When I share the Gospel with anyone, I aim at going through six parts to my presentation:
1. Salvation is a Gift
2. All Have Sinned
3. The Wages of Sin
4. Substitutionary Death of Christ
5. Repent and Receive Christ
6. Assurance of Salvation
1) Salvation is a Gift
I often start a gospel presentation by talking about the concept of salvation being a gift. Many people are brought up throughout childhood thinking they have to earn their place in heaven by their good works. The enemy suggests to them the idea of scales, making them believe that their good works must outweigh their sinful practices. These kinds of thoughts come from the pit of hell.
8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
To use an illustration of a gift, I sometimes talk about a child that has done wrong the day before Christmas, where traditionally, in the Western world, we give gifts to one another. (If you do not celebrate this holiday, think of another time when gifts are given). I ask them if they would still give their child a gift on Christmas Day, most people answer yes. I remind people that when a gift is given, it is not because of anything the person has done to deserve or not deserve it; it is from the heart of the giver, who in this instance is God Himself. The gift of God is given to us when we receive it by faith; works have nothing to do with it.
2) All Have Sinned
Before they can receive the gift of God, we must bring up the problem of sin. What is sin? The concept of sin seems like an outdated concept to some who have grown up being educated primarily through media. If someone does not believe in God at all, the idea of sin is sometimes very foreign to them. I always make sure that they understand that I am not singling them out, or commenting on their lifestyle, etc. All of humanity is in the same boat. We all need forgiveness. We all do things that we regret or with which we feel sorrow. The Greek word that the Scriptures use for sin is Hamartia. It is an archery term that means "to miss the mark." It is like aiming for the center of the target and finding that we continually miss it. God's standard is perfection. There is only One who has ever met that standard, and His name is Jesus. “Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?” (John 8:46). Sometimes people have said to me that they have never sinned. I usually ask them if they knew what the greatest commandment is. I have to tell them most of the time. Jesus said that it was, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 27:37-40). I ask them if they have ever kept that commandment before telling them what James said:
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).
It is of paramount importance that the person sees him or herself guilty before a holy God and that if he or she has committed one sin, they need forgiveness of their sin. I often ask them how many murders does it take before a person becomes a murderer; the answer is simple—one! How many lies does it take before a person is guilty of being a liar; again, the answer is simple—one! How many sins does a person commit before he or she is a sinner—one! God knows our condition is one that has affected all the race of Man:
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).
When the person admits his guilt before a holy God, we must tell him or her the real state of the predicament we are all in. Sin is rebellion before a holy God and must be judged. Tell them, "Before I can tell you the excellent news, I must first tell you about the justice of God toward sin."
Let's carry on with this thought in two days—tomorrow is Christmas Day, so we'll have a meditation on the Savior's birth into the world. If you can't wait, hit the link below. Keith Thomas