1. Among those who entertain false hopes, perhaps the largest class are those who expect to be saved by their righteous lives. These persons are easily known by such sayings as these, "I am doing the best I can." "I do more good than evil." "I am not a great sinner." "I have never done anything very bad." Gal. 3:10, is an excellent passage to use, for it shows that all those who are trusting in their works are under the curse of the law and that there is no hope on the ground of the law for any one who does not "continue in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." James 2:10 is also useful. Gal. 2:16, and Romans 3:19, 20 are very effective by showing that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God's sight. Matt. 5:20—All these passages show the kind of righteousness God demands and that no man's righteousness comes up to God's standard, and that if a man wishes to be saved he must find some other means of salvation than by his own deeds. It is sometimes well in using these passages to say to the inquirer: "You do not understand the kind of righteousness that God demands or you would not talk as you do. Now let us turn to His word and see what kind of righteousness it is that God demands." There is another way of dealing with this class, by the use of such passages as Luke 16:15; Rom. 2:16; 1 Sam. 16:7. These passages show that God looks at the heart. Hold the inquirer right to that point. Every man when brought face to face with that, must tremble because he knows that whatever his outward life may be, his heart will not stand the scrutiny of God's eye. No matter how selfrighteous a man is, we need not be discouraged for somewhere in the depths of every man's heart is the consciousness of sin and all we have to do is to work away until we touch that point. Every man's conscience is on our side. Matt. 22:37, 38 can be used when a man says "I am doing the best I can, or doing more good than evil." Say to him, "You are greatly mistaken about that; so far from doing more good than evil, do you know that you have broken the first and greatest of God's laws?" Then show him the passage. Heb. 11:6, John 6:29, show that the one thing that God demands is faith and that without that it is impossible to please God, and John 16:9, shows that unbelief in Christ is the greatest sin. John 3:36, shows that the question of eternal life depends solely upon a man's accepting or rejecting Jesus Christ, and Heb. 10:28, 29, that the sin which brings the heaviest punishment is that of treading under foot the Son of God. Before using this latter passage, it would be well to say, "You think you are very good, but do you know that you are committing the most awful sin in God's sight which a man can commit?" If he replies, "No", then say "Well let me show you from God's word that you are;" then turn to this passage and read it with great solemnity and earnestness.
2. Another class of those who entertain false hopes, are those who think "God is too good to damn anyone."
When any one says this, you can reply, "We know nothing of God's goodness but what we learn from the Bible, and we must go to that book to find out the character of God's goodness. Let us turn to Romans 2:2. 4, 5." Having read the verses, you can say something like this, "Now, my friend, you see that the purpose of God's goodness is to lead you to repentence, not to encourage you in sin and when we trample upon his goodness, then we are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." John 8:21, 24 and 3:36, will show the man that however good God may be that he will reject all who reject His Son. Still another way to deal with these men is by showing them from John 5:40, 2 Peter 3:9-11 or Ezek. 33:11, that it is not so much God who damns men as men who damn themselves in spite of God's goodness because they will not come to Christ and accept the life freely offered. You can say "God is not willing that any should perish and he offers life freely to you, but there is one difficulty in the way. Let us turn to John 5:40, and see what the difficulty is." Then read the passage: "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life," and say, "My friend here is the difficulty, you won't come; life is freely offered to you but if you will not accept it, you must perish." II Peter ii.4-6,9; Luke 13:3, show how the "good" God deals with persons who persist in sin. Sometimes this last passage can be effectively used in this way: "You say God is too good to damn any one. Now let us see what God Himself says in his word." Then turn to the passage and read, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Repeat the passage over and over again until it has been driven home.
3. A third class of those who entertain false hopes, are those who say "I am trying to be a Christian." John 1:12, will show them that it is not "trying" to be a Christian or "trying" to live a better life or "trying" to do anything that God asks of us, but simply to receive Jesus Christ, who did it all, and you can ask the inquirer, "will you now stop your trying and simply receive Jesus as Saviour?" Acts 16:31, shows that God does not ask us to try what we can do but trust Jesus and what He has done and will do. Romans 3:23-25, shows that we are not to be justified by trying to do, "but freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" on the simple condition of faith.
4.. Still another class of those who entertain false hopes are those who say, "I feel I am going to Heaven" or "I feel I am saved." Show them from John iii, 36 that it is not a question of what they feel but what God says, and what God says distinctly in his word is that, "He that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." One afternoon I was talking with a lady who a few weeks before had lost her only child. At the time of the child's death she had been deeply interested, but her serious impressions had largely left her. I put to her the question, "Do you not wish to go where your little one has gone?" She replied at once "I expect to." "What makes you think you will?" I said. She replied, "I feel so, I feel that I will go to heaven when I die." I then asked her, if there was anything she could point to in the word of God which gave her a reason for believing that she was going to heaven when she died. "No," she said, "there is not." Then she turned and questioned me, saying, "Do you expect to go to heaven when you die?" "Yes", I replied, "I know I shall." How do you know it?" he said. "Have you any word from God for it?" "Yes, "I answered and turned her to John 3:36, She was thus led to see the difference between a faith that rested upon her feelings and a faith that rested upon the word of God.
Luke 18:9-14, can also be used in the following way; you can say "there was a man in' the Bible who felt he was all right, but was all wrong. Let me read you about him." Then read about the Pharisee who was so sure that he was all right, but who was all the time an unforgiven sinner; and make the inquirer see how untrustworthy our feelings are and what the ground of assurance, is viz: God's word. Prov. 14:12 can also be used as showing that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death."
5. The last class of those who entertain false hopes, are those who say they are saved though they are leading sinful lives. In the case of many forms of sin, a good passage to use is 1 Cor. 6:9-10. 1 John 2:29 will also in many cases sweep away this false hope. 1 John 5:4-5 is useful as showing that one who is really born of God overcomes the world and the fact that they are living in sin and are not overcoming the world is evidence that they have not been born of God.
—How to Bring Men to Christ (R.A. Torey)