He went straight to the Law: the Ten Commandments. More later. In Him, David S. MacMillan III

6 comments:

David Boskovic said...

Wow. Very interesting. Are they still included in the statistics of 'Christians' though?

David Ketter said...

The Assemblies of God report statistics about the youth in their church falling away. For every ten children that attend an Assembly of God for two years (provided those two years are their last under eighteen), eight of them will not continue after highschool or college. They virtually turn away from the faith.

The problem? Lack of committment.

Hannah Beth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hannah Beth said...

Excellent post. I had the opportunity to hear Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron both speak on evangelism last year. If you haven't checked out Ray Comfort's website yet, I highly suggest you do so. The link is http://www.livingwaters.com. I also suggest Mark Cahill's website (he wrote a very convicting and thought provoking book on the importance of evangelism) which is www.markcahill.org.
Keep up the good work, D3!

Thrasher said...

I can't say I disagree with you, David. Wonderful post.

I've always been wary of simply telling someone that Jesus died for their sins, without first convincing them that they've sinned, and I've never understood the purpose of the "life enhancement" message either.

Of course, I find one's actions to be a far more effective form of evangelism than anything he could say, at least initially. But unfortunately, I am not currently able to organize my thoughts into an intelligent comment. Suffice it to say that I look forward to reading the continuation of this post.

Neo

Anonymous said...

you mom walked through the roman road.