Sharing Jesus, Part 4: The Solution to the Sin Problem

Armed with a biblically understanding of ‘spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ‘dead men walking’, and knowing that our friend ‘Pat’ realizes that the issue if sin is the root cause of evil in the world, we can offer Pat the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Since the conversation is reaching ‘critical mass’ there are a few important things to remember.

First of all, pray that God would open Paul’s heart to receive this all important part of the message of the gospel. Secondly, remember that God alone saves and you are just the messenger. It’s not your job to get a decision or otherwise ‘close the deal’ – the Holy Spirit does a fine job of applying the solution to a God opened heart! As one evangelist expressed it:

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch. He is the soul-winner. People are not won by us for Him. They are won through us by Him. He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say. But He has chosen to work through us and with us.”     Leith Samuel

Spend a few moments going over a few things with Pat. You might want to briefly summarize where the conversation has gone up to this point:

  • The world is full of ‘bad stuff’ (evil).
  • The Bible calls the bad stuff ‘sin’.
  • Sin is a human problem that began when Adam blew it and disobeyed God.

Once you and Pat are on the same page it’s time to address the solution. You might want to ask Pat what he/she thinks is the answer to the problem. The answers you receive might be good answers even if they are just about temporal things like passing more laws, doing a better job of raising our children, raising the quality of our schools, easier access to higher education, and/or government programs to get rid of poverty. If so, talk about them, acknowledge that they might solve problems, but that they are only external answers and cannot really address the inner problem of sin that we all have.

This is a good place to introduce, in simple terms and directly from the Bible (not a 25 lb. Schofield reference Bible, but the small one you tend to carry around with you), God’s plan for dealing with sin. Be gentle! This is a conversation, not a used car lot!

Here are some suggested passages of scripture that were all written by the Apostle Paul. You can even introduce some or all the following scriptures by telling Pat that this guy named ‘Paul’ who absolutely loved to kick Christians around all over town wrote them! Make sure to tell Pat how each passage relates what you have already discussed.

The problem:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Rom 3:23

The natural consequences of the problem:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord..” – Rom 6:23

God’s plan to punish his own Son in our place:

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

The applications of God’s plan – believe and call on the name off the Lord:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Rom 10:9

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Rom 10:13

The result of believing and calling on the name of the Lord:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Rom 5:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Rom 8:1

The above passages are by no means a set method that must be followed. You might want to use other passages of scripture that also talk about the problem of man’s sin and God’s solution. John 3:16 is a good example and a passage we probably all know by heart. It also expresses God’s solution to our problem.

Always anticipate questions, and be ready with an answer or willing to find an answer. Be able to talk about the Biblical context of passages you use in the conversation. This communicates that you didn’t just memorize a few passages, but you know and are convinced of the truth of scripture. That’s huge!

In the next post we’ll talk about the response to God’s offer.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

Sharing Jesus Part 3 – The Sin Problem: How Bas Is It?

Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem

This is the second of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. In Part 1 of this short series of posts, we talked about starting a conversation that can lead to sharing Jesus and the message of salvation with a family member, friend, co-worker, or anyone for that matter. The goal of the conversation was to arrive at the conclusion that the reason people do bad things is because they have an inner problem that the Bible calls ‘sin’.

Sharing Jesus – Part 2, The Sin Problem

Before we start talking about ‘sin’ let’s give our conversation partner a name. We’ll call him/her ‘Pat’ (good gender neutral name).The next step in the conversation we are having with ‘Pat’ is to define the extent of this ‘sin’ problem. And just like we asked a lot of questions when we started the conversation (the Colombo technique), we’ll continue our discussion with another question:

“So ‘Pat’, what do you think sin is?”

The first answer you will get will most likely have to do with bad things we do and/or mistakes we make, which is the most immediate and natural response. You might get the same answer from the vast majority of believers, but that’s another post.

You might also hear that sin means NOT doing things we ought to do. We do have a natural sense of what the ‘right’ thing to do would be at certain times, but we fail to do it.

And since we left off the first part of our conversation agreeing that we all have an ‘inner problem’, you might even hear an answer that talks about our natural selfishness and/or inner tendencies. And that, my friends, is where we want to go now – the sinful human nature, or tendency to sin. Once you’re there, you can ask the big WHY question:

“So Pat, since you have rightly recognized that we have an inner problem, a natural tendency to do bad stuff, and sometimes to NOT do what we know would be right, WHY do you think we have a natural tendency to sin?”

It’s the natural and logical next question. Regardless of the response, this is the opportunity to discuss what the Bible has to say about the WHY. We did the same thing earlier in the conversation when we said that the Bible calls man’s inner problem ‘sin’. And remember that you are sharing the ‘Christian worldview’ and not trying to convince Pat of your personal opinion. Just share what the Bible has to say and let God do the convincing. It would be good if you have a Bible handy to share straight from scripture.

In sharing what the Bible says about our sin problem, you can take it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of creation and the fall of man. After all, that’s where our sin problem started – when the first couple disobeyed God. The point is that God created everything good, and it went sour because of man’s disobedience. Adam’s sin impacted the ‘nature’ of every human being born since then.

Regardless of what we think about the fairness of Adam’s sin affecting the rest of the human race, it did. We are told several things about the ‘natural’ man that describe him in rather ‘dark’ terms.

The entrance of sin into the world rendered the human heart deceitful beyond all things[i] and desperately sick, the human mind blind to spiritual things,[ii] hostile to God[iii], and unable to please God.[iv]

It’s really important for us who share Jesus with others and for those listening to our message to grasp just how bad the sin issue is. It’s in knowing just HOW bad the bad news is that we can most fully understand and appreciate the good news of what God has done in sending his Son to die for OUR sins. The main point about sin is that it’s more than what we do or don’t do, it’s part of our very nature as sons of Adam.

Sadly, much of today’s ‘evangelism’, both in churches and person to person, minimizes the real issue of our sin problem and in some cases, omits it entirely. We would rather attract sinners to Jesus with our ‘changed lives’ rather than speak the truth about our bondage to sin while trusting God to open stone cold hearts and effectually draw men to the cross. Are our lives irreversibly changed when we have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and in his death on our behalf? Of course they are, but as a result of the cross, not as the reason for believing in Jesus.

And once the reality of sin has, with the help of the Holy Spirit, sunk into Pat’s heart, the conversation can move on to the consequences of, and a solution to the problem. Stay tuned for Part 3.


[i] “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “Jer 17:9

[ii] “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.” 2 Cor 4:4

[iii]“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Rom 8:7

[iv] “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.. Rom 8:8

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

This is the first of several short articles about sharing Jesus in a normal and natural manner that is not dependent on a specific ‘method’. As believers, many of us want to share Jesus with others, but hesitate out of nervousness and even fear. On the other hand, some of us aren’t nervous or fearful, so we charge right in using a particular method we found somewhere or were taught by someone. My friends, it doesn’t have to be so hard. How hard is it for us to talk about other exciting things in our lives? Sharing Jesus can and should be as natural as talking about a new house, car, smartphone, or even having just been married to the man/woman of your dreams. Having said all that, let’s begin.

Sharing Jesus Part 1 – Starting a Conversation

Here’s the scenario.

God has placed in your heart a desire to share Jesus and the message of the gospel with a relative, friend, co-worker, or even someone you just met (it happens). You know it’s a real because 1) God has given you a burden to reach the lost around you and 2) you asked God to point you in the right direction. And although you’ve studied various ‘methods’ of personal evangelism, you don’t know which one to use, or how to start. You are afraid of using the wrong method. How do you proceed with this important task?

Well, like the title of this blog post suggests, start a conversation, after having asked God to open a heart to hear a hard message!

Now what that conversation might sound has a lot of possibilities, depending on the specific situation, your relationship with this person, and what you know about his/her level of spiritually. Never mind all that for now, just start the conversation with a few things in mind as you press toward the final goal of the discussion – the point at which it’s time for your conversation partner to consider responding to the message of the gospel you are about to share.

First of all, you need to identify and understand the root problem before you offer a solution. Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on a cross for ‘your best life now’, or any variation of that theme. He came to die for the sins of God’s people (See Matthew 1:21). Our ultimate goal is to share the Christ who died for our sins, I don’t know anyone who wants to hear they have a sin problem.

Does that sound tough, or what? Yes it does, but remember that you have already prayed that God open a heart to hear. The problem of sin IS the main issue the message of the gospel addresses. We have all sinned, Christ died for those sins, and that ultimately deserves a response. Never fear, you don’t have to quote Romans 3:23 at the start of the conversation, but you do need to somehow take the topic of the conversation to the main issue..

Actually, you don’t even need to use the dreaded “S” word, not yet anyway. You can start this most important conversation just like you might start any other conversation. Just choose a hot topic from the news. If you don’t listen to, watch, or read the news it’s time to start. Think of something ‘bad’ that was reported. There’s plenty out there. It could be local crime, dirty politics, another mass shooting or terrorist attack anywhere in the world. Pick one.

You might ask, “Did you hear about what happened at/in ________________?” “Why do you think that guy did that?” Just ask about something specific everyone probably knows about and ask a “Why do you think…..” question. You’re sending the message that you are interested in a thoughtful response, the other person’s opinion.

The answer most likely will be on the lines of “He was nuts…….just plain mean……he hates, etc., a specific possible reason. Take the reason given and ask another “why do you think” question. “Why do you think he’s nuts, mean, hateful, etc. That’s a different level question that goes to the motive for the ‘act’. You might get an answer or you might not.

What you would like to hear is something like “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe there’s something inside that caused him to …….” If you get that response, you can take the conversation to a still deeper level by asking another question along the lines of “What do you think that ‘inner’ problem might be?” Or, if you didn’t hear something about an inherent human problem, suggest the possibility of an ‘inner’ issue. The entire goal of the conversation is to agree that there’s an ‘inner’ problem with all of us humans.

At this point it’s time to identify and name the problem. People attribute bad acts to psychological problems, growing up in a bad home, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and even genetics. The Bible calls our problem ‘sin. This is the moment in the conversation to bring that up. The conversation has officially begun!

The discussion might continue, or be left for thoughtful consideration. The problem has been identified; the next part of the conversation will be to understand the problem. We’ll address that in the next article.

Do you see where this is going? Some have called this the “Colombo” technique (Think Peter Falk and all his question asking). All you are doing is having a friendly conversation with the goal of taking the conversation to the main problem we all have – sin. You don’t really have to open a Bible until you get to the part where you suggest that “The Bible calls our problem sin.” That’s the time to read directly from its pages (Romans 3:23 for example). Reading text from the pages of scripture leaves little or no room for receiving a “that’s your opinion” response.

So that’s how you start a conversation with an unbeliever. It might only take a single conversation to get to the main issue, or it might take longer. You asked God to open a heart before you began the conversation and you continued to pray during the conversation. Now pray that God, through the Holy Spirit, would water the seeds you planted.

At the right time, you might hear “Remember what you were telling me about. . .” (The door has just been blown wide open.), or you can ask about the last BIG conversation. Just move at a perfectly natural pace. Remember that the goal of personal evangelism is, as Alistair Begg defines it:

“…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.”

May God add his blessing to your sharing Jesus with a lost world!

P.S. It’s quite possible that you might be sharing Jesus with one person, and someone else will stop you one day and share that he/she overheard you talking and met the Savior because of it. It happens. I know this one.

Gospel Invitations

We use them all the time.

“Come to Jesus today. It might be your last chance.”

“You just need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”

“Open / give your heart to Jesus.”

“Ask Jesus into your heart.”

“If you pray this prayer, you will be saved.”

Has anyone ever found anything resembling one of the above (or others) in the New Testament? All I can find are commands or statements about repenting and believing.

If ‘gospel invitations’ we use have no scriptural basis, why do we use them?

I really want to know.

Recognizing a “different” gospel – a practical exercise. . .

In a  previous post  we suggested using a “3 S” model for recognizing a “different”, or false, gospel.

1. What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

2. What about the SAVIOR?

3. What are the requirements for SALVATION?

While some false gospels recognize the Bible as the ultimate source of truth and acknowledge Jesus as the Savior, they present the requirements for salvation (what one must believe) in attractive but sometimes incomplete manner.

Using the words of Jesus and Paul, followed by those of a very popular west coast Pastor, we offer you a challenge. Examine them both and put on your spiritual thinking cap.

Jesus, at the beginning of his earthly ministry said:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

The Apostle defined the gospel message quite clearly:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4)

In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose”, the popular west coast Pastor (Rick Warren) leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:

“Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don’t want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for.”

Warren goes on to say:

“Now if you’ve just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”

On page 58 of “The Purpose Driven Life” Warren gives perhaps his most complete gospel presentation. He states,

“Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for . . . all you need to do is receive and believe….

First, believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. Believe you are not an accident. Believer you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you.

Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose.”

Again, he offers a sample prayer,

“I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” He promises, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life.”

Based on what you have just read, do you think that Rick Warren presents a complete gospel message, a “different” gospel, or something in between? You can keep your thoughts to yourself, or you can share them here. Perhaps we can have a good discussion!

No Other Gospel

“6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)

In the above passage, the Apostle Paul is speaking to four local churches he had planted during his first missionary Journey in the Galatian cities of Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Not long after he had planted those churches, false teachers arose in Galatia asserting that in order to really be a Christian, one had to also follow Mosiac Law. Paul was astonished that believers in Galatia had departed from the gospel of faith alone that he had preached to them and had turned to ‘another’ gospel that was really not the gospel. In fact, Paul accused those believers of turning away from Christ himself, not just the message of justification by faith.

Paul also had some very harsh words for those who would preach ‘another’ gospel. He first says in verse 8 that if he (Paul) or his companions preached a different gospel that they should be ‘accursed’. In verse 9 he broadens the group of those that should be ‘accursed’ to include anyone who would preach a different or false gospel.

The word ‘accursed’ literally means ‘devoted to destruction’. The term was used in the Old testament in connection with the fall of Jericho. It was a term used for the city of Jericho itself and for one Achan, who had stolen an ingot of gold, a quantity of silver, and a costly garment during Jericho’s demise. When Paul states that those who preach a ‘different’ gospel should be ‘accursed’ he is pronouncing that they are deserving of condemnation.

Since preachers of false gospels deserve condemnation, we need to be able to spot a ‘different’ gospel and avoid it, along with its purveyors, like the plague. First, let us define the true gospel according to Jesus and Paul.

Jesus, at the beginning of his earthly ministry said:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

The Apostle defined the gospel message quite clearly:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor 15:1-4)

So what are the marks of a false gospel?

Well, the list could be quite long, and would become even longer if we named some of today’s false teachers, many of whom appear regularly on ‘Christian’ TV. Rather than get into the weeds however, allow me to suggest three questions that can be asked of any teaching that you might come across.

1. What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

2. What about the SAVIOR?

3. What are the requirements for SALVATION?

If you can remember three key words, SOURCE, SAVIOR, & SALVATION and what they mean, you will be well on your way to being able to spot (discern) just about any ‘different’ gospel on the street

What is the teaching’s SOURCE of truth?

Is the ultimate source of truth for the teaching you are listening to the Bible or something else, such as the teachings of Ellen G. White for Seventh Day Adventists, the Book of Mormon, or a human institution outside of the Bible. If the Bible is not the ultimate source of truth there’s a problem.

What about the SAVIOR?

Another way to ask this question is “Who is Jesus according to this teaching/teacher?” Is the Jesus of this teaching the Jesus of the Bible? Is he the eternal Son of God and equal member of the trinity, or is he just a good man, great teacher, a man who somehow attained ‘godhood’? Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was ‘a god’, not God. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is the creator and savior of mankind, but that he is one of many gods, a created being and elder brother of Lucifer.

What are the requirements for SALVATION?

This question gets to the heart of Paul’s argument in the book of Galatians. If anything is added to Christ’s death for OUR sins (substitutionary sacrifice), there is a ‘different’ (false) gospel. In the case of the Galatians, it was adding the keeping of the Mosaic law. For Mormons and JW’s salvation is based on believing the ‘right’ things according to their respective doctrinal statements and having achieved a certain level the ‘right’ works.

Sinners are in fact justified (declared righteous) before a holy God by works, just not human works, but the perfect work of Christ on our behalf.

If you are reading this, by now you are probably thinking about other religions or even Christian denominations that might be categorized as teaching a ‘different’ gospel. If you are, I encourage you to apply the three “S” questions. If you still have honest questions, leave a comment and perhaps we can shed more light or point you in the right direction for a satisfactory answer.

John Owen Concerning the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ

Puritan John Owen (1616 – 24 August 1683) proposed the following concerning Christ’s substitutionary atonement for the sins of all for whom Christ died.

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

  1. All the sins of all men.
  2. All the sins of some men, or
  3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

  1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
  2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth (according to Owen).
  3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

Of course, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ’s death as our substitute, for our sins,  but subscribe to another view of the atonement, what John Owen proposed is not a matter of discussion you are interested in. But if you do believe in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, you might find Owen’s three possibilities worthy of thoughtful consideration and discussion. 

The Old Gospel and the New Gospel

1. The old gospel was about an offended God, the new gospel is about wounded us.

2. The old gospel was about sin, the new gospel is about felt needs.

3. The old gospel was about our need for righteousness, the new gospel is about our need for fulfillment.

4. The old gospel was offensive to the perishing, the new gospel is attractive.

HT: Gary Gilley, Pastor, Southern View Chapel, Springfield Illinois

Evangelism – Understanding Our Message

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:)

 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.”

2. Justification.

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 resurrection of 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

The Gospel Mandate

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.“” – Mark 1:14-15 (Emphasis mine)

According to any good dictionary the word ‘mandate’ is defined as an official order or commission to do something. We are told in the Gospel of Mark that after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, and after John was arrested, Jesus entered Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God. We are even given the words of Jesus’ initial proclamation:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Here we have Jesus saying at the beginning of his earthly ministry “repent and believe in the gospel”. Since Jesus said it, let’s agree that it’s ‘official’. Since Jesus is telling listeners to ‘do’ something, let’s agree that what we have is an ‘order. Therefore, the gospel mandate is simply to repent and believe it. That’s it.

Interestingly, and perhaps sadly, most of today’s evangelism no longer follows Jesus’ simple mandate, but we have substituted all sorts of other ‘methods’. We have hand raisings (with all eyes closed of course) an altar calls. Have you ever wondered why everyone is asked to close their eyes but everyone is watching and applauding folks heading toward the altar?

To spark their interest in Jesus we tell people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for them. Cool! Well, I love me to and have a wonderful plan too! God and I are on the same page!

Since God has such wonderful plans for folks, we ask them if they wouldn’t like to ‘ask Jesus into their heart’ or we ask them to just ‘give their heart to Jesus’. Those two seem to get great results at any Christian kids’ camp or VBS. For older types who might be more thoughtful about the whole thing, we tell them that Jesus is ‘knocking at the door of their heart”, pleading to get in and the only doorknob is on their side, Never mind that the passage in question has Jesus knocking on the door of the church.

We might even pull out our little cards or Bibles and walk them through the Romans Road, ask for a simple ‘decision’ (and perhaps a signature in the little Bible), and pronounce them ‘saved’ when a decision is made and a dated signature properly inserted.

No matter what method we use, and we use them all, we hardly ever use the simple ‘mandate’ that Jesus used. We never begin where Jesus began. Why do you think that is? Is it because the word ‘repent’ is outdated and politically incorrect? After all, it might make someone feel bad. Are we hesitant about telling people to ‘believe the gospel’ because we are uncomfortable explaining it, or because we ourselves don’t know or aren’t sure what it is? ,

Whatever the reason(s), we needn’t be afraid of just proclaiming what Jesus proclaimed. After all aren’t we fond of the expression “What would Jesus do?” Although I can think of occasions when WWJD becomes rather cliché, this isn’t one of them. At the same time, we need only remember that God saves his sheep and we can’t/don’t ‘help’ God save anyone. Remember Jonah and what he proclaimed after having been tossed into the sea, after being swallowed by a great fish and being barfed onto the beach?

“…with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”Jonah 2:9 (Emphasis mine)

Our mission isn’t to obtain ‘decisions for Jesus’, it’s to be faithful in prayerfully presenting the gospel. Our prayer is that God will open hearts to hear and the gospel is that Christ died for our sins. There is great encouragement in knowing that all I have to do is be able to discuss what it means to repent and believe. And if I have faced my own sin head on and believed in the One who took my place on Calvary, it’s not a hard thing to do.

A wise man once said:

“Long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world. I have faith in the Lord Jesus for myself, a faith burned into me as a hot iron. I thank God, what I believe I shall believe, even if I believe it alone.” C.H Spurgeon, October 16th, 1887