I have been greatly disappointed in my informal interviews with countless Christians from all sorts of denominations on this very subject. As I’ve traveled the United States and preached in hundreds of venues, from churches to conferences to camps and retreats, I’ve been sadly surprised by the inability of many believers to articulate the simple truth of the Gospel in a clear way. Many of these believers have attended church for years and still can’t pass “the Gospel test” at least when it comes to explaining the message of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Paul summed up the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 when he wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
The Gospel is the message that Jesus died in our place for our sins as a substitutionary atonement. He was buried, and he rose from the dead, proving that he was the Son of God himself. In the most famous verse of Scripture, Jesus said that whoever believes in him has eternal life.
Yes, it’s that simple! It’s so simple that a child can understand it and so jaw-droppingly deep that a seminary professor can choke on it.
So if the Gospel message is so simple, then why can’t the average Christian clearly articulate it? And what are some practical action steps we can take to help those we minister to understand it more deeply and articulate it more clearly?
1. Relentlessly present the Gospel in your sermons, lessons, and talks.
Too many preachers only give the Gospel when it fits naturally into their sermons (or on Christmas Eve, Easter, and other special outreach services.) Many have told me things like, “Well, the church service is for the believer, and that’s why I don’t give the Gospel.” They say things like this as if the Gospel were only for unbelievers and can be set aside after a person puts their faith in Jesus. But what you see in the preaching of the disciples was an obsession with the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for the Christian and non-Christian alike! The Gospel message was at the epicenter of their epistles, the driving subject of their sermons, the launching point of their theological rants, the punch line to their practical applications, and the basis for their painful rebukes.