Thursday, October 30, 2008

"This Pistol Is My Ministry!"

The title of the track handed to me by a young lady in a dress at the farmers market in Madison, Wisconsin read, "Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?" I looked at it and shoved it in my pocket. Then I walked passed the singing choir and continued shopping with my lovely, pregnant wife Brittney. Three days later I put the same pair of jeans on that I was wearing at the farmers market (yes I wear my jeans more then once before washing them) and found the track still inside my pocket. Bored and some what curious I began to read. I quickly realized this track repeatedly used words like "judgment", "judgment day", "Hell", and "Eternal Punishment". Gods love for us was not mentioned. This scared me. I wanted to know the reason why the author would leave Christ's love out of this evangelistic tool (if you dare to call tracks an evangelistic tool).

So I contacted the author Ray Comfort about my issue with the track. I explained that I was curious and wanted to hear his response on why Christ's love would be left out?

Shortly after I was contacted by Mark Spence. Mark Spence is a evangelist who is also the Dean of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort's School of Biblical Evangelism. I was excited that there was going to be some dialogue. Unfortunately it seemed as if the dialogue only lasted till I made a logical argument about why love should be included in this track. Let me know what you think. Here is the conversation.

Me to Ray Comfort:
I was in Madison, Wisconsin and I was walking down the street and someone handed me a track that said "Are You Good Enough to Go to Heaven?" I am a youth pastor and I can honestly say that your track was quite disturbing. I am not trying to criticize, I am trying to understand. I don't get why there is very little in this track about God's love, but it is filled with hell, judgment, and death. I am not one who shies away from talking about hell, but I don't think our evangelism should double as fire insurance. I think the first thing that should be conveyed to an unbeliever is the hope in Christ's love. Why isn't this explained in the track? I really want an answer. My email is jdouglas@lvnghp.org or make a post on my blog @ justindouglasblog.blogspot.com

Thanks for your time,
Justin Douglas


Response from Mark Spence:
Justin,
How good of you to take the time to write and ask for an explanation, and not just get upset.
There is a very good biblical answer to your question. Here are some commendations on the teaching that I would love you to hear (about the subject you raised):

"The Way of the Master will rank in the top most important books ever written on evangelism. It ranks with and in my opinion is better than Spurgeon's, Soul Winner which I must say has been one of my all time favorites." Ron Begin (FL)

"I am at a loss for words. Overwhelming, distressing, and enlightening. I feel as if I have just taken a drink of water from a fire hydrant!"--Jason Stewart (CA)

"I have over one thousand books on evangelism, soul-winning, and revival in my personal library, and none of them are worthy to be compared to this book." --Pastor R. W. Jones (TX)

"Hell's Best Kept Secret has completely destroyed my theology. What was first anger toward you, caused me to search the scripture, and has now turned to a sincere thank you." Pastor Jerod McPherson

"I have served as a pastor, Teen Challenge Director, Crusade Director for David Wilkerson, and missionary, but never during those years did I encounter an evangelist with a more life-changing message." -- Pastor Bob Rogers, Dallas, TX

"After a thousand revivals and area crusades I have used a lot of soul-winning materials. 'Hell's Best Kept Secret' is the greatest single tool I have ever found." Evangelist Larry Taylor

Go to www.LivingWaters.com/learn and listen to "Hell's Best Kept Secret" on line (free of charge).
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Blessings,
Ray

My Response Back:

Thanks for the response, but I am not sure if it really got to my question.


These quotes look like reviews on a book. And I am sorry, but reading the track that was handed to me was painful enough, I am not sure I am going to take the time to read a book. The question I had was why this track had little to nothing to say about Christ's love, but instead talked continuously about hell and judgment. I am not saying that it is wrong, I am simply asking why the author felt the need to leave Christ's love out of it? The quotes don't really help me on that question.

Thanks,


Justin Douglas
Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back:

Christ's love was demonstrated on the cross. The book gets into the proper way to witness.
Since you don't have time to read a book, do you have time to listen to a CD or watch a DVD?
God Bless you friend.

My Response Back:

It is not really about the Book or the CD or the DVD. It is about the track "Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?" This is the track I received in Madison. I felt it was a misrepresentation of the gospel. Not because it was false, but because it was missing a key part of the gospel, that is Christ's love for us. There were many people receiving these tracks, many of them have no idea who Ray Comfort is, about his book, his DVD or CD, so therefore I don't think they are relevant to me. I am just trying to get some answers on why this track is so judgmental and lacks that even of John 3:16, "God so LOVED the world." I am more interested on hearing a belief system that supports this track or an apology for depicting God as a judge alone. I do believe judgment day will come, but I also believe that God loves this world so much that he is looking for every chance to be reconciled to His people. There will be many that are judged and go to hell. My personal belief is that being scared of hell is not a reason to accept the gospel. The Love of God and the sacrifice of His only son is the reason we should accept the gospel. My overall problem with this track is that it does not talk about that, but instead the track is making an attempt to scare people into believing the gospel. I would like to hear a comment on why you think this is a good tactic or why you no longer support that view, the latter is what I am hoping for.

Thanks,


Justin Douglas
Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back:

Justin,
I realized I didn't answer your question.
The answer to the tract's methodology is because it is biblical. No where in Scripture do you see somone witnessing saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."
The CD, DVD, and books we offer go into great detail explaining it.
I'm curious who some of your favorite authors and speakers are?

My Response Back:

I don't believe my favorite authors have anything to do with this discussion.

I am simply attempting to wrap my head around your statement. "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." Are you implying that this is not true???

In 1 John chapter 4 we understand that God is Love. But I think it goes further when it is written, "Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in him." I think many people are searching for love in all the wrong places; Sex, drugs, money, fame, and many many other things. The love of Christ is authentic. His love is the greatest. His love lead him to die on a cross for our sins, "greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

After all Jesus explained to the expert in the law that what he must do to inherit eternal life was to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:25)


I would argue that Love is a central piece of Evangelism. In Luke 10:25-37 Christ is ministering to the teachers of the law. And he is explaining to them Love. And the importance of Loving God and Loving each other.


So to your statement, "No where in Scripture do you see someone witnessing saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.'" I would argue that Christ himself ministered to the disciples with a plan for their lives that was centered around love. I am not sure how you meant the use of the word "wonderful," but I am guessing it is there to point a finger at those who preach the love of Christ and act like life is going to be peachy once the person they are ministering to accepts Christ. I would disagree with this idea. I think there is a sugar coated version out their that preaches life will be without trial once you accept Jesus. That view is false. Many followers of Christ were murdered for their beliefs and persecution is something we will most likely face as followers of Christ. My argument for the word "wonderful" is that we can find joy in our trials because of our purpose. Even the Acts church rejoiced when they were flogged for what they believed. (Acts 5:40-42) So in short, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."


I will close with Paul's prayer to the church is Ephesus.
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Justin Douglas

Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back to me:

<<I don't believe my favorite authors have anything to do with this discussion. >>
It's hard to get past the rudeness of this to see what else you had to say.
My point is the message you read is endorsed by people like John Piper, John MacArthur, CJ Maheny, James White, Phil Johnson, Josh McDowell, Lee Stobel, Ravi Zacharias, and many others. I was hoping you would take it down a notch in your criticism and be open to listening to a message endorsed by these men. The message you refuse to read and listen to covers all your objections and I was willing to pay for it myself. I get hundreds of emails daily and I simply don't have time to dialogue with all of them.
Thank you for understanding.
I sincerely wish you and your ministry well.
God Bless.

My Response Back:

It was not meant to be rude.

I just wanted it to be clear that my thoughts were not coming from a book or a sermon, but from my experience after receiving this track and from the Bible. Therefore I thought the authors I appreciate had little to do with the conversation. It was not meant to be rude and I apologize if that is how it was received.

If you want to send me something I will take the time to watch it and/or listen to it. I have a long line of books that I am trying to read before the new year and I am not sure a book would be something I could do.


I would still like to know what you think about the rest of my email. I feel as if I gave a strong case for love in evangelism. I understand if you are too busy to dialogue any further.


Thanks for your time,

Justin Douglas

Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

If you actually took the time to read down this far I want to let you know that this theology is what sometimes makes me uncomfortable to call myself a Christian. A theology that actually argues against the love of Christ. And argues against using love in evangelism.


5 comments:

PaulKordon said...

Yeah I see your point J. I think the biggest thing I take away from this is that 1. tracks are a sucky way to evangelize, you really don't get the "whole" story; 2. I hope their book reads differently from their track, which leads me to the question...Why bother to print the track if the book reads differently anyway?

New Covenant said...

Below are some scriptures that should help you to understand where the writers of this tract are coming from. First of all read Matthew 19:16-22. This is an example of Jesus Himself witnessing to an individual. Ask yourself why he doesn’t talk about love? Why does Jesus bring the law to him? How come the man leaves?
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
The first thing Jesus did was correct this man’s definition of good. Good is set by God’s standards, the law. There was one commandment this man could not overcome, his money had become his god and therefore made him an idolater. He would not sacrifice his “great possessions” for eternal life. Now a few more examples of Jesus preaching.
Mar 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The book of Psalms gives us a wonderful tool for the conversion of souls.
Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
What is it that Psalms says is perfect, converting the soul. The law of the Lord is. It could argued that the ten commandments or even the bible are “tracts” from God to us. Now to quote the tract.
“That's what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ. you are guilty, He paid the fine 2,000 years ago. It is that simple. The Bible puts it this way: "he was bruised for our iniquities . . . Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us...God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Here they are quoting Romans 5:8. There is much talk about how Jesus died for us for payment for our sins. Acts 20:28 tells us that He purchased us, the church, with His own blood. The fine for our sins was death (separation from God) and Jesus payed that fine for us. Listen to what Jesus said to the church at Laodicea in Revelations 3.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The law is a legitimate use to bring sinners to the knowledge of their sins. Listen to Paul, apostle to the Gentiles.
Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The reason the writers of this tract have written it this way is to make sin evident to a sinner. Unless a person realizes that they have sinned against God and are in fact in need of a savior, how can they ever really appreciate the LOVE of God. The sinner cannot experience the love of God unless he is in God’s righteousness through Jesus Christ who knew no sin and was made sin for just that purpose. Righteousness is right standing with God, a reconciled position. I could tell a person that God loves them or I could show them how they have sinned against God and regardless of that, God loved them so much that he sent His Son born of a virgin, to die on a cross to pay the penalty of their sins. Judgement is imminent. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27. Just like a person won’t appreciate a cure for a disease they don’t know they have, a sinner will not appreciate a savior which they don’t believe they need. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Those who humble themselves and understand that they have wronged God, will greatly appreciate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The proud God will resist. I still believe we share the Gospel with these people, it is our charge to preach the Gospel to every creature, every member of the human race. They must know of God’s love, however, they must also understand it.

I am an individual who at first was against this type of witnessing (The Way of the Master – www.wayofthemaster.com) but after much studying and putting the “method” into practice have seen wonderful results. Go and watch some of the episodes on the site. Look for the one-2-one segments and see some results for yourself. It is by far the easiest way of presenting the gospel. I have seen people who have professed to be Christians for years understand for the first time that Jesus died for payment for our sins. They thought that asking for foriveness alone was good enough. We have to believe in Jesus Christ. He has to be our Master and Savior. I’ll leave you with this. Do serious study into their doctrines and teachings. Don’t go in with the presupposition that they are incorrect. Look at the scriptures and judge it for your self.

Justin Douglas said...

So in essence "new covenant" is saying that we can evangelize without ever sharing the love of God or the love of Christ. Is this correct "new covenant?"

Chris said...

That is absolutley NOT what I am saying. Without a proper understanding of the Law and how we've broke it we will never understand the Love of God that Romans talks about when it says "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. It would be like this. Lets say out of the blue I walk up to you and tell you, "I sold my house to buy the cure for xyz disease. Here it my gift to you." To you that sounds like nonsense. I might have even insulted you insinuating that you have a disease that you don't think you have. Instead if I said, "Here look at your arm, there on you neck, and there on you ankle. These are signs of xyz disease. This disease is an absolute killer." Now you understand that you have the disease. You have seen the proof. Then I say, "Don't worry. Yesterday I sold my house and bought the cure just for you, because I love you." Now the news of the cure I have procured for you is truly Good News. The Law of God is good when it is used for it's purpose. We are not saved by the work of the Law. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Just remember that the Love of Jesus is that He died for our sins while we were still sinners. I must first understand that I am sinner in order to appreciate that. Please don't jump to these "extreme" ideas that "we can evangelize without ever sharing the love of God or the love of Christ." We must share the Love of Christ. That is the Gospel. This particular tract is just one of many tools for evangelism. If it doesn't suit you, don't use it. However, please don't persecute those who do and accuse them of preaching in err unless you first do your research into the doctrine. Remember,"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" Isaiah 58:10. Our message must be balanced. It could be argued that this tract is off kilter on the Law. It is just as bad to be off kilter on the Love of God. We must be balanced. Go to

http://www.livingwaters.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=235
and read the entire tract for yourself. You be the Judge.

Justin Douglas said...

Chris I agree.

You are the first who has told me there has to be a balance. I don't disagree with judgment and hell. It is true and I don't have a problem teaching it and hearing others teach it. My response and my post is simply based off a track that only outlined judgment. And it hurt to see people handing these tracks to people right next to me. I can only guess what they think about Christians if they took the time to read that track.

But I totally agree with your stance. Even Christ came for the sick and in order for them to accept Him they would need to know they are sick. I agree that people must know they are sinners to become saved. And the gift of love is what truly changes them.

I was mainly upset because this track had nothing to do with love, but alot to do with fear.

I am glad that we agree both need to be there and there needs to be a balance.

Thanks,
Justin