If you listen to most modern preachers, they will tell you how God can help you. He’s your friend and He’s there for your happiness. He has a wonderful plan for your life. However, with a spiraling world economy, the increase in global disasters, wars, unstoppable diseases, massive floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, tsunamis, and escalating violence, it’s not so easy to make the promise of a bliss-filled future for those who respond to the gospel.
Words mean different things to different people. While some preachers would say that a “wonderful” plan means that God will be with us in the lion’s den, they don’t mention the lions, and so they are disillusioned the first time a lion looks at them as lunch. God isn’t portrayed in Scripture as some sort of divine butler who comes at the beck and call of humanity. There’s no promise of perfect happiness in this life. The Christian life is rather portrayed as the opposite. The Bibles promises tribulation, temptation and persecution for those who live a godly life in this sinful world.
Consequently, skeptics are right when they say that the church is filled with hypocrites—those whose lives don’t reflect what we know they should. And our land is filled with those who think that they were once Christians who have fallen away from their faith. The following letter is typical of those in this category:
“Ray believes I was a ‘false convert’ and was never a ‘true Christian’ the entire time I believed I was a born-again evangelical Christian for many years. I spoke in tongues, had the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, laying-on-of-hands, the whole nine yards.”
He may have thought that he had the whole nine yards, but he was thrown a curveball. Sadly, this person (just one of very many) is almost certainly the product of the false gospel—the promise of an improved life. Notice the “evidence” he cites of his supposed conversion. It was that he possessed gifts, when the Bible says that it is by fruits (not gifts) that a Christian is known.
The Scriptures list the evidential fruits of conversion as the fruit of righteousness (always doing the right thing), the fruit of praise (giving God due praise for His kindness, etc.), the fruit of thanksgiving (having a thankful heart for the “unspeakable” gift of everlasting life, etc.), the fruit of repentance (living a life of holiness—no longer serving sin), and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance).
Instead of possessing these fruits, the false convert deceives himself, and plays the hypocrite. He doesn’t come to “know the Lord” because his sin still separates him from God. He holds onto secret sins (lust, selfishness, a covetous heart, bitterness, etc.), and it’s only a matter of time (as with Judas) until he is exposed as a pretender. Many hypocrites stay within the Church, sitting among God’s people—as goats among the sheep--and will be sorted out on Judgment Day.
The reason the false convert had a false conversion is that he didn’t find a place of biblical repentance in the first place. He never saw sin in its true light. That’s why the Ten Commandments should be used in our witness, and not the unbiblical “God has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life” gospel.
Instead of trying to attract the sinners to the Savior, we should rather do what the Bible does. It drives them using the Ten Commandments. It is similar to the way the police may have an amnesty for illegal weapons. They would say, “You are violating the law by possessing illegal firearms. If you hand them in before the end of this month you will not be prosecuted.” And therein is the essence of the message of the gospel. We have sinned against God by violating His Law. In His sight we are criminals. There’s going to be a terrible Day of Judgment, when God reveals His anger against all evil, but He is rich in mercy and offers amnesty. If we lay down our weapons of hostility, He completely forgives us because of the cross.
When we leave off the fact that sinners have violated God’s Law and are under His just wrath, there’s no reason for them to lay down their weapons. Instead of fleeing to the cross to be saved from God’s wrath because they have sinned against Him, they instead experimentally come to the Savior to see if His wonderful plan is better than theirs. There’s no fear of God, there’s no knowledge of sin (which comes by the Law—see Romans 3:19, 20, 7:7, 7:13), and there is no conversion to Jesus Christ.
A woman named Kim once wrote to us and said that her husband had our video series, saying that she mocked Kirk Cameron and me, calling us “The Hokey Brothers,” and naming the video series “The Won't Work Series.” In other words, she didn’t believe in the use of God’s Law to bring the knowledge of sin, and be used as “a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ” (see Galatians 3:24), and said,
“Late one night the phone rang and it was a very nervous man who said that a woman at Union Station (that's in DC) gave him my business card… It turns out a friend had … double parked, ran to a security guard and handed him my card saying, ‘This is the woman who will answer your questions about God’. He stammered on the phone telling me the story and then said that he had kept the card for a year, thrown it away several times only to dig it out of the trash. Clifton then went on to ask me question after question about scripture. My husband found passages so that I could read directly as I spoke to Clifton over several hours. Well after midnight Clifton was still questioning why he needed God and I went ‘full Ray’. ‘Have you ever told a lie?’ I queried. My husband was pounding the pillow laughing as I was mouthing to him to shut up. Within minutes Clifton's heart changed. He was crying at his need for God and saying that he never knew why he needed Him. We prayed and I never heard from Clifton again. My husband, however, never misses an opportunity to laugh at my now former mocking at Ray.”
So if you are a Christian, make sure you do what Jesus did when you present the gospel to a lost and dying world. If they are humble and have a knowledge of sin, give them grace (John 3:1-5). If they are proud and self-righteous, give them the Law to humble them and bring the knowledge of sin (Mark 10:17-22). Do what Paul did in Romans chapter 2. He said to his hearers,
“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Romans 2:21-23).
Imitate Paul. Do what Jesus did. Open up the divine Law as He did in the Sermon on the Mount, and show sinners the seriousness of sin and its fearful consequences. To fail to do so is the ultimate betrayal, the terrible repercussions of which will only be seen in eternity.