I’ve done a lot of writing in recent weeks about how we’re supposed to share the Gospel, but there’s a lot of confusion today about what the Gospel is. Just watch some of the preachers on TV; some of them seem to have no idea what the Gospel is!
When I pastored the church in Bethany, I used to preach frequently about evangelism. One week I hit the subject particularly hard. Two ladies came to me afterward, and each said to me, “I don’t know how to tell someone about Christ.” I was stunned! These ladies, if asked, would tell you they knew they were going to Heaven when they died, because and only because Christ died on the Cross for their sins. But they didn’t know how to explain it to someone else. As I’ve mentioned before, many people don’t witness because they’re afraid they’ll mess it up. Instead of not doing it, let’s learn how to do it right, and discuss what we’re supposed to share.
What is the Gospel? The good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, earning God’s forgiveness for those who would repent and trust Christ as their Savior. In chapter one of the Handbook of Personal Evangelism, the late Dr. A. Ray Stanford lays out seven essential points (which he calls “doctrines”) for conveying the simple but incredible Gospel message. He rightly points out later on that we must depend on the Holy Spirit to give people understanding, but it is important that we not shortchange people by giving them half of the Gospel.
Point 1: Man’s Sin
“Everyone is a sinner, less perfect than God.”
Point 2: Sin’s Penalty
“The result and penalty of sin is death…separation from God.”
Point 3: God’s Standard
“The eternal heaven will be a perfect place. No sin could enter this heaven. Man must be perfectly righteous to go to heaven.”
Point 4: Man’s Helplessness
“Nothing man could do could help him obtain the absolute perfection God requires for eternal life.”
Point 5: Christ’s Payment
“Christ made a complete payment for all sin and offers His righteousness.”
Point 6: Faith
“All man must do to be saved is to BELIEVE Jesus was the Lord who paid for all his sin – RECEIVE Christ as his Saviour. God gives eternal life only to those who will accept it by faith alone.”
Point 7: Eternal Life
“Man can know he has eternal life now because eternal life IS eternal.”
NOTE: Stanford outlined the points, and the quotes corresponding to the points are his; I have added the title next to each point.
I’ll be discussing each of these points further in future posts. If you’re interested, I would encourage you to read the Handbook of Personal Evangelism. You could buy a copy here, or read it online for free here. Or, if you use the TheWord Bible Software (I highly recommend it, and it’s free!), it is available for download as a module here.