Over the past few Sunday mornings we have been talking about the basics of the Gospel and how we can become more effective in sharing the Gospel with people that are far from God. I simply want to give you a review of what we have talked about thus far. I think this review will help you as you share the Gospel with people you are regularly praying for.
Now, before we get into our review, I want to remind you that when we share the Gospel, we are sharing what God has revealed to us in the Bible, His Word. So, if you are going to share the Gospel it would make sense that you share what the Bible says. If you ever heard Billy Graham preach, you know one of the things that made his preaching powerful was his constant use of the phrase, “The Bible says…” Likewise, when you are sharing the Gospel, you should constantly be saying, “The Bible says…” Obviously, many people you have the opportunity to share with won’t believe in the truth of God’s Word like you do. However, when you constantly point a person who is far from God to what the Bible says, you are showing that person that you believe in the truth of the Bible. You are showing that person that even though they might not believe the Bible, you believe that what it says is important enough to share with him or her. And, regardless if the person you are sharing with believes the Bible or not, there is power in the Word of God. God, in His power, is able to take the truth of His Word and apply it to the heart of someone who is far from Christ even if that person thinks the Bible is ludicrous.
Do you see? A lot of times we think it’s necessary to be able to know a lot about apologetics to be able to prove God exists, and while it may be helpful to study a subject like apologetics, the real power is in the Word. Or, sometimes we think we can’t share the Gospel unless we have a tract, or unless we have memorized some presentation like the FAITH outline or the Four Spiritual Laws.
While those presentations may be a help to you, it is much more helpful to simply know what the Bible says and to talk about it with a person who is far from Christ. It’s obviously helpful to memorize Scripture, but even if you do not memorize verbatim the Bible verses below, you should be able to bring verses like these up in conversation. Remember, there is power in the Word. So, what do you need to know from the Bible to be able to share the Gospel effectively?
Humanity’s biggest problem is sin.
Most people think that they are relatively good. After all, most people have never committed murder, and most people have pretty good morals. However, the Bible tells explains the cold-hearted truth about humanity. The Bible says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Romans 3:10) Every person on the face of the planet is born a rebel against God. We are born with an attitude that says, “Not God’s will be done, but my will be done.” The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Our problem isn’t just that we do bad things every now and then. Rather, our problem is that our bad things, our bad attitudes, our hateful thoughts, our hateful words, our lustful ways, our lies, etc. are an outright assault on the character of God. God is absolutely holy and perfect, and He desires for to live in a relationship with Him according to His righteous standard. However, every person has rejected God’s rule and righteous standard. Instead of being a friend of God, we have made ourselves enemies of God. (Romans 5:10) As a result, every person deserves punishment for his or her rebellion against God. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Every person deserves death for their sin. This death that we have earned for ourselves for our rebellion against God is described in the Bible as eternal, conscious suffering in a place called hell. The Bible says, “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
Humanity’s greatest need is a Savior.
The amazing truth is that while every person has chosen to rebel against God, God still chooses to love the people He has created. In His wisdom and love, He chose to send His Son, Jesus Christ, who was fully human and fully God, to come and rescue us from our sin. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will no perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He lived a perfect life. He never disobeyed the Father. He never rebelled. He fulfilled God’s standard of righteousness, and He did it on our behalf. The Bible says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…” (Romans 3:21) We could not live up to God’s glorious standard, but Jesus did.
However, Jesus not only lived the life we could not live, He also died the death we deserve. The Bible says, “For while we were weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) The Bible also says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) The Bible also says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:24-25)
As an act of amazing grace, God the Father sent His Son to live the life we could not live, and then to die the death we deserve. Because Jesus was sinless He could go to the cross as a sinless sacrifice, as our substitute. In other words, He died in our place. Think about it. If Jesus would have sinned one time, He could not have been our sacrificial savior because He Himself would have needed a savior. In order for us to be saved from our rebellion, there had to be One who perfectly obeyed God who would die in our place absorbing the punishment for our sins. That’s what Jesus did.
At the cross a Great Exchange took place. On the cross, Jesus took what we deserve. He took our punishment. As a result, we get to take His righteousness upon ourselves. All who believe in Christ are justified. In other words, the Judge of the universe declares innocent (justifies) all people who trust in His Son. We are not innocent, but the innocence or righteousness of Christ is applied to our account so that we might escape punishment for our sin and instead be brought into a right relationship with God. In Christ, all of our sins are forgiven, and we are given a brand new start. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
However, Jesus’ death on the cross would have meant nothing if He would have stayed dead. Our greatest enemy is death. Death is the consequence for our sin. If Jesus would have stayed dead, then death would have defeated Him. However, Jesus defeated death. Three days after His death, He arose from the grave victoriously promising eternal life to everyone who believes. The Bible says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
All who believe are given the underserved gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus has done all of the work for us, and those who believe are rewarded for Jesus’ work.
Salvation requires faith.
While a person can never earn salvation through good works, in order for a person to receive the free gift of salvation that God offers, a person must have faith. Faith requires an intellectual assent, trusting, and turning. The Bible says, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Faith requires that you believe Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again for the sins of the world, but faith also requires that you trust that belief. For example, I believe that broccoli is good for me, but I don’t eat it. I might believe broccoli is good for me, but I do not apply broccoli to my life. Instead, I avoid it like the plague. Saving faith requires that you believe in Christ and that you trust what you believe about Christ. To trust Christ is to base the foundation of your life on the reality that Jesus is who says He is and that He did what He said He would do.
Biblical faith requires turning. You can’t trust Christ without turning from whatever else you are trusting in for hope and satisfaction. The Bible calls this repentance. The Bible says, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30) Repentance is turning from a posture that says, “God, I don’t need you. I can live my life just fine without you,” to a posture that instead says, “God, I desperately need you. I can’t live my life without you. I surrender to you because you have given your all for me, and now you are worthy of me giving my all to you.” Have you repented of your sins? Have you turned from trusting in yourself or this world to trusting in what God has done for you in Jesus Christ? The only way to salvation is through faith – turning from your former way of life and turning to the God of all creation in full surrender.
Do you see what we have done over the past few weeks, and what I have summarized here? We have let the Scripture show us the truth about God, the truth about ourselves, and the truth about salvation in Christ. Now, will you commit to knowing what the Bible says about God’s glorious plan of salvation so you can more effectively share it with others? And, will you commit to sharing the Gospel with at least one person over the next couple of weeks? You can do it! God will empower you if you just step out in faith!
I’m praying for you!