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Friday, November 15, 2013

What to tell a sinner

How is the gospel presented today?

Years ago men knew how to speak to sinners and use the truth to touch the heart of man, but in the 21st century it is apparent that our approach is different.  There are numerous tracts that are given out to supposedly lead men to Christ, but there is a definite trend that shows the gospel is being weakened.  The modern gospel has a inherit desire to simplify things and to try as hard as possible to put things on a kindergarten level while at the same time presenting a picture of God that looks a little more like Santa Clause rather then the thrice holy God.  Let us take a brief look at a familiar gospel tract and contrast it with what the old dead guys would say to a sinner.

There was a popular gospel tract called the 4 Spiritual Laws and it is still around today.  The tract is introduced by saying that there are certain laws in nature (gravity) and there are certain laws spiritually. Here are the four laws that they present to man:

First, God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

Second, man is sinful and separated from God.  Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

Third, Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin.  Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. 

Fourth, we must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. 

These four laws are quickly followed up with a simple prayer that can be prayed and when the prayer is repeated the person is then given assurance that they are right with God and will go to heaven when they die. 

Short synopsis of the above 4 laws - God loves you, there is a sin problem, God gave Jesus to help make things right, and now it is in the hands of men to make the right decision where love can be experienced. 

Contrast the above thoughts with what a godly pastor would tell a sinner just a few hundred years ago:

Dear sir, you must stop provoking God by your great sins, you need to abandon your carnal lusts, you need to separate from being involved in the cares of this world, you need to think upon your sin and your offense towards God, and you must consider the shortness of life and the horror of hell.  Time is a thing that is exceedingly precious; eternity depends on it, but time is very short.  

First, it is God's manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness before he appears in his mercy and love to them.

Second, God convinces sinners of the dreadful danger they are in by reason of their sin, that is, the relation that their sin has to misery.

Third, men generally respond to conviction of sin by trying to be better people so that God will give them the grace to become believers.  Through failed efforts to become better people they begin to see the need for help.

Fourth, the very meaning of the word 'gospel' or good news implies that it is news of deliverance and salvation, after great fear and distress.  

The above thoughts are from Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and I have paraphrased them.  The contrast between the two sets of thought ought to be obvious.  

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