Tuesday, November 1, 2011

About the Word 'Do'

I love this photo. Frankly, I love any photo that includes my beautiful wife, Mahria. I love this photo because it was taken before Mahria and I served side-by-side, distributing 180 DVDs to our neighbors.

The documentary has been viewed more than 1.3 million times on YouTube. 180,000 copies of the DVD were distributed on college and university campuses throughout North America, on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. And we are trusting God to provide the financial and human resources to distribute as many as 500,000 copies of the DVD to high school students across the country.

To date, the documentary has been subtitled in 14 different languages: Albanian, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, and Swedish. The documentary has been subtitled in these languages by request. The message of 180 is literally being heard around the world.

Instructions for accessing subtitles in the above-listed languages, are found in this instructional video.

The full impact of 180 is yet to be determined. Most recently I blogged about Vanessa, a young woman who, after watching 180 decided not to abort her baby.

We've received many emails from people who have changed their mind not only about abortion, but about how they decide for whom they will vote in the future--emails like this one:
I have been pro-life since I was a teenager. When I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the father and my friends advised me to get an abortion. I didn't listen to them and [now] have a 16 year old son. I had voted [for a] pro-life presidential candidates just because they were pro-life. My husband asked me if that president stopped abortion from happening, and I said no. We both voted for a pro-choice president the last election. After watching this documentary he said to me in tears that he was wrong. We have had our minds changed about who we vote for.
Both men and women have emailed us, broken over their sin--the sin of encouraging, forcing, or having and abortion. One woman simply wrote: "GOD, GOD FORGIVE ME!"

And another young woman wrote this:
I grew up in a christian home. I'm a pastors kid in fact. But I made a horrible mistake. I had a boyfriend for over a year. I thought I was going to marry him, so I slept with him. And as a result I got pregnant. I didn't know what to do. And out of the fear of being found out I had an abortion. As a result I lost everything. I lost my child, I lost my boyfriend. I lost his family. I have felt nothing but anguish and guilt every since. After seeeing the promotional video for 180 I knew I needed to write to you. People need to know. They need to not make the choice I made. There is no excuse for what I did. I knew what abortion was. I knew it was wrong. Yet I did it anyways. The world needs change. And it needs it now.
Emails like this do not go unanswered. We do whatever we can to point hurting people to organizations best equipped to help them through the trauma of abortion. And we also take every opportunity to speak the truth in love to them, by sharing with them the law and the gospel.

And of course, the most wonderful emails of all, are those who, as a result of watching the video, have come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This movie has changed my heart! I stopped after the movie and just repented my God for my forgiveness. The movie is just amazing and it really moves you! Thank you very much for the movie.
We have been blessed before and after the release of the documentary to receive endorsements from Christian leaders such as: John Piper, David Platt, Francis Chan, Randy Alcorn, and Ken Ham--just to name a few. And recently we received the endorsement of one of the most respected Bible teachers and pastors of this generation--Pastor John MacArthur.
“This is a powerful, confrontational treatment of abortion that rocks its defenders back on their heels. Don’t miss it!”
I share the above as a rather long preface, before I answer a reoccurring question about the documentary--a question asked by Christians.
In your movie you are telling people what they need to do to get saved. You quote John 3:16 and then you say "what you've got to do is repent, turn from your sins, trust in Jesus, God will give you everlasting life." My question is, do you believe that Christ's blood is enough or do you believe that there is something that we must do?
Some have suggested that by including the word "do" in the gospel presentation, Ray Comfort (albeit unintentionally) is promoting a works-righteousness formula for salvation. By telling people there is something they must do to be saved, Ray is telling people they must complete a work to receive salvation.

Ray Comfort and Mark Spence deal with this objection in the Friday, October 28, 2011 edition of our live, Internet-based program On The Box. You will find their answer to this objection beginning at the 26:14 mark, in the program.

I would like to affirm and add to what Ray and Mark said.

Those who know me well know where I stand theologically when it comes to the sovereignty of God and salvation. I could not and would not serve in any ministry that does not promote and proclaim a biblical gospel. Having now served alongside Ray Comfort for four years I can say unequivocally that Ray Comfort believes and preaches a biblical gospel. And I am hard-pressed to think of any man I know who loves the Lord, His gospel, His people, and the lost more than Ray Comfort. I would gladly charge the gates of Hell with Ray Comfort armed only with a squirt gun.

With that said...

Salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, completely separate from any human work or effort. Telling people what they must “do,” (namely to repent and believe the gospel), having given them a clear and biblical presentation of the law and the gospel, is consistent with a biblical presentation of the gospel. After all, Jesus likewise called people to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). By telling people they must repent and believe, the evangelist is not telling them they must work for their salvation. Rather, we are calling them to respond to the gospel with repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As I thought about my answer to this objection, I was reminded of the scene in Acts 16:25-30.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
The jailer, fearing for his life, asked a very direct question. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

Paul, a chosen messenger of God, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ who was commanded by Christ Himself to serve Him as a herald of the gospel, could only respond to the jailer's question one way--biblically. Paul did not say, "There is nothing you must do to be saved." No. Paul said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." There is no way around it. Paul told the jailer to do something.

Should we therefore accuse the apostle Paul of proclaiming a false gospel of works? Of course not. To do so would be to deny everything else Paul said and wrote affirming salvation by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 1:17; Romans 2:4; Romans 4:13-25; Ephesians 2:8-9); 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Titus 3:4-7).

Salvation is of the Lord (Psalm 3:8; Psalm 96:2; Psalm 119:166, 174; Jonah 2:9)!

Regardless of the theological camp in which you find or place yourself, you cannot share the gospel with an individual, you cannot herald the gospel in the open-air without telling people to do something--namely, to repent and believe the gospel. You must inevitably tell them to do something.