“You are a Lying-Thief” – Ray Comfort

By: Deji Yesufu

It might be important that those of us who subscribe to the appellation “reformed”, remind ourselves that what is genuinely reformed is what is biblical. If there is anything passed down to us in our reformed heritage that claims to be reformed but we can prove is not biblical, our duty is to discard such a tradition with all due respect to those who bring it. It is our fathers who said we should be “reformed and keep reforming”; they said this because they were convinced that while some fundamental truths were found by the magisterial reformers, and there are bodies of confessions passed to us to guard against apostasy, the Holy Spirit will still give latter generations greater insight towards more effective ecclesiology and the Christian walk. In this article I want to share some thoughts on evangelism which I learnt from someone outside the reformed tradition.

At the University of Ibadan, where Providence Reformed Baptist Church is situated, it has become imperative we go out and share the gospel message with the student community that make up our immediate neighbours. The university suits my ministry because we can then engage the different religious groups we encounter in apologetics. We meet Muslims and Christians. Among Christians there is a strong charismatic community, and there is large presence of young people who go to a church pastored by one Onayinka. Then there are a few people who do not profess any religion – these people are sliding into atheism, after having a bad taste with the religion of their parents. At first, it was incredibly difficult reaching these people with the gospel. And then I stumbled on Ray Comfort’s videos. Ray Comfort is originally from New Zealand but emigrated to the United States, and has today built a Christian ministry committed to evangelism and apologetics. Despite how large Comfort’s ministry has become, he still hops on his bike and goes to his neighbourhood sharing the gospel with people, and sometimes with students. Ray has a one-size fit all method of reaching people.

Ray begins his outreach by introducing himself, and then he tests his listener’s sense of morality. He asks: “are you a good person?” Most people will answer yes. Unfortunately, this response reveals how little people know of the Christian message. When they have answered in the affirmative, Ray invites his listeners to test their level of goodness. Ray goes to the ten commandments and uses two or three of those laws to gauge his listener. “Have you ever lied before?” Many people quickly agree they have lied. “What do you call someone who lies?” A liar, they reply. “What are you?” I’m a liar. At this point, the person giggles but they get the message. Ray continues: “Have you ever stolen something before?” I have, they reply. “What do you call someone who steal?” A thief. “What are you?” I’m a thief”, they admit. Ray corrects them: “No, you’re a lying-thief”. The conversation continues and many times, under camera, his listeners come under deep conviction of sin and they repent as the preacher prays for their conversion.

What Ray Comfort is doing is applying the laws of God to the consciences of his listeners, and helping them to realize their utter helplessness before a holy God. Ray then shows them the Redeemer, Christ the Lord, who is able to save every sinner from their sins. Ray’s method of evangelism reminds us that salvation is by the grace of God alone. None of us can keep God’s holy laws sufficiently to gain acceptance with him. We must approach God in the righteousness of Christ. Ray also reminds us of the timelessness of the ten commandments. God’s moral laws were never done away with at the death and resurrection of Christ. The ten commandments remain God’s standards, before and after Moses. Lastly, the nations will thrive only under the laws of God. Laws that are diametrically opposed to the ten commandments, will lead a nation on the path of ignominy and displeasure with God.

Last Sunday, Sola Aladejebi and I were talking to a young man in the university of Ibadan. We shared with him his deep need of a Savior. He explained he was a Christian already, though disillusioned with the cares of Nigeria. He is indigent. Barely able to feed. He must however conclude his masters program at the University. He had served in a church in his undergraduate days, were he helped build their choir from the scratch. When he left for NYSC, no one in that church’s leadership saw a need to give him anything. You could still hear the pain in his voice. I tried to end the conversation by saying regardless of our experiences in life, we all must lay hold on Christ to save us from our sins. He appeared to appreciate our speaking to him and I hope someday our church can help ministers to his needs.

My greatest fears speaking to people in this clime is meeting people you must feed, at least, before they can give you an ear to hear your message. The reality, however, is that that is the way God has designed it. God has called the poor to be rich in faith. Most people who listen to us are needy people; the rich are usually to contented with life to need God. In spite of the needs of the poor, one poverty that rules all men is our lack of godliness. Men are not just liars and thieves in this clime, they are lying-thieves. We all need a Savior to rescue us from the wrath of God coming upon the nations. Have you met the Savior? Or, does your sin remain with you?

At Seminary, my teachers explained that one item the 1689 London Baptist Confessions left out, which is a document all Reformed Baptists subscribe to, is the matter of a definitive statement on evangelism. This can be explained when you understand that our fathers in the faith were contending against forces that sought to snuff out their lives – physically and spiritually. Preservation, not propagation, was the key motive in writing the confessions. It is after the faith had been carefully preserved that latter saints sought to propagate it. We see why “reformed and keep reforming” is a vital truism for us reformed folks. We can be discerning; we can look beyond the traditions and allow the Bible teaches us what is genuinely biblical and applicable for our time. Amen.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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