The Gospel Begins With God
- This is the most difficult and important part of our attempt to explain the gospel message.
- Some people do not believe in God at all, so we need to begin by establishing that GOD IS!
- The argument from design (Acts 17:24-26)
- The argument from conscience (Romans 2:14&15)
- The argument from “the search for happiness” – the “God-shaped hole” in our lives (Acts 17:27&28)
- Many more do believe in God, but have no idea what He is really like
- He is holy, meaning that He is not at all like us and infinitely high above us in his splendour and glory (Isaiah 6:1-5)
- He is pure, so that there is no imperfection or weakness or flaw in Him – He cannot possibly accept anything that is not absolutely perfect (I John 1:5)
- He is love, proven in the fact that He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally united in perfect commitment and mutual devotion – He IS love (I John 4:7-10)
- Others know a bit about God, but do not accept His personal interest in them: they use the argument that “God is not interested in me” to explain why they are not interested in God!
- God made humanity for fellowship and relationship (Genesis 1:26&3:8)
- God has never given up on his personal interest in humanity (Acts 17:27&28)
- God’s interest extends to a full record of every person’s entire life (Hebrews 4:13)
- If we cannot establish the reality of God from the beginning of our conversation, we can move to points 2 and 3 and seek to prove His reality from there:
The Gospel Explains The Problem
- There is clearly a problem! God made everything perfect and glorious, yet it is not so today. Pick out any number of proofs particularly relevant to the person you are speaking with:
- Warfare, divorce, hatred, bullying, abuse, murder, unfaithfulness, deception…
- Choose something big that the person could not really argue with!
- Then seek to demonstrate that each of us is guilty of causing the problem. We have all contributed and none of us is without blame.
- We have all broken God’s laws. Use any one or more of the commandments in Exodus 20 to prove this. You can also refer to Jesus’ probing application of the commandments in Matthew 5 to press your point home.
- We are all guilty before God. Not that we are guilty to the same degree (it is a mistake to try and argue that a murderer is equally guilty as a tax-evader), but that we are all guilty before a holy God to some degree, hence there is no essential difference (Romans 3:21-23).
- None of us can fix the problem, because it lies in our own hearts. Challenge the person if they could be perfect for a single day… Refer to Jeremiah 17:9&10.
- If you can establish both points 1&2, then the conclusion is inevitable: there must be a day of judgment upon which we will have to give account to God (Romans 14:12).
- For most of us, this day will come following our death (Hebrews 9:27), and will lead to the obvious and inevitable separation from God that we deserve (Matthew 7:23).
- In all of this, remember that the problem of sin is not primarily in relation to other people, but before the God who made us and will hold us to account (Psalm 51).
The Gospel Points To Christ As The Only Solution
- Christ Jesus is the only solution to the problem of our sin and the judgment to follow because:
- He alone was born without any inclination to sin (Matthew 1:23)
- He alone lived a perfectly holy, pure and loving life, so that he alone is worthy never to die or to be judged (Hebrews 7:26). Spend as much time here as you can (and if you ever get bogged down on any of the other points, try to come back to this one). Use any number of the incidents from Jesus’ life to prove that He was perfect and beautiful and righteous before God in every way. Become very familiar with the gospel accounts so that the stories of His life are at hand. The events leading up to the cross are especially powerful, for example the way that he loved His enemies and prayed for them.
- He alone has the power and the authority to face the forces of evil and to defeat them, because He alone is fully God and fully human, (John 14:6-11). Note that understanding and believing in the deity of Christ is essential for any person’s salvation. This is not a secondary matter, but absolutely fundamental. It is the reason why the “gospel” message of the cults (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) cannot save from sin.
- He alone died to pay the price for sin, taking the full consequences of all humanity’s rebellion against God in those three hours on the cross (II Corinthians 5:21). Note that Jesus only died for the sins of those who repent and believe, so while we can say, “Jesus died for sinners like us”, we must never say to an individual person, “Jesus has died for your sins.” That is not the case, unless they repent of sin and trust in Him for forgiveness (see point 4). We must be careful not to say what can be misunderstood.
- He alone has conquered death by rising again to live forever (II Timothy 1:10)
- He will return in glory to finish His work in His people, (I John 3:2)
The Gospel Demands A Response
- We are heralds of God’s gospel, not sharers of our own ideas for discussion.
- Therefore, the gospel demands a response, and “no response” is the same as rejection.
- What response is required?
- Repent, which means admit, confess and turn around (Acts 2:38)
- Believe, which means trust in Christ alone for forgiveness (Acts 16:31)
- Embrace Christ as the Lord of your life and commit yourself to live to His glory with His people in the church from this day forward (Romans 10:9)
TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY