The Law and Evangelism

Dr Pierre Coovert

The Bible is very clear that we are not saved by keeping the law. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by the grace of God, that this grace is received by faith, and that it is not of works so we can’t brag and so God receives all the glory. Does this mean that the law has nothing to do with our salvation? No, it doesn’t! The law is a necessary part of bringing the lost to Christ.

Listen to what Paul says in: Romans 3:19-28 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

This passage make is clear that we are not justified by the “deeds of the law.” It does not say that the law has no part in our coming to salvation. As a matter of fact, it tells us that the law brings us to the knowledge of sin.

Paul gives us more light on this in Romans 7:7 “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”

We are told that sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). We do not know that we have sinned until we understand that we have broken God’s law. How can we know that we have broken God’s law if we don’t know what His law says?

Romans 9:31-32 tells us where Israel made their biggest mistake: “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;”

God gave the law to show our inability to keep it. Israel, like most people today, thought they could keep the law and be justified before God. They thought that if they kept it more than they broke it they would be righteous enough to be justified. Paul uses the first several chapters of the epistle to the Romans to teach that this is not so. James teaches the same thing in James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

In Galatians 2:16 Paul tells us twice that we are not justified by the works of the law, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

All that I have said so far shows that the works of the law have nothing to do with our salvation. I would like to point out that the passages we have looked at talk about the works or the deeds of the law. It is clear that keeping the law cannot save us.

On the other hand, we have also seen an important principle that makes the preaching of the law an essential part of our message to the lost. If the lost do not know God’s law, not in every detail but enough to know they have broken it, they cannot really understand their guilt before God.

Galatians 3:24-25 tells us the purpose of the law, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

A schoolmaster’s job is to teach. Teaching removes ignorance. The purpose of the law is to ensure that no one is ignorant of God’s requirements for His creation. The law shows how short we have come from the glory of God. It shows the gravity of our sin. It shows the penalty, and if taught properly, makes one understand why the penalty is necessary.

This may seem trivial, but why do we have weeds in our garden? It is because of sin. The whole earth was cursed because of the sin of Adam. Part of Adam’s punishment was to have to deal with the weeds in his garden (Genesis 3:17-19).

Thorns and thistles are interesting plants. Thorns easily wound all who touch them. When I was growing up shoes were for school and church. We had a type of thorn we called a bull’s head. To step on one of those with a bear foot was quite painful. Even well calloused feet could be easily wounded. Sin is like a thorn, all who touch it are wounded by it. The end result of the wounds of sin is eternal death unless the Gospel is applied.

Thistles are one of the most prolific of plants. Some thistles can have more than 100 heads, each with three or four hundred seeds. In as little as three generations over 576,000,000 seeds can be produced. Sin is like a thistle, it spreads very rapidly. In one day Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit resulted in his hiding from God, blaming his wife for his failure, and ultimately blaming God because He gave him “the woman.”

If you are old enough to remember what some would call “the good old days” you can see how accepting one sinful act, such as divorce, has just about destroyed the family. It doesn’t take long for sin to spread and all that are around are hurt.

Let me end this article with Psalms 19:7 “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”

This verse if full of important meaning. The law or principles and precepts of God are perfect or complete. They contain everything needed to convert the soul. The word “converting” means to turn back. The law of the LORD will turn the soul of fallen man back to the LORD, his Creator and make him receptive to the Gospel. Wow! Does that make the using of the law a major tool in the evangelizing of the lost world.

The testimony of the LORD, as seen in His Creation and in the changed lives of those who follow His precepts, is sure. This means means that they are beyond doubt. Those who see God’s creation and the changed lives of His children cannot doubt His existence and His goodness. Looking at theses things will make wise the simple. The simple are those who are easily seduced.

The presentation of God’s law is an essential part of evangelism. A full presentation of God’s law must include teaching about God’s holiness and coming judgment. When they are combined there is no more powerful motivation for the lost to receive the Gospel.

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
RSS Podcast