The Way of the Master is an approach to evangelism that stresses the use of God’s moral law as seen in the 10 Commandments to show people their sin and their need for a savior. Led by Ray Comfort (with the occasional presence of Kirk Cameron), they have books, tracts, training seminars, videos, a TV show, and a web based program all designed to teach people how to use the 10 commandments in their evangelism.
In its most frequently encountered form, the method of evangelism looks like this: the person being witnessed to is asked if they think they are a good person. If they say yes, then they are asked how they would measure up if they were judged based on the 10 commandments.
TWOTM describes their approach to evangelism by using the acronym in the logo on the left (WDJD), which stands for “What Did Jesus Do?”
You can go through that acronym by asking these questions:
Would you consider yourself a good person?
Do you think you have kept the Ten Commandments?
Judgment by the Ten Commandments: If you were judged based on those 10 commandments, would you be guilty or innocent?
Destiny: do you think you will go to heaven or hell? (What did Jesus Do, 170).
In practice it often looks like this:
Evangelist: that makes you a liar, in violation of the 9th commandment. Have you ever looked at a person with lust? That makes you an adulterer at heart, in violation of the seventh commandment. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? That makes you a blasphemer, in violation of the third commandment.
The idea behind the presentation is that you show the person that they are guilty of breaking God’s moral law by showing their lack of conformity to the Ten Commandments. Before a person is able to understand the gravity of their condition before God or the greatness of the gospel, they first must need to know that they are guilty of violating God’s moral law.
Ray often points out that if someone tells you that they have paid a fine for you, if you didn’t know that you owed the fine, you would laugh at them. But if someone tells you that last week you were photographed speeding through a school zone, during a law enforcement crack down, talking on your cell phone, you almost nailed the crossing guard, and you didn’t notice because you were texting, and they have it all on video, and then you see the video and it is you, then suddenly the person paying that fine seems much more helpful to you.
Here is an example of what is probably their most well known tract. However, this same concept is evident in almost all of their material.
Before looking at some concerns I have with this approach to evangelism (tomorrow), let me be quick to point out that there are some strengths here. First, it makes conversations easy to start. Most people are eager to explain that they are a good person, and everyone (if they are honest) admits that they break the ten commandments. Most people grant that they have lied, stolen and lusted. They just don’t realize that God takes those sins seriously, or that they will be judged for them. It is an effective way to start conversations, and it is a compelling method because of how quickly the average person on the street paints themselves into a logical corner with lines like, “all thieves go to hell, I am a thief, but I think I’m going to heaven.”
I also like this gospel presentation because it is centered on God’s glory, rather than people’s decision. It confronts people with their sin, and it shows them that their sin matters. Too many gospel presentations put the focus on what wonderful plans God has for us, if only we let God bless us. That is not the case here. The focus is on God’s glory defiled by sin, and on the penalty for that sin.
Finally, I completely agree with TWOTM that you have to confront sin in evangelism. Ray writes, “Many modern preachers have strayed far from preaching about sin, righteousness, and judgment, despite the fact that we are commanded to pursue the biblical example” (What did Jesus do, 33-34). In a day where some pastors strive to make non believers comfortable in church, or other pastors say “our world doesn’t understand sin, so speak to people in terms of idolatry and satisfaction but not in moral terms,” this is a huge point. Ray understands that those terms simply don’t cut it, and that a faithful evangelist must call sin sin, and confront it.
Tomorrow we will look at a few areas where I think TWOTM approach to evangelism is lacking.