The Heart of the Gospel
Many Christians freeze up when they hear the word “evangelism.” They say things like, “I can’t share my faith!” “I don’t know what to say!” “Where do you begin?” “It’s so complicated!”
But in fact, it’s not complicated at all. It begins and ends with a Person … the Person who is at the heart of the gospel and the core of our faith: Jesus Christ.
Consider the first verses of the book of Romans: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In these few short verses, Paul lays out everything you really need to know to “show and tell” the plan of salvation. That is, he lays out everything you need to know about Jesus.
Let’s break it apart:
First, it’s good news. That’s what “gospel” means. Many of the people you are going to meet are convinced that God, if there is a God, is the guy upstairs with the baseball bat. “God must hate me!” “I’m a miserable sinner – God wouldn’t want me!” “I deserve to go to hell.”
So the first thing to tell people is that you have GOOD NEWS for them! You’re not out there preaching hellfire and brimstone and trying to scare people with a judgmental God. Though remember, there’s a place to talk about hell, and a place to talk about judgment. But the only reason you bring up hell and judgment is to share the good news: that they don’t have to experience either! Whew! What a relief! What a burden to be rolled away! You don’t have to go to hell! You don’t have to experience the wrath and judgment of an angry God. I have GOOD NEWS for you!
Second, this good news was promised from the very beginning. You can see it throughout the Bible: God has been reaching out to man and planning for his salvation from the very first moment he sinned. This is important to know, because there are a thousand and one fad solutions on the market each week. And each one is forgotten just as quickly. Our good news has remained unchanged since the beginning of time! It’s a classic … it’s been on the best seller list since there was a best seller list. It has worked for thousands of years, and it will work for you.
Third, the whole center and focus of the good news is Jesus. Not Jesus and works, or Jesus and enlightenment, or Jesus and your nationality, or Jesus and your past … it’s just about Jesus. He did it all. It’s not about you – it’s about him. The only thing you have to do is say “Yes.”
Fourth, Jesus is the center of the good news because he is God and man – both, in perfect harmony. If he wasn’t man, he wouldn’t have been able to die for the sins of men. If he wasn’t God, he wouldn’t have been perfect or a big enough sacrifice to die for everyone’s sins. He had to be both, and he was both. Perfect divinity, and perfect humanity.
Finally, it is good news because of what Jesus did: he rose from the dead after dying for our sins. His sacrifice was accepted, proven in the resurrection. We serve a living Savior, not a dead hero. He successfully paid the penalty for our sins and rose victorious over sin and death.
And that’s the gospel: I have good news! From the beginning of time, God has wanted to forgive you and save you! He did it by sending Jesus – his Son, perfect God and perfect man. Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose victorious from the dead so that you could serve a living Savior!
Our appropriate response to the good news is also found in these verses: Paul refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus, his Lord. The good news will become your good news when you accept Jesus as Lord! That’s all there is to it!