28 September, 2007

A Challenge to the Usual Evangelistic Message

What does this passage mean to the usual evangelistic message?

Ezekiel 18:20-22
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

Specifically, in light of this common evangelistic threat?

If you’ve sinned, even once, because of whom you’ve sinned against you deserve hell.


Phil Smoke said...

Or even better yet, how about verse 24? "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die."

(I don't think that either of these things can be directly applied to us living in the shadow of Christ, but they both teach truths which we tend to simply ignore.)

codepoke said...

Hehehe. I considered throwing that in.

I see your verse 24, and raise a NT verse:
1 John 2:1-16
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth * his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Columbus, OH? :-)

pearlie said...

There was once when I was trying to evangelise to a friend, I kinda accidently let out John 12:40 - God has blinded your eyes ... so you cannot see (paraphrased).
She did a double take and asked me again what I said - I had no choice but to repeat myself!! That was like 20 years ago. Today, she is a Catholic :)

Kansas Bob said...

I think that the general message of the Ezekiel passage is accountability ... we are without excuse. It also speaks to our need to be born again because we are spiritually dead because we have all sinned.

codepoke said...


> God has blinded your eyes

Talk about verses that contradict the usual methods of evangelism!!!


I cannot quit laughing at the thought that you accidently read it. :-D

That's alright, I don't think Christ got many converts when He preached that message Himself.

codepoke said...

I hear you, KB. I'm quite sure you're right.

Here's what it does for me. It tells me that I can be as merciful as God in evangelizing. Paul and James both assert without doubt that sinning once is a damning thing. There's no doubt the law is that absolute, but God through Ezekiel backs off on His own law.

I can extend as amazing mercy as God Himself when I'm talking about Him.

This is critical to me, because this verse is in line with the instincts of every non-believer I've ever met. Being able to look at them and say, "Yes, your instinctive view of God is reasonable. Now, go out and stop sinning."

Think about it. If someone walked up to you and said, give up gardening for yourself. You've never even started, but you already suck, so instead purchase our gardening service. Would you say, "Gee. Thanks, that's exactly what I was hoping for." No, you'd decide to try your hand at gardening or even more likely, decide that the whole gardening thing is full of jerks and walk away forever.

So, let's tell people to give being a Christian a shot. It's not like we have such a pitiful product that we need to lie about it. Let them try it for themselves before we tell them they're hopeless. If this Holy Spirit we keep making noise about is real, He'll whisper the "hopeless" message to their hearts in a way we never could with our lips. Our job has to be describing God in a sufficiently honest way that people don't think giving up jaywalking is going to be enough to please Him.

Patchouli said...

CP, you cannot fathom (and I am in awe) as to how timely this message is. Hit the nose ON THE HEAD!


Bill said...

Can I try? :)

The word "IF" is pretty big here; it's a conditional promise. I tell you what - if you run a mile in 3 minutes, I'll forgive your sins myself! ;)

The passage still speaks to God's mercy. God had Zeke make an offer of mercy. God knew Zeke's hearers were never going to be able to live up to the deal - at least, not completely; not strictly as stated. But it was still a way for God to demonstrate that he was WILLING to show mercy.

So you you might say the offer was a "setup". But was that unfair (of God) to do to those people? I don't think we can say yes.

Consider... We don't know what else happened in their lives AFTER they heard Zeke's message. Maybe God spent some time showing those people they couldn't live up to it. And maybe that got them to fall on their faces before him, like Job, or like the tax collector who said "God have mercy on me, a sinner."

Maybe the eventual EFFECT of Zeke's words at the time is more important than whatever we think those concepts ought to line up with, logically.

So, to the question at hand...

Personally, I don't think too much of most methods of evangelism, including those heavy in "threat" strategy. But your question is not whether (or when) to mention the "threat". Your question seems to be: is it accurate? Is it true?

Well... it's not a direct quote from scripture, and I'm not sure it's worded perfectly, but yeah, basically I think it's true.

At the very least, I don't see any way in which the Zeke passage seems to contradict it at all.

Bill said...

Oh, sorry, Kev. Apparently I'm surfing with half a brain tonight... somehow I thought I was on a different blog. (I'd been using yours to link over to BBB.)

So I thought someone else posted the post. Then I commented. Then I re-read your comments and then I realized this is your blog. And then I re-read your comments again and then I got your whole point.

duh. uh. yeah! :)

Not my first brainless miss, eh?

sorry to be such a goof! ;)

codepoke said...

Praise the Lord, Patchouli! Thanks for the great word. :-)

May the Lord bless the Word as you convey it!

codepoke said...

BBB is pretty cool, isn't it?

Thanks for the second comment, Bill. The first one had me baffled pretty good. :-)

Weekend Fisher said...

I think the "common evangelistic threat" has 0 to do with evangelism and is fairly abusive. "Evangelism" is spreading "good news". "Evangelistic threat" should be as much an oxymoron as "Christian bullying".

Ezekiel is closer to proclaiming the good news than the "evangelist" is: that God is merciful and faithful and trustworthy.

codepoke said...

Would that it went without saying, sister.


karen said...

Sure, we all deserve a hell. None of us is worthy. But, praise Him. . .

Very timely, indeed.

pearlie said...

I didn't read it - I sort of blurted it out and then knew it was too late to take it back! I could not forget what I had done :-D