The subtle influence of humanism has pervaded the world in this generation. Humanists voice their philosophy on the goodness of man and his unlimited potential apart from God. However, as quick as we might be able to recognize this poisonous doctrine in the world, humanism has also very subtly corrupted the message of the Gospel that many Christians preach.

1. Man-Centered Evangelism vs God-Centered

Making an appeal to come to Jesus to find blessing and contentment and coaxing unbelievers to make a commitment to Christ by simply telling them of your own experience, stressing your personal fulfillment as a result of your decision without telling them the requirements that Jesus laid down to those who would be His followers is to focus on nurturing self-centeredness.

A person converted with a message like this, as long as self-centeredness is his focus, will never know true salvation or be able to identify with the thoughts expressed in the deep hymns of the church such as-"Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night, His eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke my dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed Thee." (And Can It Be by Charles Wesley)

On the other hand, to preach a Frankenstein gospel based on fear of punishment also nurtures the self-centeredness of the heart and may lop off some branches but does not lay the ax to the root of sin.

2. Preach Repentance of Sin

What is Man's Sin? When Jesus came preaching, His first message was, "The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15) To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." He exhorted everyone to keep God's Commandments. But he went father than the external law. On a mountain top he revealed the spiritual direction for thoughts and heart attitudes. He said that it was not enough to not commit adultery; "lust in the heart is the same as adultery." It is not enough to reframe from killing another-"anger in the heart is the same as committing murder." But He didn't stop there, He went on to say "How can you even believe when you seek the honor of men and don't seek the honor which comes from the Only God." (John 5:44) And He laid the ax to the root, "If anyone wants to be my disciple he must deny yourself, take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24).

While outward and inward sin and impurity mark the presence of sin in the soul, sin is much deeper than outward actions and heart attitudes and impure thoughts and can be present in the morally upright as well as the wicked. James tells us, "The one who knows the right thing to do and doesn't do it to him it is sin." (James 4:17) All sin carries with it the penalty of God's judgment. Since Adam and Eve made their break with the High Will of Heaven, sin has run through human nature like a gigantic fault line. Sin is revealed in my claim to my rights to myself.

In pride we have said, "I will." We have exalted ourselves above God. We have rebelled against God and have chosen to go our own stubborn, independent way. This is the root of sin that has broken our fellowship with God. We have taken the place as the ruler of our heart that belongs to God alone. We live our lives according to our own self-will. We follow our own plans and focus on our own self-interest.

We demand that our wishes be satisfied. We seek to get ourselves in the highest position. We want to exercise control over other people. We want everyone to bow to our judgment and accept our declarations as law. We want power. We have a deep thirst for the recognition of our excellence we so desperately need in order to avoid despair. We seek the praise of others that belongs to God alone. We want to be popular and have the approval of others. Self is the idol that has dethroned God and sits on the throne of our heart. The idolatry of self is the sin of man. This is the true nature of evil.

Our stubborn opposition to God's laws of life often brings a sharp crisis in our affairs. We blame God for the circumstances that are the result of our own actions and then we cry out, "O God, why did you do this to me."

Dr. Francis Shaeffer (theologian and philosopher 1912-1984) commented that if he could spend one hour speaking to the world population, he would spend the first forty-five, minutes expounding on the utter hopelessness and guilt of sinful man. The deceitfulness of man's heart seduces him to believe that he is fine the way he is. Motivated by pride, a sinner builds a brick wall of separation between himself and God, only to discover himself bricked inside of a dark prison cell where he cannot see his progressively worsening state. As recorded in John 3:19, "Men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil."

In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus mentioned that before repenting, the boy came to his senses. He looked around at his situation, and recognized that he was literally living in a pigpen. If we expect to see men turn from their sinful state, we must shine God's spotlight on their darkness and allow Him to expose their hopeless situation. Speaking the truth from scripture will shatter that brick wall that they have built, and the light of revelation will bring sobering conviction.

3. THE MESSAGE: Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord

There is no such thing as a true believer who is rebellious against God. To become a follower of Jesus is to give up your rebellion. When Jesus calls us into the kingdom of God, He does not give a blanket pardon for all those who will simply acknowledge Him and just invite Jesus into their heart. He extends a conditional invitation predicated on our obedience. Jesus said, He who loves father, mother, son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being Mine."(Matt. 10:38)

When Jesus arose from the dead, he gave his followers a three-fold command. "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...teaching them to obey all that I have taught you." And He gave a promise, "I will be with you always."(Matt. 28:18-20)

Our commission is not to go and convince people of their need for God-it is to command them to obey Him. Jesus said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me." (John 12:32) As long as we continue to lift up man and his selfish need and present the gospel as a way out of problems, we will never see results. But if we exalt Jesus and portray Him in our message as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords-the Supreme Ruler of all the earth-then He will truly be revealed to those with whom we speak. His authority, His omnipotence and His greatness will become a reality, and men will bow their knees.

We must stop telling people what they want to hear. Selfish man wants to believe that God sympathizes with his wayward state. He wants to suppose that he can come to Jesus in a moment of crisis at his own convenience. But the Gospel does not cater to man's convenience, nor does God listen to excuses. We must build our presentation of truth on the foundation that "God has made Him (Jesus) both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) When Peter spoke that to the crowd at Pentecost, their hearts were pierced and they cried out. "What must we do?"

4. THE METHOD and PROMISE: Follow Jesus and Catch Fish

To all those who will become His followers Jesus promised, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." As a follower of Jesus Christ, every person should be expecting to catch fish, regardless of your life's call and field of service. Jesus is in the business of catching people and if you will follow Him, He promises He will use you to do the fishing and the catching.

We are to be co-workers with Jesus as we go out into the harvest; we do our part and He does His part. As we follow Him he tells us where to drop down our net for a catch-he supplies the fish and tells us where to catch them. He also will tell us what to say. To the woman at the well Jesus said to her, "Where is your husband." Then using the word of knowledge, He told her about her life and about the living water. She brought the whole city to Him.

The Bible tells us that it is God's will "that everyone be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth" (1Tim 2:4). God has already devised a way to reach the hearts of men-He uses the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, to speak to the conscience He has placed in every heart. This is the written word and the spoken word (Rhema) that God speaks to your heart for the person. The Holy Spirit will let us know the things we are to share if we will spend time asking Him for Divine appointments and for direction.

5. Speak to the Conscience

The Bible reminds us that, though people suppress the truth, sinful men know in their hearts about God. "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them" (Romans 1: 18·20). Inside of each person there is a little "pilot light;" it may not be very bright, for man tries very, desperately to smother it out, but it is there. And we must speak to that conscience. Imagine what happens when you pour gasoline on a flame. That is what happens when we pour God's truth on the conscience of man and he is awakened to face reality.

As long as we speak to a person's mind, we will simply offer a lot of talk and intellectual argument. If you convince someone intellectually to come to Christ, someone else will most likely be able to convince him to reject Him. But if we speak to the conscience, the heart will be pierced and the person will be left without excuse.

When the early disciples proclaimed the word, they were very keen to probe the, conscience of those listening. In Peter's sermon at Pentecost, he said to them:
"Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and signs which God performed through Him in your midst-Just as you yourselves know- this man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, YOU nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death" (Acts 2:22-23). Peter directed his words to the conscience of those listening. Paul did the same thing when he spoke before King Agrippa. He said, "King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I KNOW THAT YOU DO."

We must continually touch that sensitive nerve of the conscience and enflame it with God's truth. We must learn to speak to that part of men that KNOWS what we are saying is true. When we speak with authority into the conscience, the person we are ministering to will immediately begin to feel the conviction of God's Spirit. The sword of truth will rend his heart, and the light of the revelation of Jesus will suddenly shine in his darkened understanding.

The immediate reaction may sometimes be resistance on the part of the unbeliever. Just as we quickly close our eyes when the lights are turned on in the morning, the sinner may initially try to hide from the sudden flash of lightning he has just received into his conscience. But God's loving conviction will linger until he has humbled himself and His word will keep speaking to the heart after we walk away.

6. Don't Become Involved in Arguments

Every time we witness, we must ask the question "Have I probed his conscience?" We must be careful not to be sidetracked by excuses and arguments. We must continually touch that sensitive "nerve" of his conscience with the flame of God's truth. Remember that the conscience of man is on our side. In Romans 2: 15 we are told that unbelievers "show the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences bearing witness." The mind of man does not agree with God; his thoughts are dark and deceitful. But the conscience, on the other hand, will agree with God's Word when we speak it. If we expect to see men turn from their sinful state, we must shine God's spotlight on their darkness.

7. THE MESSENGER: Authority With Compassion

Authority to declare the Word of God does not come from turning up your volume ... it comes from living a holy life. Your words will have no conviction if you are not living them each day. We are told in I Peter 2: 15 that "by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men." If we are conforming into the image or Jesus, our lives will carry the authority necessary to silence man's excuses.

When Paul stood before the Jews in Jerusalem to make his defense, we are told that "there was a great hush"( Acts 21:40). Because of the authority in his life, men were silenced. So it should be when we preach the Gospel. We should bring the conviction from the Presence of Him who has called all flesh to be silent before His (Zech. 2:13).

This does not meant at we do not listen to those we are ministering to, for coupled with His authority we must move in His compassion. We must have God's heart for the people and become the friend of sinners, seeking and saving those who are lost. Without being sympathetic in a humanistic way, we must offer a living demonstration of the grace and love of Jesus when we speak His Word. If we will make it our priority to spend a lot of time with Jesus and dwell in his Word, the natural result will be an infusion of our soul with His, and we will speak as He speaks. Paul said, "We are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure, This makes it clear that our great power is of God and not of ourselves" (2 Cor. 4:7).

rickjoynerf.jpg"Bob and Rose Weiner's Bible Studies have helped countless thousands of new believer's become established on sound Biblical truth. We have also found that believers of all ages have benefited greatly from them. Many even go through them once a year to strengthen their foundations. It is understandable that they are now considered a standard for such studies."

--Rick Joyner - Morningstar Ministries and Publications

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