A Problem with Romans Road Evangelism

I recently had the privilege to sit down with a pastor from a church I was visiting and a few people in his congregation. In speaking with them, they told me that that they use “Romans Road” evangelism to reach the lost. The main thrust of Romans Road is Romans 3:23 -For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  This is a very popular evangelism method, so I wanted to put my thoughts out there and get feedback on what you think about using this method.

I have long thought that there was something missing from this method, and I believe a recent witness encounter clarifies this problem the problem that I have with it.

One day last week I had a service technician at my home and I asked him what he believed… What happens when we die? He answered me with, “I believe in Jesus, and God. I believe that there is Heaven and Hell and purgatory…”  He said, “I’m not really religious and I backslid for awhile, but I still believe in that stuff. I don’t go to church though.”

So he was a backsliding, non-practicing, Catholic who has an intellectual belief in God. So I probed a little deeper and asked him, “How do you see yourself? Would you say that you are a wretched sinner?”

To that he said, “Well, we have all made mistakes… I mean, no one is perfect, right? But I think God understands that we are human. He is a forgiving God.”

And in his own words, he quotes Romans 3:23, but then he reveals the problem with using this verse alone to try and bring conviction of sin. This man did not himself against God’s righteousness, but twisted scripture to compared himself to the rest of the world.

He may have had a “general” understanding of sin, but he did not see himself as a sinner in the biblical sense,as a guilty criminal before God. He needed a PERSONAL conviction of sin and if you read a few verses back, Romans 3:19-23, you will see that it is the Law of God that brings the correct understanding of sin.

But we know that whatever things the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law; so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be under judgment before God, because by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ, toward all and upon all those who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…

In context, the purpose for Romans 3:23 is that no one is left out of the penatrating gaze of God’s Law. All are guilty before him. It seems that verse 3:19 needs to be our main thrust, not 3:23.

One question that you may have is, do I ever use Romans 3:23 in my witness encounters? And the answer is yes, but only in the situation when someone believes that they have not sinned or if they think they are going to skip judgment somehow. But it is always used in conjunction with their guilt under the Law.

–Danny

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Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Comments (15)  

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  1. Danny,
    Not sure ‘who’ you are, but am so excited to have ‘found’ you. It is SO refreshing to hear the ‘truth’ being told, we are absolutely on the same page my friend. I am a relatively new pastor, but a tried and true calvinist to my core. I really everyone that truly is saved by God’s grace is a calvinist at heart. It’s all about HIM, not about us and like you, I am so sick of the watered down gospel. I preach the real deal, conviction of sin, Godly sorrow (that leads to repentence) and saving grace which leads to saving faith and salvation from the Lord. I also preach heart felt knowledge of that salvation, given by the Lord to that soul. You are a great blessing, and I have signed up to receive your blogs. May God continue to enlighten and bless you with the ability and opportunity to share the TRUTH of HIS word.

    Deb Helton

  2. Deb,
    Thank you for your encouragement! Be sure to check out the Livingwaters page I have as a gotta see site. They have a Ambassador’s Academy where like minded Christians get together to go out into cites across the country and witness. Check them out when you get the chance.

    –Danny

  3. Danny,

    I believe there is a way to deal with this issue. Lets say someone does or doesnt believe in the Bible, either way an intelligent person can understand the enlightenment that is called “Hells Best Kept Secrets”. You can listen or download the 31-32 minute free clip. Please watch this, it is amazing. I am with a military ministry called the Navigator’s. My personel mentor in Christ has done a bible study with a group of us and we used this to prep for some beach evangelism. It was amazing tool that Christ used to bless me and some lost in one way or another. I will not gain anything from exposing you to this except for riches in heaven. God’s economy is truly the best one that any human could ever imagine

    Just copy and paste this link below:

    http://www.wayofthemaster.com/learntoshare.shtml

    P.S.
    There is a video series you can find through the website. We used the video series which just gives more testimonies and examples of this Christian and our brother in Christ Kirk Cameron doing street evangelism. Oh, and i first saw this on TBN, which i do not believe in the network, but am glad i got this from it.

    In Christ, Drew…

  4. Sorry to correct myself, the clip is 52 minutes 30 seconds. And if you were wondering my mentor is Todd Mathisen.

  5. Danny,

    I am so sorry i am not a writter like you, but if you can condense this into one shorter excerpt. I will understand. We use The Bridge of Life by the way.. I think its an easier approach.

  6. I am sorry to tell you brother but you have misrepresented the Romans Road. The foundation of the plan called the Romans Road is not that one single verse. I would suggest that before you put something in writing criticizing it you be sure to have a compete knowledge of it.

  7. The Roman Rd is a short way of gospel presentation In1Cor15 a complete presentation can be made brevity is the question.

  8. The problem is one of clarity. Most of the people i talk to admit they have “sinned” but they still think they are good people. They don’t believe they deserve Hell and they don’t believe that God is angry at them for their sin. Repentance is a requirement to be saved along with faith in Christ alone. I have been told by so called “believers” that they don’t think that God would send someone to Hell for having sex outside of marriage. What people need is the Law (the 10 Commandments) to show them their sin. Romans Road does not do that. The Bible states that the Gospel is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. Why is that? Because they don’t understand their sin. They don’t understand that they are wicked wretched sinners. When a person understands that they are a guilty criminal before God, then by all means lead them through Romans Road.
    — Danny

  9. Well, I have gone through every verse that makes up the “Romans Road” and i never said it only one verse, but the if you start with a weak foundation, how sturdy can the house you build on it be? Most of the people i talk to admit they have “sinned” but they still think they are good people. They don’t believe they deserve Hell and they don’t believe that God is angry at them for their sin. MOST of them call themselves Christians. Repentance is a requirement to be saved along with faith in Christ alone. I have been told by so called “believers” that they don’t think that God would send someone to Hell for having sex outside of marriage. What people need is the Law (the 10 Commandments) to show them their sin. Romans Road does not do that. The Bible states that the Gospel is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. Why is that? Because they don’t understand their sin. They don’t understand that they are wicked wretched sinners. When a person understands that they are a guilty criminal before God who should be punished for eternity, then by all means lead them through Romans Road.
    – Danny

  10. I agree with Mark in a sense. You make it sound like that is as far as you will go with the Romans Road. Romans 3:23 is a great eye opener. I don’t believe you can use the Romans Road all by itself. If you use Ray Comfort’s (Living Waters) method of asking if they think they will go to heaven, why they think that, and then use the Ten Commandments as a conviction to why they aren’t as good as they think they are, then, the Romans Road is a great add on tool. You did mention going back to verse 19 and including the law. So, in that case, it adds some clarity.

  11. Melvin,
    I would not disagree with you, if you add the law it is a game changer, but traditional romans road evangelism does not do that. I am going through Bill Fays’ “Share Jesus without Fear” and it looks like it goes down the romans road track without the law. This is supposedly the most popular evangelism training out there. If that is true, thats kind of a bummer.
    –Danny

  12. Update: I have gone through some of the videos for Sharing Jesus without Fear, and Bill did mention the 10 commandments, but i have not seen a practical application of it yet. I did miss some of the videos because of illness, so i will comment again once i have seen ALL the videos.

  13. I appreciate the humble and healthy discussion on this topic. I usually start with Rom 3:10a and establish the fact that no one has a right standing with God (apart from Christ of course). I’ve never had anyone disagree with that or try to excuse it away saying “Well, No one is perfect” as previous bloggers have mentioned – and rightfully so, for that indeed is the reaction of many we speak to when Rom 3:23 is our into. The proof of Rom 3:10 is found in the evidence of our own sinful attitudes and actions – that is when Rom 3:23 comes in. Once we hit Rom 3:23 they connect Rom 3:10 with it and it starts to make sense rather than Rom 3:23 alone sounding accusatory – so that the person you are sharing with is not unintentionally offended (but rather surprised) that he/she is in the same category with all sinners. Hope you could read between the lines, as I have tried to keep my comment brief. Grace to you. – MO

  14. Interesting point. And I have to agree with “MO” – it is way too easy for people to say, “Sure I’m a sinner, but I’m not that bad, and besides God loves me; he understands I’m human and make mistakes”. They forget that the same God who is Love is also a righteous judge… and all sin is punished (eternally, and without repentance) in the same manner – eternal separation from God. The hardest ones to evangelize, for me, are the ones who don’t even believe the Bible is true, or don’t believe in God. The best I can do is reference them to their conscience and ask them where they think they got it.

  15. I just read through all your comments on here and what i see is a lot of religion! If some christian is sitting down with a non-believer and they are willing to hear the Gospel, I haven’t read one thing about the Holy spirits part in all of this and God giving us the words to say when they are needed. We should all trust the Lord to know what is in the heart of the person getting ready to say a prayer of salvation know matter what road is taken.


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