Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Should we stress the importance of an anti-works doctrine in evangelism?

While on mission preaching and speaking in conversation the gospel I noticed myself always focusing on the doctrine of justification by faith as antithesis to a doctrine of works. I always stress "It's about your faith, not your works" (in light of the cross, of course), but I wonder if I am simply answering 16th century questions, not 21st century.

Don't get me wrong, I uphold justification by faith and will preach it, but I wonder if by continually stressing the mantra "it doesn't matter how hard you try to do good, it's not good enough for God", I'm answering questions 21st century non-believers aren't even asking?

Maybe I'm wrong, perhaps you can only preach justification by faith by stressing that your works don't cut it. Paul did it, but wasn't he primarily answering a specific form of Judaism?

4 comments:

Belteshazzar said...

If they are not asking the question i dont think we should raise it. But in saying that i think there are questions we should raise. Like the lordship of Jesus, the authority of Jesus, the brokenness of the world and God's plan to fix it. justification comes through in these discussions. but feeding it to them straight up (which i am not saying your doing) is not helpful to their thinking. plus big words scare me :0

DanielS said...

good question. I don't know if this is the main question we need to be answering, however I reckon that one of the common misunderstandings of what Christianity is about is that it is about believing in the existence of god and 'being good'.

John Dekker said...

Well, even if it's an answer to a question nobody is asking, it's a response to a ubiquitous problem. Lots of people still believe that God is happy with them because they haven't done anything really bad. Or that if they've gone off the rails, they can fix things up themselves.

So justification by works is still a fundamental problem.

geoffc said...

Daniel, I think you're right that it is a common misunderstanding.

John, Lots of people still believe that God is happy with them because they haven't done anything really bad. Or that if they've gone off the rails, they can fix things up themselves.

So justification by works is still a fundamental problem.


But this seems like what they need convincing is that they suck and are sinful, not that their works won't get them to heaven. It seems to stem from a view that God doesn't judge the world, and is basically happy with everyone. J by F addresses (I thought) those who think that by their good works they'll get in. I guess I can see how they are similar.