Jesus knows the number of hairs on our head. Jesus knows every sparrow flying through the air. We imagine it is probably difficult for Jesus to hold back all He knows! Jesus knows what will save us and knows how to fix every problem in our lives. Nevertheless, like a good doctor, He does not offer us a cure until He has given us a proper diagnosis of our disease. Lost is the art of diagnosing a sinner’s problems to the modern church. We insist instead of giving the solution, “Just trust in Jesus!” These baffling most listeners because they don’t feel any personal need to trust in Jesus. They are not aware of the disease for which Jesus is the only cure. If we continue to bait the seeker with the promises of the Gospel, “You won’t ever find true happiness and peace until you have Jesus,” many seekers will think that is untrue. Many sinners are enjoying the life God gave them without acknowledging God. We may argue that their happiness is only temporary, while ours is eternal, but now we are no longer preaching the Gospel Jesus gave us.
Never did Jesus say, “I’m happier than you. That’s why you ought to believe Me!” While happiness is one fruit of believing in Christ, happiness was never the central issue of the Gospel. What is? The disease Jesus came to cure is sin. Sin is an epidemic that results in suffering, death, and eternal separation from a Loving and Holy God. Do people acknowledge that they are sinners? Not usually. That is why God wrote the Old Testament and sent the Holy Spirit – both of which can identify and measure this invisible virus. The purpose of God’s Old Testament Laws is to help us realize the extent to which we are sick with sin. The Law prepares the sinner’s heart for the Gospel. Without the Law, there would be no conviction of sin. Without the conviction of sin, there would be no repentance. Without repentance, there could be no true conversion or faith in Christ. James wrote, “You commit sin, and are convicted of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9). The Book of Romans is Paul’s treatise on the Gospel. In it, Paul wrote, “I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Romans 7:7), quoting the last of the Ten Commandments. “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). A translation would put it this way, ” If there were no Law the question of sin would not arise…Now we find that the Law keeps slipping into the picture to point the vast extent of sin. ” (Romans 3:20, 5:20). Paul said Christians should explain the Law “so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans7:13).
It surprises many Christians that the Holy Spirit sent to confirm God’s Law. The first ministry of the Holy Spirit is,
“He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
Today preachers tend to talk about becoming righteous in Christ without talking about sin or judgment. God’s Law objectively defines sin, and God’s judgment, based on His unchangeable Laws.
HOW JESUS MADE HIMSELF KNOWN
Because there is so little teaching these days on sin and judgment, we forget that Jesus made constant reference to God’s Holy Law in His proclamation of the Gospel. There is no better Gospel preacher than Jesus! There were three instances where seekers walked up to Jesus and said, “Tell me how I can get saved!” How did Jesus respond? In all three cases, Jesus said,
He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26 ESV) and “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments”(Luke 10:27 ESV)
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”(Matthew 19:16 ESV)
20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”(Luke 18:20 ESV) and
“Go, call your husband (referring to her breaking the seventh commandment against adultery)” (John 4:16 ESV).
Jesus repeatedly pointed to God’s Law, but here was the twist. He did not point to God’s Law as the solution but as a diagnostic test of our malady. The Biblical Jesus pointed to God’s Law to reveal why we all need a Savior. The hypothetical, modern version of Jesus would have said something like this to a seeker, “You have a God-shaped void in your heart, in fact a Jesus shaped void in your heart, and if you would just open up your heart and accept Me, you’ll be filled with peace and happiness!” If we read the New Testament, we will find the historical Jesus and early apostles never said. However, this is what most Christians seem to do. If a sinner were to ask the average churchgoer Today, “What must I do to have eternal life?” he might reply something like this, “You want to be saved?! Before you change your mind…repeat this prayer after me: O God, I open up my heart to let Jesus to come into my life. Forgive me of my sins. I’m now born again in Jesus’ name. Amen.” The sinner walks away thinking, “That was easy,” yet you will rarely see them again in church or committed to the things of God. We, the Christian, then wonder to ourselves, “But they prayed the salvation prayer! What happened? I just don’t understand.” What is the problem? Modern evangelism has strayed away from Biblical evangelism. Modern evangelism no longer sees God’s laws as paving the way for the Gospel.
Today Christians tend to see God’s Law as synonymous with “legalism.” Some react strongly against God’s Law, “It’s legalistic to talk about the Law. It’s a relic
of the Old Testament”. However, the Apostle John said in the New Testament, “For the Law was given through Moses [first], but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ [second]” (John 1:17). The way God evangelized the world was to give the Law first, then grace second. The Law revealed the human heart’s problem; then grace revealed the answer for the human heart. If there were a better way to write the Bible or communicate His message to earthlings, God would have done it. The Bible is God’s genius. The Old Testament paved the way entirely for the New Testament.
BRIDGING BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY
Because some Christians have neglected the value of the Law and condemned its use in evangelism, Christians have not seen the relationship in value to Buddha’s teachings. Just as Moses’ laws paved the way for the Jews to find Jesus, Buddha’s laws can pave the way for Buddhists to find freedom from karma. So we do not want to distance ourselves from the Law but propel sinners to the Law, awakening their conscience to the dangers of living and dying as lawbreakers. God gave the Law as a powerful weapon to waken careless men’s souls. If we look at the New Testament and look at how they evangelized, we will find they used the Law.
“8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,” 1 TIMOTHY 1:8-10 ESV
The Law, not made for the born again person. In other words, we as born-again people do not wake up each morning and read the Ten Commandments to remind ourselves, “Today, I must not kill anyone. I must not lie. I must not steal.” Because God’s new nature has been implanted into our heart by His Holy Spirit, we no longer
walk by the Law, but by the Spirit. So preaching the Law to Christians will tend to condemn the Christian and bind him to legalism. It is an illegitimate use of God’s Law.
What then is the legitimate use of God’s Law?
1 Timothy 1:9 tells us,
“Knowing: the law is NOT made FOR a righteous person,
BUT FOR the lawless…the ungodly and for sinners…” That means it is legitimate to preach the Law to sinners and grace to the saints. However, most preachers
have done it the other way around! We give grace to the sinners and Law to the saints! What is the result? We tend to produce saints who feel condemned most of the time and sinners who have prayed the “sinner’s prayer” without an ounce of repentance. There was no repentance because there was no conviction. There was no conviction because we never spoke the Scriptures intended to bring conviction – that is, the Law. The Bible says the Law came by Moses, but grace came by Jesus. No one is ready for grace until the Law has first convicted them. That is God’s order, that is the Biblical way, and that is how to evangelize. We cannot improve on it. Whether we speak to a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or nominal Christian, God’s Law must precede God’s Grace.
Fortunately, in Buddhism, we have a strong ally in Buddha’s moral commands. They are virtually the same laws as God’s laws. These are what we will take a look at in the next .
(Excerpts taken from – Buddha to Jesus – An Insider’s View of Buddhism & Christianity) – Steve Cioccolanti