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.

He adds:

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


Mad Jack said...

Nice post. I am reminded of the last supper, when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and remarked that you don't need washing, just your feet. So I try to remember each time I pray to thank the Lord for hear my prayers, and for giving me a good life. Then I ask forgiveness for my sins and ask for a better heart so as to forgive those who sin against me.

So here's my question. Mark 12:28-31, says in part: 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.

How does this apply to someone who doesn't love themselves?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

MJ, thanks for your comment. I think the second part of the Great Commandment (love your neighbor as yourself) has more to do with responsibility to one's fellow man than to self-regard or self-esteem. I think Jesus assumes men will naturally esteem themselves and give attention to their own self-interest. Compare Paul's observation in Ephesians 5:29: "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord does the church" (Eph 5:29). I assume that there might be some people who are filled with genuine self-loathing. If so they deny the Bible's teaching that they are made in God's image and, therefore, have intrinsic value in God's sight.