Talking with LiberalsTalking with Liberals
–Fostering Helpful Evangelistic Conversations–
Paul J. Bucknell


Background | What do you say? | Love for God | Running on Empty | An Open Mind
This is the fourth of a five part series.

Running on Empty

Their lives are empty of God’s love.

The simple truth is that without the Lord, a person does not have the love of God. There is a human love, but it runs far short of divine love born anew in our souls. We can catch a glimpse of God’s love through human love, but this same human love can be and is, sometimes, used to justify evil.  We must be careful on what and how we say such statements.  In fact, it probably is best not to say it at all. Nevertheless, it helps us to understand how we can expose their false concept of love.
We can ask them in a nice way, “What does love look like?” They will be general and perhaps refer to some stories of human love. We need to help them see that they do not have the love that they want or desire. Every person really longs for a love that is transformed from the fountains of heaven. When a person is young, he is more ideal. As a person gets older, he gets more bitter and cynical after having observed a lot of selfishness around him.
Divine Love and Human loveInstead of making our friend insecure and defensive by asking him how his love is acted out, we can choose to expose the cheapness of human love by revealing its weaknesses in our own lives and then, with that as a background, go on and show how it affects different issues.
We need to humbly recognize and admit our failures. This is where we remind ourselves and our friend of God’s abundant grace in our lives. If we have trouble speaking about our failures or where the Lord had called us from, then we need to go back and rethink our pre-conversion days.
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,” Titus 3:3, 4.
Every non-Christian has his heart focused on his own life. If you were young when you came to know the Lord, you might ask your parents for examples of how you were naughty. Even when human love thinks he is helping out someone, he is more closely watching the applause or the good feeling that arise from within. He is not willing to go out of his way to love for love’s sake. Human love stops rather short in places like this. You can mention one or two examples from your own lives. It is good to speak about relationships. Most people can identify with the faults found in relationships.
More on choosing love rather than lust.

Two Choices
Power of Love over Lust
Developing Love

With guys, I prefer to speak on the topic of lust. Perhaps this is because I experienced a lot of defeat in this area and so am very aware of the ins and outs of lust. Liberals are typically very immoral in the ways they tolerate and even encourage fornication, adultery and homosexuality.  We must differentiate love from lust. Attraction is not love. Lust seeks one’s own feelings and pleasure. It is true, that for romance’s sake, a person might go far beyond his regular level of devotion and politeness. But that love is tainted with self and, in fact, is not love at all. After marriage, the real self is revealed as the element of romance is stripped away. Trial marriages are built on lust, not love. They do not want to be committed as genuine love requires. Jesus didn’t carry the cross halfway and then say, “This is enough for you!” No, He went all the way to the cross.
Belief and conduct are intricately related to each other.We need, however, to go beyond our personal experiences and connect God’s love with God’s law. This is repugnant to the liberal because it goes contrary to what they so strongly believe. The average liberal believes the laws came about with the Old Testament view of God. They generally feel that the human race has evolved to a higher understanding of God. They believe a higher code of life or ethics was established with the New Testament. The truth is that love is inextricably related to the law. Remember that what a person believes in the end is always closely connected to a person’s life conduct. Liberals want a loose understanding of love so that they can, on the one hand, feel good about their religious lives and yet fulfill the quest of their sinful desires. Sin always compromises love. It is for this reason there are laws to help a society maintain some semblance of goodness. God’s law is based on love as Romans 13 says.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10).
My argument is two-fold. Lust can never be love because it is focused on fulfilling one’s own desires. There are times one cannot discern love from lust, but it is not the same, and it certainly will reveal itself over time and under some special circumstances like pressure. I can testify to this through numerous examples in my own life and in lives that I have seen. Just listen to that couple fight! They were just married and in love but not now. Listen to the bitterness in the heart of that individual. Jesus was not like this. This is not love. I was like that, but thanks to God’s love born in my heart, I am not that way anymore.  
Depending where he is at the moment, he might be able to hear your argument. It is a life testimony that is not easily dismissed, especially if he trusts you. Of course, he might deceive you because he is getting convicted or just doesn’t want to disturb his life as it is.
So we start off with our own experience but then bring God’s law into the conversation. But do it tactfully. Let me give you an example of how love fulfills the law. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). Love protects kind and gracious acts. There is a law not to steal. This helps everyone to be better and not to steal. Stealing is not nice. It is not kind.
The law helps protect and produce kind behavior. There is, however, a parallel truth which powerfully exposes many foolish arguments. This is our second point. Lawlessness always is a violation of kindness. Every sin reveals a lack of love. Toleration for sin means a person does not really care for others. For example, an unmarried couple will say their relationship is love even though they sprinkle their relationship with sexual acts.
God’s Word forbids such actions because they are founded upon lust, not love. God’s law is good. Those that do away with God’s law also do away with God’s love. The liberal does this but does not want to admit to it. The couple is unwilling to commit themselves to each other, or at least one partner doesn’t want to. They are willing to use each other. God has formed the marital contract in order to preserve a long-standing relationship between a male and female so that they and their children are protected by laws of love. God has used sexual love as a special blessing upon married couples.
Without it, couples easily distance themselves from each other. They are using each other. This is not love but convenience. Of course, married people might not live out God’s love too, but it is only within God’s law of marriage that sexual love can be expressed. The man who truly loves a certain woman will not ‘touch’ her before she is his in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1). If he loves her, he will not seduce her or think immorally of her. If he loves her, he will not try to get her out on a date without her husband knowing. The world violates true love all the time.
Real love means that one would rather give up closeness to a person rather than break the love law that God has set. He values the relationships the person he admires has with others more than his own desires. God’s laws help us know when love becomes lust.
The liberal is proud that his love is greater than God’s love.
The liberal is proud that his love is greater than God’s love as expressed in the scripture. They curl up in disdain over a God who would judge a wicked person. Their ‘love everyone’ brand of love, in fact, falls far short of God’s love.
I recently posed this question to a professing liberal. “How would you respond to a man asking you what to do in this situation? The man is married and has a few children. But he has a real attraction to another lady. What should he do?”
The liberal responded much as I expected. He acknowledged that many would encourage him to be loyal. But he went on. He suggested that a person who marries at 21 is not the same at 35. He needs to be honest with himself. He definitely should not hide the fact from his wife.  
Can we see the way that he allows a person’s feelings to dictate what he should do rather than what God or others might say? The person who approaches life this way will always play with ethics to fulfill his own desires. He always has a trump that he can play on God’s law.
These same principles can be seen not only with lust and love but in any way love is wrongly used. Only, in your discussion, make sure you yourself are living to God’s standards. Otherwise, your own sin will be exposed! Satan will make sure of it. By such discussion, you are able to get a long way into the liberal’s heart and mind. He will agree with you in his heart but perhaps not with word. His own sin might block a positive response.  People will come so far to say that they agree with you, but they will not turn about. They need the Lord to break and save them. They love their lust. They love their ideology chiefly because it protects their sinful behaviors. But at least we have shown them that their great virtue of love that threads their world view together is lust rather than love.
As we tie life experiences together with God’s law of love, the inadequacies of so-called human love are shown to be what they are–fake and cheap. We use life experiences that they cannot deny to reveal the glory and truth of God’s law.
We have broken through into their lives not by intellectual or openly Biblical arguments. Of course, if they are responsive to God’s good law, then we can go onto other topics that lead to salvation such as “What do we do with our sin?” “So what is God really like if we have rebelled from His laws?” These are things they have not genuinely reflected upon. Before closing, however, let us touch upon one other aspect that can sometimes be discussed with a liberal. Next =>


Background | What do you say? | Love for God | Running on Empty | An Open Mind
This is the first of a five part series, "Talking with Liberals."

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Counterfeit Faith: A study of humanistic faith

Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell

NASB quoted unless noted