Ray Comfort emailed me this: “I want to explain to you why I think that I have seen more sinners surrender to Christ (in my personal witnessing) in the last six months, than I have seen in the last 35 years.”
Last week I announced Ray Comfort’s birthday and was amazed at how many wrote to wish him a Happy Birthday—and from all around the world, too. He responded in the comments section with the following and wanted me to post his thanks and give you a special message.
From Ray: Thank you for all of your wonderful and kind words. I have received many encouraging emails today, and I have replied with “Thank you. Where did you park my present?” just to see how witty the responses would be. The winner was “I parked it at the Porsche dealership in Beverly Hills. Make sure you drive away really quickly.”
I want to share something really important with you. I will ask Steve to put up two corresponding audio clips that go with it. Thanks again. Here goes:
The Old Story
It’s clear from Scripture that a genuine convert is he who hears and “understands” (see Matthew 13:23). This is perhaps why Phillip the evangelist asked the Ethiopian eunuch if he understood what he was reading (Acts 8:30).
It would seem obvious that this understanding is not only a reference to sin, but also a reference to the gospel. This is perhaps why the enemy is able to snatch the good seed from the wayside hearer, in the Parable of the Sower. It’s because he doesn’t understand that it is the message of everlasting life, so he puts no value to it:
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart” (Matthew 13:19).
My great desire is for sinners to understand the gospel and be saved. Recently, I have discovered something very exciting that has helped many of the people I’ve witnessed to understand. While I want to share it with you, I do so with a little hesitation, lest you think my confidence is in my own abilities rather than in the Spirit of God.
I believe that anything I preach is a dead letter unless God makes it alive. My words, methods, anecdotes, parables, phrases, etc., cannot save a soul. God alone saves the sinner from the sowing to the reaping.
However, I believe that, as a preacher of the gospel, my job is to strive (with the help of God) to bring about “understanding.” And so I use “great plainness of speech.” I don’t use “enticing words of man’s wisdom.” I keep the message simple, in the hope that the sinner will grasp what I am trying to say.
So, my gospel presentation may begin with a parable about a man stealing another man’s lamb (as with Nathan and David), or by quoting Athenian poets, as Paul did when he preached in Athens. I may use metaphors, similes, statistics, quotes, parables, personal experiences, and of course, I present the Law, the gospel, and the necessity of repentance and faith.
I may equate repentance to a criminal who becomes law-abiding and shows his sincerity by returning stolen goods. I perhaps will explain saving faith by differentiating it from an intellectual belief, and likening it to trusting a pilot or a parachute. I speak of the cross by explaining that it’s like a civil judge paying a criminal’s fine, thus satisfying the law and at the same time extending mercy. All these things are aimed at (with the help of God) bringing understanding to the sinner. If he doesn’t understand the gospel, he won’t value it and seek the Savior.
Now to the point. I want to explain to you why I think that I have seen more sinners surrender to Christ (in my personal witnessing) in the last six months, than I have seen in the last 35 years.
Incorporating the Law into the gospel presentation does many things. It primarily shows the sinner that he is a criminal, and that God is his judge. The Law (in the hand of the Holy Spirit) stops his mouth and leaves him guilty before God (see Romans 3:19-20). It reveals that he deserves nothing but judgment for his crimes. Like a faithful prosecutor, the Law of God points its accusing finger, and so the sinner’s stirred conscience bears witness and also points its finger at the criminal (see Romans 2:15). The verdict is “guilty,” and the condemnation is just.
This is the scenario that I try and paint for the sinner. I do my best to put him in the courtroom on the Day of Judgment, with the hope that he will understand the mercy that God offers him in Christ.
For years when I have done this, I have then said, “You broke God’s Law, and Jesus paid your fine in His life’s blood.” But, early in 2008, I added the words, “It was a legal transaction. You broke God’s Law (the Ten Commandments), and Jesus paid your fine. That means that God can legally dismiss your case. You can leave the courtroom on the Day of Judgment because another paid your fine. Does that make sense?”
From the first time I said those words I noticed, again and again, light go on in the eyes of my hearers. While this is certainly not a magic word or a formula, many suddenly understood what I was trying to say when I explained the gospel that way. I can’t point to a Bible verse that uses this exact language, but I can say that legality is the essence of the cross. It was God’s love for justice and for guilty sinners, that drove Him to Calvary. God is the “habitation of Justice” (see Jeremiah 21:33). We are guilty criminals. The fine has been paid, and we can leave the courtroom. So carefully explaining the gospel message, using legal vernacular to those whose understanding is “darkened,” can sometimes give new light on what he before perceived to be just an old and irrelevant story. LISTEN TO THE CLIPS: