January 23, 2007

God, Sin, Christ, Response

The gospel of Jesus Christ is really a very simple thing. There is a God in heaven who made us, loves us, owns us. He deserves the highest love and honor in return. But none of us gives it. “Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks” (Romans 1.21). This is called sin. And all sin is punishable by death. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loves us” made a way for sinners (who deserve death) to be rescued, and given eternal life. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to live a perfect life, die a sacrificial death, and rise again - all on behalf of sinners (see John 3.16). Because Jesus has lived and died for us, we may go free. But only those who repent of their sins and believe on Jesus will benefit from God’s great plan. God requires a response—repentance and faith.

That is the gospel, in its simple form—God, sin, Christ, response. No gospel presentation is complete without these four elements. But only these four elements are necessary to give people the simple message that gives life - backed up, of course, with supporting verses from Scripture.

It’s not a lot to remember. It’s not all that complicated to explain (although we can and must understand these things better and better as we grow in our faith). But the basic gospel is just that—basic, simple, easy to remember, and easy to explain.

But can I ask you a question: When is the last time you sat down with someone and really explained these things? I know that many of us have opportunities here and there to speak with friends and neighbors about our church, or about how good God has been to us, or about what the Bible says about this issue or that. But when is the last time you actually sat down with someone and walked them through God, sin, Christ, response?

I realize that not every conversation will lead to a full explanation of the gospel. I realize, too, that sometimes we get it to people and bits and pieces over a period of time, or in the course of our day-to-day routines. But I also realize that some of us never really get down to the business of sharing the message of God, sin, Christ, response with lost people. We (myself included) get in ruts where we are timid about using the name Jesus, timid to speak about sin, timid about the exclusivity of the claims of Jesus. So we talk about ‘God’ and ‘the Lord’ and ‘forgiveness’ and ‘grace’ without ever explaining fully why we so desperately need them, or through whom we may receive them—Jesus! Some of us very sparingly use that name!

So can I issue you a challenge? Can I urge you to stop floating around the surface of the gospel and really get to the meat of it (God, sin, Christ, response)? Can I challenge you to pray that God would give you the clear opportunity to explain this simple message with at least one person in the next week? Go ahead and pray now! And can I urge you, when God answers that prayer, not to be ashamed of the gospel, as I so often am?

Finally, can I remind you of these convicting words of the apostle Paul (emphases mine): “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? .... So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10.14, 17)!

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