Hell's Best Kept Secret
||Ray Comfort is a prolific evangelist
whose website can be found at www.livingwaters.com. In the late seventies,
God gave him an itinerant ministry which gave him access to church
growth records. He was horrified that 80 to 90% of those making a
decision for Christ were falling away from the faith. The following
is his account.
The Horrible Truth
Modern evangelism, with its methods, is creating something
like 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders for every hundred decisions
for Christ. Let me make it more real for you. In 1991, in the
first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S.
was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year,
this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000
decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship,
which means they couldnt account for 280,000 of their decisions,
and this is normal, modern evangelical results, and something I discovered
way back in the late seventies; it greatly concerned me.
I began to study the book of Romans intently and, specifically,
the gospel proclamation of men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Whitfield,
Luther, and others that God used down through the ages, and I found they
used a principle which is almost entirely neglected by modern evangelical
methods. I began teaching that principle; I was eventually invited to
base our ministry in southern California, the city of Bellflower, specifically
to bring this teaching to the church of the U.S.
Things were quiet for the first three years, until I received a call from
Bill Gothard, who had seen the teaching on video. He flew me to San Jose
in northern California; I shared it with a thousand pastors. Then in 1992
he screened that video to 30,000 pastors. The same year David Wilkerson
called from New York. He called from his car. (He had been listening to
the teaching in his car and called me on his car phone.) Immediately,
he flew me 3,000 miles from L.A. to New York to share the one-hour teaching
with his church; he considered it to be that important. And recently I
heard of a pastor who had listened to the audio tape 250 times. Id
be happy if youd listen just once to
this teaching which is called Hells Best Kept Secret.
(Tapes are available at www.livingwaters.com)
The Bible says in Psalm 19, verse 7, The law of the
Lord is perfect converting the soul. What is it that the Bible says
is perfect and actually converts the soul? Why scripture makes it very
clear: The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.
Now to illustrate the function of Gods law, lets just look
for a moment at civil law. Imagine if I said to you, Ive got
some good news for you: someone has just paid a $25,000 speeding fine
on your behalf. Youd probably react by saying, What
are you talking about? Thats not good news: it doesnt make
sense. I dont have a $25,000 speeding fine.
Why Receive The Good News?
My good news wouldnt be good news to you: it
would seem foolishness. But more than that, it would be offensive to you,
because Im insinuating youve broken the law when you dont
think you have. However, if I put it this way, it may make more
sense: On the way to this meeting, the law clocked you at going
55 miles an hour through an area set aside for a blind childrens
convention. There were ten clear warning signs stating that fifteen miles
an hour was the maximum speed, but you went straight through at 55 miles
an hour. What you did was extremely dangerous; theres a $25,000
fine. The law was about to take its course, when someone you dont
even know stepped in and paid the fine for you. You are very fortunate.
Can you see that telling you precisely what youve
done wrong first actually makes the good news make sense. If I dont
clearly bring instruction and understanding that youve violated
the law, then the good news will seem foolishness; it will seem offensive.
But once you understand that youve broken the law, then that good
news will become good news indeed.
Now in the same way, if I approach an impenitent sinner
and say, Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, it
will be foolishness and offensive to him. Foolishness because it wont
make sense. The Bible says that: The preaching of the cross is to
them that perish foolishness (1Cor. 1:18). And offensive because
Im insinuating hes a sinner when he doesnt think he
is. As far as hes concerned, there are a lot of people far worse
than him. But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,
it may make more sense. If I take the time to open up the divine law,
the ten commandments, and show the sinner precisely what hes done
wrong, that he has offended God
by violating His law, then when he becomes, as James says, convinced
of the law as a transgressor (Jam. 2:9), the good news of the fine
being paid for will not be foolishness, it will not be offensive, it will
be the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).
Now, with those few thoughts in mind by way of introduction, lets
now look at Romans 3, verse 19. Well look at some of the functions
of Gods law for humanity. Romans 3, verse 19: Now we know
that whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the
law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty
before God. So one function of Gods law is to stop the mouth.
To stop sinners justifying themselves and saying, Theres plenty
of people worse than me. Im not a bad person. Really. No,
the law stops the mouth of justification and leaves the whole world, not
just the Jews, but the whole world guilty before God.
Romans 3, verse 20: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall
no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of
sin. So Gods law tells us what sin is. 1 John 3:4 says, Sin
is transgression of the law. Romans 7, verse 7: What shall
we say then? says Paul. Is the law sin? God forbid! No, I
had not known sin but by the law. Paul says, I didnt
know what sin was until the law told me. In Galatians 3:24, Wherefore,
the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ that we might be justified
by faith. Gods law acts as a schoolmaster to bring
us to Jesus Christ that we might be justified through faith in His blood.
The law doesnt help us; it just leaves us helpless. It doesnt
justify us; it just leaves us guilty before the judgment bar of a holy
Embarassed By Hell
And the tragedy of modern evangelism is because around
the turn of the century when it forsook the law in its capacity to convert
the soul, to drive sinners to Christ, modern evangelism had to, therefore,
find another reason for sinners to respond to the gospel. And
the issue that modern evangelism chose to attract sinners was the issue
of life enhancement. The gospel degenerated into Jesus
Christ will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.
Now to illustrate the unscriptural nature of this very popular teaching,
Id like you to listen very carefully to this following anecdote,
because the essence of what Im saying pivots on this particular
illustration; so please listen carefully.
Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told
to put is on as it would improve his flight. Hes a little skeptical
at first because he cant see how wearing a parachute in a plane
could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment
and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of
it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright.
However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute
would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time.
As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing
at him, because hes wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to
feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and
he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute,
and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart,
because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie.
The second man is given a parachute, but listen to what hes told.
Hes told to put it on because at any moment hed be jumping
25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he
doesnt notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he cant
sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen
to him if he jumped without that parachute.
Lets analyze the motive and the result of each passengers
experience. The first mans motive for putting the parachute on was
solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he
was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered
against those who gave him the parachute. As far as hes concerned
itll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his
back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump
to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without
it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that hes
saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand
the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude towards those who
gave him the parachute is one of heart-felt gratitude.
Now listen to what the modern gospel says. It says, Put on the Lord
Jesus Christ. Hell give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting
happiness. In other words, Jesus will improve your flight.
So the sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion, puts on the Savior
to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation,
tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does
he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ, hes offended for the
words sake (Mark 4:17), hes disillusioned and somewhat embittered,
and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and
lasting happiness, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness
is directed toward those who gave him the so-called good news.
latter end becomes worse than the first: another inoculated and bitter
An Alternative Lifestyle, Or Eternal
Saints, instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight,
we should be warning the passengers theyre going have to jump out
of the plane. That its appointed unto man once to die, but
after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27). And when a sinner understands
the horrific consequences of breaking Gods law, then he will flee
to the Savior solely to escape the wrath thats to come. And if were
true and faithful witnesses, thats what well be preaching.
That there is wrath to come; that God commands all men everywhere
to repent (Acts 17:30).
Why? Because He has appointed a day, in which He will judge the
world in righteousness (vs. 31). You see, the issue isnt one
of happiness, but one of righteousness. It doesnt matter how happy
a sinner is, how much hes enjoying the pleasures of sin for
a season (Heb. 11:25). Without the righteousness of Christ, hell
perish on the day of wrath. Riches profit not on the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death (Prov. 11:4). Peace and joy
are legitimate fruits of salvation, but its not legitimate to use
these fruits as a draw card for salvation. If we continue to do so, sinners
will respond with an impure motive lacking repentance.
Now, can you remember why the second passenger had joy and peace in his
heart? It was because he knew that parachute was going to save him from
sure death. And as a believer, I have, as Paul says, joy and peace
in believing (Rom. 15:13), because I know that the righteousness
of Christ is going to deliver me from the wrath thats to come. Now
with that thought in mind, lets take a close look at an incident
on board the plane. We have a brand new stewardess. Shes carrying
a tray of boiling hot coffee. Its her first day; she wants to leave
an impression on the passengers, and she certainly does. Because as shes
walking down the aisle, she trips over someones foot and slops that
boiling hot coffee all over the lap of our second passenger. Now whats
his reaction as that boiling liquid hits his tender flesh? Does he go,
Ssssfffff! Man that hurt? Mmm-hhh. He feels the pain. But
then does he rip the parachute from his shoulders, throw it to the floor
and say, The stupid parachute!? No. Why should he? He didnt
put the parachute on for a better flight. He put it on to save him from
the jump to come. If anything, the hot coffee incident causes him to cling
tighter to the parachute and even look forward to the jump. Now if you
and I have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motive, to flee
from the wrath thats to come, when tribulation strikes, when the
flight gets bumpy, we wont get angry at God; we wont lose
our joy and peace. Why should we? We didnt come to Jesus for
a happy lifestyle: we came to flee from the wrath thats to come.
And if anything, tribulation drives the true believer closer to the Savior.
The Reason For Repentance
And sadly we have literally multitudes of professing Christians
who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? Theyre
the product of a man-centered gospel. They came lacking repentance,
without which you cant be saved. I was in Australia recently
ministering; Australia is a small island off the coast of New Zealand.
And I preached sin, law, righteousness, holiness, judgment, repentance,
and hell, and I wasnt exactly crushed by the amount of people wanting
to give their hearts to Jesus. In fact, the air went very
tense. After the meeting, they said, Theres a young guy down
in the back who wants to give his life to Christ. I went down the
back and found a
teenage lad who could not pray the sinners prayer because he was
weeping so profusely. Now, for me it was so refreshing, because for many
years I suffered from the disease of evangelical frustration.
I so wanted sinners to respond to the gospel I unwittingly preached a
man-centered message. The essence of which was this: Youll
never find true peace without Jesus Christ; youve a God-shaped vacuum
in your heart that only God can fill. Id preach Christ crucified;
Id preach repentance. A sinner would respond to the alter; Id
open an eye and say, Oh no. This guy wants to give his heart to
Jesus and theres an 80% chance hes going to backslide. And
I am tired of creating backsliders. So Id better make sure
this guy really means it. Hed better be sincere! So Id
approach the poor guy in a Gestapo spirit. Id walk up and say, Vhat
do you vant? Hed say, Im here to become a Christian.
Id say, Do you mean it? Hed say, Yeah.
Id say, Do you REALLY MEAN IT!? Hed say, Yeah,
Okay, Ill pray with you, but youd better mean it from
your heart. He said, Okay, okay. Now you repeat
this prayer sincerely after me and mean it from your heart sincerely and
really mean it from your heart sincerely and make sure you mean it. Oh,
God, Im a sinner. Hed say, Uh
God, Im a sinner. And Id think, Man, why isnt
there a visible sign of contrition. Theres no outward evidence the
guy is inwardly sorry for his sins. Now, if I could have seen his
motive, I would have seen he was 100% sincere. He really did mean his
decision with all his heart. He sincerely wanted to give this Jesus thing
a go to see if he could get a buzz out of it. He had tried sex, drugs,
materialism, alcohol. Why not give this Christian bit a go and see
if its as good as all these Christians say it is: peace, joy, love,
fulfillment, lasting happiness. He wasnt fleeing from
the wrath that was to come, because I hadnt told him there was wrath
to come. There was this glaring omission from my message.
He wasnt broken in contrition, because the poor
guy didnt know what sin was. Remember Romans 7, verse 7?
Paul said, I had not known sin but by the law. How can a man
repent if he doesnt know what sin is? Any so-called repentance
would be merely what I call horizontal repentance. Hes
coming because hes lied to men, hes stolen from men. But when
David sinned with Bathsheba and broke all ten of the ten commandments
(when he coveted his neighbors wife, lived a lie, stole his neighbors
wife, committed adultery, committed murder, dishonored his parents, and
thus dishonored God), he didnt say Ive sinned against
man. He said, Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and
done this evil in your sight (Ps. 51:4). When Joseph was tempted
sexually, he said, How can I do this thing and sin against God?
(Gen. 39:9). The prodigal son said, Ive sinned against heaven
(Luke 15:21). Paul preached repentance toward God (Acts 20:21).
And the Bible says, Godly sorrow works repentance (2Cor. 7:10).
when a man doesnt understand that his sin is primarily vertical,
hell merely come and exercise superficial, experimental, and horizontal
repentance, and fall away when tribulation, temptation, and persecution
A.B. Earl said, I have found by long experience that the severest
threatenings of the law of God have a prominent place in leading men to
Christ. They must see themselves lost before they will cry for mercy;
theyll not escape danger until they see it.
Now Id like you to do something a little unusual. Ill not
embarrass you; I give you my word. But I would like to ask, how many of
you were thinking of something else when I was reading that quote
from A.B. Earl? Now, I want to admit something to you. I was thinking
of something else when I was reading that quote from A.B. Earl: I was
thinking, Nobodys listening to me; theyre thinking of
something else. So, to make a very important point, Id like
you to be really honest. If you were thinking of something else and you
havent got a clue what A.B. Earl said, could you raise your hand
up nice and high
up nice and high. Its usually half to two
thirds and weve got that here tonight. Lets try again.
bless you, Pastor, for your honesty.
Is A Schoolmaster
A.B. Earl was a famous evangelist of the last century who had 150,000
converts to substantiate his claims. Satan doesnt want you to get
a grip of this, so listen very closely. A.B. Earl said, I have found
by long experience [thats the true test] that the severest threatenings
of the law of God have a prominent place in leading men to Christ. They
must see themselves lost before they will cry for
mercy; theyll not escape danger until they see it. You
see, you try and save a man from drowning when the man doesnt believe
hes drowning, hell not be too happy with you. You
see him swimming out in the lake; you think, I think hes drowning.
Yes, I believe he is.
You dive in, pull him to the shore, without telling him anything. Hes
not going to be very happy with you. He wont want to get saved until
he sees that hes in danger. Theyll not escape danger until
they see it.
You see, if you came to me and said, Hey, Ray, and I said,
Yeah. You said, This is a cure to
Groaninzins disease; I sold my house to raise the money to get this
cure. Im giving it to you as a free gift. Id probably
react something like this: What? Cure to what? Groaninzins
disease? You sold your house to raise the money to get this cure? Youre
giving it to me as a free gift? Why, thanks a lot. Bye.
a nut. I mean, thats probably how Id react if you sold
your house to raise the money to get a cure for a disease Id never
heard of and your giving it to me as free gift, Id think youre
rather strange. But instead, if you came to me and said, Ray, youve
got Groaninzins disease. I can see ten clear symptoms on your flesh.
Youre going to be dead in two weeks. And I became convinced
I had the disease (the symptoms were so evident), and said, Oh!
What shall I do? And then you said, Dont worry. This
is a cure to Groaninzins disease. I sold my house to raise the money
to get this cure. Im giving it to you as a free gift. Im
not going to despise your sacrifice; Im going to appreciate it and
Im going to appropriate it. Why? Because Ive seen the disease
that I might appreciate the cure.
And sadly, whats happened in the U.S. and the Western world as follow
is that we have preached the cure without first convincing of the
disease. We have preached a gospel of grace without first convincing men
of the law, that theyre transgressors; and, consequently,
almost everyone I try and witness to in southern California or around
the Bible belt has been born-again six or seven times. You say, You
need to give your life to Jesus Christ. Uh, I did that when
I was seven, eleven, seventeen, twenty-three, twenty-five, twenty-eight,
You know the guys not a Christian. Hes
a fornicator. Hes a blasphemer, but he thinks hes saved because
hes been born again.
Law To The Proud, Grace
To the Humble
Whats happening? Hes using the grace of our
God for an occasion of the flesh. He doesnt esteem the sacrifice.
For him its not a bad thing to trample the blood of Christ underfoot
(Heb. 10:29). Why? Because hes never been convinced of the disease
that he might appreciate the cure. Biblical evangelism is always, without
exception, law to the proud and grace to the humble. Never will you
see Jesus giving the gospel, the good news, the cross, the grace of our
God, to a proud, arrogant, self-righteous person. No, no. With the law
he breaks the hard heart and with the gospel he heals the broken heart.
Why? Because He always did those things that please the Father. God resists
the proud and gives grace to the humble (Jam. 4:6; 1Pet. 5:5). Everyone
who is proud of heart, scripture says, is an abomination to
the Lord (Prov. 16:5).
Jesus told us whom the gospel is for. He said, The spirit of the
Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the
poor, the broken-hearted, the captives and the blind (Luke 4:18).
Now, they are spiritual statements. The poor in spirit (Mat. 5:3). The
broken hearted are the contrite ones (Is. 57:15). The captives are those
of whom Satan has taken captive to do his will (2Tim. 2:26); and the blind
are those of whom the god of this world has blinded lest the light of
the gospel should shine on them (2Cor. 4:4). Only the sick need a physician
(Mark 2:17), and only those who are convinced of the disease will appreciate
and appropriate a cure.
So were going to now very briefly look at examples of law to the
proud and grace to the humble. Luke 10:24
Luke 10:24. And when I
give you a reference from the pulpit Ill give it twice, because
I know that men are present, and men need to be told things twice.
need to be told things twice. This can be backed up biblically. When God
speaks to men in the Bible he uses their name twice. Abraham, Abraham
Because men need
to be told things twice. Women once.
I dont know how many times Ive sat in a pew, preacher said,
Ah, Luke 10:25. I turn to my wife and say, Whatd
he say? She says, Luke 10:25. I say, Thank you,
dear. HELP-MATE. Thats why God created women, because men
could not handle it on their own. The whole thing is: men lose things,
women find things. Wheres the keys love? Hangin
on your nose, Dear. I mean, I dont know how many times Ive
opened the cupboard, [Burp] Theres no honey here, Honey!
She says, Here is here, Dear. Where would man be without women?
Mm? Still in the Garden of Eden. Eve found the tree. Adam didnt
really know what was going on. In fact, if you look at the creation of
woman, to create woman the Bible says God put man into a deep sleep. And
Scripture doesnt say he ever came out of it.
The Gospel Hurts And Heals
In Luke 10:25 we see a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus. This
is not an attorney, but a
professing expert on Gods law. He stood up and he said to Jesus,
How can I get everlasting life? Now, what did Jesus do? He
gave him law. Why? Because he was proud, arrogant, self-righteous. Here
we have a professing expert on Gods law tempting the Son of God.
And the spirit of his question was, And what do you think weve
got to do to get everlasting life? So Jesus gave him law.
He said, What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?
He says, Ah, you should love the Lord your God with all your heart,
mind, soul, and strength; love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus
said, This do and you shall live. And then the Scripture says,
But He, willing to justify Himself, said to Jesus, Whos
my neighbor? The Living Bible brings out more clearly the
effect of the law on the man. It said, The man wanted to justify
his lack of love for some kinds of people; so he asked, Which neighbors?
See, he didnt mind Jews, but he didnt like Samaritans.
So Jesus then told him the story of what we call the good Samaritan
who was not good at all. In loving his neighbor as much as
he loved himself, he merely obeyed the basic requirements of Gods
law. And the effect of the essence of the law, the spirituality of the
law (of what the law demands in truth), was that that mans mouth
was stopped. See, he didnt love his neighbor to that degree. The
law was given to stop every mouth and leave the whole world guilty before
Similarly, in Luke 18, verse 18, the rich, young ruler came to Jesus.
He said, How can I get everlasting life? I mean, how would
most of us react if someone came up and said, How can I get everlasting
life? Wed say, Oh
quickly say this prayer before
you change your mind. But what did Jesus do with His potential convert?
He pointed Him to the law. He gave him five horizontal commandments, commandments
to do with his fellow men. And when he said, Ah, Ive kept
those from my youth, Jesus said, One thing you lack.
And he used the essence of the first of the ten commandments: I
am the Lord your God
You shall have no other Gods before me
3). He showed this man that His god was His money, and you cannot
serve God and mammon (Mt. 6:24). Law to the proud.
The Gospel Is Good News
To Those Who Try To Keep The Law
Then we see grace being given to the humble in the case of Nicodemus (John
3). Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews. He was a teacher in Israel. Therefore,
he was thoroughly versed in Gods law. He was humble of heart, because
he came to Jesus and acknowledged the Deity of the Son of God. A leader
in Israel? We know that youve come from God for no man can
do these miracles that you do unless God is with Him. So Jesus gave
the sincere seeker of truth, who had a humble heart and a knowledge of
sin by the law, the good news of the fine being paid for and For
God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son. And it
was not foolishness to Nicodemus but the power of God to salvation.
Similarly, in the
case of Nathaniel (John 1:4351). Nathaniel was an Israelite brought
up under the law in deed, not just in word, in whom there was no guile;
there was no deceit in his heart. Obviously the law was a schoolmaster
to bring this godly Jew to Christ. Similarly with the Jews on the day
of Pentecost (Acts 2). They were devout Jews, godly Jews, who, therefore,
ate, drank, and slept Gods law. Matthew Henry, the Bible commentator,
said the reason they were gathered together on the day of Pentecost was
to celebrate the giving of Gods law on Mt. Sinai. So when Peter
stood up to preach to these godly Jews, he didnt preach wrath. No,
the law works wrath; they knew that. He didnt preach righteousness
or judgment. No, no. He just told them the good news of the fine being
paid for, and they were pricked in their hearts and cried, Men and
brethren, what shall we do? (vs. 37).
The Law Shows The True
State Of Man
The law was a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ that
they might be justified through faith in His blood. And the hymn-writer
said, By Gods word at last my sin I learned; then I trembled
at the law Id spurned, till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.
1 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 8, says, But we know that the law is
good if it used lawfully for the purpose for which it was designed.
Gods law is good if its used lawfully for the purpose for
which it was designed. Well, what was the law designed for?
The following verse tells us: The law was not made for a righteous
man but for sinners. It even lists the sinners: homosexuals,
fornicators. If you want to bring a homosexual to Christ, dont get
into an argument with him over his perversion; hes ready for you
with his boxing gloves on. No, no. Give him the ten commandments. The
law was made for homosexuals. Show him that he is damned despite his perversion.
If you want to bring a Jew to Christ, lay the weight of the law upon him;
let it prepare his heart for grace as happened on the day of Pentecost.
If you want to bring a Moslem to Christ, give him the law of Moses; they
accept Moses as a prophet. Well, give them the law of Moses and strip
them of their self-righteousness and bring them to the foot of a blood-stained
cross. I heard of a Moslem reading our book Hells Best Kept Secret,
and God soundly saved him purely through reading the book. Why? Because
the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.
Think of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:111). Violation
of the seventh commandment. The law called for her blood (Lev. 20:10).
She found herself in between a rock and a hard place. She had no avenue
but to fling herself at the feet of the Son of God for mercy; and that
is the function of Gods law. Paul spoke of being shut up under the
law (Gal. 3:23). It condemns. You say, You cant condemn sinners.
Saints, theyre already condemned. John 3, verse 18: He that
believes not is condemned already. All the law does is show him
himself in his true state.
Ladies, you might recognize this. Your table needs dusting in your living
room. So you dust it clean; all the dust is gone. Then you draw back the
curtains and let in the early morning sunlight. What do you see on the
table? Dust. What do you see in the air? Dust. Did the light create the
dust? No, the light merely exposed the dust. And when you and I take the
time to draw back the curtains of the holy of holies and let the light
of Gods law shine upon the sinners heart, all that happens,
is that he sees himself in truth. The commandment is a lamp and
the law is light (Prov. 6:23). Thats why Paul said, By
the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). Thats why he
said, By the commandment sin became exceedingly sinful (Rom.
7:13). In other words, the law showed him sin in its true light.
How To Witness
Now, normally at this stage of this teaching I go through the ten commandments
one by one, but what Ill do is share with you how I witness personally
because I think it would be more beneficial.
Now, Im a strong believer in following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Never, ever, would I approach someone and say, Jesus loves you.
Totally unbiblical; theres no precedent for that in Scripture. Neither
would I go up to someone and say, Id like to talk to you about
Jesus Christ. Why? Because if I wanted to awaken you from a deep
sleep, I wouldnt use a flashlight in your eyes. That will offend
you. Id turn on the light dimmer very gently. First, the natural,
then the spiritual. Why? Because the natural man receives not the
things of the spirit of God; neither can he know them. They are foolishness
to him because they are spiritually understood (1Cor. 2:14).
The precedent in Scripture is given in John 4 for personal witness. You
can see Jesus example with the woman at the well. He started in
the natural realm, swung to the spiritual, brought conviction using the
seventh commandment, and then revealed Himself as the Messiah. So, when
I meet someone, Ill talk about the weather, Ill talk about
sport: let them feel a little bit of sanity. Get to know them; maybe joke
here and there and then deliberately swing from the natural to the spiritual.
Now, the way I do this is that I use gospel tracts. We have something
like 24, 25 different tracts; were a ministry to the body of Christ.
Weve printed millions and millions of tracts and our tracts are
unusual. If you get a hold of them, what youll have to do is have
a stack on you because
people chase you and ask for more. (Available at www.livingwaters.com)
Let me give you an example. This is our optical illusion tract. Which
looks bigger, if you can see? Does the pink look bigger? Can you see that?
For those listening by tape
Theyre the same size; its
an optical illusion. I say, Its actually a gospel tract; instructions
are on the back
how to get saved, actually. I say, You
can keep that. He says, Hey
thanks a lot! This is neat
Got another gift for you. And out of my pocket I get a pressed
penny with the ten commandments on it. We have a machine that does this.
We buy the pennies new from the bank; nice golden-looking pennies and
we feed them into this machine and it presses them, or it will do your
thumbnail if you want to hold still. But it presses them with the ten
commandments. Its legal to do this: this is considered art. Its
not defacing a penny.
So I say, Heres a gift. He says, Oh
is it? I say, Its a penny with the ten commandments
on it; I did it with my teeth.
I do the is with my eye teeth
but the es are really difficult. Now, what Im doing
is putting out a feeler to see if hes open to spiritual things.
If he negatively says, Ten commandments? Thanks a lot, hes
not open. But the usual reaction is, Ten commandments
thanks! I appreciate this. I say, Ah, do you think youve
kept the ten commandments? He says, Ah, yeah
I say, Lets go through them. Ever told a lie? He says,
yeah, one or two. I say, What does that
make you? He says, A sinner. I say, No, no. Specifically,
what does it make you? He says, Well, man, Im not a
I say, How many lies, then, do you have to tell to be a liar? Ten
and a bell rings and ppppbbbbtttt across your forehead? Isnt
it true if you tell one lie, it makes you a liar? He says, Yeah
guess youre right. I say, Have you ever stolen something?
He says, No. I say, Come on; youve just admitted
to me youre a liar. I say, Ever stolen something, even
if its small? and he says, Yeah. I say, What does
that make you? He says, A thief.
I say, Jesus said, If you look at a woman and lust after her,
you commit adultery with her in your heart (Mat. 5:28). Ever done
that? He says, Yeah, plenty of times. Then from
your own admission, youre a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart,
and you have to face God on judgment day; and weve only looked at
three of the ten commandments. Theres another seven with their cannons
pointed at you. Have you used Gods name in vain? Yeah
been trying to stop. You know what youre doing? Instead
of using a four-letter filth word beginning with s to express
disgust, youre using Gods name in its place. Thats called
blasphemy; and the Bible says, Every idle word a man speaks hell
give account thereof on the day of judgment (Mat. 12:36). The
Lord will not
hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain (Ex. 20:7). The Bible
says if you hate someone, you are a murderer (1 John 3:15).
Workings Of The Conscience
Now the wonderful thing about Gods law is that God has taken the
time to write it upon our heart. Romans 2, verse 15:
show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing
Now, conscience means with knowledge.
Con is with, science is knowledge. Conscience. So when
he lies, lusts, fornicates, blasphemes, commits adultery, he does it with
knowledge that its wrong. God has given light to every man. The
Holy Spirit convicts them of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).
Sin which is transgression of the law (1 John 3:4); righteousness which
is of the law (Rom. 10:5; Philip. 3:9); judgment which is by the law.
conscience accuses himthe work of the law written on his heart (Rom.
2:15)and the law condemns him.
So I say, So if God judges you by this standard on the day of judgment,
are you going to be innocent or guilty? He says, Guilty.
I say, Well, do you think youll go to heaven or hell?
And the usual answer is, Heaven. A product of the modern gospel.
I say, Why do you feel like that? Is it because you think God is
good and hell overlook your sins? He says, Yeah, thats
it. Hell overlook my sins. Yeah, well, try that in a
court of law. Youve committed rape, murder, drug pushingvery
serious crimes. The judge says, Youre guilty. All the evidence
is here. Have you anything to say before I pass sentence? And you
say, Yes, Judge. Id like to say I believe youre a
good man and youll overlook my crimes. The judge would probably
say, Youre right about one thing. I am a good man, and because
of my goodness, Im going to see that justice is done. Because of
my goodness, Im going to see that youre punished.
And the very thing sinners are hoping will save them on the day
of judgment, the goodness of God, will be the very thing that will condemn
them. Because if God is good, He must by nature punish murderers,
rapists, thieves, liars, fornicators, and blasphemers. God is going to
punish sin wherever its found.
So with this knowledge, hes now able to understand. He now has light
that his sin is primarily vertical: that he has sinned against heaven
(Luke 15:21). That he has violated Gods law and that He has angered
God and the wrath of God abides upon Him (John 3:36). He can now see that
He is weighed in the balance of eternal justice and found
wanting (Dan. 5:27). He now understands the need for a sacrifice.
Christ redeemed from the curse of the law being made a curse for
us (Gal. 3:13). God commended His love toward us in that while
we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). We broke the
law; he paid the fine. Its as simple as that. And if a man will
repent, if a woman will repent and put their faith in Jesus, God will
remit their sins so that on the day of
judgment, when their court case comes up, God can say, Your case
is dismissed through lack of evidence. Christ redeemed from
the curse of the law being made a curse for us. And, therefore,
exercise repentance towards God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts
20:21), put his hand to the plough and not look back because hes
fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62).
That word fit means ready for use. The soil of his heart has
been turned that he might receive the engrafted word which is able to
save his soul (Jam. 1:21). Now, I havent got time to share these
quotes with you, but their in our literature. Im sure youll
recognize these names. John Wycliffe, the Bible translator. He said, The
highest service to which a man may obtain on earth is to preach the law
of God. Why? Because it will drive sinners to faith in the Savior,
to everlasting life. Martin
Luther said, The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare
Gods law and to show the nature of sin. In fact, as we read
these quotes, these men have so much conviction you can feel their teeth
grit. They say things like, If you do not use the law in gospel
proclamation, you will fill the church with false converts. Stony
ground hearers who
will receive the word with joy and gladness.
Listen to what Martin Luther said. He said, Satan, the god of all
dissension stirs up daily new sects. And last of all which of all others
I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect
such as teach that men should not be terrified by the law, but gently
exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ. So whats
Luther saying? He saying, Listen, guys. Theres a demonic,
Satanic sect thats just risen up. Man, I never, ever would have
believed this could happen. Hes raised up a sect such as teach that
men should not be terrified by the law, but gently exhorted by the preaching
of the grace of Christ, which perfectly sums up most of our evangelism.
Understanding The Consequences Of Sin
John Wesley said to a friend, in writing to a young evangelist,
Preach 90 percent law and 10 percent grace. And
you say, 90 percent law and 10 percent grace? Pretty heavy. Couldnt
it be 50-50. Think of it like this. Im a doctor; youre
a patient. You have a terminal disease. I have a cure, but its absolutely
essential that you are totally committed to this cure; if youre
not 100 percent committed, it will not work. How am I going to handle
it? Probably like this.
Come in here. Sit down. Ive some very serious news for you:
you have a terminal disease. I see you begin to shake. I think to
myself, Good. Hes beginning to see the seriousness of this
situation. I bring out charts; I bring out x-rays. I show you the
poison seeping through your system. I speak to you for ten whole minutes
about this terrible disease. How long, then, do you think Im going
to have to talk about the cure? Not long at all. When youre sitting
there trembling after ten minutes, I say, By the way, heres
the cure. You grab it and gulp it down.
Your knowledge of the disease and its horrific consequence has made you
desire the cure. You see, before I was a Christian, I had as much desire
for righteousness as a four-year-old boy has for the word bath.
Whats the point? See, Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness. How many non-Christians do you know
who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness? The Bible says, There
is none who seek after God (Rom. 3:11). It says they love the darkness,
they hate the light; neither will they come to the light least there deeds
be exposed (John 3:1920). The only thing they drink in is iniquity
like water (Job 15:16). But the night I was confronted with the spiritual
nature of Gods law and understood that God requires
truth in the inward parts (Ps. 51:6), that He saw my thought-life and
considered lust to be the same as adultery, hatred the same as murder,
I began to say, I can see Im condemned. What must I do to
be made right? I began to thirst for righteousness. The law put
salt on my tongue. It was a schoolmaster to bring me to Christ.
Charles Spurgeon said, They will never accept grace until they tremble
before a just and holy law. D.L. Moody, John Bunyan, John Newton,
who wrote Amazing Grace (and if anyone had a grip on grace
it was Newton), he said that the correct understanding of the harmony
between law and grace is to preserve oneself from being entangled by errors
on the right hand and on the left. And Charles Finney said, Evermore
the law must prepare the way for the gospel. He said, To overlook
this in instructing souls is almost certain to result in false hope, the
introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill
the church with false converts.
Saints, the first thing David Wilkerson said to me when he called me on
his car phone was, I thought I was the only one who didnt
believe in follow-up. Now, I believe in feeding a new convert; I
believe in nurturing him. I believe in discipling himbiblical and
most necessary. But I dont believe in following him. I cant
find it in Scripture. The Ethiopian eunuch was left without follow-up.
How could he survive? All he had was God and the Scriptures. You see,
now let me explain follow-up for those of you who dont
know. Follow-up is when we get
decisions, either through crusades or local church, and we take laborers
from the harvest field, who are few as it is, and give them this disheartening
task of running after these decisions to make sure theyre going
on with God. What it is is a sad admission of the amount of confidence
we have in the power of our message and in the keeping
power of God.
If God has saved them, God will keep them. If theyre born of God,
theyll never die. If Hes begun a good work in them, Hell
complete it to that day (Philip. 1:6); if Hes the author of their
faith, Hell be the finisher of their faith (Heb. 12:2). Hes
able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by Him (Heb. 7:25).
Hes able to keep them from falling and present them faultless before
the presence and glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24). Jesus said, No
one will pluck you from my fathers hand (John 10:29). You
see, saints, the problem is that Lazarus is four days dead (John 11).
We can run in the tomb, we can pull him out, we can prop him up, we can
open his eyes, but he stinketh (vs. 39). He needs to hear
the voice of the Son of God. And the sinner is four days dead in his sins.
We can run up and say, Say this prayer. Still, he needs to
hear the voice of the Son of God, or there is no life in him; and the
thing that primes the sinners ear to hear the voice of the Son of
God is the law. Its a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ that he
might be justified
through faith (Gal. 3:24).
What It Means To Be Born Again
Saints, the law works; it converts the soul (Ps. 19:7).
It makes the person a new creature in Christ. That old things pass away;
behold, all things are become new (2Cor. 5:17). So find yourself a sinner,
and experiment on him. But as you do so, remember this one anecdote. Youre
sitting on a plane, sipping youre coffee, biting a cookie, and watching
a movie. Its a good flight, very pleasurable, when suddenly you
hear, This is your captain speaking. I have an announcement to make.
As the tail section has just fallen off of this plane, were about
to crash. Theres a 25,000 foot drop. Theres a parachute under
your seat; wed appreciate it if youd put it on. Thank you
for your attention, and thank you for flying with this airline.
You say, What!? 25,000 feet!? Man, am I glad to be wearing this
You look next to you; the guy next to you is biting his cookie, sipping
his coffee, and watching the movie. You say, Excuse me, did you
hear the captain? Put the parachute on. He turns to you and says,
Oh, I really dont think the captain means it. Besides, Im
quite happy as I am, thanks. Dont turn to him in sincere zeal
and say, Oh, please, put the parachute on. It will be better than
the movie. Now, that doesnt make sense. If you tell him that
somehow the parachute will improve his flight, hes going to put
it on for a wrong motive. If you want him to put it on and keep it on,
tell him about the jump. You say, Excuse me, ignore the captain
if you wish. Jump without a parachute
SPLAT! He says, Im
sorry; I beg your pardon. I said, if you jump without a parachute,
law of gravity. Ppppbbbbtttt on the ground. Ah!
Goodness me! I see what youre saying! Thank you very much!
And as long as that man has knowledge he has to pass through the door
and face the consequences of breaking the law of gravity, theres
no way youre going to get that parachute off his back, because his
very life depends on it. Now, if you look around you, youll find
there are plenty of passengers enjoying the flight. Theyre enjoying
the pleasures of sin for a season. Go up and say, Excuse me. Did
you hear the command from our Captain about salvation, Put on the
Lord Jesus Christ. He turns to you and says, Oh, I
really dont think God means it. God is love. Besides, Im quite
happy as I am, thanks. Dont turn to him in sincere zeal without
knowledge and say,
Please, put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hell give you love,
joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness. Youve got a God-shaped
vacuum in your heart only God can fill. If you have a marriage problem,
drug problem, alcohol problem, just give your heart to Jesus. No.
Youll give him the wrong motive for his commitment. Instead say,
Oh, God, give me courage! and tell him about the jump.
Just say, Hey, its appointed to man once to
die. If you die in your sins, God will be forced to give you justice,
and His judgment is going to be so thorough. Every idle word a man speaks
hell give account thereof on the day of judgment; if youve
lusted, youve committed adultery. If youve
hated someone, youve committed murder. And Jesus warned that justice
will be so thorough, the fist of eternal wrath will come upon you and
[SMACK] grind you to powder. God bless. Now saints, Im not
talking about hell-fire preaching. Hell-fire preaching will produce fear-filled
converts. Using Gods law will produce tear-filled converts.
Hell Is Place Of Justice
This one comes because why? He wants to escape the fires of hell. But
in his heart, he thinks God is harsh and unjust, because the law hasnt
been used to show him the exceeding sinful nature of sin. He doesnt
see hell as being his just desert, that he deserves hell. Therefore, he
doesnt understand mercy or grace; and, therefore, he lacks gratitude
to God for His mercy. And gratitude is the prime motivation for evangelism.
Therell be no zeal in the heart of a false convert to evangelize.
But this one comes knowing he has sinned against heaven. That Gods
eye is in every place beholding the evil and the good and God has seen
darkness, as though it were pure light. Hes seen his thought life.
If God in His holiness on the day of wrath made manifest all the secret
sins of his heart, all the
deeds done in darkness, if he made manifest all the evidence of his guilt,
God could pick him up as an unclean thing and cast him into hell and do
that which is just.
But instead of giving him justice, hes given him mercy. Hes
commended his love toward him in that while hes yet a sinner Christ
died for him. He falls on his knees before that blood-stained cross, and
he says, Oh, God, if You do that for me, Ill do anything for
You. I delight to do Your will,
oh, my God. Your law is written upon my heart. And like the man
who knew he had to pass through the door and face the consequences of
breaking the law of gravity and would never take his parachute off because
his very life depended on it, so he who comes to the Savior, knowing he
has to face a holy God on the day of wrath, would never forsake the righteousness
of God in Christ because His very life depends on it.
Let me see if I can coagulate this teaching as we draw it to a close.
I was in a store some time ago, and the owner of the store was serving
a customer and using Gods name in blasphemy. Now, if somebody used
my wifes name in blasphemy, I would be extremely offended if they
used her name as a curse word in that sense. But this guy was using Gods
name as a curse word, when God had given him life, his eyes, the ability
to think, his children, his food; every pleasure hes ever had was
given to him by the goodness of God, and hes using Gods name
as a curse word. Indignantly, between him and his customer, I leaned and
said, Excuse me. Is this a religious meeting? The guy says,
What? H-E-L-L no! Yes it is, because now youre
talking about hell. Let me get you one
of my books. So I went out to my car and got a book that Ive
written called God Doesnt Believe in Atheists: Proof the Atheist
Doesnt Exist. And its a book which uses logic, humor, reason,
and rationalism to prove the existence of God, which you can do in two
minutes without the use of faith.
Its a very simple thing to conclusively, absolutely prove Gods
existence; and it proves also that the atheist doesnt exist. In
fact, let me show you our bumper sticker. National Atheists
Day: April 1. So I gave him this book, and two months later I went
in and gave him another book Ive written called My Friends Are Dying!
A book which is a true and gripping story about the ministering of the
gospel in the most murderous portion of Los Angeles; a book which also
uses humor in its presentation. I gave him those books and he called me
and told me what had happened. He told me his wife kept giving him filthy
looks, because there he was reading a book called My Friends Are Dying!
and laughing every two minutes. But he was cleaning out his room and he
picked up God Doesnt Believe in Atheists. He said, Ah,
and he opened it up and read the first page and then he read the whole
book, 260 pages. He said, It was weird because I hate reading.
Then he read My Friends Are Dying!, gave his life to Christ, bought himself
a Bible, came around to say, Hi, and told me after two days
of being a Christian, in his Bible he was already up to what he called
the book of Lev-ih-tiekus.
And I guess he was going to read Palms and then John. But
up until his commitment, the man was a practicing witch. The law
of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. And its as though
God looked down upon me, as for many years I open-air preached, and as
I fought off the enemy with the feather duster of modern evangelism, its
as though God said, What are you doing? My
weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds
(2Cor. 10:4). Here are ten great cannons. And as I lined up the
ten cannons of Gods law, no longer did sinners scoff and mock. No,
their faces went pale; they lifted their hands and said, I surrender
all! All to Jesus I freely give! They came across to the winning
side never to become deserters. Such converts become soul winners, not
pew warmers, laborers, not layabouts, assets, not liabilities for the
And now saints, with every head raised and every eye open, and no music
playing, let me challenge you as to the validity of your salvation. Modern
evangelism says, Never question your salvation. The Bible
says the exact opposite. It says, Examine yourself and see if youre
in the faith (2Cor. 13:5). Better now than on the day of judgment.
The Bible says make your calling and election sure (2Pet.
1:10), and some of you know that something is radically wrong in your
Christian walk. You lose your peace and joy when the flight gets bumpy.
There is a lack of zeal to evangelize. You never fell on your face before
Almighty God and said, Ive sinned against You, oh God! Have
mercy upon me! Youve never fled to Jesus Christ and His blood
for cleansing, in desperation crying out, God be merciful to me
a sinner! And theres a lack of gratitude; theres not
a burning zeal for the lost.
You cant say youre on fire for God; in fact, youre in
danger of being one of the ones that are called lukewarm and
will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ on the day of judgment (Rev.
3:16) when multitudes will cry out to Jesus, Lord, Lord. And
hell say, Depart form me you worker of iniquitylawlessness:
I never knew you (Mat. 7:2223). No regard to the divine law.
The Bible says, Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart
lawlessness (2Tim. 2:19).
So today you need to readjust the motive for your commitment. Friend,
dont let your
pride stop you. I would like to pray for you: Ill remain up here,
you remain in your seat. And if youd like to be included in this
prayer, Id like for you to slip up your hand, but remember this.
If you say, Well, I should put my hand up but what will people think?
thats pride. You prefer the praises of men to the praises of God
(John 12:43). Everyone who is proud of heart is an abomination to the
Lord (Prov. 16:5). God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
So humble yourself before the mighty hand of God; Hell exalt you
in due time (1Pet. 5:56). Call it a
recommittal; call it a committal. But whatever you call it, make your
calling and election sure.