I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: The Gospel is Good News to be Shared
In the publication 'The Pulpit Digest' Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth's surface. The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: "Don't cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights." In a real sense, that is the message of the gospel: light is available, even when darkness seems overwhelming.
All of us who know Jesus Christ as their Savior also know how to turn on the lights. We are not the light but know the One who is and we reflect His glory.
It always amazes me why we who have the answer to man's greatest problem, separation from a holy God and an eternal destiny without Him in hell, are so reluctant to tell other people what the Lord has done for us.
After all, if we knew that there was a fire in a building that was going to burn it down and kill everyone inside, wouldn't we tell them about it at the top of our lungs? Would we care what they thought of us? Yet we who have been saved from an eternal destiny in Hell are afraid to tell others about the only way to avoid it and go to an eternal destiny of the beauty and the glory of heaven instead.
Sadly, ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
Eighty percent of believers do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
And seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of evangelistic outreach.
Our problem as 21st century Christians is that we believe that evangelism is for someone else. We have separated the Christian world between professional clergy, missionaries and evangelists on one side, and lay people who sit and receive the services of these people on the other. While it is true that the Holy Spirit does give certain gifts to some and not to others, that doesn't mean that these people are the only ones who are to serve this world in Christ's name and preach the good news to all who will listen to them.
It was the Apostle Paul who said this regarding Christ's giving of the various gifts and ministries. He tells us:
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ..." (Ephesians 4:11-13).
So, if all of these various gifted people are doing their jobs well, then the saints should be in the process of being trained for ministry and service. They should also be trained to share their faith with the world.
The great missionary statesman, D.T. Niles, coined a phrase that sums up what it means to witness for Christ. He said evangelism is “ one beggar telling another beggar where to find food .” That is an apt description of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is one that we should all take to heart in our lives.
So, the gospel is the good news to be shared by everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ. Further, if Jesus Christ is the Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Sovereign over the entire universe, as He claims to be, then every Christian needs to take the sharing of that good news seriously if we are true believers.
But where do we start in that job? How do we share that news to all we meet? Well it begins by first knowing what the gospel is.
I. What is the Gospel?
So just what does the term 'gospel' mean? The website Bible.org sums it up quite nicely in this way
The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the New American Standard Bible and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo„ (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, meaning “messenger.”
In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.” Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.
The gospel, or good news of Jesus Christ, can be summed up by John 3:16 which tells us:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
The Apostle Paul gives us his summary of the gospel message in I Corinthians 15:3,4. He writes:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures..."
The work of an evangelist, or euangelos in Greek, is one who proclaims this message of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. And though most will not become professional evangelists who earn their living by going around and preaching this news, all of us have a story to tell of how Jesus Christ saved us and wants to save all those with whom we come in contact.
II. An Outline for Giving the Gospel
On reason that many people give for being afraid of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is that they simply don't know how to do it. That is why I like what D. James Kennedy did many years ago with Evangelism Explosion.
Evangelism Explosion is a ministry that trains people how to share their faith in Christ and how to bring people from unbelief to belief. It utilizes a variety of components including prayer, actual on-the-job training where the experienced lead the inexperienced, and the principle of spiritual multiplication.
By learning small parts of the Gospel each week, including Bible verses and illustrations, people incrementally grasp a Gospel tool that becomes a lifelong mission.
This program has an outline which can be memorized that will help us be confident in proclaiming the good news of Christ. The outline includes the memorization of 5 words: Grace, Man, God, Christ, Faith. Here is a short summary of how to present the gospel.
It begins with two diagnostic questions:
"Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today that you would go to heaven?"
"Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “why should I let you into My heaven? What would you say?
Then, if the answer is anything other than the fact that they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior then you ask them if you can share how they can know for sure that they are going to heaven. That is where the 5 words come in. It goes something like this:
1. Heaven is a free gift
2. It is not earned or deserved.
1. Is a sinner.
Matthew 5:48 (God's standard is perfection)
2. Cannot save himself.
1. Is merciful – therefore doesn’t want punish us.
Psalm 86:15; 1 John 4:8b
2. Is just – therefore must punish us.
It looks like the Lord has a problem here. God solved this problem in the Person of Jesus Christ.
1. Who He is – the infinite God-man.
John 1:1, 14
2. What He did – He died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us which He offers as a gift.
This gift is received by faith.
Key to heaven.
1. What it is not – mere intellectual assent.
The devil believes in God and trembles
– Mere temporal faith
2. What it is – trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
There are illustrations which come with each of these words in the outline which we won't get into now but they can be helpful in the presentation. Though it may seem daunting at first to memorize this, it is an outline that can be learned over time and once learned you will probably never forget it. I still remember this from learning it several decades ago now.
But for those who, for some reason, don't think that they can memorize it, what they can do is tell their own story of how Jesus saved them and changed their life. And maybe they can recommend that the person go to a church where the gospel is preached on a regular basis. If God is working in the heart of the person that you are talking to, then the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Remember that you are the beggar who has found the bread. They are still looking for what you have found and will die in their sins without it.
II. The Use of Gospel Tracts
Besides actually talking with someone with whom we come in contact, some people find it easier to use gospel tracts. A gospel tract is a small pamphlet designed to explain the gospel clearly and simply. Someone once referred to these types of pamphlets as "paper missionaries." And for those who have trouble speaking to strangers these relatively inexpensive papers can do what you may never be able to accomplish on your own.
These pamphlets have proven very effective considering the fact that statistics show that over 50% of people who come to know Christ came through some form of literature.
New Zealand-born minister and evangelist Ray Comfort had this to say about this type of evangelism:
- Tracts can make an opening for us to share our faith.
- We can watch people’s reaction as we give them a tract, and see if they are open to listen to spiritual things.
- They can do the witnessing for us. If we are too timid to speak to someone about the things of God, we can at least give them a tract, or leave it lying around so that someone will pick it up.
- They speak to the person when they are ready–i.e. they don’t read it until they want to.
- They can find their way into people’s homes when we can’t.
- They don’t get into argument. They just state their case.
I have recently read several examples of how a gospel tract, given to a person whose heart was prepared by God to receive it, has changed their lives forever. So we should always have some of them on hand to pass out or leave lying around for people to find.
The bottom line is that there is really no excuse for any Christian not to give out the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
It was the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 who said:
“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”
Paul, in II Corinthians 5:20, also says:
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
An ambassador is the highest representative of a supreme power. We, as Christ's ambassadors, are the highest representatives of the Supreme power of the universe. And with that privilege comes the awesome responsibility to share the best news anyone could ever give to another human being; the gospel of salvation.
It is my hope that all who read this message will not take that responsibility lightly but will talk to someone about Jesus Christ this week. You may be the only person who ever will!
© 2021 Jeff Shirley