Last Saturday I was privileged to address students ranged in age from middle school to college, and my topic was sowing the seed of the Gospel. (Which explains my previous post!) This post, and perhaps another one, are parts of an information packet which I distributed to the conference attendees.The four questions and answers listed below are from Greg Gilbert's marvelous book What is the Gospel?
Saving faith is based on basic truths of the Bible. The presentation of these truths must be clear and accurate.
Four Critical Questions
- Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
- What is our problem? In other words, are we in trouble and why?
- What is God’s solution to that problem? How has He acted to save us from it?
- How do I – myself, right here, right now – how do I come to be included in that salvation? What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else?
Four Crucial Answers
- We are accountable to the God who created us. – God
- We have sinned against that God and will be judged. – Man
- But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us. – Jesus Christ
- We take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. – Response
An outline of the Gospel will help you clearly and accurately present the Gospel. Do not think that you must memorize this outline and regurgitate it in order to evangelize. But you must be able to communicate the truths of the Gospel to evangelize, and an outline will help you do that.
Who is God?
He is the loving Savior.
The Bible teaches in 1 John 4:8, 16 that God’s very nature is love. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote that God loves us with an “everlasting love.” God is loving, kind and merciful. He is also…
He is the just Judge
Psalm 75:7 teaches that God is the judges of all men, and He will judge truly (Psalm 11:7; 33:5). Exodus 34:6-7 shows that God is compassionate, gracious, and slow to anger; that He is full of love and forgiveness. It also clearly teaches that He will “by no means clear the guilty.” God’s love does not cancel out His justice and righteousness.
He is the Creator
God created all things and therefore owns all things. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork,” (Psalm 19:1). The world and everything in it sprang from the mind, word, and hand of God! Colossians 1:16, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Because He created us, God has the right to tell us how to live. (Romans 9:20-21)
God loves man and wants to show him mercy. God is just. He cannot and will not overlook man’s sin.
What is man’s problem?
Man is guilty because of his sin nature.
Every man is bound to sin because every man is a born sinner. “There is none righteous; no, not one…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:10; 23). Just like dogs lick their vomit, and pigs roll around in the muck; man sins. Sin is our nature. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Romans 5:12; c.f. Psalm 51:5).
Man is separated from God because of sin.
God is holy and detests the sight of evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Man is a sinner, therefore sin causes a great separation between God and Man. Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.” By sinning, man has earned spiritual death (separation from God), and physical death for himself (Romans 6:23). Every person is born spiritually dead; in need of being spiritually reborn. Every person will eventually experience a physical death. The person who dies physically never having been reborn spiritually will die eternally, but that eternal death is not eternal sleep or annihilation. It is eternal punishment in a very real and awful place called hell (Mark 9:43-49; Revelation 20:10).
The bad news of man’s sin and God’s just judgment is not the end of the story. We are all sinners destined to be condemned, but God has acted to save sinners!
What has God done?
What is the solution to man’s problem? There is only one, and that is Jesus Christ, who conquered sin, death, and the grave on the cross.
Who is Jesus Christ?
He is no ordinary man. Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah prophecy recorded in Matthew 1:23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Jesus is both completely human and completely God (John 1:1, 14; 20:28). Being completely human and completely God, Jesus lived a perfect life. He was tempted in every possible way, but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is the Messiah-King. The one promised in 2 Samuel 7:11. The one predicted in Isaiah 9:6-7, and the one presented in Luke 1:32-33; 2:7.
Jesus died on the cross in our place.
Jesus is not just the King, He was the suffering King. Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29). Jesus died on the cross, but He was no mere martyr. He was the only acceptable sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The apostle Peter wrote that Christ bore our sins while He hung on the cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; c.f. Isaiah 53). He suffered there for us so that we would not have to experience the wrath of God in hell forever. He was our propitiation; in other words Jesus Christ’s substitutional sacrifice on the cross satisfied God’s just and righteous judgment on sinful man (1 John 2:1-2; 4:10).
Jesus has risen from the dead!
The death of Jesus was not the end of Jesus. All of this is good news because King Jesus the crucified is no longer dead (Luke 24:5-6). He rose from the dead, conquering sin, death, and the grave. The resurrection proved that every claim Jesus made was true. The resurrection proved that Jesus’ substitutional sacrifice was accepted by God. The resurrection is a key component of the good news (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Speaking of the Lord Jesus, Paul wrote in Romans 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” And he also said, “Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” (Romans 8:34).
This is good news; the best news, but it raises a significant question: “How does someone come to be included in that salvation?
What must man do?
Christ has paid mankind’s penalty for sin. He has risen from the grave in victory, but this does not make men automatically free from their sins. The finished work of Christ on the cross is only for those who personally receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Respond with faith in Christ…
Christ’s own words are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel,” Mark 1:15. The command to repent and believe is the only right response to the good news. Faith is not believing in something you cannot prove. Biblical, saving faith is reliance; a rock-solid, truth-grounded, promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sin. Abraham exhibited this kind of faith, and it is described in Romans 4:18-21. Saving faith is not just knowledge, because even the demons believe and understand truths about Jesus (James 2:19), but no demon will be saved. True faith is a careful decision to trust in Christ finished work on the cross and what He teaches in the Bible (Luke 14:27-33).
…and in repentance from sin.
Faith is turning to Jesus and relying on Him alone for salvation, repentance is the flip-side of that coin. It is turning away from sin, hating it, and resolving by God’s strength to forsake it, even as we turn to Him in faith. As Peter preached, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” Acts 3:19. Repentance involves both turning from sin and turning to God (Acts 26:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). Repentance does not mean an immediate end to sinning, but it does mean that you will no longer live at peace with your sin. A believer will continue to struggle with sin until he is glorified. Genuine repentance is fundamentally a matter of the heart more than it is a mere change of behavior.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!
- The Holy Bible – by the Holy Spirit – Read it to learn it. Learn it to live it. Saturate your mind and your heart with this book, and you will become a soul-winner.
- Becoming a Soul Winner – by Darrell W. Sparks – An excellent booklet of 13 doctrinally sound and practical lessons that encourage the proclamation of the Gospel.
- What is the Gospel – by Greg Gilbert – Are you able to clearly communicate the good news of Jesus Christ? Small, short, and clear, this book will help you to plainly and Biblically explain the Gospel. This book is useful whether you have been a Christian for a week or seven years.
- The Gospel for Real Life – by Jerry Bridges – Like more of the above. Useful book.
- One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven – by Mark Cahill – This author is passionate about sowing the seed, and his book has plenty of interesting accounts and practical guidelines for sharing the good news.
- The Master Plan of Evangelism – by Robert Coleman – Classic, practical book on making disciples.
- Tell the Truth – by Will Metzger – Teaches “God-centered” rather than “me-centered” evangelism. The appendices are loaded with practical tools for sharing the Gospel.
- Talking with Catholic Friends and Family – by James McCarthy – Useful resource if you are trying to reach anyone who is Catholic or has a Catholic background.
- The Gospel and Personal Evangelism – by Mark Dever – Biblical, practical teaching from a man who practices what he preaches.
- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God - by J.I. Packer - Modern classic which deftly and Biblically handles the issue of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
- ACTive Evangelism - by Derek Prime - Practical exposition of the book of Acts; "putting the evangelism of Acts into practice."
Keep in mind that reading books is like eating fish, you have to pick out the bones! Only the Bible is 100% reliable and infallible. I do not agree with or endorse every idea in the books listed above except for the Bible, but I have benefited from them. I think you will too. Read with an open mind, and check everything against God’s Word.