Do you know what the gospel is? Do you know how to explain it to someone?
Write that down. Remember it.
God has provided various means by which for us to behold Christ. Fellowship. Reading the Bible. Prayer. Singing in worship. Evangelism.
During the Foundry Bible Immersion Program’s first week, we learned about the simplicity of explaining the gospel.
It starts with God. It speaks about the fate of man. It continues with Christ, and it calls all men everywhere to repent. It’s simple, but we’ve made it complicated. We’ve thought we need to have answers for every question that is asked. But Romans 1 expresses that God’s attributes have been clearly seen to the world, and no man is without excuse. We have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and gone our own way. We do not need proof that God exists. We need our hard hearts made alive by the Word of God. And that is what Hebrews 4:12 declares: For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. But Christians have the responsibility to speak the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). This is the reason why we need to know what the word of Christ says. So, I ask again: Do you know what the gospel is? Do you know how to explain it to someone?
The Bible has answers for our deepest needs and is able to equip us for all life and godliness, so I’m excited to be here at the Foundry Bible Immersion Program to hear what the Bible has to say (2 Tim 3:16). A group of 6 students from around the United States have collected in the Washington, D.C. area for 10 weeks to study the Bible under the sound teaching of
Immanuel Bible Church’s leaders. We are planning to read through the whole Bible during this time, glean from the elders here. We also hope to learn and apply practical steps in living out our faith.
Here is a glimpse of this past week:
We normally start our mornings together by learning from a passage or topic in scripture that focuses our attention on the Bible and how to live a more holy life. I remember one day that stood out to me particularly, in which Ryan taught on the passage that says, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). The point that Ryan was emphasizing expounded the phrase, “beholding the glory of the Lord.” He spoke of Christlikeness and explained that the way to becoming more sanctified is by beholding Christ.
Christ completely absolved the wrath of God in the place of sinners. Isaiah 53 beautifully explains the intense agony that the Messiah suffered for our sins.
In our journey to reading through the Bible in 10 weeks, we are now in Leviticus, chapter 5. The benefit of doing this as a group with a schedule is that we can discuss our questions and observations with each other throughout the week.
There are a couple things that I want to mention that I gathered from the class so far.
- Using Bible verses to portray the gospel is an important facet of evangelism – I learned that it’s important to have a battle plan for the scriptures being used to share the gospel, and that memorizing them is almost necessary for explaining the gospel to someone. The scriptures have an authority like no other words do. More than words that I could use. It’s important to incorporate the Bible in explaining the gospel to a person. He or she must have the knowledge that it came from an authority outside of me.
- Handling tough topics with the gospel – Jordan taught us that some of the toughest issues that evangelists face are sharing the gospel with homosexuals, abortionists, and atheists. However, as Corrie Ten Boom famously stated, “there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” His love reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth and the deepest intricacies of the heart. These people need the gospel as desperately as me! And it’s our job as Christians to shine in a dark world, being faithful to wherever God has called us to share the gospel.
- Another thing I learned is that we don’t need to answer every question on the terms of the asker – Unbelief is a form of suppressing the truth. Questions are not always for the intent of seeking truth, and we must be careful not to cast our pearls before swine or be “[taken] captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Matt 7:6, Col 2:8). Sometimes people use questions to channel their own unbelief and therefore justify their position. What they need is the gospel; when their eyes are opened to the light, they will be able to believe the truth.
- Prayer – I don’t think it could be emphasized enough that before we can act, we need to have our hearts set on Christ. He guides and moves the hearts of kings and nations. He is the One who fights our battles. And when we fight, we want to fight His battle – not our own. Prayer is vital to bend out hearts, minds and wills to God’s will and purposes.
Jordan brought us with him to share the gospel on a couple local college campuses in Virginia. He sent us out – two by two – to witness to the lost; and we had a very real opportunity to put into practice what we had been learning. The world is utterly lost without God, and there is a while mission-field outside our doors. Will we listen to the call and go? I am thankful that this Foundry Bible Immersion Program has put me into situations that I need to be faced with the opportunity to share my faith on a regular basis.
We were stretched beyond our normal limits and encouraged by the Holy Spirit’s work as we submitted to our Savior in sharing the gospel message.
One helpful tool was the Bible verses we had been required to memorize for the evangelism class. I heard the gospel portrayed beautifully through Abby when she spoke the verses to a couple college students in her presentation of the gospel. Though these people appeared to have hard hearts, they listened to the whole gospel presentation. Please pray that the Lord would use the seeds that were planted to produce hearts and lives of repentance. We know that the Word of God is powerful and our duty is to share with others the message God has opened our eyes to see. So, we are learning not to shy away from the responsibility that we have as Christians to share this good news! Please also pray for God to give us the words to speak and the wisdom to understand how to respond in love to the needs of unbelievers.
The Lord also opened the hearts of some of the elders in the church to welcome us into their homes for dinner. These times so far have been beneficial in my walk with God, and I’m sure others have been blessed as well.
Already, after just one week here, our group feels like a family. We have opened up to each other, shared our likes and dislikes, and learned some of each other’s personal values and daily routines. The unique bond of fellowship has been joyous, exciting, and intimate. We spend so much time together that by the time our heads hit our pillows, we are exhausted! But we’ve learned a lot, and we’re learning to practice love. The accountability that I even have with my roommate is a blessing in my life. I am thankful for the chance to have this kind of fellowship at this point in my life.
Summing it all up
I had heard arguments, debates, and complicated theories for why people should believe the Bible. I had heard answers to the hard questions that skeptics often throw at people who say they believe the Bible. But the gospel is simple, and though it is foolishness to those that are perishing, we are called to proclaim it anyway.
God created everything and therefore owns everything (Gen 1:1, Ps 24:1, Matt 5:48, Rev 15:4). All men have knowledge of this perfectly holy God who demands righteous obedience (Rom 1:18, James 2:10). However, “there is none righteous, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10,23). Man deserves to pay an eternal penalty for his sin; and he cannot satiate God’s wrath with good works (Rom 6:23, Titus 3:5, Isa 64:6, Eph 2:8-9). But Jesus had mercy on us and came to earth as fully God and sinless man, “for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” so that we would become righteous in God’s eyes (Rom 5:8, 2 Cor 5:21). Jesus, having died, was buried and was raised on the third day and now intercedes for us (1 Cor 15:4, Rom 8:34). Therefore, sinners must repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Luke 9:23, Rom 10:9, Acts 17:30). Isa 55:7 calls out, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
You see, this is the central part of the Christian life. If we don’t know what the gospel is, what kind of Christians are we? We are not true Christians. And if we know it, it should extend to all areas of our life, including submission to authorities, including loving the brethren, including fellowship, and – as we emphasized this week – including sharing the gospel with the lost.