The gospel, defined by its root word, is “good news.” It’s the good news about salvation in Jesus Christ. Many creeds and confessions, adopted by various Christian churches, councils, or denominations over the centuries have summarized the gospel. One recent example adopted by Southern Baptists is The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, a statement that includes a comprehensive and balanced summary of the gospel. Read through it carefully and then let’s consider how to use this information in everyday conversations.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO COMMUNICATE KEY ASPECTS OF THIS SUMMARY WHEN YOU PRESENT THE GOSPEL.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.
That’s a mouthful! Fortunately, sharing the gospel doesn’t mean memorizing these paragraphs and repeating them to every unbeliever you meet. This is a comprehensive statement about salvation, summarizing the gospel’s effects from new birth to eternal life. It uses technical language—both biblical and theological—that might even hinder the gospel being understood by an unbeliever unfamiliar with this terminology. While it isn’t essential to recite these paragraphs verbatim, it is important to communicate key aspects of this summary when you present the gospel. It’s also equally important, even though the entire statement is seldom used in conversation, that no part of it be contradicted or minimized by what is presented.
Communicating the gospel in everyday language (while preserving the robust theological insights) might sound like this:
God loves you and wants you to have the best life possible. Something called sin stands in your way. Being a sinner doesn’t mean you always make the worst choices possible. It simply means, no matter how hard you try, you can’t come up to God’s standards. No matter how hard you try, you are still living for yourself, which never pleases God. You need forgiveness and that’s only possible if someone pays the penalty for your sin.
The good news is Jesus died on the Cross in your place to do just that! He died, but then three days later came back alive from the dead. By doing this, He showed He is more powerful than sin and its result—death. Jesus is the only person in history who ever died and was raised back from the dead—never to die again.
Now, you must decide about Jesus. If you turn away from your sin and from living for yourself, He will forgive you and give you a brand-new life. Your decision is simple. You must trust Jesus as your Savior from sin and submit yourself to Him as your new Lord. Once you make this decision, you will be changed immediately on the inside. Then, over time, as you learn to follow Jesus by obeying His instructions in the Bible, your entire life will change.
The best part of all—someday you will be with Jesus and God and every other person who has ever followed Jesus in heaven, forever!
Jeff Iorg, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens (Ashland, OH: New Hope Publishers, 2014).
Check out our Bible Study on the book by Jeff Iorg, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens.
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