The Way of the Master
By Bob Wilkin
There is an evangelistic method today called The Way of the Master, promoted by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Many people have asked me about this approach.
Unfortunately, The Way of the Master doesn’t teach people to evangelize the way the Lord Jesus evangelized.
In The Way of the Master people are taught to begin evangelism by using the ten commandments to prove to a person that they are a sinner. They are told to ask people questions like, “Have you ever told a lie?” “So what does that make you? A liar, right?”
“Have you ever stolen anything?” “So what does that make you? A thief, right?”
“Have you ever lusted after a woman in your heart?” “So what does that make you? An adulterer, right?”
After a series of provocative questions like this, the evangelist then asks the listener, “So if you stood before God’s judgment seat, where would you go? You’d go to hell, right?”
This becomes a springboard to discuss the cross. The listener is told that Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross so that if we meet His condition, He will guarantee that we are going to heaven.
And what is that condition? The Way of the Master says that to go to heaven we must turn from all our sins once and for all, give our lives to Christ, and promise to obey Him for the rest of our lives.1
This approach is terrific except for one thing: it doesn’t deliver on what it promises. This approach doesn’t actually teach the way the Lord Jesus evangelized.
There are two major ways in which this approach fails to reproduce the gospel Jesus preached. First, Jesus didn’t teach that the cross potentially dealt with our sin problem. Because of the shed blood of Christ, sin is no longer a barrier for anyone. The Lamb of God took away the sin of the whole world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).
Second, the condition of spending eternity in Jesus’ kingdom and of having eternal life is not turning from sins and committing one’s life. The sole condition is faith in the Lord Jesus (John 3:16).
Even if we disagree with the evangelistic approach of Comfort and Cameron, we heartily agree that we should evangelize the way our Lord did. And we know how Jesus evangelized because the apostle John gave us an entire book, the fourth Gospel, which gives the way of the Master (John 20:30-31).
The emphasis the Lord Jesus gave was on Himself, not the sinner. He repeatedly called for people to believe in Him, the Son of God, in order to have everlasting life (e.g., John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27).
Jesus often never even brought up the issue of sin when He evangelized. Look at what He told Nicodemus in John 3. He never even mentioned sin there. Even in John 4 when He spoke with the woman at the well, while Jesus pointed out one area of sin in her life, He didn’t call her to repent of it. Indeed, it is clear that the reason He pointed out that area of sin was to convince her that He was the Messiah (compare John 4:16-19, 25-26, 39).
Jesus didn’t say that people must be sorry for, or turn from, their sins to be born again. The words repent and repentance aren’t even found in John’s Gospel. Nor did the Lord say that people need to commit their lives to Him to be saved. He told people that He is the one making a commitment. He commits to give everlasting life that can never be lost to all who simply believe in Him. Compare John 3:16; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27; 20:31.
Because of Calvary no one will ever be condemned due to their sins. The basis of condemnation is unbelief, not sinfulness (see John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; Rev 20:11-15). It is an insult to the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross to make our sins the issue in evangelism.
In light of the fact that Jesus has taken away the sin barrier by His death on the cross, all who merely believe in Him have everlasting life. That is the way of the Master. I suggest we heartily embrace the notion of evangelizing the way our Master evangelized. But we must take care to make sure that what we are saying is actually what the Lord Jesus said.