The Life Ring
The whole of mankind is under the illusion that he is his own master. The carnal mind blinds men1 to the truth that they are not captains of their own fate, but instead drowning in an ocean of sin2. In evangelism, we are to help awaken a person’s conscience through the use of law3 so that they may see the reality of their predicament. With their eyes open they can see themselves drowning in a violent sea of misery of their own making. They can now plead for the Captain of their salvation4, Jesus Christ, to rescue them, putting on them a life ring of faith and repentance.
So why doesn’t everyone we witness to fall down and worship Christ?
Many times a person’s eyes are open to their condition through the use of the law. They begin to see they have sinned against a holy God. But instead of turning to Christ in repentance, they turn to works—in other words, they begin to tread water. “I see my problem, I’m a drift in a vast ocean with no land in sight; therefore, I must tread water and save myself”, is the response from the self-righteous. This reaction is because the condition of man is prideful. Repentance is a gift from God5 and God resist the proud of heart6. Where there is no humility, the Holy Spirit has not acted upon the person’s heart7; works pour out of a proud heart. Man is by nature a rebel, and will act naturally in opposition to God’s command to repent, even when faced with an explanation of the truth in the most simple of terms.
“But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; They have revolted and departed.” –Jeremiah 5:23
Understanding the nature of man; his unredeemed heart, his disobedience, his total corruption8, is important in understanding the reaction of man to the good news. In confusion over a lack of knowledge or ignorance on the necessity of humility, brought by Godly sorrow over sin—this is brought to completion by the work of God and not of man—an otherwise well-meaning evangelist can mistakenly confirm a person’s error for salvation leading them into a worse condition of legalism9 ultimately delivering a still-born child called false convert. We need to be mindful that the carnal mind will always default to works-based religion and to spend time—much time—on Christ’s work of redemption. Do not be quick to assume a person understands that they can do nothing to clean up their own lives after sharing the gospel. Revisit these points with a person who seems to understand.
1 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
2 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
3 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” Psalm 19:7
4 “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” Hebrews 2:10
6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
9 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Mathew 23:15