Friday, September 29, 2017
The Vision (9.29.17): Law and Gospel
Image: Tomatoes, North Garden, Virginia, September 2017
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 4:15-23.
John 4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well is a model for evangelism. It has been suggested that before one can understand the gospel, he must understand the law. He must understand that he is a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory. That is why supposedly beginning to evangelize a sinner by saying, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is, in fact, a false gospel presentation. Instead, if one follows Christ’s model, one must begin to say, in some manner, “God hates you, and he hates your sin. He hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).” You must be crushed by your understanding of the law and its demands and understand your guilt and your total spiritual inability before you can understand the relief and mercy of the gospel, that though God hates sin and sinners, he loves the Son and those whose lives are hidden in him.
The contemporary evangelist Ray Comfort has popularized this method by asking persons, “Are you a good person?” And then asking if they have ever broken any of the ten commandments. Once this is acknowledged, he typically concludes, “Why should God let someone like you who is a liar, a thief, and a murderer into heaven?”
Jesus is probing this woman’s conscience through this conversation with her and his supernatural knowledge of her life. Calvin comments:
But we ought chiefly to observe … that they who are utterly careless and almost stupid must be deeply wounded by a conviction of sin; for such persons will regard the doctrine of Christ as a fable, until, being summoned to the judgement seat of God, they are compelled to dread as a Judge him whom they formerly despised.
Nay more, this is necessary for all of us; for we are not seriously affected by Christ speaking, unless we have been aroused by repentance.
Many Puritans, likewise, spoke of the need for “habitual repentance” in the Christian life.
This is, indeed, a concept omitted in so much of modern day evangelism and discipleship. But if we follow the model of Christ there must be conviction of sin and there must be repentance. True repentance must be the companion of true faith.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle