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What is the Gospel?

“I” before “E” except after. . .

 

You knew the finish, right? Except after “C.”

 

What about, “in fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed. . . .”

 

You knew, “sailed the ocean blue.”

 

These are simple phrases, but they are memorable and helpful to remember facts or information. I think this is a helpful way for us to learn the Gospel and to share it with others.

 

If you go in the average church, or even have a meeting of church leaders, and ask the question, “what is the Gospel,” you will get many answers. People may say many of the right things, but they do not seem know all the Gospel or cannot express it all in a simple way.

 

When a pastor gets up and says to his church, “we need to share the Gospel,” people will often cheer in agreement. But if he were to ask them to share the Gospel, they would labor to find the words or stare in silence. Many pastors might react the same way.

 

It would be helpful for all the people in a church, from children to seniors, to have a clear, simple way to know and share the Gospel. It would be important that such a summary would be memorable and easy for real people to use. Now, you cannot get everything in a summary, but you can get the main points for understanding and a guide for conversation.

 

I often say, “my something is better than your nothing.” I think that applies here. If you have a simple summary or outline that you made or your church found, and it works for you, great. Until then, try this.

 

Several years ago, Greg Stier, of Dare to Share Ministries, made a simple outline to teach youth the Gospel. They have included it in all their training and events, and they have seen great results from it. It is an acrostic using the word gospel:

 

God created us to be with him. PS 100:3

Our sins separate us from God. Rom 3:23

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. Isa 64:6

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. Rom. 5:8

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. John 3:16

Life forever with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. John 17:3

 

There is more to the Gospel than a simple outline. But this is a good list that a whole church can use so everyone to be on the same page. It can be taught to preschoolers. Every deacon and Sunday school teacher can learn it. It can be printed and displayed. A pastor can even do a 6-sermon series to unpack the outline in his own words and theology.

 

Some malign simple tools and outlines as insufficient.  Jeff Vanderstelt writes:

“So we go about ‘preaching’ gospel snippets, thinking we’re speaking the gospel to others, but what people hear is not good news. Oh, it might contain gospel elements, but they don’t hear it as good news because they are not hearing the truths of Jesus applied to their lives and situations. What they get is just a set of phrases and propositions that don’t make much sense to their context, culture, or language.”

 

While it is simplistic to think that an outline or a presentation can fully communicate the Gospel by itself, Vanderstelt and others should not discount the value of such a tool. He is right when he says that people need to hear the Gospel in light of their “context, culture, or language.” But a simple summary or outline is a great place to start for deeper conversations about the Good News which impacts all of life.

 

If you have a smart device, check out the website and free app – Lifein6words.com. It gives many tools and visual helps for real people to share the Good News of Christ with others. Stier also wrote a book, Gospelize, to explain the outline and a strategy to implement. “Gospelize” is a word, coined by Charles Spurgeon, to mean, “getting the Gospel” to people.

 

Vanderstelt, Jeff. Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life (p. 39). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

 

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