April 2, 2012

Evangelism and The Law of God

by Mike Riccardi

On Friday, I posted some comments from Dr. Tom Schreiner regarding the tripartite division of the Mosaic Law. While Schreiner expressed the usefulness of an informal description of the Mosaic Law in three categories, he rejected the idea that only parts of the Law have passed away. Instead, all of the Mosaic Law—and not just the civil and ceremonial aspects—has been fulfilled in Christ.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that many of the commands of the Mosaic Law remain relevant for believers today.  We left off by asking, if the Mosaic Law is unified and is now obsolete in Christ, how can certain Old Testament commandments be normative for believers today while others are not? I’ll repeat Schreiner’s answer and my final comments before jumping into today’s topic:

“It is perhaps instructive to note that in most instances Paul does not argue that the moral norms from the Old Testament are authoritative on the basis of their appearance in the Old Testament, though in some instances he does cite the Old Testament command (e.g., Rom.13:9; Eph. 6:2–3). … They are not normative merely because they appear in the Mosaic covenant, for that covenant has passed away. It seems that they are normative because they express the character of God. We know that they still express God’s will for believers because they are repeated as moral norms in the New Testament. It is not surprising that in the welter of the laws we find in the Old Testament (613 according to the rabbis) that some of those laws express transcendent moral principles. Still, the mistake we make is trying to carve up neatly the law into moral and nonmoral categories.” (93–94).

Here Schreiner gets to the heart of the matter. The reason that certain Old Testament commandments are normative for believers today is not merely because they show up in the Old Testament. Murder isn’t wrong because it’s in the Law of Moses, because, again, a prohibition of mixing fabrics is also in the Law of Moses, and we don’t argue that that is wrong for believers today. No, the reason that certain Old Testament commandments are normative for believers today while others are not, is because those that are normative express the  transcendent, unchanging character of God. They express the “transcendent moral principles” which make up what the New Testament calls “the law of God” (1Cor 9:21), that divine standard of absolute righteousness to which all are universally held accountable.

Not Under the Law of Moses, but Under the Law of God

In fact, 1 Corinthians 9:20–21 is very instructive on this matter.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

As Paul speaks about becoming all things to all men, he introduces categories of people which shed light on the nature of the law. There is a category of people who are called “under the [Mosaic] Law” (i.e., the Jews) (1Cor 9:20). And there is a category of people who are not under the Mosaic Law, but who are “without law” (i.e., the Gentiles) (1Cor 9:21).

The key is: Paul says that he could become as one not under the Mosaic Law, while at the same time being under the law of God. And the reason he could do that is because he’s under the law of Christ. That means the law of God does not equal the Law of Moses. Instead, the “law of God” is a superordinate category of which the Law of Moses in the Old Testament and the law of Christ in the New Testament are instantiations. The Law of Moses was given to Israel in the Old Testament. The law of Christ is given to Christians in the New Testament. But the law of God is that transcendent, universal standard of absolute moral righteousness to which all are called, which is written on every man’s conscience (Rom 2:11–15), and of which we all fall short (Rom 3:23).

Bringing it Back

So, bringing this down into the context of our recent discussion regarding the use of “law” in evangelism, we see a potential point of clarification. The dear brothers at Way of the Master, as well as other well-meaning brethren who have shared their perspective on the matter, vigorously maintain that Christians ought to use “the law,” or “the law of God,” or “the moral law of God” in evangelism. The problem is: they hear us disagreeing with that, but we don’t. We say, “Amen! Yes indeed! The law exposes sin and the Gospel provides forgiveness!” And so passages of Scripture are quoted (e.g., Rom 3:19–20; 7:7ff; Gal 3:24), along with sermon transcripts, commentary excerpts, and book quotes from John MacArthur and other men who serve alongside us at Grace Church, which all call for the use of God’s moral law in evangelism, as if to show some sort of contradiction or disagreement. But there isn’t any.

The misunderstanding comes from their equating “the (moral) law (of God)” with “the Ten Commandments.” But when we say “the (moral) law (of God),” we’re referring to those transcendent moral principles that express the perfect standard of righteousness rooted in the character of God.

So, will a biblical method of evangelism employ the law of God to convict of sin? Absolutely! Have I departed from biblical evangelism if I do not use the Ten Commandments to convict of sin? No, I haven’t. Because though the Ten Commandments were an expression of the law of God, they do not equal the law of God.

Stated simply: I can use the law of God to bring the sinner to conviction over his personal sin without using the Ten Commandments. I can do this by listening carefully to him, asking probing questions (like, “Why is x so important to you?,” “What would you have done in that situation?,” or “What do you think makes that wrong?”), by understanding his worldview, and then by confronting him with the particular ways he is demeaning the glory of God—the particular ways he is violating the transcendent moral principles which make up the perfect standard of God’s righteousness.

And if I’ve understood his position correctly, that is all Jesse is trying to say; namely, that it is wrong to insist that one has not done biblical evangelism if he hasn’t used the Ten Commandments. In using the law of God to convict the sinner, the evangelist may take the sinner to Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6,  Matthew 5, or Matthew 22, and not necessarily to Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.

Mike Riccardi

Posts Facebook

Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • Dave Johnson

    Amen! This is doctrinal precision … “… though the Ten Commandments were an expression of the law of God, they do not equal the law of God. Another way to put it … Personality is more ultimate then principle. This is seen in God’s name which was revealed to Moses at the burning bush as recorded in Exodus 3:13-14 “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” The name “I Am,” reveals God to personality, un-derived, self-contained, eternal Being. God who is! That is, the indicative mood of certainty, – of fact; not the imperative mood of necessity nor the subjunctive mood of contingency. God who is ultimate Being, the source of all being, is also ultimate certainty, the source of all certainty. We testify (to the world) to the former by confessing that “in Him we live and move and have our being, and to the latter by acknowledging that he “works all things after the counsel of his own will.” It is this God who commands all men everywhere to repent! The Law of God (OT / NT examples of which you have already delineated)!

    The Christian understands personality (including God’s sovereign purpose) to be (logically) more ultimate than principle. He is God and His sovereign will and power guarantee and indeed constitute the certainty of all that He decrees. It stands to reason that His law reflects bot His Person as does principle. Both are consistent with who He is; but both are not equal in terms of their nature – i.e., Person is more ultimate then principle – for Person transcends principle.

  • Olasjc

    Perhaps I’m missing something but are not 9 of the 10 reiterated in the N.T (MacArthur study Bible Exodus 20:5-6)

    • Out of curiosity, which is the one that is not repeated?

      • Olasjc

        Sabbath???

    • Hi Olasjc. Yes, the substance of 9 of the 10 commandments are repeated in the NT. And that shouldn’t surprise us, since both the Law of Moses and the commands of Christ (both through Him and His disciples by the inspiration of the Spirit) come from the same source: i.e., the law of God (see diagram).

      But the point I’m making — and the point Schreiner was making from Friday’s post — is that it is the fact that certain commandments reflect the unchanging character of God — evidenced by their reiteration in the NT — that makes them authoritative, not merely their being listed in the Ten Commandments. If it was the case that a law was binding simply because it showed up in the Ten Commandments, all Christians would be forbidden from working on Saturdays.

      • Thanks Mike for the clarification,

        So basically what you are getting at with this post is to encourage believers to preach the law that is laid out in the NT instead of pointing individuals to OT Law that is no longer authoritative or binding because of the new covanent. i.e the Sabbath.

        While I have been deeply impacted by the ministry of WOTM, it always struck a cord with me when they used the Sabbath command in their witnessing encounters.

        • That’s a pretty good summary, Matt. Just to add one thing: I’m also trying to say — perhaps even primarily trying to say — that it’s not biblical to insist that one cannot do evangelism biblically without using the Ten Commandments. I’m trying to free people who are evangelizing from thinking that unless they’ve used a particular script and have gone to Exodus 20, they haven’t really evangelized.

  • Eric Davis

    This has been a helpful series, Mike. Thank you so much.

  • Steve

    Those who have a Dispensational hermeneutic will always come up with this as a defense for their worldview and presuppositions. If we are not specific(as Jesus was) and use the OT Law as an explanation of what the law is, then the sinner will not understand what God’s standards are. Even John MacArthur explains this. In the study Bible on 1Tim 1:9, JMac says that the “first 6 characteristics expressed in 3 couplets, delineate sins from the FIRST HALF OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS. He then goes on to say that the rest of the sins are violations of the second half of the 10 commandments.

    I agree that the 10 commandments are an expression of the character of God. Rebelling against His character and breaking His laws earned a death sentence whether you were living in the OT days or the NT days. God is “lawgiver and judge” back then and now. The laws were specific then as they are now. The unbeliever needs to hear the truth, and watering down the specifics does not help them or even help the evangelist. If you are being accused of a crime that will land you in Hell for all eternity, isn’t it fair to have someone tell you exactly what you did wrong? Asking them what they think is a fools errand. Is that what you do in a Bible study? NO.. you tell them what God thinks. I have heard this argument for a long time and the Dispensationist will say that you have to tell the unbeliever, only, that they are “sinners”…they are supposed to know what that means. No they don’t. This specific revelation of what sin is (Romans 7:7) was spelled out in the 10 Commandments, and they need to hear what they are. Really…what do you think Paul meant when he said..”For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Where is the law that says that you should not covet? According to you, this has to be a general law of God, and not from the 10 Commandments. Nice try, but it just does not work. Could it really be the 10th Commandment? Is it possible? I guess not, if you subscribe to this Dispensational hermeneutic.

    Sorry this does not fit into the Dispensational worldview, but that is the way that I see it, as well as John MacArthur, the Puritans, Spurgeon, Moody, J Piper, J Calvin, M Luther, the Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ…and a host of others.

    What I really resent is what I see of this argument being used to discourage those who are being faithful to the Great Commission. Instead of encouragement, many will take “pot-shots” at those who are actually doing evangelism and tell them how they are doing it wrong. Tragic. Especially in the setting of the Shepherds Conference. I was encouraged however, how Richard Mayhue( later on at the Shepherds Conference)refuted this whole argument that J Johnson taught on, and you are trying to defend…… http://www.shepherdsconference.org/media/details/?mediaID=6783

    • Jmv7000

      So during your next evangelism encounter try challenging a person’s sinfulness because he/she ate bacon.

      • Steve

        Where is that in the 10 Commandments?

        • Jmv7000

          What gives you the ability to separate the ten commandments from the rest of the law given at Sinai? When does Moses say, these ten are separate from the rest of what I’m going to give you today? Point that out to me, from Scripture, and I’ll stop using bacon to condemn Gentiles.

          • Shane Dodson

            “What gives you the ability to separate the ten commandments from the rest of the law given at Sinai?”

            Mark 10:19. That’s what gives me the “ability.”

            Blessings!

          • Jmv7000

            WOW!!!!!, if I reduplicated your hermeneutics, I would only see 5 commandments and advocate 5 commandments are in effect and Idolatry is not important. Think about what you just said that text says!!!! Would Mark say to you, “Shane, you nailed what I meant there, you really got at what Christ was saying.”

            Is Christ saying there these are the sum total of the commandments, or is he just mentioning 5 commandments? So, you really didn’t answer the question, but more revealed you’re own presupposition because you read your “ability” to do something into the text.
            Saying all the law is united, does not then require Christ to quote all of the Torah when he wants to point out a specific command in Torah.

          • Shane, what separates that text from the rest of Jesus’ statements? Particularly, Matthew 22:37-40, in which Jesus states that the summary of the Law isn’t the Ten Commandments, but one from Deuteronomy 6 and another from Leviticus 19?

          • sd

            …and the audience of Jesus’ words here ? A Jew who knew the Commandments — all 613… not just the first 10…

          • Steve

            There never has been one law for just the Jews. Exodus 12:49
            “There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” The 10 Commandments did not stop at the border of Israel. In fact, Sodom and Gomorrah(Gentile cities) were destroyed because they did not follow the law of God(they were judged because of “lawless deeds”). Jesus did not come to abolish the Law or Prophets, but to fulfill them. Please dispense of the “straw man” that you have made up with the bacon thing. That is ridiculous and you know it. The dietary laws were not a part of the 10 Commandments. Please.

          • Jmv7000

            The 10 Commandments are not separate from the dietary laws because both are a part of the Law. You cannot separate the two. That goes back to my original question. How can you separate the dietary laws from the 10 Commandments? If the 10 Commandments still exist, then so do the dietary laws. Have you constructed your house in accordance with Torah?

            Jesus did not abolish the law, but fulfilled them. right!! I agree. But what does that mean? Does that mean we’re still under the law? No, Galatians 3:23-4:7 makes it clear that I am no longer under the guidance of the Law because I am united with Christ. But what did the Law require that Jesus fulfilled? A perfect, blameless sacrifice. One that could die for me and cleanse my sins and allow me to stand forgiven.

            When Christ shed his blood, the veil was torn down giving believers direct access to God, we are able to fully come into his presence. He in essence fulfilled the sacrificial requirements.

          • Jmv7000

            One last thought, Were not the 10 Commandments given to Israel as part of the Mosaic Covenant?

          • Albert

            Also (per Steve’s example above) Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed more than 400 years before the Ten Commandments were given.

    • Mumbles

      Steve,

      I’m interested if you think [“those faithful to the Great Commission”]=[Those who use 10 Commandments in witnessing]…

      • Steve

        Not necessarily. But I have to admit that those who are telling me that you cannot use the law in witnessing are usually not out doing it themselves. It seems that their argument is made to make us stop. And really, if all you are telling someone is that they are “sinners” then why go out there anyway. Without using the law, no one will know what sin is and will have no reason to repent.

        • Jmv7000

          What about Romans 1:18-20. Creation itself testifies against sinners, revealing God’s attributes so that no one is without excuse . . .

        • I am sure that Mike and Jesse are not trying to make people stop doing evangelism and that they are regularly active in evangelism.

          This seems to be a common tactic with many who hold to an only-one-biblical-method stance on evangelism. When all else fails, just accuse those who disagree with “usually not out doing it [evangelism] themselves.” and of trying to stop the few who are actually doing evangelism.

          This argument is not only false in the case of the writers of these blog posts, but it smacks of self-righteousness.

          These men have clearly stated they are not trying to stop people from doing evangelism, nor of even using the Ten commandments in evangelism. They are simply speaking to an overemphasis on the ten commandments and to the place of the Decalogue as a reflection of God’s Moral law.

    • Zephaniah Mel

      Thank you for the link, Steve. I am going to check this out this message by Dr. Mayhue. Also just an FYI, not everyone at The Master’s Seminary is against the use of the Ten Commandments in the context of evangelism. Also some do hold to a threefold division of the law.

      • Zephaniah Mel

        *this message out…

    • Those who have a Dispensational hermeneutic will always come up with this as a defense for their worldview and presuppositions.

      Steve, I would appreciate it if you defined “Dispensational hermeneutic,” my worldview, and my presuppositions, and then demonstrated how I have employed those biases in the section titled “Not Under the Law of Moses, but Under the Law of God.” Absent that, what you’re doing just looks like name-calling, and a commitment to the belief that if you can label someone, you don’t actually have to deal with his arguments.

      If we are not specific (as Jesus was) and use the OT Law as an explanation of what the law is, then the sinner will not understand what God’s standards are.

      This is demonstrably false, Steve. As I said at the end there, I can demonstrate God’s standards by taking the sinner to the expression of the law of God that is actually in force in this age. Whereas the OT Law was given as an integral part of God’s covenant with Israel (i.e., the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant), it has since passed away (Heb 8:13; 2Cor 3:11, 13), and the law of God is expressed today through the commandments of Christ and His Apostles through the Spirit, as well as through the law of God (note, not the Law of Moses) that is revealed in our consciences. So, in order to get the sinner to understand what God’s standards are, I can take him to 1 John 1:5 and explain that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all, and so His standard is perfection. Then I might ask the sinner if he thinks he’s perfect? Or, I could take him to 1Cor 6:9-11, where we’re told that, e.g., fornicators, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers won’t go to heaven. Or, I could simply engage the sinner in conversation, listen to him, discern his worldview and hear him actually disclose some of his sins to me (knowingly or unknowingly) and zero in on those sins by taking him to passages in the NT that condemn that sin.

      Even John MacArthur explains this…. In the study Bible on 1Tim 1:9…

      Yes, it is not surprising that the Ten Commandments and the commands of the NT overlap significantly, considering that the law of God, consisting in His character, is the source of both. But that doesn’t make a command inherently authoritative simply because it is in the Ten Commandments. Otherwise, as I mentioned already, we’d have to refrain from working on Saturdays.

      The unbeliever needs to hear the truth, and watering down the specifics does not help them or even help the evangelist. If you are being accused of a crime that will land you in Hell for all eternity, isn’t it fair to have someone tell you exactly what you did wrong? Asking them what they think is a fools errand.

      Steve, neither Jesse nor I have advocated watering down specifics, not telling them exactly what they did wrong, or asking them what they think. Your straw man reflects either continued misunderstanding or an intentional misrepresentation of our position. I’m assuming it’s the former. Again, I can tell a sinner exactly what he did wrong by listening to him, hearing his sins, and taking him to particular passages that address those particular sins. I don’t necessarily need to take him to Exodus 20.

      I have heard this argument for a long time and the Dispensationalist will say that you have to tell the unbeliever, only, that they are “sinners”…they are supposed to know what that means.

      OK, but that is not what is being advocated here.

      Where is the law that says that you should not covet? According to you, this has to be a general law of God, and not from the 10 Commandments.

      This reflects continued misunderstanding of our position. The 10th commandment against coveting, which Paul was under as a Jew, expressed the law of God—the nature of God’s character which is against coveting. Knowledge of that standard of righteousness given to all Jews who would be in covenant with Yahweh, aroused his passions, shut him up to sin, and showed him where he fell short. Now that the Mosaic Law has been rendered obsolete (Heb 8:13), the law of God against coveting is expressed through Ephesians 5:5, among other places. So, I can take a sinner to Ephesians 5:3-5 and show him God’s standard there.

      Sorry this does not fit into the Dispensational worldview…

      Unless you can demonstrate what the dispensational worldview is and how it’s affected my presentation of the text, this kind of comment remains nothing but huffy-puffy name-calling and appeals to authority.

      What I really resent is what I see of this argument being used to discourage those who are being faithful to the Great Commission.

      And I really resent the accusation that we’re doing such a thing. I’d like for you to produce a quote from any of the blog posts on the issue that communicates discouragement for evangelism. If you’re convinced that evangelism boils down to a particular method, and that method is challenged, then your comment makes sense. But if evangelism does not boil down to a particular method, and we’re simply asking people to think deeply about the nature of the Gospel they go and proclaim, and make sure they’re not mixing error with truth, I fail to see how that’s somehow a discouragement to evangelize. It’s an encouragement to evangelize biblically.

      Instead of encouragement, many will take “pot-shots” at those who are actually doing evangelism and tell them how they are doing it wrong.

      This is not what this is. It’s extraordinarily disheartening that you assume this is so, and ignore Jesse’s remarks of respect for Ray and for WOTM. He’s clearly stated that he sees his critique as coming along side brothers, identifying concerns, and offering brotherly counsel. The only one taking pot-shots is you, my friend.

      …Richard Mayhue refuted this whole argument…

      Could you produce a quote that demonstrates what you’re referring to? I listened to Dr. Mayhue’s seminar as well, and I didn’t get the impression that he and Jesse were at odds, but rather a nice complement. So I’d be interested to know where you think there’s a contradiction.

      Listen, Steve. Obviously you’ve got a big dog in this fight. But that kind of personal investment often issues in misguided zeal, and sometimes outright nastiness, and it doesn’t help advance the discussion. Nor is it helping to paint an accurate picture of those who support your position. Much more can be achieved by patient, loving dialogue over the issues, rather than name-calling and personal attacks.

  • Jmv7000

    There is no law for those united with Christ . . . the missing link in this discussion is union with Christ. The problem again, is most of what is said builds off the classic reformed understanding of covenant of works, covenant of grace foundation so people have to figure out how law plays into the believer’s life as if to say it’s no more denigrates Scripture. A believer reads the law and sees the holiness of God so he/she can build his or her theology on it, but since we’re united we no longer live under it (yeah for eating bacon!!!!)

    But Paul says in Galatians 3:24-4:7 that we are heirs and receive the promises (from Abrahamic covenant) not because we are under law, but united. The Law (and moral law–or concept of law) no longer exist for the believer because the believer is united with Christ, an heir, a son of God, died, buried, and raised with Christ, death and sin are no longer masters over believers.

    I even think when Paul mentions “law of Christ” he’s using rhetoric not building some “law of Christ” doctrine. Therefore, can I use the law in evangelism? sure, but who really doesn’t know they’re a sinner? we all know it, we just need to help bring them to light of that reality and tell them the good news of Christ!!!

    check out Dr. Barrick’s hour message on the role of the law in the church, http://www.tms.edu/MediaPlayer.aspx?id=7bb50830-db6b-4eb3-a2b2-c9f5a560145c

  • Kip’ C

    I know this is slightly off tangent but when you say that “the reason that certain Old Testament commandments are normative for believers today while others are not, is because those that are normative express the transcendent, unchanging character of God. They express the “transcendent moral principles” are you saying that the other commandments (e.g. we are not to mix fabrics etc) do not also reveal the character of God?

    Kip’ Chelashaw

    • Actually, Kip, I think that’s very on topic, and a good question. The answer is, in a sense, yes, that is what I’m saying. If God’s character is absolute and unchanging, and He has given a commandment for a time that is no longer in force today (e.g., mixing fabrics), then the commandment to mix fabrics did not reflect the eternal and immutable character of God in the same way that, say, the command not to lie does.

      I think the way the commandment not to mix fabrics reflects/reveals the character of God is by illustrating the principle that God willed that His people — in that case, Israel — be obviously separate from those that were not His people. That commandment, then, illustrates/reveals God’s holiness, His separateness. And the way we might apply that principle today is akin to the way Paul applies the doctrine of separation in 2Cor 6:14-7:1. God’s physical people were to be physically separate from others in ways that made it obvious that Yahweh was not Baal or Chemosh. God’s spiritual people are to be spiritually separate from others in ways that make it obvious that Jesus is God, not self, pleasure, money, etc.

      Hope that helps.

  • Heather

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for the time and prayer you must have put into putting these articles together, (I am equally thankful to Jesse and the time he must have put into his articles). I am humbled that you guys put so much of your personal time into this blog for the sake of strangers that you’ll probably never meet. Although the replies might not always be positive, I can see the Lord has rewarded you guys openly. So…thank you.

    Out of these articles, this peaked my interest the most: “…I can do this by listening carefully to him, asking probing questions (like, “Why is x so important to you?,” “What would you have done in that situation?,” or “What do you think makes that wrong?”)”

    I would love to hear how you (and Jesse) share the gospel to people, and what kind of responses you get. Perhaps one day down the road, if the Lord so leads, you could post an article on that?

  • Michael Delahunt

    Thanks for the post Mike. One thing that we can easily forget is that the Law is not summed up by the Ten Commandments, but rather, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • Mike,

    Thanks for this post! and for putting up the diagram. It is very helpful to visual learners (I always prefer books with pictures) like myself. I appreciate you and all that you do!

  • Larry

    What is troublesome, is that believers go back and forth on the subject of evangelism, when the hard truth is, Christians are not known for sharing their faith. That’s a generalization but “in general” it’s true. Christians (perhaps I should say “so-called”) will flock to churchatainment such as: drama, movie night, holiday musicals, church picnics, golf tournaments, bazaar’s, etc. When it comes to evangelism, “I’m busy,” “I have an appointment around that time,” “I have to see a friend I haven’t seen in a long while,” “I promised my wife/kids/parents, friend, I would do such and such for them,” “I was a little under the weather this morning,” I’ve got to work,” etc. We know it’s true. In truth, when it comes to sharing your faith, it is the Holy Spirit that draws a person to Christ. Just speak of Jesus and who he is and what he has done in your life. The Holy Spirit will take that “meager” testimony and convict a person of their sin, and on and on……Our well positioned doctrinal demarcations, is not what convicts a heart of sin. For the most part, our singular or group doctrinal positions allow us to put our intellects on display. Now, I am in no way dismissive of doctrine. In fact, if a church is of the group that says, “You don’t need all that doctrine,” or “Just love people,” or “Doctrine divides,” I am not too sure if THAT is a church, (Seriously). But if I’m talking with a Jew at my kitchen table, I’m hammering away at Jesus being the promised Messiah, and his death burial and resurrection (By eye witnesses in the scripture) being payment and final sacrifice for sin. A guy on the street, with limited time, may get the, “Are you a good person”? presentation. A captive audience at a funeral will get (in most cases) a clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with the horrific consequences for rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ, The Muslim will get patience, and questions concerning their “god” with a counter of scriptures about “God” being the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and commence to sharing Jesus with them and his great love for them. I think the point is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart, what it is you need to say to minister to THAT person, while having full reliance on the Holy Spirit as you (of course) love the scriptures, love doctrine, love Christ, and love the brethren. The unbeliever needs a “milk” presentation. The meat comes as they mature in Christ.

  • Pingback: The Family Loftus - The Ten Commandments and non-believers()

  • Pingback: The Ten Commandments and non-believers | The Cripplegate()

  • Steve

    I got to admit..this is fascinating. Now let me get this straight. You are the “Local Outreach Pastor” at Grace Community. Dude…are you aware that YOUR evangelism training manual says that the 10 Commandments must be used when witnessing to an unbeliever? I cannot believe that I have to point this out to you, but check YOUR OWN training manual out. Lesson 3 page 22 and 23 of the Grace Evangelism Teacher Workbook. “God has given us His Law, and we must obey it”……”the unbeliever is in defiance of God’s commandments”…..”Christ taught that though we knew the law that was written on our hearts and was given IN THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, yet we are equally guilty of sin by our very thoughts”. “Christ explains that to be sinfully angry with your brother is enough to convict you of murder, and to lust after a woman is the sin of adultery”. ………………and so on and so on……………

    Sounds like chaos at Grace Community to me. This is what happens when hyperdispensational “reasoning” comes into play. Your statement, “The misunderstanding comes from their equating “the (moral) law (of God)” with “the Ten Commandments.” But when we say “the (moral) law (of God),” we’re referring to those transcendent moral principles that express the perfect standard of righteousness rooted in the character of God” …..this just does not make sense after reading your training manual.

    So what is it? Is it really necessary that the Dispensational position make such a big deal about this? I get it. Dispy’s have to separate Israel from the church. So issues like the 10 commandments get caught up in the fray. But really…what difference does it make when you are witnessing to an unbeliever? Why discourage those who are actually out there, being obedient to the command of Christ in witnessing? Why is it necessary to be so confusing and cause so much confusion? First you take a stand that the 10 commandments cannot be used specifically in witnessing, and then your training manual says that they must be. Are you going to have to change all of your training manuals now? Maybe the answer to to trash this confusing and unbiblical position on the 10 commandments you have taken. Then we can get back to the business of witnessing to the lost the way Jesus did it….using the 10 commandments.

    • Steve, you continue to miss the point, while getting increasingly huffy and puffy.

      The view that I have outlined here is not at odds with the Grace Evangelism manual if, as you read GE, you don’t import your own categories and definitions of “Law = 10 Commandments.” I’ll try to explain how this is the case.

      God has given us His Law, and we must obey it.

      His law is expressed to Israel in the Mosaic Law, summarized in the 10 commandments. And His law is expressed to every human being, since the law of God (not the Ten Commandments themselves) is written on their conscience.

      the unbeliever is in defiance of God’s commandments

      The unbeliever is in defiance of all of God’s commandments which express His perfect character, not simply the Ten given on Sinai.

      Christ taught that though we knew the law that was written on our hearts and was given IN THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, yet we are equally guilty of sin by our very thoughts.

      This is exactly what I’m saying in the post. The perfect law of God (the top circle in the diagram) was written on humanity’s hearts before the Ten Commandments, and remains written there after the Ten Commandments. And, as the workbook says, the perfect law of God was also given in summary fashion in the Ten Commandments given to Israel (the circles on the left). Then it says, “Yet, we are equally guilty of sin by our very thoughts,” which takes things beyond the Ten Commandments. That is the law of God expressed in the law of Christ (the circle on the right).

      So, GE does not say that one must use the Ten Commandments when witnessing to an unbeliever. And there’s no contradiction between GE and my post, unless you baselessly require that “the law of God” always equals a subset of the Mosaic Law or the Ten Commandments, and cannot also sometimes refer to, as it does in 1Cor 9:21, that transcendent, universal standard of absolute moral righteousness to which all persons in all ages are called, which is written on every man’s conscience (Rom 2:11–15), and of which we all fall short (Rom 3:23).

    • Steve, you continue to miss the point, while getting increasingly huffy and puffy.

      The view that I have outlined here is not at odds with the Grace Evangelism manual if, as you read GE, you don’t import your own categories and definitions of “Law = 10 Commandments.” I’ll try to explain how this is the case.

      God has given us His Law, and we must obey it.

      His law is expressed to Israel in the Mosaic Law, summarized in the 10 commandments. And His law is expressed to every human being, since the law of God (not the Ten Commandments themselves) is written on their conscience.

      the unbeliever is in defiance of God’s commandments

      The unbeliever is in defiance of all of God’s commandments which express His perfect character, not simply the Ten given on Sinai.

      Christ taught that though we knew the law that was written on our hearts and was given IN THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, yet we are equally guilty of sin by our very thoughts.

      This is exactly what I’m saying in the post. The perfect law of God (the top circle in the diagram) was written on humanity’s hearts before the Ten Commandments, and remains written there after the Ten Commandments. And, as the workbook says, the perfect law of God was also given in summary fashion in the Ten Commandments given to Israel (the circles on the left). Then it says, “Yet, we are equally guilty of sin by our very thoughts,” which takes things beyond the Ten Commandments. That is the law of God expressed in the law of Christ (the circle on the right).

      So, GE does not say that one must use the Ten Commandments when witnessing to an unbeliever. And there’s no contradiction between GE and my post, unless you baselessly require that “the law of God” always equals a subset of the Mosaic Law or the Ten Commandments, and cannot also sometimes refer to, as it does in 1Cor 9:21, that transcendent, universal standard of absolute moral righteousness to which all persons in all ages are called, which is written on every man’s conscience (Rom 2:11–15), and of which we all fall short (Rom 3:23).

      • Scj

        Sorry about the “huffiness”, but you guys started it. So I guess it is OK after all to use the 10 Commandments? That certainly was not the view of J Johnson, which you were agreeing with. So now you have changed your view? This is what is so confusing. First you guys are trashing the use of the 10 Commandments in witnessing, and now you are saying that it is OK, but not necessary. Whatever, Dude.

        • Sorry about the “huffiness”, but you guys started it.

          We may have started the discussion, but we did not start the strident nastiness.

          So I guess it is OK after all to use the 10 Commandments?

          I would challenge you to find one comment I have made, either in my posts or in any of my comments on the subject, that said it was not OK to use the Ten Commandments in evangelism. I’ve never said, “Yes it is OK,” or “No it isn’t OK.” From the beginning, my point has been merely to refute the claim, made by many Way of the Master proponents, that unless one uses the Ten Commandments he has not evangelized biblically. The end of this very post summarizes that particularly, when I said: “…it is wrong to insist that one has not done biblical evangelism if he hasn’t used the Ten Commandments.”

          So, to answer your question, no I have not changed my view, but neither have I ever “trashed the use of the 10 Commandments in witnessing.”

          That certainly was not the view of J Johnson…

          At the end of his “Concerns” post, Jesse wrote, “A good evangelist has to have many tools in his tool box, and taking people through the Ten Commandments cannot be the only one in there.”

          To me, that implies that it can be one tool among many.

          Further, in one of the comments from the “Concerns” post, Jesse was asked what he does in street evangelism. He responded, “When I am street witnessing, as I did say above, I will sometimes use the ten-commandments approach. But more often than that, I ask questions, have a conversation, then make a jump to the gospel, then explain the gospel, then ask more questions, then challenge them to respond.”

          So, it seems to me (as I tried to say at the end of this post, and he can correct me on this if he wants) that Jesse’s view isn’t that it’s unbiblical to use idolatry, blasphemy, lying, anger/murder, lust/adultery, coveting, etc. to show the sinner the standard of God’s righteousness. Rather, the point is that it is unbiblical to insist that unless one has used the Ten Commandments in particular, one has not evangelized biblically.

          • Scj

            Cool. I can live with that. So let’s get out there and witness to the lost using God’s law, which reflects His character. Call it the 10 Commandments…call it God’s law..whatever. Have a nice day. BTW…our church is going to use the Grace Evangelism class this year. We will incorporate WOTM into it. I am very excited. Law-Grace. Law to the proud, grace to the humble.