Friday, June 3, 2011

Lead With Sin

When Christians engage the educated and urbane evangelistically and/or apologetically, they often make a mistake of order, as I see it. They will engage the unbelieving on some issue they think will bear fruit, like the existence of God, the historicity of the resurrection, the founding of the church, etc.. More often than not, they end such entanglements having convinced their "opponents" of nothing more than that Christians are idiots who accept flimsy evidence, and who, with flawed conscience, follow an immoral figure as god.

It irks me beyond measure to see and hear the arrogance of this new class of atheists who seem everywhere at the moment, and who appear on the ascendancy culturally. They willingly engage Christians in debate along the manner limned above, and smugly toss away the challenge to their views--even though on the basis of sheer forensics, they've gotten their clocks cleaned. They're heroes to the young, brain-washed, and uninformed, who follow them like lemmings to their inevitable plunge into hell.

Why do these unbelieving, self-inflated blusterers seem bullet proof? I think that as long as the issue is God in general, or even Jesus Christ in particular, these blind guides and their rodent trains will continue to the precipice undaunted. They can be out debated and argued under the table until the cows come home, and it won't change a thing. A change of heart and mind is desperately needed, but it isn't going to come by arguing about things that are outside of themselves.

You see, change is wrapped up in the notion of repentance. Jesus has not come to call those who see no need for repentance but those who do. If any headway is to be made evangelistically with the growing horde of the educated, urbane, and unbelieving, the argument will have to be about man, not God. The man in them has to be humbled, shown that he is sinful, that he may be able to think a noble thought but lacks the self-control to live a noble life, that as a species he is tied up with the death of everything.

If something doesn't snap the pride of man, he marches unheeding into the fires of doom. An awakening must arise in each one, individually, deep inside. Something has to break the gaze upon self, so that the head can turn to see that the Redeemer is near. Christians have attempted to engage the unbelieving with every argument imaginable, and found their punches landing without impact. Perhaps it's time to lead with sin.

It is not like a logical, even a factual argument is going to bring anyone to salvation. That cannot happen apart from that unseen work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did clue us into what the Holy Spirit is convicting people of, and it's not forensics. So, if one wants to flow with the Spirit, and see their witness have supernatural affect, the effort to concentrate on is to help the unbeliever realize he is a sinner. Apart from that he'll never be saved.


  1. Amen brother. Good post. We must begin with sin. If we don't define sin and show sinners that they have sinned, God's grace is not glorified in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Law shows that we are sinners (Romans 7:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11) and it shuts our self-righteous, self-boasting mouths before a holy God (Romans 3:19-20) and leads us to salvation in Jesus (Galatians 3:23-24).

  2. Hello SLW

    This is just as good as your post on sin. It states what we all should know, and so clearly that we suddenly 'get' it. That's what I meant by "Now you put it like that, it's obvious".

    On reflection, the biggest impact I've had when witnessing to anyone, not just atheists, is when sharing simply what being right with God has done for me...

    Thanks for this.

  3. One thought I had as I agreed with you is that these arrogant atheists once were hidden in the church. Now at least they are coming out of the closet. One of the scariest passages I know is the place that Jesus tells us that the narrow gate will not be chosen by the majority.

    Grace and peace.

  4. Thanks for the thoughts Roy. Do folk truly embrace Christ if they don't understand what he cures in us?

  5. Anthea,
    Nothing moves like a clear testimony of personal change. God gives each of us something powerful to share.

  6. Pumice,
    Once in the church, how so? I'm intrigued.

  7. "It irks me beyond measure to see and hear the arrogance of this new class of atheists "

    Irks me too. I find them intellectually dishonest and behind there profession of atheism is really, in my opinion, a rebellion against God. I listen to Ravi Zacharias often. You'll find that many of these atheists, in very honest moments of there lives, testify that the truly miss a relationship with God they once had. For them leading with sin is truly in order.

    However I think we may be doing a disservice to some to suggest that an aplogetic that demonstrates the existence of God isn't needed.

    Hebrews 11:6

    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    Afterall, there is no sin unless there is a Holy & Just God. There are true seekers out there who deserve a clear Christian apologetic. This in itself doesn't save them as you clearly said. I think of Paul at the Areopagus. Not really a shining momemet for him. But amongst that group were a few honest folk that responded.

    Ravi Zacharias has a ministry focused on apologetics, especially on college campuses. Do you think this is needed?

    God bless, Ian

  8. I finally found time to get back and check for response.

    For an example I will use my brother in law. He was converted as a teen ager. He was very vocal. He drove around with signs and bumper stickers on his car. He went to seminary. Unfortunately, he chose a liberal seminary. He became a pastor. He was very good on the surface. He always received large churches and did an effective job.

    While he served as a pastor he began to move away from the Lord. The indications were comments in his sermons that cast doubt on the validity of scripture.

    He dropped out of the ministry. He divorced his wife. He went into counseling. Years later I had a conversation with him and he said he was a non-theist, not an atheist. He said he had been that way for years as he pastored.

    People like this pastor churches, teach in colleges and seminaries, and sit on church boards.

    Long answer, but there it is.

    Grace and peace.

  9. Ian,
    Thanks for an interesting comment.

    My point is not so much that an apology for the existence of God serves no purpose, but that it is not the place to start nor the means which is likely to produce results, evangelistically. It is not "in stream" with what the Holy Spirit is convicting. A believer's personal testimony of transformation and the realities of struggle within one's own nature (which are the target of conviction) are more fruitful. If one can look at the world and not see the fingerprints of God, having someone elucidate them is not likely to nudge that one over the precipice of belief, in my experience, at least not any time in the near future.

    I have met people who were moved by apologetics (particularly that which focused upon the veracity of the Word), but even then, it is the personal recognition of sin and its resolution in Christ that brings one to repentance and thereafter salvation. Let's face it, no one thinks their way into heaven, conviction works on a much more visceral plain.

    I do believe there is value in apologetics, but perhaps more so for the saved than the unsaved--a means of strengthening faith rather than producing it. It certainly doesn't hurt to give an unbeliever something to think about, some seed for the gristmill, but the issue of sin (and death) is what will ultimately bring them to surrender to Christ.

  10. Pumice,
    Thanks for the response. I see what you meant now.


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