This excellent book should be required reading for anybody interested in Biblical evangelism. The gospel message is not being preached in many churches today and the methods to win the lost are often carnal and unbiblical so says the author.
The book "Today's Gospel" authentic or synthetic? by Pastor Walter Chantry explains how Jesus, the Master evangelist, confronted a young rich ruler with his sin. It is so unlike our modern approach of preaching love, love, love that we would do well to take heed to ourselves lest we produce many false converts and so be ashamed at the Judgment.
I recall a friend of mine recommending this book to me many years ago when I was in the Zondervan Family Bookstore in Stockton, CA back around 1977. I was thumbing through several books and David told me this looks like a good book or something to that effect. As a result I bought the book after looking through it and discovered some interesting things.
Jesus used the law of God when confronting sinners rather than telling them about the "love of God." When I told this to one of the leaders in the small Baptist church I was attending I was told what people need is the love of God because the law doesn't save anybody.
Well, I learned from that time on that the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) and if we are not submissive to the law of God then we have every reason to doubt that we've been truly born again and made alive in Christ Jesus.
I'll not cover every chapter but I do want to point out some important points that Pastor Chantry makes in at least a few chapters from his book.
*** In the introduction Pastor Chantry explains that many mission boards are hesitant to explain what the gospel is because to do so would condemn much of what these missionaries preach. Keep in mind this was back in the late 1960's. The book was published in 1970 and today things have gotten worse in my opinion.
"Products of modern evangelism are often sad examples of Christianity. They make a profession of faith, and then continue to live like the world" says Chantry. Few of the "decisions for Christ" give any evidence of a genuine conversion or transformed life.
It is obvious that Chantry is critical of the invitation system or altar call which is so prevalent in churches today. In fact
"To become a Christian a sinner must decide to turn from sin and trust the Saviour. Repentance and faith are inward acts of the human will. But these must be carefully distinguished from the outward procedure of going forward, verbally confessing sin and publicly asking Christ to be one's Saviour. In this paper the term 'decision' will refer to the formal ceremonies connected with evangelistic services; for these have become identified with 'decisions' in the evangelical mind, with the unfounded assumption that participants of outward ceremonies have inwardly decided to follow Christ."
Another theme from the introduction is that "unity must not be sought at the expense of the gospel."
To paraphrase the question Pastor Chantry asks pastors, evangelists, missionaries and Sunday School teachers why evangelize at all if we not going to get the message of the gospel right? To do so is to potentially do much harm and to create false converts who think they are saved when in fact they may be headed to hell.
*** In Chapter one Preaching the Character of God the author uses as his text Mark 10 about the rich ruler who apparently had a deep interest in religion and said "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
But Jesus didn't accept that greeting without challenging the young man's greeting. "Why call me good? There is none good but one, that is, God" Jesus knew that only God is inherently good and here was a young man who thought Jesus was just like any other man howbeit a great teacher. The man was not aware that he was speaking to the Son of God who was God in the flesh.
Jesus arrested the man's false views of Jesus and got him to focus on the fact of God's holiness or goodness. Jesus didn't first address the young man's quest for eternal life but rather addressed the need to focus upon God and His glory.
Many evangelists when preaching focus on the need for sinners to accept Jesus in order to get to heaven. But do these sinners even know who Jesus is? Probably not but that's okay because as long as you understand that a man named Jesus died for your sins about 2,000 years ago you can be saved.
Chantry says, "Evangelism always requires preaching on the attributes of God. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (John 4) He taught her that God is a Spirit.
When Paul addressed the heathen on Mar's Hill (Acts 17) he had to devote even more of his evangelistic message to the character of God, who was unknown to them. He began by speaking of God as the Creator, as the Sustainer of all life, as the Mighty One who raised Jesus from the dead.
So much of modern preaching is man-centered and speaks about the great blessing of salvation that man has missed and if he will only believe on Jesus he can be saved.
The true gospel of Christ, says pastor Chantry is very different because "it begins with God and His glory. It tells men they have offended a holy God, who will by no means pass by sin....Christ's gospel sends men to beg pardon of the Holy One."
***Chapter Two Preaching the Law of God
After Jesus gets the young ruler to focus upon the holiness and goodness of God He gets the young ruler to think upon the law of God as found in the ten commandments (the Moral law).
Jesus said, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother."
The young man thought he had kept these and so he replies, "Master all these have I observed from my youth."
Now many evangelists speak of accepting Jesus as a personal saviour. Here was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to say that and to offer Himself as a saviour. Was Jesus mistaken? Did He really think this young man could keep the moral law and be saved thereby?
Doesn't Galatians 2:16 say, "For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified"
"Why, says Chantry didn't Jesus just speak of the free gift offered to all? That's it! Why not offer Himself as a personal Saviour? Why all this attention to the law? Again, we need to be reminded that Jesus is a better evangelist than any of us!
Begin to judge your message by His, and not vice versa. God's law is an essential ingredient of gospel preaching, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20)
Until a person sees themselves as a sinner and guilty of breaking God's holy law he will never see his need of the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sins.
The ruler must have been confused and wondered what I have done wrong and what do I lack yet?
John 3:4 defines sin in this way, "...for sin is the transgression of the law." When you tell men they are sinners
this must be in relation to God's holy law. Apart from that sinners do not really perceive their guilty and heinous offense toward this good God they've sinned against.
Conviction and conversion are two very different things.
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching. See his videos on http://www.youtube.com Type LAStreetPreacher in the search bar. CONTACT at Carlton2061@gmail.com