May 2013 – For nearly 40 years, Ray Comfort has endeavored to reach America with a gospel strategy that is part apologetics and part courtroom interrogation. An interview with the New Zealand evangelist highlights an approach that is impacting countless individuals with the gospel.
AFA Journal: The change that occurred in your life years ago actually happened while you were pastoring in 1982. You began to read the writings of [19th century preacher] Charles Spurgeon.
Ray Comfort: I read a portion where he said, “What will you do when the Lord comes in terror, when the trumpet of the Archangel shall tear you from your grave, when the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul, and when the book shall be opened and all your sin and shame will be punished? Can you stand against an angry Lord on that day?” I remember thinking, “Oh that is a little different from, ‘God has a wonderful plan for your life.’”
AFAJ: And that made an impression on you?
RC: Yes. I thought, what is Spurgeon doing? He is using the moral law, the Ten Commandments, to bring the knowledge of sin, to cause us to tremble so we will see the need of a Savior. I tucked that in my memory bank. Then I was reading Galatians two days later and I read, “Wherefore the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” … I thought, “I wonder if it is legitimate – biblically and historically and experientially – to use the Law to bring the knowledge of sin in order to bring sinners to the Savior?”
AFAJ: How has this way of thinking affected the way you evangelize?
RC: It was like a light went on in my head. I rushed to this one spot in a small town and I sat down and waited for the next person to come. A great big guy sat down. When I shared my testimony I didn’t say, “Since I’ve become a Christian it has just been wonderful. I have had a perfect peace, no trials and no problems.”
Instead I shared about the Ten Commandments and that I had realized I had violated them. If you look with lust, you commit adultery in your heart. If you hate someone, the Bible says you are a murderer. If you lie and steal, you are a lying thief. I thought, “Hell is my just desserts if I am in my sins on Judgment Day.” Then I understood the cross. I violated God’s law and Jesus paid my fine if I repented and trusted Him. God would dismiss my case.
AFAJ: How did this man receive that?
RC: When the guy heard that, he stood to his feet and said, “I have never heard that put so clearly in all my life.” It was like a light went on in his head. I thought, “Oh it worked.” So I rushed to some old books of Spurgeon and George Whitfield and John Wesley [evangelists of the First Great Awakening during the 18th century]. Everywhere they talked about evangelism they said if you do not use the moral law, the Ten Commandments, to bring the knowledge of sin, you will fill the church with false converts.
AFAJ: What are false converts?
RC: Whitfield called them stony ground hearers (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23). They are people in the church who name the name of Christ but they haven’t departed from iniquity. They are the ones who will cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” on the Day of Judgment. He will say, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity and lawlessness. I never knew you” (Matt. 7:22-23). They are the ones that say they are Christians but … they take little things that belong to other people. They say they are Christians but they watch things on TV that are sexually explicit and things like that. God sees them as adulterers, thieves and liars. They will get the fright of their life on Judgment Day when they hear those words: “I never knew you, you worker of iniquity.”
AFAJ: What would you say to people who hear you say that and respond: “You are being so judgmental!”
RC: You have to apply the commandments to the conscience. If we don’t, it is like a man who goes to see a doctor and the doctor says to himself, “This guy has a terrible cancerous disease but I don’t want to be judgmental about this. I don’t want to offend him. I don’t want to scare him. I will just give him the cure.” The man won’t esteem and appreciate that cure.
AFAJ: Telling the stark truth is something we’ve come to expect from a doctor.
RC: Yes! The doctor takes the time and says, “You have got 10 clear symptoms of a terminal disease.” Sweat comes to the patient’s face and the doctor says, “Good, he is seeing the seriousness of the situation.” When the patient says, “What should I do?”, the doctor says, “Don’t worry. Here is the cure.” The patient will grab it, appreciate it, and appropriate it because he has seen the disease, and he wants to be cured. So we have got to be kind and loving, but we are to warn every man.
AFAJ: Do you think this is why there is so much wrong in America – our churches being filled with false converts?
RC: We have 70 million professing Christians in America who claim to be born again, and we can’t even outlaw the murder of children in the womb. Something is radically wrong.
AFAJ: Let’s talk about your latest film, Genius. What is Genius about?
RC: It sets a few things straight. Years ago, I heard the Beatles were atheists; John Lennon was an atheist. In 1965, they were. But they matured in their thinking, and each of them had a measure of spirituality. We go into depth on the faith of each of the Beatles. … We didn’t vilify John Lennon at all in this. … He believed in God, although he obviously wasn’t a Christian.
But I have found everlasting life, and there are people around me [like John Lennon] that are dying. How can I not but speak what I’ve seen and heard? So, what we do in Genius is we use John Lennon in the same way Paul used Greek poets in Athens (Acts 17). Remember, Paul stood up in Athens and preached and he quoted Greek poets.
AFAJ: In this DVD you do something that has become the hallmark of your evangelism. You go to the streets and talk to people and you ask them about how they live their lives. In Genius you also ask them about John Lennon. You ask them if they would murder John Lennon for money, or even murder a total stranger for money. What answers did you receive?
RC: It shocked me that I’d get 15 people on camera that said they would murder someone for money. … One of the reasons this has happened is that the so-called new atheists have convinced millions of our university students they are nothing but primates and there is no God. … If you get rid of moral accountability, then lying is OK, stealing is OK and murder is OK. Someone once said, “I most fear God. Next I fear him who fears Him not.” That is profound. …That is exactly what comes out in Genius.
Genius is available at the AFA store or 877-927-4917.
Learn more about the ministry and resources of Ray Comfort here or call 800-437-1893.