“The Law must precede the gospel. The Law must come first and kill the person so that the gospel can make him alive. The Law must convict the person of his sins so he will want salvation. It is simple. You preach the Law first, then the gospel. You must make people thirsty for the water of life before they will want to drink. The Law makes them thirsty.” ~ Matt Slick
I have heard this line of thinking often and while compelling, I think it does several things:
1. It’s locks evangelism into a method.
2. It creates an unwarranted biblical dichotomy.
3. Its starting point is man, not God.
4. It attempts to make disciples with the law of Moses rather than “all that Jesus commanded.” Matthew 28:19,20
Further, in examining every instance of “evangelism” in scripture, I fail to find a single instance that starts with the law. Let’s take a look at a few:
Acts 2:17-40 – Commonly addressed as “Peter’s First Sermon” Peter starts with this idea, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” - Peter starts with God and His promise.
Acts 3:11-26 – Commonly referred to as “Peters Second Sermon.” Again, Peter starts this way, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” Peter starts with God Himself.
Acts 7 – Stephen’s famous speech to the Sanhedrin. Stephen starts in this manner, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.” This evangelistic message, again, starts with God and His promise.
Acts 8:26-40 - Philip and the Ethiopian – The Ethiopian was reading about Jesus and Phillip started by declaring who Jesus is. ”Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
Immediately after Paul’s conversion he began to evangelize in the synagogues by starting with “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” Acts 9:20
Finally, for now, in Acts 17, Paul’s famous encounter on the Areopagus, he starts with, ““Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” Again, Paul starts with God.
In each of these cases and more, evangelistic encounters start with who God is, His Promises, and His Son Jesus. None of these evangelistic encounters start with the Law. This post is designed to engage you. And so, I’d like to ask you a few questions:
1. What biblical warrant is there, if any, that says we must use the law first in evangelism? Where did Jesus start with the law?
2. Did Jesus use the law first in the proclamation of His own Good News?
3. Is it correct to Make Disciples using the law of Moses, or are we to Make Disciples by teaching them to obey all that Christ Commanded?