Reaching the World
The Luke 7 Principle
The Luke 7 Principle
by Dr. Dennis Corle
You’ve probably heard a preacher or soulwinner say, “The only reason I couldn’t get that person saved is that I couldn’t get them lost.” Before we can lead a person to place their faith in the shed blood of Christ, they must realize and accept their own need of a Saviour and their own hopelessness without Christ. As long as a person thinks that they may be good enough or religious enough, they will not accept Christ as their only hope of Heaven. So before we can get them saved, we must get them lost.
The idea of the Luke 7 Principle has to do with getting people thoroughly lost before you deal with them about being saved -- making sure they comprehend the utter impossibility of going to heaven outside of Jesus Christ. Before you give them the cure, you must clearly present the problem.
In Luke 7, the Bible tells us about Jesus being in the house of Simon the Pharisee. The Word of God says a woman came in, a woman with a reputation of immorality. She began to wash the feet of Jesus. The Pharisee said in his heart, “If this man were a prophet He would know what manner of woman this was and He wouldn’t allow her to touch Him.” But Jesus perceived his thought, and He spoke this parable.
“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”
Now let me stop to say this: whether you’re a 500 pence sinner or a 50 pence sinner, you STILL have nothing to pay. You can’t pay for your own sin. The Bible says that when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Then He asked Simon, “Which of those two debtors will love the creditor more; the one he forgave a five hundred pence debt, or the one he forgave a fifty pence debt?” And Simon answered, “He to whom he forgave the most.” Jesus said “Thou hast rightly judged.”
Now let me say this: I don’t believe that people have to be bad sinners to become good Christians. I don’t think they have to be drunkards and whoremongers in order to turn out to be good Christians after they get saved. However, I do believe that if we don’t cause them to see how wicked they are in the eyes of God and how hopeless they really are, then we do them an injustice. They are unable to rightly appreciate what Christ has done for them unless they realize that they are eternally doomed to hell, except for the grace of God.
I think many of our converts who are truly saved and on their way to Heaven don’t appreciate what has happened in their lives because they never really comprehended how hopeless and helpless they were without Christ. Because of it, they don’t fully comprehend that they have been delivered from death unto life, and they don’t serve Christ with the same fervency and whole-heartedness that come from an eternally grateful heart.
Have you ever noticed that some of the worst sinners make some of the best Christians? It’s not because it is a requirement to do evil in order to be a good Christian, but because those people recognize that God saved them out of the depths of sin. They realize how ungodly and wicked they were in the eyes of God and the great transformation that’s been made to take them from the depths of wickedness and cleanse and regenerate their hearts and make them a new creature in Christ. Often those folks have a greater appreciation of their salvation because they have been forgiven a greater debt and they recognize it.
Suppose that I were in the hospital dying of cancer. The doctors had already written me off and said, “This is a hopeless case. There’s no more that we can do for him.” Then you came to town with a serum that would cure cancer. You came to my room and said “Mr. Corle, would you like to try this serum? It will cure cancer.” Suppose I said, “Man, I’ve got to have it. I’m a hopeless and helpless case. Without that cure, I’m a goner for certain.”
So I take a shot of the serum. Just as you’ve told me, when it takes hold, the cancer begins to go into remission. After a time, it completely disappears from my body. I’m back to being a healthy, vibrant person, functioning normally.
On the same day, you come up to somebody else on the street and say, “Hey, I have this serum, a cure for cancer.” That man says, “Well, that’s wonderful. I’m so glad that you have found this cure. There’s such a need.”
You ask him, “Would you like to take a shot of the serum?”
He says, “Well, I don’t really think I need to do that. I don’t have cancer. I’m not feeling too bad. I think I’m alright just like I am. I don’t think I need that cancer serum.”
You say, “But wait a minute now. Everybody has the potential for cancer. Everyone has certain cells isolated in their bodies. And if you’ll take this serum, it will innoculate you so that you will never, ever die of cancer.”
The fellow scratches his head and says, “You know, that sounds pretty good. I probably won’t die of cancer anyway but, you’re right. I guess I do have the potential for cancer. And I guess it wouldn’t hurt anything to just prepare against it. I probably won’t die of cancer. I probably won’t ever have a problem with it, but, just in case, I’ll take a shot of that serum.”
So you give him a shot of the serum. Now he’s as truly innoculated as I am cured. The serum works. He never gets cancer. He lives a normal life. He’s innoculated and I’m cured.
Now -- you come back to town six months later to raise money to help people get that cure, and you need some help. Who do you think is going help you do the labor? Which one of us will be willing to give sacrificially to the cause? The fellow that you innoculated on the street or the fellow that you cured and raised up off a death bed? You know the answer, don’t you? It’s gonna be the one that couldn’t have made it on his own, and feels certain he owes everything and every moment of life to that cure.
When we go soulwinning, we meet people who don’t want to go to hell, and they believe in God and believe that Jesus died. But they don’t really see themselves as doomed to hell and hopelessly lost forever without Christ. They think they are as good as the next person, and think that probably they will go to heaven just like they are. When we present the plan of salvation, their thought is, “Well, I’m probably okay just like I am, but it won’t hurt to be ‘innoculated’ against it, just in case.” So they pray a prayer with us lightly, not seeing their desperate need of a Saviour.
You say, “But, isn’t that other fellow innoculated?” Yes, he is. “And weren’t these people really saved?” I’m sure a bunch of them were really saved. But the tragedy is, we don’t spend enough time on the bad news, in getting them to understand their hopeless, lost, doomed state without Jesus Christ. Then when they get saved, they don’t appreciate it like they ought to.
Charles Finney said, “No conviction, no conversion. Light conviction, light conversion. Great conviction, great conversion.” Again, I want to emphasize the fact that people don’t have to involve themselves in deep sin in order to appreciate salvation. But as soulwinners, I think we need to be more thorough in getting them to comprehend how wicked they are in the eyes of God. In seeing how large their sin debt is, and how doomed and hopeless they are outside the grace and mercy of God.
I believe that if you and I will spend enough time on the bad news about sin, hell and judgment when we are leading a person to Christ, we won’t have to twist anybody’s arm to receive Him when we get to the Good News and the matter of receiving Christ. Nobody will have to trick them or ‘high pressure’ them into praying a prayer. They’ll gladly receive Christ when they see salvation as a cure, not just innoculation. When they understand the urgent necessity of salvation in their own lives. And after they receive Christ, they’ll appreciate it far more than those who view their decision as a ‘just-in-case’ innoculation.
Those that fully appreciate what Christ has done for them will be alot easier to work with on the long term basis of growing in the grace of God and getting involved in the work of God and obeying the will of God.
What we need to do is get back to the ‘Luke 7 Principle’ of getting people thoroughly lost and causing them to comprehend how bad off they are without Christ. Then it’s easy to give them the simple cure of the Gospel once they understand how desperately they need it, and they will gladly receive it.
I hope that you’ll apply this and I trust that the ‘Luke 7 Principle’ will cause you to have much more ‘fruit that remains’ as a result of your soulwinning labors.