Can You Tell the Story?
It is alarming how many people cannot articulate the true gospel of Jesus Christ in a succinct and confident way, and I am not talking about unbelievers, I mean people who profess to believe the gospel for salvation. Consider for a moment what we know and remember with vivid detail, that is in the grand scheme of things are unimportant. For example, I can tell you exactly what you need to know about how to use the remote to turn on the television in our home, what channel you need to turn to, and when you need to turn it on to watch Whale Wars. So what are the things that you can articulate with great specificity that have little or no eternal value? To say the least, is it not troubling that so many Christians cannot tell another person the very story that saved them from eternal separation from God so that they could be changed for heaven to worship the Triune God?
Here are some questions that might help you diagnose how well you know and love the gospel:
Can you give a succinct summary of the gospel without long pauses or stumbling over your words? Do you stumble over your address or how you met your spouse?
The gospel is good news. It is a story. Can you tell it? Which one is harder, to tell the story of Jesus or the story of your most recent vacation or some other eventful moment in your life?
Have you ever sat down and written the gospel out?
What are the essential elements of the gospel? The gospel is the grand story of 66 books that span at least 1500 years. What are the main points of the life-changing Bible story?
I tried to be pithy and tried to identify essential details of the gospel story with the summary below. We will never share the gospel until we love it enough to know it. If I were asked, this is how I would answer the question: “What is the gospel?”
The gospel is good news about bad news. The bad news is that every person is sinfully flawed in their nature and dead in their sin before a perfect and infinite creator God (Rom. 3:9-18, 23; Eph. 2:1). The good news is that God, being rich in mercy, sent Jesus to live perfectly, die as a substitution, and resurrect victoriously over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The atonement Jesus made for sin is enabled by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit and the atonement is applied by our response of repentance and faith (Acts 20:21). We cannot by our good works earn favor with God (Eph. 2:8-9). It is by grace through faith that we are made a new creation to live to righteousness (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:4-8; 1 Pet 2:24).
To summarize: God is perfect. You and I are hopelessly separated from God by our sin. Jesus is our only hope to have a relationship with God. You must turn from your sin and follow Jesus, otherwise, you will perish. The gospel is the living story that Jesus can turn your infinitely bad situation into eternally good news for God’s glory.