In the January-February 2018 issue of Grace in Focus Magazine, I wrote an article about the value in repeating clear evangelistic verses over and over again. I just received a helpful question about that article that gives me a chance to explain further what I mean.
D from Colorado writes:
It seems to me that an apologist could turn the tables on you. Let’s say he quotes James 2:24, which says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (NASB). Then the person you are talking to says, “It doesn’t matter what Eph. 2:8-9 says. It can’t contradict James 2:24 and James is very clear; it is NOT by faith alone. That is the only place in the entire Bible where the words “faith,” and “alone,” appear” and it states in as clear a language as possible that faith is by works, not faith alone.”
So you quote Eph 2:8-9 again and he quotes James 2:24 again. The process goes on and on.
I’m familiar with all the mental gymnastics to get around the plain statement in the text of James 2:24, but none of the efforts work.
So you quote Eph 2:8-9 and I quote James 2:24 and we are back to the 500-year-old argument of faith vs works.
Interestingly, that was the way my discussion went with Warren Wilke for four sessions. I kept bringing up passages like James 2, Hebrews 6, and Hebrews 10. He kept repeating Eph 2:8-9. But by the end of our fifth time meeting together, I became convinced of the truth of Eph 2:8-9. But it did not happen in the first four hours we spoke together. Warren was persistent and I was too. I may not have been very receptive. But I was open enough that eventually I got it.
But what if I had stuck to just one passage, like James 2, and had never come to see that what Warren was saying is true? Then I would not yet be born again. My concern for those who believe in works salvation is that they can’t be born again that way.
Here is the beauty of the broken record approach. The truth of God’s Word will win out to anyone who is open. If a person will keep on listening and thinking and praying, eventually he will see that Eph 2:8-9, or whatever text you keep repeating, is true. The Holy Spirit will open his heart to see it as true (Acts 11:14;see also Acts 17:11).
In any case, the questioner is correct that the broken record approach does not guarantee that your listener will believe. It should guarantee that after a few repetitions he understands what you are saying, though he rejects it. But he may not come to believe in the free gift of everlasting life as an immediate result of your witness. He might come to faith some time later when someone else enters the harvest. But whether he comes to faith or not, you have shared the message clearly.