Four Spiritual Laws

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An evangelistic aid written by Bill Bright, president of Campus Crusade for Christ. Originally prepared for the staff of his worldwide evangelistic organization, the laws have since been given wide circulation, with well over 25 million printed copies being distributed by 1980. The laws attempt to distill the essence of the gospel and to present it simply, yet convincingly, to the non Christian.

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Bright believes there are spiritual laws which govern one's relationship with God, just as there are similar physical laws controlling the universe. In his pamphlet he supports these laws with scriptural texts, diagrams, brief explanations, a suggested prayer of personal commitment, and preliminary counsel for the person having newly received Christ as Savior and Lord.

The four laws Bright formulates are:

  1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16; 10:10).

  2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

  3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3 - 6; John 14:6).

  4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives (John 1:12; 3:1 - 8; Eph. 2:8 - 9; Rev. 3:20).

Bright's schematic has proved a useful aid for Christians who desire to communicate the gospel to others but lack the necessary skills. The simple outline has been used by the Holy Spirit to bring large numbers into personal faith. Moreover, it has been a corrective within the church in two regards. By giving priority through its first law to God's grace toward humankind, the fourfold presentation has countered evangelism based on fear of divine judgment. By calling people to personal decision, the laws have also challenged a church willing to rest content at times with only an intellectual knowledge of Christianity.

Despite their proven utility, the laws also have their limitations. Their impersonality and structure fail to speak convincingly to many. Moreover, in an age when advertising has made increasing numbers suspicious of promotions (particularly when sold aggressively), this prepackaged presentation has sometimes proved offensive. Lastly, Bright's fourfold summary of the gospel lacks sufficient biblical focus on the costly, ethical demands of the Christian faith. The message of John is quoted but not that of I John; Paul is referred to but not James.

R K Johnston
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

B Bright, Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?; R Quebedeaux, I Found It! The Story of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade; "Door Interview: Bill Bright," WitD(Feb. 1977).

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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