Advice for Sharing the Gospel from Someone in dire need of Advice

I have found at university that it is not an uncommon thing for a member of the Christian Union to be under confident in their knowledge of the Gospel, which whilst ironic since the primary purpose of the CU is to evangelise, is also somewhat a relief considering I too fit into this category. Many times I have tried to practise evangelism by explaining the Gospel to myself, but often my thoughts have become confused. I know that we are saved by grace and that it has something to do with the cross. And the Holy Spirit figures somewhere doesn’t it, err he? And there is something to do with good works but they definitely do not save us. Surely there must be a simpler way to explain the Gospel?

Evangelist Rico Tyce, author of Christianity Explored, has been known to say that the British have forgotten how to evangelise and that it has taken Australian Christians in order to re-teach them. How fortunate it then was that one Sunday morning I was able to press Australian evangelist John Chapman for advice on how to share the Gospel.

Summing up the Gospel

Before I reveal what John Chapman said I want to first recall what I once heard British Christian Justin Mote teach. He said that Jesus sums up the Gospel in Mark 1:15:

15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:15

To set the context, “The time has come,” and “The kingdom of God is near,” point to the time period between Jesus’ first coming and his second coming. It is the time in history in which God has given people the chance to “Repent and believe the good news.” Justin taught that the Gospel can be summed up in six words. “Repent and believe the good news.” This was exceptionally comforting news to someone like me who thought the Gospel was complicated.

Returning to the advice Australian evangelist John Chapman gave. He said that the Gospel is simply this: “Jesus is lord and Jesus is saviour.” I see his point. Jesus says, “Repent and believe the good news.” In order for people to repent they need to see that they are unworthy before God [Rom 3:23], and that they should follow his decrees [Lk 8:21]. He is their only lord. For people to believe the good news they need to understand that there is nothing they can do in order to win favour with God [Gal 2:15-16], and that they must place their entire hope in Jesus trusting that he died to make them right with God [1 Pet 3:18]. He is their only saviour. Preaching that people should repent and believe the good news is the whole Gospel summed up and is a great thing for us to tell our friends.

Further reflection on John Chapman’s Gospel summary led me to believe that there are two dangers when sharing the good news. Either I might be tempted to overemphasise repent, or I might be tempted to overemphasise believe. I wondered what would happen to those I spoke the Gospel if I preached repent without believe, or believe without repent. The answer I deduced is that they might be tempted to believe that Jesus is lord but not saviour, or tempted to believe that Jesus is saviour but not lord. I want to reason that believing either of those is a dangerous thing.

The Danger of accepting Jesus as Lord but not as Saviour

By accepting Jesus as the rightful Lord of our lives we will follow him and obey his commands. This is a good thing. However, if we fail to acknowledge Jesus as our only saviour then we will try to get to God by keeping his laws and this is utter foolishness. Jesus alone has paid for every one of our sins.

The Danger of accepting Jesus as Saviour but not as Lord

To see that Jesus is our only saviour is the heart of the Gospel. However, if we fail to acknowledge that Jesus is lord then we will believe that we can sin as much as like and still be saved. There is a half truth in this sentence. No matter what sin we have committed we can be forgiven through Jesus’ death on the cross. This is done through our repentance, by accepting that what we have done is wrong and needs forgiving. But it is impossible for us to repent of an act if we do not believe what we did is wrong. To be saved we need to accept that we are spiritually sick and repent of our sin. In order to repent we must truly hate what is offensive in God’s eyes. We cannot do this if we think that Jesus’ death is a license to freely commit sin. Jesus is our lord if we claim to be a Christian and we must obey him.

I feel that there is a difference in me now when I come to share my faith. Am I still afraid when I evangelise? Yes. Am I still under confident in my Gospel knowledge? Yes. Am I still unsure what to say to people? No. “Jesus Christ is both lord and saviour, so repent and believe the good news.”

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