One of the greatest mistakes that we make today is to assume that everyone around us has heard about Jesus. The fact is they haven’t. We are living in a day when many professing Christians are Biblically illiterate and cannot clearly explain the Gospel themselves. Since that’s the case, then what makes us think that non-Christians have accurately heard the Gospel message and understand it?
A couple of years ago I talked to a guy who was raised around church but had no idea what it meant to be saved. The Gospel message of a Savior that died to pay the penalty for his sins was a completely foreign concept to Him. He had no idea that to be saved he needed repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ. We are long past the days of taking for granted that the people around us have heard and understood the Gospel message. When we seek to share the Gospel with someone, we need to do so assuming that they have no idea about the Gospel. Unless they know the Gospel and believe on Jesus, they will not be saved. This is why we must explain the Gospel clearly.
Before we can clearly explain the Gospel, we have to be sure that we know the Gospel ourselves. This is something we must absolutely be clear about. In our day when there is such a plethora of Christian books so readily available it is surprisingly easy for the Gospel to become convoluted or replaced altogether. As believers, we must be sure we understand the Gospel so that we can clearly explain the Gospel to others.
When Jesus was ascending into heaven, He wanted His disciples to understand the message of the Gospel that they were to take and share throughout the world. Here is what He said. “…Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47 (NKJV) There are several things we need to understand from this so that we can clearly explain the Gospel.
The Gospel centers on the death and resurrection of Christ. The Gospel isn’t just about a guy named Jesus who lived a long time ago and was tragically killed by the oppressive religious establishment. No, the Gospel is about the Christ, the Son of the Living God who came to earth, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead to prove that all He’d said was true and that He could forgive sins and save the lost. If we don’t clearly explain the life, death and resurrection of Christ then we haven’t shared the Gospel.
Part of explaining the life, death and resurrection of Christ is explaining that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). People must understand that they have sinned against a holy God and are justly condemned for that sin. If they don’t understand this they will never understand the significance of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus died to pay their penalty for their sin. It is only when we understand our guilt that we see our need for salvation. If people do not understand that Jesus died for their sin, then they do not understand the Gospel. If people do not believe that Jesus died for their sin, then they do not believe the Gospel.
We also see that the Gospel is a message of repentance. Jesus and John the Baptist both preached about the necessity of repentance (Mark 1:14-15, Lk 3:3).The most basic definition of repentance is a change of mind about God and sin that results in a change of life. Repentance is to recognize that God is right about the wickedness of our sin and our lack of righteousness. Repentance then leads us to turn to God seeking forgiveness for our sins and the righteousness that’s found in Christ. The Biblical response to the Gospel is to repent of our sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ are absolutely critical elements in responding to the Gospel message.
We also see that the Gospel is a message of the remission of sins. This simply means that as we repent of our sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the guilt for our sin is taken away and we are declared to be righteous by God. Our sin, our guilt and our unrighteousness are taken away and replaced with the righteousness of Christ.
Ultimately, this is why the Gospel is good news. This is why Paul says, “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!’” Romans 10:15 (NKJV)
We love to see people who bring us good news and glad tidings. That is exactly what we are doing when we share the Gospel with others. We aren’t oppressing them, or persecuting them or harming them in any way. On the contrary, we are telling them the greatest news there is. Every believer has been sent into the world to take the good news of the Gospel to those who are separated from God. Believers must freely share the Gospel with everyone. To do this we must understand the Gospel so that we can clearly explain it.