If you’ve been an evangelical Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of an evangelism tool called “The Four Spiritual Laws” John and I were even in a church that used this tool in its New Members Class (our present church does not use it, thankfully).
I want to write a few posts over the next few weeks going over these Spiritual Laws. While they do present the Gospel on a surface level that can be beneficial in witnessing to people, they fall short of offering a robust picture of our need for salvation and the Lord’s sufficiency in effecting that salvation. I commend the writers who developed these Spiritual Laws for their zeal in reaching out to the lost, but I believe we must hold their tract up to Scripture to determine its faithfulness to sound doctrine.
The first Spiritual Law has been revised since John and I took that New Members Class 17 years ago. Back then, it read, “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” In recent years, however, people have challenged that second clause, rightly noting that it set new converts up for disappointment when they encountered times of suffering. Indeed, it gave a false impression of the Christian experience.
Praise God for having them change it.
Sadly, the replacement clause also misrepresents Biblical teaching on God’s purpose in extending salvation. Let’s think about the implications of asserting that God created us to have personal relationships with Him.
In one respect, I guess we could make such a claim, if our emphasis remains on the idea that God created us for His own pleasure (Colossians 1:15-20, Revelation 4:11). In the narcissistic culture of the 21st Century, we often think in terms of our benefit, however. So we pretty much automatically assume that God created us in order to bless us with a personal relationship with Him.
Certainly, our relationship with the Lord is the greatest blessing imaginable. Just this morning, I read Psalm 21:6, in which David declares that he finds joy in God’s presence. Please don’t misinterpret me as saying that we don’t derive joy from knowing the Lord.
Rather, understand that our joy in having fellowship with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe as a joyful result of His goodness instead of His primary goal in creating us. Even our joy in knowing the Lord doubles back to glorifying Him. Psalm 8 shows this wonder:
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! ~~Psalm 8 (ESV)
As you can see, Psalm 8 begins and ends by pointing to God’s majesty! The honor He bestows upon us comes as a result of His decree, not His yearning for our companionship.
As a matter of fact, God the Father enjoyed perfect fellowship with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from all eternity. He didn’t need us to fill an emotional void in His psyche. He didn’t need to create anything with the capacity to know Him personally. To suggest that He would create anything to fulfill some sort of loneliness within Himself demonstrates a flawed view of Who He is. And an inflated view of who we are.
The first Spiritual Law makes no mention of God’s holiness. That point is actually essential in appreciating both His love for us and the wonder that He allows us to know Him. Unless we confront His holiness, we can’t really grasp the inexplicable grace that He would allow us to know Him.
Why would such a holy God accept any of us into His presence? Doesn’t Psalm 8 ask that exact question? It’s necessary to approach evangelism by explaining His holy nature before we can expect anyone to understand the privilege of having a relationship with Him. Isaiah 6:1-5 offers an example of how truly awesome (in the actual sense of the word “awesome”) the Lord’s presence is.
When we examine the second Spiritual Law, we’ll see the importance of establishing God’s holiness before we can talk about our relationship to Him. For this reason, the first Spiritual Law gravely minimizes the impact of the Gospel. It lays a man-centered foundation that distracts from God’s majesty and distorts God’s purpose in creating us.
God created us for His pleasure, not for our benefit. Although knowing Him definitely brings us unspeakable joy, we must never forget that He made us to serve and worship Him.Follow my blog with Bloglovin