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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Book Review - The Way Of The Master

The Way Of The Master is written by Ray Comfort and is the name of his evangelistic ministry. I was first exposed to this ministry a few years ago and since then I have come back to it on several occasions. At the beginning of this year I determined to really examine the content of what Ray Comfort was suggesting. I am always highly skeptical of these kinds of ministries. I am fullypersuadedbaptist.

I am quite certain that Ray Comfort and myself would disagree on a wide range of issues. I also believe we are in agreement concerning the gospel. I do rejoice whenever the true gospel is being preached. Ray Comfort's ministry seems to be on to something in giving people practical information and help in sharing their faith.

His book, The Way Of The Master is basically a synopsis of his ministry and his view of how the gospel should be presented. The book is 326 pages long and a fairly easy read. Comfort's writing style is down to earth without a lot of pretension.

As I have become more familiar with his views there are several things I appreciate and to which I believe Baptist should give attention to.

His basic premise is that in preaching the gospel you begin with the law (the Ten Commandments). I have been preaching for years that before a person can be saved they must be lost, that is they must recognize they are lost. Comfort articulates that view very nicely and proceeds to give practical instruction how to use the law to bring people to an awareness of their sin against a holy God. His position is difficult to argue against standing on the bulwark of the Bible. The New Testament is clear in expressing the role of the Law in the life of the unbeliever. It is to make the whole world guilty before God, to stop every mouth. The Law is the schoolmaster to bring men to Christ for salvation. Paul said, I had not known sin but by the Law.

One thing I have come to realize through thinking about Comfort's positions is that when we preach that men are sinners and give them verses like "all have sinned" most people readily admit this. But their view is that it is no big deal because everyone is a sinner. I have come to think that people can admit they are sinners without feeling a sense of guilt. So, instead of simply telling people they are sinners we need to show them how they have transgressed God's law. I have felt this to be an important part of any gospel presentation for many years now. Men must understand that God demands moral perfection. That moral perfection is addressed in His law. If we fail to measure up we are in big trouble on the day of judgment. Men must be brought to a place of understanding their personal guilt before God.

Another issue that he addresses that I appreciate is the emphasis on judgment to come. We have been told for decades now that preaching about hell is offensive and that if we are not careful we will scare people into heaven. Finally someone is willing to face head on the reality of hell and that people need to be warned about the wrath to come. A gospel presentation without a clear, definitive, terrorizing presentation of hell is woefully inadequate. The fact is we cannot make hell out to be worse than it is. It is real, it is hot, it is eternal and people need to be warned. There is nothing wrong with people running from hell to Christ. Most gospel preaching and witnessing today has no note of an alarm in it. Comfort's book reinstates the centuries old premise that it is alright to bring people to a fearful awareness of the judgment to come.

Another issue that he raises is repentance. In most gospel presentations, and gospel tracts people are not instructed to repent. This in spite of the fact that the Bible's message is a message of repentance. It is a message of the sinner turning from his wicked ways. If a man does not turn from his sin he cannot be saved. If he will turn from his sin God will save him and change him. It is the absence of repentance that has brought into existence a whole generation of "believers" who drink, use tobacco, curse, watch raunchy movies, only go to church on Sunday mornings, engage in fornication and adultery, cause problems in their churches, tell dirty jokes, watch TV but don't have time to read their bibles, easily take offence, show themselves in public in varying degrees of undress, etc. . . These people have "asked Jesus into their hearts" but have never repented of their sins and trusted Jesus and taken up their cross and followed him. I never cease to be amazed in raising spiritual issues with people how many of them are already "saved"? Is that right??? Wow, I would have never known it. Why is this true? Because churches have abandoned calling people to repentance. Comfort addresses this issue and it is a comfort to me that he does.

It is also a good book for the fact that it provides loads of encouragement for sharing your faith. He debunks the idea that you have to make friends with people before you talk to them about spiritual issues. In fact he contends that you can build a relationship with a person in just a few minutes. He even argues that if you are concerned about their eternity you will set yourselves to build a relationship with people and then courageously and purposefully turn the conversation to the things of God. There are far too many who never open their mouths and share their faith. They are waiting for their unbelieving friends and acquaintances to bring up the subject. You may have a long wait, and while you wait they are drifting ever closer to eternal damnation. I found his book and other material to be very encouraging in just getting people to speak up for Christ.

I would recommend the book and his other material that relates to soul winning. I do not give him a wholehearted endorsement because I am sure that we would disagree on quite a bit once we moved beyond the gospel and sharing one's faith. He does not exclusively use the KJV. I believe he may be using the NKJV.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

"We live in a 'therapeutic' culture that places a high value on feeling good, self-esteem, and self-actualization."

"The freedom he (Jesus) offered was not freedom from the hardships of life."

"Those who look to the cross as a token of God's love will never doubt His steadfast devotion to them."

"Perhaps one of the greatest errors made by moder preachers is to assume that sinners know that they are sinners and therefore don't need to be confronted with the facts."

"Nearly two-thirds (of Americans) think they are heaven bound."

"Most of the world realizes that they have broken God's Law - the Ten Commandments, but it's no big deal."

"Again, it is difficult to discern between true and false converts, but they are often revealed when they don't get their own way."

"However, 'following up' with a false convert is like putting a stillborn baby into intensive care."

"But you cannot follow-up on a spiritually dead person. Being dead, he had no interest in growth."

"Nothing reveals Calvary like Sinai."

"R. C. Sproul said, 'Jesus doesn't save us to God. He saves us from God.'"

". . . you and I are not the only things he loves. He loves righteousness. He loves holiness, and He love justice."

"Calvary's grisly wounds . . . stand as a fearful testimony, not only of God's unfathomable love for sinners, but also of His incredible love for justice."

"John R. Stott, commenting on Galatians 3:23-29, writes, 'We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses, to be condemned.'"

"And the world will stay desensitized to sin, whether they sit in the world or in the Church, as long as they are not confronted by the Law."

"Sinful people will not give up their darling lusts unless they have good reason to. Hell is a good reason."

In relation to sharing our faith Comfort writes, "Don't stay in the tomb of dead silence."

"What one generation permits, the next embraces as normal."

". . . . this is not a God-forsaken world - it is a world that has forsaken God."

"Charles Spurgeon said, 'I have heard it said that if there is a crooked stick, and you want to show how crooked it is, you need not waste words in description. Place a straight one by the side of it, and the thing is done directly.'"

Book Rating ***

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