19 Comments

Is Ray Comfort’s Idea Original?

Ray ComfortA lot of Christians are opposed to presenting the law before the gospel, and say Ray Comfort’s method is unbiblical. They generally say that his series of questions isn’t found in the Bible, and they would be right. However, no one has said that they were in the Bible, and there are many ways to present the law and the gospel without using Comfort’s spiel.

I really have no interest in defending Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron. On the other hand, if someone wants to disagree with their method, they have their work cut out for them. Ray Comfort should get a lot of credit for popularizing biblical witnessing, but he didn’t make up “law to the proud, grace to the humble” by himself. Here are a few quotes about the law and its proper use:

  • Charles Spurgeon said, “The law serves a most necessary purpose. They [unbelievers] will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law.”
  • Martin Luther said, “So it is with the work-righteous and the proud unbelievers. Because they do not know the law of God, which is directed against them, it is impossible for them to know their sin.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The trouble with people who are not seeking for a Savior, and for salvation, is that they do not understand the nature of sin. It is the peculiar function of the law to bring such an understanding to a man’s mind and conscience.”
  • John Bunyan said, “In my preaching of the Word, I took special notice of this one thing, namely, that the Lord did lead me to begin where His Word begins with sinners; that is, to condemn all flesh, and to open and allege that the curse of God, by the law doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world, because of sin.”
  • Paris Reidhead said, “I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of the “the plan of salvation” in America for one to two years. Then, I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the law of God, until sinners would cry out, “What must we do to be saved?” Then, I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them….Such drastic action is needed because we have gospel-hardened a generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding why they need to be saved.”
  • John MacArthur said, “Grace means nothing to a person who does not know he is sinful and that such sinfulness means he is separated from God and damned. It is therefore pointless to preach grace until the impossible demands of the law and the reality of guilt before God are preached.”
  • Charles Spurgeon said, “I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law.”
  • John Wesley said, “Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgment.”
  • George Whitfield said, “That is the reason we have so many ‘mushroom’ converts, because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law; they are stony-ground hearers.”
  • Martin Luther said, “Satan, the god of all dissension, stirreth up daily new sects, and last of all, which of all other 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.”
  • Paris Reidhead said, “When 100 years ago earnest scholars decreed that the law had no relationship to the preaching of the gospel, they deprived the Holy Spirit in the area where their influence prevailed of the only instrument with which He had ever armed Himself to prepare sinners for grace.”
  • John R.W. Stott said, “We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there.”
  • Dr. J Gresham Machen said, “A new and more powerful proclamation of [the] law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.”
  • D.L. Moody said, “I can always tell a man who is near the kingdom of God; his mouth is stopped. This, then, is why God gives us the law. To show us ourselves in our true colors.”

How is it that all these men came to believe the same thing about the law? Because that is what the Bible teaches.

If you’ve never taken the time to listen to Hell’s Best Kept Secret, you definitely should do so.

19 comments on “Is Ray Comfort’s Idea Original?

  1. How can we appreciate the cross without understanding the magnitude of our offense against a perfectly Holy GOD?

    The Law serves as a mirror… to show us how evil we really are.

    The Law serves as a schoolmaster…

    Galatians 3:24,
    “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

    - Jeff H

  2. Great post – excellent collection of solid quotes.

    Several years back, my wife returned from a prison ministry event with a cassette tape of “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and said “EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS!”

    She was – as usual – right.

  3. I haven’t heard any objections to this method. Are there any objections other than “it’s not in the Bible”?

    I would like to see some thoughtful objections.

  4. I agree with Manfred’s wife.

  5. My wife and I thank you, papapatriot :-) All thoughtful people agree with my wife!

    And to answer the question of the title (answered in the initial post) Truth is only original with the Author. Truth seekers rediscover Truth from time-to-time, which the Author has revealed to His creatures and preserved for their benefit and His glory.

  6. You know, this post reminded me of one of Joel Osteen’s “””””sermons””””” where, at what seemed like the speed of light, Joel said that Jesus died for our mistakes…

    mistakes?

    M I S T A K E S ?

    I remind my Sunday School students that a ‘mistake’ is when I spell Jeff with three f’s (ie Jefff).

    THAT is a mistake.

    THAT did not require the King of Kings and Lord of Lords… the One with Whom we have to do…
    to leave His throne of glory…
    to be born in a barn and sleep in an animal trough…
    to live as an itinerant, preaching a message hated by most…
    to be betrayed by a friend-so-called for money…
    to be denied and abandoned by His friends…
    to be spit on by His creation…
    to be mocked…
    to be beaten and whipped almost to death…
    to have His beard be plucked out…
    to die a horrific, agonizing death by being impaled on a cross…
    to be resurrected from the dead…
    … and to tell us to tell others what was required.

    I broke God’s perfect Laws… That is SIN !

    My sins… in the presence of a Holy God were as the stench of an open tomb, an abomination, a running sore!

    God was storing up wrath to pour out on me on the Day of Judgment.

    No ‘mistakes’ there!

    Would that He would only have struck me dead right there for my transgressions.

    Nope. Perfect Justice requires an infinite penalty for a crime against an infinitely Holy God.

    WOE TO ME! … except for the Grace of God.

    AT THAT POINT… when I understood my peril… I was then ready to hear the Good News.

    To those still in peril: remember, He is coming back for His own for us.

    But for you, He is not coming back as the Lamb… He is returning as the Lion of Judah, full of wrath… for YOU!

    Today is the day of salvation. Repent – turn from your sins and to God – and put your full trust, your FAITH in Jesus Christ that HE paid the penalty for YOUR sins… and God promises He will save you!

    Amen.

    Oh, and I agree with Manfred’s wife. I like most of Ray Comfort’s messages.

  7. I guess I was introduced to Livingwaters/Way of the Master around 2004. I am an Evangelism Explosion drop out and at one time was a trainer in the FAITH evangelism outline. I always felt uncomfortable and bound up by the FAITH outline. It sounded too memorized and really didn’t provide opportunity to have a heart level conversation with someone.

    I have found great freedom in using the law. It becomes a dialog. Keep probing with the law and you will finally touch a nerve that will speak out in self righteousness and self justification. Using the Ten Commandments in witnessing has also made me meditate more on God’s law and how the gospel interacts with it. The inky black background of the law and sin makes the diamond of grace and redemption sparkle all the more.

    I always have some of Ray’s tracts in my pocket to pass out. I am very appreciative of his ministry for opening my eyes to an effective method of sharing with the lost that was not mechanical.
    :) Hab

  8. I agree with Manfred’s wife, as well! LOL

    When we were in England, I was introduced to Ray Comfort through someone giving us several dvd’s. I had heard of him and we even had his book but I never really read it or watched the dvd’s until England. These have had an impact on our lives and ministry. I’m surprised anyone could say that it isn’t biblical.

    Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

    Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

    Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

    Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

    Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

    Rom 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

    Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

    Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

    Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

    Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

  9. Hi BrettR,

    There are quite a few Christians who object to Way of the Master (even in my own church). I think the three big objections are:
    1. It’s mean to talk about sin
    2. We shouldn’t walk up to people and talk to them
    3. What if someone gets saved? They will need to be discipled.

    So I’ve heard plenty of objections, but none have been very thoughtful.

    If you want to see objections to Way of the Master approach your pastor with the idea of putting on a WOTM course in your church and invite people to come. Unless you go to a really great church, you’ll hear plenty of objections.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  10. i have a very deep appreciation of the way ray comfort and kirk cameron carry the gospel of JESUS CHRIST. they are truly dedicated to the cause of christ i believe. in addition they are a rare breed when it comes to witnessing to the lost, no punches pulled. they preach the cross, the precious blood of CHRIST AND THEY CERTAINLY PREACH ABOUT HELL. there are a lot of cowardly ministers in these last days, but thank GOD for those that tell it like it is. we must preach against homosexuality,abortion, feelgood religions and the many heresies that have permeated the modern day church.

  11. I’m just not a fan of the ‘canned’ way that the law is presented.

    ‘Have you ever stolen a paperclip?’ ‘Have you ever told a lie?’ etc.

    The law is also every demand that our existence places upon us. And death and dying are the ultimate expressions of law and I believe are much more effective uses of the law in evagelization efforts.

    To me, there is no substitute for getting to know someone a little bit, and finding out where they are being had by the law (we all are, in some way).

  12. Adam,

    I’m pretty familiar with Ray Comfort, Kirk, and Todd Friel (all the way back to ‘Talk the Walk’ radio in MN).

    The first distinction to be made is between open air preaching and one-on-one witnessing.

    In open air preaching, I think that making a clear presentation of the Law – right from the start – is appropriate. It quickly speaks to everyone conscience. It can also make some in the crowd very angry… it should.

    If, on the other hand, one is witnessing to a single person, Ray’s “Way of the Master” approach is to converse with the person first… beginning in the physical world, and then moving on to spiritual matters.

    I have done this many times myself… for example on an airplane. I have been able to present the Gospel message by first drawing myself into the 10 commandments… how wicked I was (and still am!). But, then God forgave me and gave me a new heart with new desires.

    I don’t view this method as gimicky at all… I think it is an appropriate way to prepare oneself for the witnessing encounter, by giving some structure to the process.

    I view this in the same vein as 1 Peter 3:15

    “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

    Ray dubs his process ‘The Way of the Master’ because Jesus’ encounters with others had a pattern… The Lord began with the physical world:

    When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

    The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:7, 9

    Then Jesus moved to the spiritual issues (where the real problems festered).

    Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

    I think Ray addresses your concern of:

    To me, there is no substitute for getting to know someone a little bit…

    But at some point, we know enough and can present the Law to the proud… and Grace to the humble.

    Blessings,
    - Jeff H

  13. I have/had been actively involved in the WOTM ministry down here for a little while now.

    I believe it is an excellent way to share the gospel.

    By by passing the intellect and hitting at the conscience, it is a great way to share with people from all faiths and manners of life.

    However, I have seen it used incorrectly. I have heard people sound very much like robots as they reel of the questions.

    There must be grace and no ‘sneek attacks’.

    A good blend of “being normal” and the WOTM method can, and does result in honest, open and Spirit led witnessing encounters.

    Get on it and don’t cast your pearls before swine!

  14. I got saved through Ray’s ministry. I immediately felt a call as an evangelist, and having plodding along ever since. I think the best application of the WOTM stuff is that it is a simple stepping stone toward getting the gospel out. It’s a simple and biblical method that get’s people out of their comfort zone and out on the streets, and through time each person begins to get their own feel, their own style, and their own approach toward witnessing, with the biblical core of law to the proud and grace to the humble. Can it sound canned and rehearsed at the beginning? Sure. But that’s no reason to NOT share the gospel. Ultimately, God will be glorified and sinners will be saved.

  15. Our church is planning on doing local evangelism beginning in the new year. The Sunday school class that my wife and I are in is planning on doing the same thing.

    I brought some WOM tracts to our Sunday school teacher and a copy of the Hell’s best kept secret and True and false conversion sermons. We had a discussion this morning about what we wanted to do. They are wanting to order some materials on evangelism training.

    Our Sunday school teacher is seeing the problems with the way that modern evangelism is being performed. He made the coment that if we were a business we would be failing because what we are doing is not working. All of the gimmicks and what not are definitely not working.

    Hopefully they will like the WOM materials. If they do I might have to try and turn them on to Paul Washer, John Macarthur, ect…

    I am praying that whatever our church does they will adopt a Biblical aproach to evangelism. I don’t think I could get involved if they want me to do the Billy Graham method. I had some materials from his foundation from when I vollunteered to be a councellor at an event. I can’t go by that method anymore.

  16. I had an opportunity recently to spend some time with a homeless gentleman at a coffee shop. My heart went out to him as I watched him from my car for a while. When I went in, I simply offered to buy him a $3 breakfast.

    It was obvious he knew his eternal “fate” and was deeply humbled by what life had become for him… or was he.

    I started the morning by simply showing the love of Christ through buying him breakfast, and he knew I didn’t judge him.

    As we talked, he began to actually brag about his daily consumption of a quart of vodka. Further, he showed the depth of his pride and actual arrogance! What, a homeless man has arrogance? Yes.

    I knew at that point it was time to transition into the “Law” portion of the gospel and let the simple Biblical model do it’s work.

    In a short period of time, after surgical assertion of the law as represented by Paul all through the first 11 chapters of Romans, he broke… really broke, under the weight of HIS OWN sin and pride. The ground was broken and ready for the seed.

    You see, we have a responsibility to carry out the Biblical gospel no matter how offensive we may think it is, and let God give the increase.

    I knew he needed love in the form of compassion first, then he needed love in the form of confrontation after I had gained his attention and earned his trust.

    Whether the gospel is presented “Law” first or “Grace” is shown first, it’s all part of the gospel and IT’S ALL IN LOVE.

  17. WmMaurice,

    What a testimony of God’s grace! Blessings on you for being obedient to love someone in word and deed (even though it was deed then word :-). The post-modern man-pleasers would NEVER have thought to move to the law, having seen the man’s arrogance. But that is the prescription of the Great Physician. Let no man boast in the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting or regenerating a man!

  18. Thanks for sharing WmMaurice. Very encouraging indeed.

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