The Fourth Spiritual Law Has The Wrong Emphasis

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If you’ve missed my earlier articles examining The Four Spiritual Laws, you can find them here, here and here. Although I don’t consider this tract to be false doctrine, and I gratefully acknowledge that God has used it in evangelism for at least half a century, I believe it gives an inadequate explanation of the Gospel. Therefore I’ve been taking you through all four laws, encouraging you to evaluate them Biblically.

Today we look at the final Law. It reads: “We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.” Okay, that’s probably a good starting place. The wording is technically correct. I’d even say that the writers used John 1:12 and Ephesians 2:8-9 appropriately. And I’m pleased that they recommend reading John 3:1-8.

If they had then moved into a discussion of responding to the Lord with faith and repentance (Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9), things would have been hunky-dorey. But the writers chose to quote Revelation 3:20 — a verse written to Christians who had lost their zeal for the Lord.

Do you notice how Revelation 3:20 subtly changes the emphasis? The Lord no longer initiates the regeneration process by His mercy (Ephesians 2:4-9, John 1:12-13). Suddenly He’s knocking at the door of the non-Christian’s heart, begging to be let in.

Under this scenario, the non-Christian has the final say on whether or not he receives salvation. That concept used to make sense to me, I must admit. But it inevitably forces one to ask if Jesus is really Lord. Do the sheep choose the Shepherd? I’m not so sure it’s wise to start a new believer out with the idea that he or she controls the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Granted, an evangelistic encounter is not the time to offer a discussion of human free will and the sovereignty of God. To some extent, as I mentioned earlier in this article, we do need to call people to repentance and faith. But in so doing, we must silently pray that the Holy Spirit will grant them the gifts of repentance and faith necessary for them to receive Christ.

The writers do attempt to illustrate repentance with their little graphic of replacing Self on the throne of one’s heart with Christ on the throne. In some respects, I think that concept has merit. But it doesn’t really address the importance of turning from sin. In this postmodern culture, where most people have no idea what sin is or why they should turn from it, the throne illustration doesn’t go far enough in explaining repentance.

The Fourth Spiritual Law concludes by urging prospective converts to “receive Christ by faith through faith by prayer.” Thankfully, the writers admit that the words don’t matter as much as the attitude of the person praying. Then they undo that admission by suggesting a prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

I suppose that prayer is intrinsically harmless. But it’s incredibly harmful to assure someone that merely saying a prayer like this guarantees their salvation! Receiving the Lord is evidenced by a transformed life. To reduce the miracle of regeneration to reciting a prayer (that the person may or may not fully understand) diminishes salvation to a magic incantation.

The Four Spiritual Laws have produced a few genuine Christians. They have also produced many false converts because of their shallow presentation of the Gospel. I pray that this series has encouraged you to think a little more critically about this popular evangelism tool.

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