I’ve been teaching a Theological Survey course at The Austin Stone this past fall and spring, and it has been a great experience in equipping the saints to think deeply about God, to love Him with a whole heart, and obey His commandments with willing hands. Yesterday, one of the class participants asked me about how I personally communicate the gospel, and I thought it might be instructive to share my response. Here you go!
Thanks for your question…I’m happy to share! When I think about the gospel and how to communicate it, I usually have one of three grids I am using:
- Sharing the Gospel Directly from the Bible
- The Basic Facts of the Gospel
- The Gospel as The Story of Jesus
Below is an overview of each!
Sharing the Gospel from the Bible
I actually used this strategy at the beginning of the class when I worked through 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 with y’all. This passage is perhaps the most clear articulation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of the Bible, so I use it frequently. I usually start with reading the text:
15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
Then I work through the following points in teaching:
- The past, present and future dimensions of the gospel – verses 1 and 2
- The primacy of the gospel – verse 3
- The facts of the gospel – verses 3-6
I find this to be an important way to present the gospel to those who are already believers, but don’t have a clear understanding of it. It has the additional benefit of pointing out the foundation of the Bible as the authority on the matter.
The Basic Facts of the Gospel
The second strategy I often use is the basic facts of the gospel, which is stolen from the book “What is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert. Briefly, the 4 main tenets of a gospel presentation answer the following questions:
- Who is God?
- Who is man?
- Who is Christ?
- How should we respond?
To answer those questions, I first talk about God as creator and God as holy and powerful. Next, I talk about humans as created in God’s image, but we are rebellious towards God in our sin. Then I turn to Christ, who is the God Man that lived in perfect obedience to God, died an atoning death on the cross, and was raised on the third day in victory over sin, Satan, and death. Then finally, we should respond to this message with repentance (turning from our sin) and faith (turning towards Christ).
The Story of Jesus
Finally, the one I used in class is a modification of a Tim Keller strategy that has helped me think through the gospel as a story of Jesus. The story follows the basic pattern below:
- Jesus came into this world as God in flesh
- Jesus lived a perfect life that you and I never could have lived because of our sin
- Jesus died an atoning death on the cross that we deserved to die to save us from our sin and take the wrath of God for sin upon himself
- Jesus rose from the dead in victory over sin, Satan and death so that we who would repent and believe might be reconciled back into our relationship with God the Father for eternity.
- The bad news is that we are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared to believe, and the good news is we are more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared to hope. What good news!
It changes each time I tell the story, but those are the general points I usually work through.
I hope those help! Finally, I have found this article by Tim Keller does a great job of explaining why we need to communicate the gospel in a variety of different ways…it has helped me a lot!