For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)
I have been a student of the Bible my whole life. I recall learning to recite the books of the Bible and John 3:16 before I even learned the alphabet. I have loved God’s word all my life, and although I have not memorized vast portions like my grandfather did, I have always found that the more I learn the more I become aware of how much I don’t know.
I was about twelve years old when I first learned to present the gospel message, and I made sure all my school friends had heard the gospel at least once. Over the years, I have learned several formats for presenting the gospel, including Evangelism Explosion, The Roman Road, and The Gospel ABC’s. I have shared the gospel message many times, and have even had the privilege of leading a few people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
What I never fully appreciated, until recently, is how much easier it is to explain the gospel message to people who already have respect for the Bible as God’s word and a basic understanding of the more common Bible stories. Growing up in the Bible Belt, virtually everyone I knew had at least attended Vacation Bible School each summer, and was raised to show respect for God and the Bible.
Over the past few months of blogging, I have become increasingly aware of how many people have either no knowledge whatsoever of the Bible, or a very distorted perception of what the Bible is about. This makes it very difficult to communicate the gospel message using the tools I learned to rely on in my youth.
John 3:16 has little meaning to someone who has never heard of Jesus, doesn’t know what they need to be saved from, why they would want to be saved, or what they are expected to believe. Add to this some common misperceptions of God being out to get people for slipping up, and the discussions quickly become cumbersome.
I would have thought the simple solution would be to encourage a seeker to read the Bible for themselves. However, that presents problems as well, because any given portion of the Bible taken out of context, with no knowledge of how it fits into the whole, can be very confusing. Plus, as discussed in a previous post, the gospel sounds all topsy turvey and irrational to someone who has neither understanding nor the guidance of The Holy Spirit.
So, here is my confession. Although I have studied the Bible my whole life, I have discovered that I am completely inept at trying to explain the essential gospel message to someone who knows nothing about the Bible. I am an inept Bible scholar.
Yet, being unwilling to give up without at least trying, I have created a page titled, The Essential Gospel Message in which I do my best to explain the fundamental biblical message in a few brief paragraphs. The whole time I was writing it, I kept thinking how I have NEVER heard ANYONE explain the gospel the way I’ve done it here. I even wonder how many of my friends who have attended church their whole lives will scratch their heads and frown in puzzlement at how I have attempted to explain some of the fundamental concepts of the Christian faith.
Here’s the thing. I wanted to provide a basic framework to help a novice Bible reader to understand how whatever passage they are reading may fit into the whole. So, I have attempted a brief summary of the fundamental primary story of the Bible, in as straightforward a manner as I could, with as little Christianeze terminology as possible, yet also explaining some of the more common biblical terms.
Take a look and let me know what you think. You can access the page by clicking here.
How would you explain the gospel message to someone who has no knowledge of the Bible?