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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Answer without The Question

Taking the baton from Pascal, modern evangelicals have sought to answer every question with "Jesus."

How can I improve my marriage? Jesus
How can the world become more peaceful? Jesus
How can I find meaning in life? Jesus
How can Islam be defeated? Jesus
How can we reduce violence in schools? Jesus
How can I break my addictive habit? Jesus
How can I have hope? Jesus

This method of evangelism is flawed.

Certainly, Jesus is not flawed. Nor is it flawed to suggest that He is the answer for our deepest need. But what is flawed in this line of question and answer is that we have not scratched the deepest need. Perhaps we should rework the questions a bit:

Why am I not experiencing a healthy marriage? sin
Why is the world in turmoil and warring with one another? sin
Why does my life feel empty and pointless? sin
What is the pursuit of Islamic doctrine? sin
What is violence toward others, as seen in our schools? sin
What is my habit that controls me? sin
Where does despair come from? sin

Our deepest need, quite simply, is to become justified (made right) before God. Obviously, Jesus is the answer to that problem. He came to this earth, lived a perfect life and died on the cross, paying the penalty for sin. If by faith, we turn from our sins and trust that Christ can give us His righteousness and take our sin away. Once justification has taken place, then the sin problem is cured and through submission to His Word, Christ can begin to address consequences of sin upon our lives.

Consider the following imagery. If a person stood before God at the judgment, could they claim right standing before God simply because they asked Jesus to improve their marriage? Would they be seen as righteous simply because they sought to apply Jesus' teachings to international relations? Can they even say their sins are removed simply because they looked to Jesus for more meaning in life?

Again, Jesus is most certainly the answer to all of the initial questions posed. However, apart from dealing with a person's justification before God, you haven't even dealt with the root problem. Therefore, we have to direct people to see that sin is the problem, and Christ offers Himself as our sin substitute.

Jesus is defintely the answer. We just have to make sure people got the question right.


  • At 8:50 AM, Blogger jason said…

    I recently read a really interesting post (Pyromanics? maybe... I can't remember) that talked about the recent need for salesmanship in evangelism. Basically, this was because we've done away with sin and thus have to create the need within the person we're evangelizing to by hanging out the carrot of "purpose" or wealth or whatever else there may be.

  • At 9:17 AM, Anonymous PastorWheatfield said…

    There is an article in the current issue of Christianity Today, dealing with this same topic. That much of current evangelism has change it's focus from looking at the falleness of man to the glory of God. It is a powerful article and along with your blog something that needs to be seriously considered. Thanks for keeping the focus of your blog, on important topics like these.

  • At 11:40 AM, Blogger ~d said…

    i couldn't agree with this more.

    well said!

  • At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So, can a person be "justified before God" and still have a terrible marriage?

    Can a "justified" Christian still struggle with sin?

    I agree that we should focus on the deepest issue of salvation and atonement for sin.

    But after that... then what?

  • At 1:46 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    if this is the same anonymous who has been posting for a while now, please identify as you post. others on this blog are under the accountability of others seeing who they are and being able to respond accordingly. i don't believe it is biblical to be allowed to use the sheild of anonymity as you post.

    if you are a new anonymous, please take advantage of the free opportunity to register an identity, or atleast initial your thoughts so we know who they are. (i have a dear friend who simply ends posts with "lg" and then people know to whom to attribute comments).

    justified and a terrible marriage?
    justified and still struggle with sin?

    the answer throughout scripture is an obvious "yes." but to answer that way, you must use the term justification in the biblical way. culturally, we justify something to plead our innocence. biblically, justification is about Christ's innocence applied on my behalf. therefore, i can be justified before God (seen as sinless through the shed blood of Christ) without my marriage being fully sanctified (conformed to the image of Christ) or without myself being fully removed from sin (glorification).

    but the catholic church particularly has confused justification and sanctification and therefore they must developed a system of our own personal justification. this does not match Scripture. my justification is found in Christ alone. it is alien to me.

    your comment: "but after that, then what?" then you show the person how their actions betray the faith that they have in the gospel message and call them to live according to their faith and belief. marriage is a wonderful example. you believe Christ is faithful to you and demonstrated His love in actions. Great. Now do the same for your bride. a focus on Christ's atonement and our justification is the center of our motivation and practice of sanctification. you do not move beyond the gospel...you dig deeper into it.

  • At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, I'm the anonymous to your post regarding Sex and Evangelism. I'm not related to this new anonymous and didn't want him/her falling under any more condemnation for using the anonymity offered on your site. I do read your blog and others' occasionally but this is the last time I will comment,just so you know. The "it's not biblical" line really topped it off for me. Really now. That's a little Matthew 23, don't ya think? Some of us understand the necessity for anonymity when posting on the internet. Real crazys out there. Maybe I'll just assume you were making a joke. Either way, I'll just say my goodbyes! Best to you.

  • At 9:57 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I'll admit that this is all interesting dialogue.

    It actually might make people want to play games with you, Danny. Like, just for laughs, I'm going to post as "anonymous" sometime, just to see the mayhem that ensues.

    The internet is a wild place, eh?

    Speaking of wild places, check out this. Now that's wild. Bargnani drops 20 in his first summer game. Gotta love it!


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