I need your help with an assignment. I am currently taking a few on-line seminary classes while we are on the road. One of the classes is focused on evangelism. I had thought this would be a relatively easy class but I’ve encountered an assignment which is much more difficult than expected. I need to present the gospel to five people who do not currently believe, or have never really heard, the gospel message. I am very comfortable with discussing the gospel, but without some kind of relationship, or at least an introduction, it is difficult to just stop someone on the street and ask them if I can talk with them about Jesus. I greatly admire those who have this ability but I do not seem to be able to make this connection.
I was going to just accept a poor grade but then I realized I might be able to use email to accomplish the assignment. Then, as I thought about it even more, I realized this might actually be a good opportunity to truly explain the gospel and interact with some people about God’s plan of salvation.
How can you help? Well, in the rest of this message I am going to outline what I believe are the essential portions of the gospel. First, if you have never really heard, understood, or believed this message, please write me with any questions. Also, please write if you find yourself believing this message for the first time. Second, if you know of someone who needs to read this message, please forward it to them and encourage them to write. My promise is to not be confrontational but to simply try to answer questions as best I can. Finally, if you already believe, please pray that God would use this assignment in a wonderful and exciting way.
So what is this “Gospel Message”?
The word gospel just means good news. As the word is used in the Bible, it refers to the good news which has been developed as a theme through most of the pages of the Bible. Right away this presents a problem. The good news is news about God and His plan as revealed in the Bible. If you do not first believe in God, you cannot believe in the gospel. And if you do not believe that the Bible is some kind of truthful message, then the gospel will have no credibility. If you do not already have a basic belief in God and the Bible then please write. We need to start at a different point and the following information might not be helpful without these beginning beliefs.
So with a basic belief in God and the Bible, let’s continue.
In the very beginning of the Bible we see God creating people to be in a relationship with Him. We don’t really know the full extent of this relationship, but we know it was close and personal, and intended to last forever. In other portions of the Bible, this relationship is confirmed as one where God loves and cares for people, and people love and trust God.
But there is a problem with this intended relationship; and that problem is called sin. God established a standard, and anything short of meeting His standard is sin. And here is the bad news…no one can meet the standard. The Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). When we think about who we really are we know this is true. Even without knowing exactly what the standard is, we know how we fall short and become selfish. Again, the Bible explains this as, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
Well, unfortunately, the bad news gets worse. This problem of sin has some real bad consequences. We are introduced to the consequences when the first sin occurred in the beginning of the Bible; “So the Lord God banished them from the garden” (Genesis 3:23). One of the clear messages in the opening chapters of the Bible is that sin causes separation from God. Later, we understand more about this separation, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
Sin is bad news! It causes separation, permanent separation, from God. This separation is so bad that it is referred to as an eternal death. And the real bad news? We can’t do anything about it. God sets a standard which we can’t reach and one which results in terrible, eternal, consequences for failure.
But then, there is good news. God has made a way that the consequences of our sin can be removed. The way provided by God is called forgiveness. All through the Bible, God taught about the consequences of sin and the need for forgiveness. He made it clear that a price had to be paid, but that a sacrifice could be made to pay (or take the penalty) for the sin. God began by introducing a system of animal sacrifices which had to be continually made – because people continually sinned. He then presented a final sacrifice which would be made once to take the penalty for all sin, for all time.
To take the penalty for all sin would require a special sacrifice, one which would be a fair exchange for the penalty due to so many people. God loved people so much that He gave of Himself in the form of Jesus Christ to be that VERY special sacrifice; “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” (John 3:16). And in another place we read, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty so that we don’t have to. We don’t have to be separated from God. We can be brought back to the relationship God intended – right now and forever.
The Bible uses words like faith and believe. This is our necessary response. Jesus Christ has paid the penalty, but our response is to believe; “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When we truly believe in the sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, we are given a life which is eternally with God. Even though we will still physically die, we will be with God forever; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
What is the gospel message? Our sin causes separation from God. Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sin so we do not need to be separated. When we believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, the penalty for our sin is paid – we are forgiven and can begin a life with God.
So now what?
If you believe this message, tell God. Talking to God is called prayer. Talk to Him. Tell Him you believe…and thank Him.
There are other parts of God’s plan, but this is what I have determined is essential. After you believe, there are things you will probably want to do – like learn more about God and how you can tell others. But understand…separation is ended because of your belief in what God has provided through Jesus.
If you have any questions or comments, please write.
And thanks for helping with this evangelism assignment!
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries