The Thin Yellow Line
The thin yellow line... Consider this a rumble strip!
Thoughts about how we speak to others about Christ
In an age when men sense no need of a Savior and find Christ irrelevant it is important, more than ever, that we restore the knowledge of God and His holiness in our preaching. It is both good and appropriate to use the laws of God in our evangelistic effort to show men their need of Christ. Man centered evangelistic witnessing which produces no brokenness over sin inevitably produces stony ground believers who are not truly believers at all. Our self absorbed generation needs to hear of God’s wrath in unmistakable tones (Romans 1:18, John 3:36). It makes no sense to announce that the grace of God has appeared unto all men unless we have already declared that the wrath of God is upon all (Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:6). Nor are we merely speaking of God’s present state of mind. There is a day coming when His fearful wrath will be felt by all Christ deniers (Read Revelation 15 and 16).
There is a line however, which, when crossing, places us in more danger than crossing the thin yellow ribbon on a two lane road. However narrow that line may seem to be, relative to the width of the whole lane, it is a line between life and death. It places a stumbling block ahead of the gospel and in doing so, perverts the pure and simple message of the gospel by obscuring it with requirements the Bible does not teach.
When we tell men that they must sell all in order to purchase the field of salvation, or that they must deny themselves daily in order to be a believer, or that they must agonize in order to be saved, we have twisted and perverted the scriptures and the teachings of Christ in a most egregious way. We have gone beyond using the law as a tool to expose our sin and made obedience to the law a means for securing saving grace. (We have sacramentalized the law much in the same way Roman Catholics use the elements of the Lord’s table as means of saving grace.) The doctrine of the grace of God may slay a man before giving him resurrection life, but the pure gospel makes no demands on a man who is dead in his sins other than to recognize his lost and sinful condition. It is ironic that many of the same teachers who would tell us a man who is dead in sin cannot respond to the gospel are the same ones who require that same man to go through great soul exercises before “coming to faith”! Such a soul needs simply to look unto Christ and live (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9,10)! The grace which teaches us to fear is the grace which relieves that fear through the finished work of Christ.
Using the law to convince men of sin is biblical. Mixing elements of the law in a formula for salvation is as sinful and perverse as having men sign on the proverbial dotted line in order to be saved. When repentance requires an unspecified level of soul searching and agony, when accepting Christ as Lord requires some pre-salvation exercise wherein we scrutinize every area of our lives making sure we have left no unsurrendered stone unturned, we have poisoned the fountain of grace and taken upon ourselves the anathema of Galatians 1:3-9.