by Kurt Michaelson
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24 (KJV)
Over the last five years, my eyes and ears have become ever more attentive to the absurd ways in which pastors of Christian churches have made great efforts to draw people into their community of believers. This absurdity has been going on for more than five years though, 20 years in fact and where I was once blind, now I see.
Many of these man-centered strategies that are utilized are very creative, have been carefully planned and funded by the congregation, all for the specific purpose of what they may claim as evangelism or disciple-making. Such man-centered evangelistic strategies are nowhere to be found in Scripture either, yet many pastors will enthusiastically advocate the implementation of these strategies to their staff, elders or deacons (if they have such an advisory group of leaders) and they will encourage their congregation to fully support this type of evangelistic outreach they are endeavoring to accomplish, for the advancement of the Gospel.
I have read stories of churches that will use some form of a “shock value” sermon series to draw non-believers to their church that just completely contradicts Scripture, especially where Scripture explicitly declares corruption is the result of sowing to the flesh (Galatians 6:8).
There is an extreme misguided philosophy among Purpose Driven pastors that using biblical precedents to win souls for Christ is too biblical or may even repel people from obtaining their salvation in Christ and becoming a Christian, and also not becoming part of their fellowship.
Here is what I would like to comment first regarding this: where sound biblical doctrine and theology are lacking from the pulpit, for the sake of drawing in people to a church building, the motive is skeptical and deceitful and those that do so, should seriously reconsider their calling to the ministry.
John MacArthur writes in a message titled, Gimme that Showtime Religion,
“We have a society filled with people who want what they want when they want it. They are into their own lifestyle, recreation, and entertainment. When churches appeal to those selfish desires, they only fuel that fire and hinder true godliness. Some of these churches are growing exponentially while others that don’t entertain are struggling. Many church leaders want numerical growth in their churches, so they are buying into the entertainment-first philosophy.
“Consider what this philosophy does to the gospel message itself. Some will maintain that if biblical principles are presented, the medium doesn’t matter. That is nonsense. Why not have a real carnival? A tattooed knife thrower who juggles chain saws could do his thing while a barker shouts Bible verses. That would draw a crowd. It’s a bizarre scenario, but one that illustrates how the medium can cheapen and corrupt the message.”
Many of these Purpose Driven type churches are striving to accomplish the fulfillment of the Great Commission, yet they are doing so with a man-centered approach and a Christ-less message for those whom hear what they are saying, because they surely are not preaching the Word of God.
Their evangelistic outreach efforts, might be based upon what Paul said to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 9:22-23) where he would, for the sake of the Gospel, strive to reach and be as relatable to as many different people, so that he might help as many as possible find salvation in Christ.
One can almost sense the intense passion these type pastors will delight in doing all they can evangelistically, to win souls to Christ, even at the expense of telling only a half truth, which is still a lie. Their complete confidence to use many different types of marketing strategies will be their platform because it is something that people can see, hear and even touch in some cases.
Yet, the other half of the truth they will neglect to use is the Law, especially when Scripture declares that human efforts will not merit any justification with God, but that the use of the Law is needful and effective for bringing an unbeliever to faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16; 1 Timothy 1:8-9).
The Teaching Instrument
The Apostle Paul is an excellent example for an understanding of this, since he was a Jew and grew up learning the Law and later became a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-6). Paul knew the righteous requirements of the Law and he considered himself blameless in accordance to it. That was until Christ revealed Himself to him (Acts 9:1-9) and was illuminated with the understanding that Christ was the fulfillment of the Law, where no flesh could be justified by upholding the Law for themselves (Acts 13:39).
Paul said that the Law is a schoolmaster, or as the New King James Version uses the word tutor. The Law as a tutor, its role is to teach where one is deficient in knowledge, with the goal of becoming more knowledgeable in that subject area.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says,
“the moral law – the Law of God – shows people their sin and danger, and thus leads them to the Saviour. It condemns them, and thus prepares them to welcome the offer of pardon through a Redeemer.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary adds,
“Thus the law did not teach us the living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, and especially by its sacrifices, it directed us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
The Law was not designed to be a way of salvation for anyone, however it is designed to point people to the One who would deliver people to the One that would save them from their sins.
Those that reject hearing the use of the Law that brings a conscious awareness of their sin before God, will always seek to find something else that is more palatable for themselves regarding reconciling their sins with God, but sadly, it will not lead them to God’s true and eternal salvation.
… (Part 2 will be posted tomorrow)
– Kurt Michaelson is currently a student at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. and serves as a pastoral intern at First Assembly of God, Brookfield, CT. He’s married to Kristi. You can read more of his articles on his blog, Ambassador for Christ.