Adapted from "Crossing the Barriers", Truth for Life Ministries
To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.
John Stott, in his 1967 book, “Our Guilty Silence,” suggested that one of the main reasons for our silence is that, “we lack either a thorough knowledge of the gospel or a conviction about its truth or both. There can be no evangelism without an evangel, no mission without a message.” He quoted a Buddhist monk who said:
“It looks as if Christianity has reached the stage in adolescence when the child is slightly ashamed of his father and embarrassed when talking about him.”
It is vitally important that we have a solid grasp of three areas of ‘gospel truth’ which must be declared and explained before any response should be anticipated; essential facts about Jesus, essential facts about the unconverted, and the benefits promised by the Gospel.
Essential facts about the gospel:
1. The central truth of the good news is Christ Himself.
The Apostle Paul, clearly stated that the proclamation of Christ was his mission, even as he was in prison for preaching the gospel:
Colossians 1:28, 29: " Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."
2. Christ’s purpose in coming into the world and in dying upon the cross was to save sinners.
Matthew 1:21; "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (The angel’s words to Joseph)
1 Timothy 1:15: "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (Paul’s declaration to young Timothy; either about his persecution of the before his conversion, or the conviction of the Holy Spirit of remaining sin)
3. Christ’s coming and death were no accident, but were part of God’s eternal plan.
Acts 2:23: " …this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Peter’s sermon at Pentecost to the Jewish crowd, after the upper room experience.)
1 Peter 1:20 :"He (Jesus) was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you." (Peter’s word’s to Jewish Christians living in exile.)
4. Christ’s resurrection was the Father’s declaration of Christ as His Son and evidence of His satisfaction with His work.
Romans 1:1- 4: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Paul, in his opening words to Christians in Rome:)
Essential facts about the unconverted:
1. They are dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1: "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins:(Paul telling believers in Ephesus about their former condition without Christ)
2. Their unbelieving minds are blinded by Satan.
2 Corinthians 4:4: "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (Paul to Christians in Corinth)
3. They are lost.
Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Jesus to Zaccheus)
4. They are slaves of sin. (John 8:34)
John 8:34: "Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin." (Jesus to the self-righteous Pharisees)
The benefits promised by the gospel:
1. Reconciliation with God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
1 Corinthians 1:30: "And because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,"
1 Corinthians 6:11: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (Paul to believers in Corinth)
3. Deliverance from condemnation
John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
4. Belonging to the people of God.
Acts 2:41: ” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Those who believed on the Day of Pentecost)
1 Corinthians 1:2: "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" (Paul’s greeting to believers in Corinth)
1 Corinthians 6:1, 2: "When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?"
1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9: "As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . .For it stands in Scripture: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
5. Membership in the family/kingdom of God.
Colossians 1:13: "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,"
6. The gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 2:12)
Acts 2:38: " And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Peter preaching at Pentecost)
7. Eternal life.
John 3:16:“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (Jesus to Nicodemus)
John 11:25-26: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jesus to Martha at Lazarus grave)
8. The resurrectionof the body.
1 Corinthians 6:14:"And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power."
Remember, and communicate clearly and with much love, that to enter into the benefits of Christ’s work – to know forgiveness , the gift of God’s Spirit and a place in His kingdom – repentance and open confession of Christ are required. (Acts 2:38)
Mark 1:15: “"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Jesus at the beginning of his ministry)
Act 2:38: “And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Peter at Pentecost, after the hearers of his sermon asked “What shall we do?”)
Also remember that it is the presentation of the Gospel, not its content that changes with time.
“The gospel is true always and everywhere, or it is not a gospel at all, or true at all.” – William Temple
Good article, but unless I read over it too quickly and missed it, it seems to have left out an essential element that belonged to apostolic preaching. The gospel, primarily promises to save us from our sins (E.g.,see Acts 3:26), not merely from the condemnation that results from our sins. Reconciliation to God and justification, freedom from condemnation, are merely steps in the process that leads to the untimate goal of being conformed to the image of Christ. That is the goal to which we have been predestined, not merely forgiveness for sins and membership in God’s family.
No, the article does not mention God’s goal of being predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. At this point in the series of lessons in personal evangelism (Crossing the Barriers) the focus is on the need to get to the central issue of sin when sharing Christ rather than all the other things that are used in today’s evangelism. Certainly God’s ultimate goal is for those he saves to be conformed to the image of His Son, to the praise of His glorious grace! Later lessons in the series of lessons discuss that transformation.