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Sharing the Gospel

Sunday Evening, May 7, 2006

I. Introduction:
I am no used car salesman, but I would venture to guess that if I was, I would want to pay particular attention to the craft of closing the deal.  I mean, if you drive the car with the customer, explain to them the car’s features, go over the price and down-payment, and conclude with, ‘Do whatever you want to do’ or ‘Have you looked at all the cars on the lot down the street,’ then you have simply wasted your time.  You have to close the deal.

 Unfortunately, people often approach sharing the gospel like they are selling a car.  They tell you all the benefits of believing in Christ.  They walk you through the ‘better life’ that they are offering.  They explain how the deal works and conclude with a question like, ‘Would you like to pray with me to receive Christ?’  With this question they are simply trying to close the deal.  Yet, is this how we want people to respond to the gospel?

Tonight we come to the fourth and final heading in our presentation of the gospel, namely response and new creation.  Up to this point, we have labored to make sure that people understand that they were created by God and are accountable to Him.  We also want them to know that they have rebelled against Him through their sin and are in need of forgiveness.  The good news of the gospel is that through Christ we can have forgiveness for our sins and a restored relationship with God, the Father.  Thus, we come to the question of response in our presentation of the gospel.  Let’s begin by considering what we have under this last heading.

II.  A Brief summary of Response and New Creation:

 Once again, we should begin by looking at what we have under our heading of Response and New Creation:

The only remaining issue is how should we respond to such good news?  I mean, since Christ died does that mean that everybody is alright and none of us need to worry about judgment or forgiveness?  No, the Bible makes it clear that only those who repent (turn away from) of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ will be saved from judgment (Acts 2:37-41, Romans 10:5-13, Galatians 2:15-16).  Only the person who gives up trying to do things his own way (repentance) and becomes a follower of Jesus Christ (belief) will be prepared to face death and judgment.  I encourage people to think of it this way: you are a sinner, you have rebelled against God and gone your own way.  Someone has to pay for your sins and there are only two possibilities: either you can pay for them by spending eternity in hell, or you can repent of your sins and believe in Christ so that he can pay for them on the cross.  Those are the only two options.  Thus, I plead with you, repent of your sins and believe in Christ.  Give up following your own ways and become a follower of Jesus Christ.  Get involved in a local Church that faithfully teaches the Scriptures so that you can be taught and discipled as a Christian.  Follow hard after Christ, seeking His glory alone, until He calls you home or comes back for His Church.

We want to make it clear to people that it is necessary that they respond to the gospel.  Just being aware of the gospel or of the story of Jesus is not enough.  The Scriptures call all men to repent and believe.  Thus, the appropriate response to the gospel is to repent of your sins (which means turning away from your sins) and believe in Christ.  It would be a good idea to read with them Acts 2:37-41.  This passage answers the question of how we should respond to the gospel (also, if you keep reading, 2:42-47, you have a great picture of the church and its necessity for the life of a believer).  At this point in our sharing, we want to make sure that the person understands what we have said.  Thus, I offer my summary explanation of the two options of payment for sins.  Hopefully, this will drive home the weight of the issue and force them to consider their options.  We want people to understand that these are life and death matters which we do not take lightly (and neither should they). 

Also, we want to emphasize that salvation means becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Obviously, you can talk more about this than I cover in a couple of sentences.  We need for people to understand that becoming a Christian is more than simply praying a prayer or walking an aisle, it is following a Savior and Lord.  It is not a one time experience of repentance and belief, no, it is a lifetime of repentance and belief.  Thus, we want to take some time to explain what this means and answer any questions that they might have.  You could discuss a passage like 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 with them, where Paul describes the Christian as a new creation in Christ.  We want to talk about involvement in a local church and the spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, prayer, worship, service, etc.).  It is important that we do our best to help them understand what being a follower of Jesus is all about.

III.  Possible Questions concerning Response and New Creation  

 A.  All I have to do is pray a prayer?  Hopefully, you will not get this question from what you have shared about the gospel, but it may come from the person’s previous exposure to similar teaching.  Again, what you want to emphasize is the importance of following Christ as his disciple.  You could look at a passage like John 15:8-11, where Jesus speaks of bearing fruit as proof of being His disciple.  We want to be careful here.  We are not teaching that a person must work in order to be saved.  Rather, we must teach people that true Christians will work as evidence of their salvation.  Other passages to consider include: Matthew 16:24-25, 1 John 1:6, 2:9, 3:4-10.

 B.  I believe in Christ, so now what?  I think this could possibly be a response that you get a majority of the time.  Many people know enough about Church and God and Christ to say that they believe.  Thus, some of what we may be doing in our evangelism is actually convincing people that they are not necessarily Christians just because they had some ‘experience’ when they were younger.  This is a difficult and delicate task indeed.  Yet, again, we simply want to speak of the importance of being a disciple of Jesus.  We could read some of the 1 John passages to them as warnings, I think that is fair and loving and at times necessary.  Obviously, we want to encourage them in the right direction and not just be judgmental.  Yet, if they claim the name of Christ, then we need to speak openly and honestly about truly following Christ.  People do not need to think that they are a Christian when the Bible gives them no such assurance.  Rather, they (and we) should base their (our) assurance on the text.

IV.  Conclusion:

 Let me conclude tonight with a couple of thoughts.  In dealing with a person’s response to the gospel, we are trying to avoid two errors: easy believism and false assurance.  We do not want people to think that you just pray a prayer and you are in, such a thought is not consistent with the Bible’s teaching on how we should respond.  Rather, we want to emphasize the importance of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.  As far as assurance is concerned, it is important for us to remember that we can never offer someone assurance outside of the Bible.  It is not our responsibility to ever tell someone that they are, or are not, a Christian.  Rather, we are to tell a person how to become a Christian and how they can have assurance that they are a Christian based on the Scriptures.  Thus, let the Scriptures assure people.  We are not used car salesmen trying to close the deal on the gospel.  No, we are simply ambassadors of Christ, faithfully sharing His gospel with a lost world, trusting that He will save men and women as we do.  The deal is His to close.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 May 2006 )

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