A significant aspect of the apologetic task is presenting the Gospel message to unsaved people with the goal that they would convert to Christ. We commonly call this evangelism. It is critical that we are able to make an accurate presentation of the Gospel. Today the Gospel message is often watered down, misunderstood and misspoken. In our evangelistic efforts we must make sure that we are communicating the true Gospel in an appropriate way. We must strive to present the message of the Gospel clearly and accurately. This lesson will examine what information you must include as you tell others of their need for salvation through Christ.
When you present the gospel, there are certain topics that your audience must understand. You should thoroughly understand each topic yourself and you should be able to discuss the content of each topic with any age group.
Note the progression that follows: God, man, Christ, response (repentance and faith)
Who is God? The Creator and sovereign Lord
It’s important that you start here because much error and confusion regarding the person of God abounds in our culture and around the world. People need to know who God is and where they stand in relation to him.
|Gen 1:1||God exists. He is the Creator. Because he made us, we are totally dependent upon him. He can do as he pleases. He is in charge of the universe.|
|1 Pet 1:15–16||God is holy. He never sins. He always does what’s right.|
|John 3:16; Rom 5:8; 2 Pet 3:9||God loves us. He wants to have a friendly relationship with us. He wants us to be saved and has provided a means of salvation.|
|Eph 1:11||God is absolutely sovereign. He’s the King of kings.|
|Rev 4:11||As Creator, God is worthy of man’s worship.|
What is man? Utterly sinful and unable to save himself.
|Jer 17:9; Rom 5:12, 3:10–23||People are basically sinful. People do bad things because they are sinful. Each person has sinned against a holy God.|
|Eph 2:1, 4:17–19||Man is dead in trespasses and sin. He has no fellowship with God.|
|John 3:18, 36||Sinners are separated from and under the wrath of God. This is man’s primary problem, and he cannot solve it by himself.|
|Rom 6:23a; Isa 59:1–2, 64:6||Sin deserves to be punished. That punishment is eternal separation from God and from everything good.|
|Rev 20:14–15||Those who remain in their sin will spend eternity in hell.|
It’s critical that your audience understands the nature and severity of their sin and alienation from God. Francis Schaeffer said that, given one hour, he would take 45–50 minutes to show how one has sinned against and offended a holy God, and then 10–15 minutes to preach the gospel. A person must acknowledge his disease before he’s ready to take the cure. So make sure your student understands the full meaning and ramifications of his or her sin.
Who is Christ? The sacrifice, Savior and Lord
Again, it’s critical to take the time to explain exactly what the Bible says about the person and work of Christ. There’s much false information floating around about Jesus—don’t assume that the student knows who he is and what he did.
|Matt 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 1:1; 1 Pet 2:22||He is the Son of God, God in the flesh, and lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save us from our sin.|
|1 Cor 15:3–5||Christ died for our sins, was buried, and arose the third day.|
|2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:4–7||Christ took the punishment for our sins. He suffered instead of us. He was our substitute.|
|John 14:6; Acts 4:12||He is the only way of salvation. There is no other means.|
|Mt 7:21–23; Luke 6:46; Rom 10:9||Jesus is both Lord and Savior. We must recognize his Lordship.|
How should I respond to the Gospel? Repent of my sins and trust in Christ.
The gospel message demands a response. Just knowing the facts of the gospel does not mean that one is saved. One must make a personal decision regarding the facts.
|John 3:16; Acts 20:21||Salvation occurs when one repents of his sin and believes in the person and work of Christ.|
|1 Thes 1:9; Acts 20:21, 26:20||Repentance is turning away from and rejecting sin and turning to God. It is being sorry for sin and wanting to be forgiven.|
|John 3:16, 36, 5:24; Eph 2:8–9||Faith is trusting in Christ to forgive you. It is a trust in and commitment to him. It is trusting Christ alone to be saved. Belief consists of knowledge, assent, and whole-hearted trust.|
|Luke 14:33||Discipleship is costly. Following Christ may require a major change in your lifestyle.|
Two frequently neglected but essential aspects of salvation are repentance and commitment. Clearly define and emphasize the need for repentance. Simply acknowledging one’s sin is not enough (e.g., Judas was sorry that he sinned). We must urge people to turn from their sin and seek forgiveness. And when one trusts Christ as Savior, he is also recognizing him as Lord. We must present Christ as the NT presents him—both Lord and Savior. Make this clear to the student. Unfortunately, much of the material written for evangelism either leaves out or downplays both repentance and commitment. This fact results in many false professions of faith.
Note: People sometimes attempt to make the salvation decision as easy as possible by stripping down the gospel to its bear minimum, and in so doing they leave out important information. Being saved is more than just believing in Jesus. Millions of people who claim to believe in Jesus are not genuinely saved (cf. Mt 7:21–23). So we have to carefully define our terms and express precisely what we mean when we present the gospel to an unbeliever.
An accurate, clear presentation of the Gospel message is an important aspect of the apologetic task. Make sure you can tell others why they need to be saved and what they must do to be saved.
- Shouldn’t we first convince people that God exists before launching into a Gospel presentation? No, the Bible teaches that everyone knows that God exists. They need to hear of their alienation from God, of God’s wrath against them, and of the means of salvation thru faith in Christ.
- Shouldn’t we first convince our audience that the Bible is trustworthy before telling them what the Bible says? No, we believe the Word of God does the work of God, whether your audience believes it or not. It’s God’s job to convince unbelievers that the Bible is true. We simply proclaim its message.
- What if the person you are talking to tells you that he doesn’t believe in God or the Bible? Still present the same message as long as he is willing to listen. Remember that faith comes by hearing the Word, not by being convinced intellectually.
- Why do we need to stress the importance of accuracy and clarity in a Gospel presentation? Because it’s so common for people to leave out or add to the message of the Gospel. It’s very common today for people to make it as easy and painless as possible for people to accept Christ. Evangelists often say little or nothing about repentance, the Lordship of Christ or the costs of discipleship.