Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring

If only everything in this world were as reliable as my Stanley stainless steel spade! I’ve been tidying up outside, moving the rest of the soil and rubble left in the backyard by our builder. From time to time, I scrape away the soil clinging to the spade and then I tap it with the trowel. It rings like a bell, a clear, bright note that fades away in a most melodious fashion. The spade itself is light, sharp, and strong, practically as good as new after all these years.

When I’ve finished, I wash it off in the sink in the cellar. I know! I’ll make it ring again, and I’ll see how long it takes for the sound to fade away entirely. I bet it’s almost a minute. Where’s my watch? Right, here we go! Alas, I’m standing next to the cellar window. The Glass Break Detector Alarm thinks someone has smashed the glass and it goes off with a shrill, ear-splitting shriek. 

It takes me a minute or two to turn it off. I place the spade by the radiator, along with the other tools I’ve been using. Yes, I know, boots should not be dried as in the photo - but they’re old ones, and I’ll want them again tomorrow, and anyway, they’re as tough as, er, old boots.

It occurs to me that nobody has noticed the alarm going off. I’m not surprised. You get used to them in an area like this. I’m just the same.

However, when the alarm bells start ringing inside my head, it’s a different matter.

I might be talking to a salesman, or someone calling at the door collecting for charity, and then: “Hang on, there’s something wrong here, something not quite right!” In my head, it’s like a quiet ring, or a “Ting, Ting, Ting!” 

It can happen in church. If I hear it during a sermon, I look for the text, then the context, and I scan the notes at the bottom of the page. Why am I feeling uneasy? What is it that’s wrong? Sometimes it’s a story, an anecdote, an illustration, and I think, “That can’t really have happened, can it? You’ve just borrowed it from somewhere, or made it up to prove a point, haven’t you?”

Why do I mention it, this internal alarm system? Because I’m having trouble with my Three Part Plan. (See Blog Archives, Saturday 18/11/2017.) The problem is with Dr A. Ray Stanford’s “Handbook Of Evangelism”. Why do I want to read it? See the “Why We Need A Plan” entries in the Archives!

Let’s look at chapter 1, pages 1-2, where he tells us how to point out to a person that he is a sinner. “Everyone is a sinner, less perfect than God.” “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” To be fair, he then gives us Isaiah 64.6, but you can see where he’s going: “If you happen to know that the person is very moral, compliment him, but show that he still isn’t perfect in God’s sight.” Ting! “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” it isn’t. Why downplay the seriousness of sin and our sinful nature? In the long run, it will end in tears.

He also offers us this, presumably so that we can employ it in our evangelism: “One word God uses when He says we ‘sin’ is ‘hamartano’ in the Greek, and means to ‘miss the mark’.” Ting, ting! I’d better look it up. Yes, that’s the original meaning, but by the time it’s used in the N.T. it means much more than the 'slightly-less-than-spot-on' suggestion that we have here. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. It’s important.

He moves on. “The result and penalty of sin is death...separation from God.” “Sin is not paid for by good works, penance, church membership, water baptism, etc. Sin is paid for by death.” It’s awkwardly expressed, but you can see what he means. And then, all of a sudden - “God does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sin.”


Ting, ting, ting, ting, ting! It’s a five alarmer.

It might well be based on something said by Gandhi, with God added at a later date, but what does that matter? It’s just wrong, wrong, and wrong again. 

You can see that it’s going to be a struggle. Why don’t I just abandon this part of the plan, and turn instead to Outreach UK’s “Evangelism, A Practical Handbook”, a recent gift from a kind friend? 

Because I’ve already learned a lot, and I’m only on page 2 of chapter 1. 

Don’t give in!