I was challenged in a meeting recently by the following question; “If somebody came up to you at the end of a church service and said they wanted to become a Christian, how would you talk them through the steps to salvation?” A fair question, and one that on the face of it you would think reasonably easy to answer. Could you respond to it straight off the bat? Or would you, like me, get a bit flustered? Do you know the relevant verses? Are you able to set it all out in an understandable way?
In 1 Peter 3 verse 15 it says “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
I have another question related to this: “What is the gospel?” You have probably heard the phrase “…I gave him the gospel” many times spoken by church members and those with an evangelistic gift. But how do you “give” someone the gospel?
It’s a good question to ask and certainly as the verse above reveals, something we should be ready to do at any time, so let’s look at it now. The Greek word “euangelion” is translated “gospel” in the New Testament and it simply means ‘good news.’ It is the good news that God has saved us by sending His son to take our place by dying and rising again, so that we can be reconciled to God. But that needs some explanation, especially if speaking to a person with no church background, as is becoming increasingly the case in today’s society.
I am now going to go through the main points that I think should be raised when presenting the gospel to somebody.
(1) God and man are separate.
- It is clear from the bible that God is Holy. We can be so focussed on the fact that God is loving that we forget the other side of the coin, that He is Holy, He is ‘other’. We are created in His image but He is not like us. He is perfect. He is the creator, all knowing, all present, all powerful. Verses referring to this start in Genesis 1:1 and continue throughout the bible, such as; Exodus 15:11, Psalms (take your pick!), Isaiah 43:15, Jeremiah 10:10, 1 Timothy 1:17.
- It is equally clear that Mankind is sinful. It started with the first man Adam and has affected every person ever since. It is in our nature. It is important to stress that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23, Romans 3:10-12, Romans 5:12).
The consequence of these two facts is that our sin separates us from God. The sentence is death (Romans 6:23) and without God intervening there would be no hope, which takes us to point two:
(2) God made a way to restore our relationship.
We could do nothing about this separation, so God stepped onto this planet in the form of His son Jesus Christ who is God (God has revealed himself in the bible as three persons in one). Because Jesus lived a perfect life he was able to take our punishment (death) for us (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21). He did this by voluntarily dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:4-5) and coming back to life three days later to demonstrate His victory (1 Corinthians 15:17-18, 1 Peter 1:3, Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 6:14). We could not earn this. He did this freely by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Timothy 1:9).
(3) We can now believe in Him and be saved
We are saved through faith when we repent of our sins and trust that what Jesus has done saves us (Romans 10:9, John 11:25-26, John 3:36). We are now at peace with God and in a relationship with Him. Our sins (past, present and future) have been dealt with, we can start a new life and Jesus has promised us he will never leave us or forsake us. No wonder it is called ‘Good News’!!
I would just like to make a couple of points for consideration when we are presenting this gospel:
- It is important to stress that they are coming to Jesus, not just because they want their sins forgiven. They are entering into a relationship with Him. When they accept this free gift, they are understanding that Jesus is now Lord of their lives and they are following Him.
- I’ve mentioned it before and I will mention it again now, (and no doubt on many more occasions due to the fact that in our humanity we feel we must somehow contribute to God’s work of salvation): but it’s ONLY BY GRACE. We cannot earn it, we certainly don’t deserve it, it’s a free gift. FREE! FREE! FREE! (Repeat this to yourself endlessly until death!!).
- We are not on our own; we actually couldn’t live this life on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us. In a later blog we will discuss how you can pray for somebody to receive the Holy Spirit, (but actually what better time is there than as soon as they enter their new life?! Start as you mean to go on!).
I would really encourage you to learn these three simple steps, or indeed any other way you find comfortable: You may want to use the ‘Bridge to Life’ model or something similar, or copy the way in which the gospel was presented to you (it obviously works!). I would also make it a commitment to memorise the passages of scripture mentioned above – there is nothing more powerful than quoting scripture as it is the power of God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)
Please feel free to make any comments on this subject. I really hope it helps you to think how you can more effectively share your faith. Don’t forget that God is with you and will be with you as you step out. Let me know of your successes.