Are you explaining the gospel well?
Many Christians don’t know how they would tell someone about the gospel. Some of us have a little better idea of how we would explain it because we learned from a teacher or pastor we’ve had. But, is it actually correct? Is there a “correct” way at all?
Although evangelism is commonly discussed by many church leaders, there is reason for concern if you pay close attention to how many are explaining it. The message of the gospel is almost completely incorrect in our generation — particularly in the U.S.
“What is incorrect about it”, you ask? Much could be said of the fallacies, but let’s look at three of the most common and crucial ones as seen by how so many well-meaning Christians actually share the gospel message.
3 Common Mistakes When Sharing The Gospel
1. Not telling people that they are sinful.
It is not politically correct in today’s America to tell people that they are in the wrong, much more that they are evil.
Because of this, Christians often avoid telling the lost that they are separated from God since their sin is not atoned for (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is avoided for the sake of being “seeker friendly”, but there is only one seeker, and He is God. (John 6:44, John 15:16)
2. Telling people that we need saved from sin or saved from the devil.
This is a common belief in the church that is not biblical. It is true that sin separates us from God, and that Satan certainly tries to draw us away from a Godly life, but these in and of themselves are not what we need saved from.
This unbiblical belief can cause great confusion about why Jesus did what He did, ultimately causing a misunderstanding of the true gospel.
3. Leading people to think by raising a hand or saying a prayer to state they believe in God, that they are saved.
While raising a hand in response to a message can be good, and prayer is necessary in a life with God, these do not indicate that a person is saved from the wrath of God.
Belief that God exists does not promise salvation. The book of James goes so far as to use sarcasm to prove this point when it says in chapter 1:
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19)
So How Do We Explain The Gospel Rightly?
So how can we be sure to explain the gospel well? This can be done by reversing the fallacies that we just looked at.
We must communicate that all humans are sinful and do not seek God, that God is a righteous judge who must punish sin, and that we can be saved from God’s judgement only through relationship with Jesus.
We are depraved and cannot even be good on our own.
The first chapters of the book of Romans are largely devoted to one theme: that mankind is sinful and condemned before God.
Romans 1:18-32 is a solid example of this truth. It is important that we, like the Apostle Paul, place a great emphasis on our depravity.
This helps the hearer to understand their need for God’s forgiveness through Jesus. Without this revelation, the lost will see no need of salvation because they think of themselves as decent people who are not worthy of any kind of punishment.
The truth is that without God’s forgiveness, we are hell-bound. To tell people otherwise out of a sense of preservation may seem loving, but it is not loving at all. It would be like telling a diseased person that their situation isn’t all that bad, when the loving thing to do would be to lead them to the cure.
Making much of sin also helps us to see the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ. Water doesn’t seem appealing until a person is in thirst. The jangling of keys doesn’t mean anything to the free man, but it brings delight to the imprisoned. The stars in the sky aren’t seen for their beauty until they are portrayed against the darkness of outer space.
God is a holy judge that we need saved from.
The Bible states God is a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11); that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7); that we need to be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-23, 5:9).
This is the reason why Jesus came and suffered by the will of God and at the hands of men through beatings of various kinds before being hung for six hours on a cross.
Jesus did not suffer from the wrath of Satan or the wrath of sin. He took on the wrath of God toward mankind.
This is why Isaiah 53:10 says that it “pleased the Lord to crush Him” (Jesus).
Since our creation, we have been disobeying God constantly, and therefore are deserving of punishment by death, which Jesus took upon Himself in our stead (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Salvation takes more than believing in God.
Salvation is given to us when we repent unto faith in Jesus by placing our lives into His. Simply put, it is knowing God through a relationship with Him (John 17:3).
When the following proofs are seen in a person’s life, it is evidence that they have truly been converted:
- The fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 7-17-20, Galatians 5:22-24). This is one fruit, not multiple fruits.
- A love for God and His Word (Matthew 22:34-40).
- A love for other believers (John 13:34).
- A lifestyle of repentance and confession of sin (1 John 3:9).
Conversion to salvation is not a mere decision. As the preacher Paul Washer once stated, “It is not new year’s resolutions, nor is it turning over a new leaf.” A converted person is, literally, a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are a different person.
This is done by God through the miracle of salvation. The saved person will forsake their wicked ways out of desire to love the things that God loves and to hate the things that God hates.
It is important to note that the saved will sin. The difference between the saved and the lost is that Christians will have remorse after sinning, and they will eventually seek repentance. It will not be perfect repentance, but repentance none the less.
How We Proceed In Confidence
To sum this up, salvation is knowing God, not following a prayer (John 17:3, Matthew 7:21-28, James 2:19-26).
The gospel can be shared in many beautiful ways with many details, but some of the details are often twisted and become something untrue.
If these three points are being communicated correctly, and we have a decent knowledge of what the gospel is, we can be assured that we are explaining the gospel well.
A Short Example
Communicating the gospel by using these three critical points can look something like this (here’s a short example):
The word “gospel” means “good news”. This definition left to itself may not seem to be of much value, but it’s not just any good news that we’re talking about, rather it’s the good news, the gospel of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:4 words it as “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ”.
Jesus, the Son of God and God in Himself, came down to earth to bear the wrath of God in our stead. The wrath of God had been coming against mankind ever since mankind’s first sin, which set forth a pattern for all of time that we would be disobedient to God, even though we knew better. Since God is a righteous Judge, He will punish our wrongdoing; otherwise, He wouldn’t be a righteous Judge. We want God to be just, but this also creates a problem for us since we are evildoers.
Yet God, in His love, chose to satisfy His righteous wrath by placing the punishment from God toward mankind on Himself in the person of Jesus (John 3:16, Isaiah 53:10). After Jesus died from God’s punishment, he rose again and ascended to heaven. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father as a living and eternal sacrifice, and any who comes to know Jesus by submitting their lives to Him will have all of their sins forgiven, forever, by Jesus’ sacrifice. The standard for salvation is no longer one of works as it was in the old testament. It is one of relationship with Jesus — knowing and being known by him.
This is just one example of a quick way to say the gospel message, and I’m not saying it’s the only or even the best. The point is to hit the crucial points and explain both the problem and the hope we have through Jesus.
We’d love to hear from you now! Share any recommendations, tips, or questions in the comments below so we can learn from each other!