Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Book Review: God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life
I loved reading Ray Comfort's God Has A Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message. The subtitle says it all in my opinion. We live in a culture and society that plays around with the gospel message, with the purity of the gospel message. Sometimes the problem isn't so much on what is being said as it is what is being left unsaid.
In Comfort's book, he argues that sinners--and let's be up front, that is what all of us are (Romans 3:23)--don't need to hear the gospel message. I'll clarify. To start with the gospel message without first starting with the law is confusing and ineffective. The good news is only good news--to their ears, to their hearts and minds--if they feel the impact of the bad news. To talk of a Savior who saves people from their sins when they don't feel lost or in need of saving, when they haven't a clue the depth of their sin makes the good news irrelevant or optional.
What the world needs is the straight-forward, never changing law. The Spirit uses the law to open our eyes, open our hearts, and bring us to our knees. Only when we've been humbled by the law, brought to the realization that we are not good enough, that we will never be good enough through our trying and striving and working and pleading and wrestling, can we come to a place of putting faith and trust in Jesus, the one who says IT IS FINISHED. The law shows us our need, the gospel shows us God's provision for our need.
I read somewhere, and I know Comfort's quoted it in one of his books or sermons, that you've got to get people lost before you can get them saved. That's certainly the spirit of this book.
Comfort is critical of the message of the twenty-first century church. A church too focused perhaps on getting people into their doors and programs. A church too focused perhaps on getting people to be happy.
Comfort calls Christians to be completely honest and upfront about what Christianity is and isn't. Christianity is not about being happy and having an abundant, prosperous life. Christianity isn't about living the dream. It is about putting Christ first and loving HIM more than you love the world, more than you love yourself. It is about delighting in Him above all else. Making him your ONE THING.
So does knowing this make a difference in how you evangelize? Should it make a difference in how you evangelize? He argues that it should. He's passionately, zealously concerned about the world, about the unsaved.
Comfort talks of their being a 95% failure rate among the newly converted. The newly converted being those that the church counts as being saved through coming forward, saying a prayer, being baptized, etc. These are church accounts and not a true spiritual reckoning perhaps. But the point he makes is this. Out of all the thousands that may profess a belief in Christ, over 95 of them will have failed--will have vanished--within a few months or within a year. This notion of "trying on" or "experimenting" with Christianity is a big, big, flop.
These statistics remind me of all the diet books I've read. Diets fail. The diet industry knows--to a certain extent, how could they not--dieting doesn't work. But they write dozens if not hundreds of books each year to sell you on their brand of dieting; each one telling you that THEIR diet is different
from anything and everything you might have tried. Buy this book. Buy into this system. It is a business. A business with a lot of repeat customers. Is religion any different really? I'm not talking about true Christianity. I'm talking religion. I'm talking about what passes for Christianity in some circles. I'm talking about all the books being published about how to get people into your church, how to get people excited about this, that, or the other thing. Focused on improving your life in a certain number of easy steps. Books focused on things that aren't necessarily wrong, just not life-and-death important. People need to be saved. People need hard truths.
One section of the book asks the question, if you could talk to the people who were going to die on September 11, 2001, what would you tell them? What message would you try to sell them or preach to them. Would it be that God is the answer to their loneliness problem? That they need Jesus and not alcohol? Would you tell them that God can help their troubled marriage? Or would you get more to the point? In our quest to be as unoffensive as possible, are we playing hide and seek with the doctrine of heaven and hell?
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible