It made me cringe when he said it. Tony was teaching a class on evangelism a couple weeks ago that I was attending, and he said, “Yeah, we rarely can follow-up a new convert because we can’t find them.” The problem was not lack of contact information on the new convert. The problem was that the person made a decision but did not want to be contacted again. It happened to me about a month ago with a couple that seemed to make a sincere decision to trust Christ for the first time. However, when I sought to contact them: no response back. So frustrating!
According to most reports from denominations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the Luis Palau Association, less than 20% of those who make decisions for Christ end up getting followed-up and in churches (Hell’s Best Kept Secret, Ray Comfort, p 9). Where is the power of the Gospel to transform peoples’ lives? Why is there little brokenness when we share the Gospel? Why can’t we find those who have prayed to trust Christ for the first time? It is like they tried Jesus on for a few days the same way they decided to drink Pepsi or Coke, then thought they would try something else. It it a problem with the Gospel or how we are sharing it?
I am convinced it is the way we share the Gospel. The Gospel I have preached in the past has been far more man-centered than God-centered. I told people that Jesus would make their lives go better. Really? Tell that to the millions of martyrs through the centuries who lost their lives because they “tried” Jesus.
I preached and shared much on the grace and love of God in Christ, but not much on the utter helplessness and depravity of man. Rarely did I mention the holiness of God and the absolute hatred He has for sin. Apart from Christ, God calls the natural man desperately sick (Jer 17:9), a deaf cobra (Ps 58:4), helpless (Rom 5:6), enemies (Rom 5:10), dead sinners (Eph 2:1), disobedient (Eph 2:2), children of wrath (Eph 2:3), blinded by satan (2 Cor 4:4), condemned criminals (Romans 3:8-18) to be cast in the lake of fire forever (Revelation 21:8).
Paul Washer, in his excellent book, The Gospel’s Power and Message, states, “The book of Romans is the closest thing we have to a systematic theology in the Scriptures . . . it is extremely important to note that the first three chapters of this letter, with the exception of a brief introduction, are dedicated to hamartiology, or the doctrine of sin” (p 75).
I am convinced that many decisions for Christ are false conversions because there is no conviction of sin. Too many are just trying Jesus to see if He makes their lives better. That is why I have changed the way I share the Gospel.
The problem today is NOT with the Gospel. The problem is that we have not properly prepared the soil for the Gospel in the hearts of men and women. People need to hear and be overwhelmed with the holiness and purity of God, the absolute, utter depravity of their own souls, and His coming righteous judgement on sin.
How can we do that? How did Jesus do it? How did the Apostles Peter and Paul do it? How did preachers and evangelists of the past do it? They all used the same weapon to expose the utter sinfulness of man. God has given us ONE powerful weapon to get the job done. This weapon has been neglected for too long in the evangelical gospel presentation. That is what next week’s blog is all about!
Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret
Ray Comfort, God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life; The Myth of the Modern Message
Paul Washer, The Gospel’s Power and Message