Our task is to present the gospel message correctly.
So here are some thoughts on this, bearing in mind first that salvation is the work of God.
An example of God working salvation in Lydia’s life is:
The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message”Acts 16:14
In the Bible there are various examples of gospel messages being preached.
So when we look at them we need to ask: “Who is being spoken to?”
a) The Gospel message to people who have no Bible knowledge
When Paul was speaking at Athens to men who had no grounding in the Scriptures, he told them what God was like :
God who made the world…Acts 17:24
Lord of heaven and earth…
gives all men life and breath and everything else…
made every nation…
He determined the times…
so that men would seek Him…” etc.
Paul was laying a foundation from which to launch his call to action:
- He is the Creator – He made us, the world and everything else.
- We have a constant dependence on Him.
- He is the Lord of heaven and earth and He does what He chooses.
- He has an absolute claim upon us.
- We cannot restrict Him to a temple.
- He is totally self-sufficient, He is not served by human hands – He doesn’t need anything!
- Without Him we are dead – just lifeless dust!
- He gives us boundaries and we have a responsibility to live within them.
Now and only now, Paul gives a call to action, because they now know what their situation is:
- God wants people to seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.
- He is closer than you think.
- Up until now God has overlooked our ignorance of Him.
- But now he commands all people everywhere to repent – to turn to Him.
- He will judge all those who don’t turn to Him.
b) The Gospel message to people who are religious, who know the Bible but who are not saved.
A Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Jesus. (John 3:1-21)
Jesus could see that Nicodemus needed to be moved away from self-confidence and towards trusting in God.
Also Jesus needed to stress about faith being a relationship with God.
- No-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
- Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
- You must be born again. New family and a relationship with God the Father.
- God is bigger than the things you know: “The wind blows wherever it pleases…”
- The truth and reality of our salvation: “we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen…”
- Salvation is something God does: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
- Salvation is through faith: “that whoever believes in him (Jesus) shall not perish but have eternal life.”
- Unbelievers will be condemned: “whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
- Naturally people would rather hide from God than come to Him: “but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
The Gospel message, what should it be?
Many may give an answer like this:
- God loves you.
- You have sinned.
- Jesus died for you and rose back to life.
- Confess and turn to Him.
This may have worked in many situations, but from reading our Bibles we can see that there is no set formula.
In fact, we could say that the whole of the Bible is ‘Gospel’:
and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”2 Timothy 3:15
And let’s remind ourselves of the very next verses:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”2 Timothy 3:16
When we look at how Jesus spoke to people it was in different ways – there was no formula.
He tailored it to His hearers, but more than that, He spoke the words that God the Father was telling Him to speak. Jesus said:
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”John 12:49
That makes ‘the Gospel’ a whole lot bigger and more exciting!
See this article: What is church doctrine? Go Shake Your World With It!
[i] Photo credit: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library Digital Collection opens in a new window.