Session 2: What Do Christians Believe About the Gospel? - Radical

Secret Church 16: A Global Gospel in a World of Religions

Session 2: What Do Christians Believe About the Gospel?

In this session of Secret Church 16, Pastor David Platt reminds us of the centrality of the gospel for the Christian life. David Platt takes time to explain the foundational elements of the gospel, including God’s character, man’s sin, the sufficiency of Christ, and man’s response. As Christians, we must rightly remember that these truths are critical for our own faith and for the mission we’ve been given to take this gospel to the ends of the earth.

  1. God’s Character
  2. Offense of Sin
  3. Sufficiency of Christ
  4. Personal Response
  5. Eternal Urgency
  6. Life Transformation

What is the gospel? That seems like a pretty important question, particularly if we’re discerning whether or not it’s worthy of our confidence and committing our lives to making it known. Like I mentioned, I realize there are some atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims and others tonight who may not have any confidence in the gospel. At the same time I’ve got a feeling there are some, maybe many, Christians who have waning—if any—confidence in the gospel. Many of us might say we have confidence in it, but we’re hesitant to proclaim it or to share it which causes us to wonder how much confidence we really have in it.

What Do Christians Believe About the Gospel?

So, what is the gospel we believe and share? I want to give you my best attempt to summarize biblically the essence of the gospel, and then we’ll unpack it piece by piece. 

The gospel is the good news that the only true God, the just and gracious Creator of the universe, has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin through His substitutionary death on the cross and to show His power over sin and death in the resurrection from the grave so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever.

Now, that’s full. Every word and phrase there is important for so many reasons. I’ve mentioned numerous times already that there are a lot of people who call themselves Christian but don’t believe the gospel as it’s biblically defined there. So that’s huge. One of the most fundamental questions I want to ask everybody who is involved in Secret Church tonight is: do you believe this? If you don’t believe it now, my hope is you might believe it before the night is over. Once you believe it—and for all who say, “Yes, I believe this”—we’ve got to make sure when it comes to sharing the gospel with others in the world, that this is the gospel we’re sharing. Not some false gospel or diluted gospel or distorted gospel. We’ve got to make sure we’re sharing the biblical gospel.

So I didn’t just make this definition up out of nowhere. This definition I hope and trust reflects God’s Word. I want to show it to you. All over Scripture we see rich and varied imagery describing the gospel, but if you were looking for a couple texts that summarize the gospel, one would be Romans 3:21-26—probably the greatest paragraph ever written anywhere—and then Ephesians 2:1-10. So let’s read them and then think about what they’re saying. Romans 3:21-26:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:1-10:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

So how do you summarize what we just read? I want to give you an acrostic that I hope will help you remember the core truths of the gospel. John Meador is a pastor friend of mine in Texas whom I have known for years. I was sharing with him how we have trained the members of The Church at Brook Hills to know and share the gospel, and he later shared with me how he had used some of the same language to train his people using this GOSPEL acrostic. I thought it was hugely helpful, so with his permission I started using that acrostic as well. Here it is:

  • G: God’s Character
  • O: Offense of Sin
  • S: Sufficiency of Christ
  • P: Personal Response
  • E: Eternal Urgency
  • L: Life Transformation

Christians believe the gospel is rooted in God’s Character

So, one at a time. God’s Character. Ultimately the gospel is good news about God. Paul calls it “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The gospel begins and ends with God. His character is the foundation of the gospel. The gospel presupposes everything the Bible teaches about the only true God and is therefore unintelligible apart from biblical testimony to the character and activity of God. I could list Scripture after Scripture pointing to God as the ultimate beginning and end of all things.

In particular, the gospel is rooted in the holiness of God and His righteous hatred against sin and in the love of God and His undeserved grace and mercy toward sinners. His holiness is described in Isaiah 6:1-3 and 43:15, Deuteronomy 32:4. His love is portrayed in John 3:16, Titus 2:11 and Ephesians 2:8, which we read earlier. And then you see in Psalm 5:4-7 His hatred for sin and His mercy toward sinners in the same place:

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

So we see it right there in that passage: righteous hatred for sin and sinners mixed with unmerited love for sinners. Which leads to the question: how can both of those be true of God? We’ll get to that. I can’t wait to get to that. But suffice it to say at this point: ultimately the gospel is about God. It’s God-centered, with His nature and His actions at the heart of the message. This is huge. We’ve got to remember the gospel is God-centered and centers on who He is.

Which is exactly what we read just a minute ago in Ephesians 2. In the first three verses of Ephesians 2 Paul talked about the sinfulness of man—which we’re going to talk about in a minute. But the hinge verse—the verse where everything in that passage changes—is verse four where Paul said, “But God.” But God. This is where everything changes. He’s “rich in mercy.” Remember all the things God does in Ephesians 2? Because of His great love, He “made us alive together with Christ.” He “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace.”

Who’s doing all the action here? God is. He’s the One Who’s acting. And notice how references to us are all in the passive voice. At the end of verse five, “you have been saved.” Not, “you saved yourself.” You were saved. This happened to you. Verse eight, “By grace you have been saved.” This has been done to you. “Through faith,” which we’ll talk about in a minute. But just in case we’re not getting it, Paul makes it clear: this is not your doing. It’s the gift of God. God did this.

Same language over in Romans 3:23-24. Paul said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace . . .” Sinners are justified. This happens to them. Sinners don’t justify themselves—they’re justified by God. He does this. God does this, and He does all of this based on His character. See Who God is. He’s holy and hating sin. He’s loving and merciful toward sinners, because that’s who we are.

Offense of Sin

This is a truth of the gospel that we just have to understand. It’s not just Who God is, but who we are. Because if we diagnose ourselves wrongly, we’ll never see the beauty of the gospel in a world of religions, and we’ll never see our need—our desperate need—for the gospel, what makes the gospel unique. D.A. Carson put it best when he said this:

In any domain, we are unlikely to agree as to what the solution of a problem is, unless we agree as to the nature of the problem. The religions of the world offer an enormous range of solutions to human problems. Some promulgate various forms of religious self-help exercises; some advocate a kind of faithful fatalism; others urge tapping into an impersonal energy or force in the universe; still others claim that mystical experiences are available to those who pursue them, experiences that relativize all evil. One of the critical questions to ask is this: What constitutes the irreducible heart of human problems?”

That’s a significant question. What is the problem that human religions are trying to solve? And how we answer that question has massive implications for how we understand the solution: what’s good, what’s true, what’s most helpful for the human problems. The problem the gospel addresses is humanity’s sinful rebellion against God. Genesis 3 gives us the story of sin’s entrance into the world—the first time anyone rebelled against God’s way and turned to their own way instead. 

And it’s not just the story of that man and that woman. It’s the story of every man and woman in this gathering and every man and woman in the world. It’s looks different in different lives, but the story is the same. We’ve all turned aside from God and His ways and have chosen our own ways instead. Every one of us has. Ever since Genesis 3 we’re just like Adam and Eve. Even if God tells us we’re not supposed to eat from that tree, we’re going to do it anyway. He’s not Lord over us—we can do whatever we want.

So we spurn His authority as Creator. This is the God Who beckons storm clouds, and they come. This is the God Who tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall here, and they do it immediately. He’s the God Who says to the mountains, “You go here,” and to the seas, “You stop there,” and they do it. Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the bidding of the Creator—until you get to you and me. We have the audacity to look Him in the face and say, “No.”

That’s the problem. And as a result, we are guilty before God. We have all sinned against Him. We have shame before God, which causes us to run from Him—which is what Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3, in part because they are just like us. We are afraid of God. We’re guilty; we have shame and we’re afraid of God.

Now, that doesn’t mean we always admit or feel those realities. But the Bible diagnoses the human condition as turning aside from God to ourselves, and as a result we are standing in guilt and shame before Him in our sin, and we are running from God—often in fear. All of us in our hearts are sinners against God (Romans 5:12, 3:23). We have all turned aside from Him (Romans 3:12). 

This is so significant to understand. Francis Schaeffer was once asked, “If you had an hour to share the gospel with a modern person, how would you approach that hour?” His reply was this:

I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma—that he is morally dead. Then I’d take 10-15 minutes to preach the gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt (and not just psychological guilt feelings) in the presence of God.

Christians believe the gospel redeems our sin

We’ve got to see how huge this is. Our problem in this world is not just that our life’s not going right or that we’ve messed up or done some wrong things or made some bad decisions. That’s not the problem of sin. The problem is we in our hearts—at the core of our beings—have rebelled against God. We’re separated from God, and we are dead without Him. That’s what Ephesians 2 said twice: “dead in your trespasses.” That’s why the definition of the gospel reads, “hopelessly sinful men and women.” Because of our sin we’re dead in sin. Dead in sin now, and if nothing changes, dead in sin for all eternity.

An old preaching professor used to take his students every semester to a cemetery, one by one. He would bring them there and tell them, “I want you to stand over these graves and call people to come to life.” Awkwardly, every one of them would step up there and speak out—and nothing would happen. And he would remind them that no matter how eloquent their sermons are, they’re speaking to people who are spiritually dead, and only God can bring dead people to life. 

As sinners, we are hopeless in and of ourselves. How can someone who’s dead come to life? How many of you decided one day that you were ready to come to life? We don’t make that decision. It happens to you. It’s something from the outside. There’s nothing man can do. We’ve rebelled against God; we’re separated from God; we’re dead without God—and the implications of this are huge. Because God is holy and just, then human rebellion rightly provokes His wrath and necessarily deserves eternal condemnation.

There are various examples in Scripture of people who have been struck down by God because of their sin to remind us of the severity of sin before God—to remind us that one sin before an infinitely holy God is worthy of infinitely eternal judgment. Lot’s wife falls dead for taking a glance backward. A man in Numbers 15 is stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Uzzah was struck down for touching the ark. Ananias and Sapphira fall over dead for lying about their offering. 

Romans 6:23 is clear: “For the wages of sin is death.” It’s eternal death. So yes, while it’s true that the gospel ministers to the consequences of sin in human life, the gospel identifies the rebellion of human sin as the root of our problem. We have all—all of us, not some of us—we’ve rebelled against God and that’s the root of our problem. As a result of our rebellion against an infinitely holy God, we deserve infinitely eternal judgment. The gospel reveals the infinite severity of our problem, for an everlasting hell awaits every sinner who dies in the state of rebellion against God.

That’s not popular in our culture, but it’s a clear teaching of the Bible in Revelation 20:11-15:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

There is coming a day when every single person in the world will stand before a holy God to give an account for our lives, and in and of ourselves we will all stand guilty on that day. That is a problem. That is the problem. So how in the world can sinners avoid condemnation on that day? I’m glad you asked.

Christians believe the gospel is the good news of the sufficiency of Christ

The gospel starts with God. Then in light of who we are in our sin, the gospel then centers on Jesus Christ. So in the midst of a sea of world religions, amidst a multiplicity of options in the world, the Bible makes the clear and controversial claim that Jesus is the only way to God—the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5). So how can that be true? How can Jesus be so unique—separate from, over and above, every other religion? 

Here’s how. The gospel is the good news that God the Son took on full humanity and became one of us while remaining fully God. The Bible claims that Jesus is God in the flesh. God’s not distant from us. God has come to us. Scripture after Scripture describe the humanity and deity of Jesus. We’ll talk about that later when we talk about Islam. He is utterly unique, fully human like us while fully God. In the words of Colossians 2:9, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” 

And this is really good news. The gospel is the good news that in Jesus the kingly rule of God has physically broken into human history. He proclaimed at the start of His ministry that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. The King is here, and He has come for a reason. The gospel is the good news that Jesus lived a life of perfect, sinless obedience—the life that none of us has lived—and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to bear the wrath we deserve for our rebellion against God. Both in His life and in His death, Jesus traded places with us and served as our Substitute.

That’s a loaded sentence, but it summarizes the essence of what Jesus has done. He’s lived the life that none of us could live—a life of perfect obedience to God. First Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” First John 3:5, “He appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” Then, although He had no sin for which to die, He died—why? He died in our place, as our Substitute. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live, and then He died the death we deserved to die. He paid the price for our sins. He endured the condemnation we deserve. 

So we see that in Jesus Christ, God seeks the guilty. God has not left you alone in your guilt. He’s come to you, to seek and to save you. In Christ, God covers the shameful. He takes away our sin (John 1:29). He clothes us in His righteousness (Revelation 19:7-8). And in Christ, God protects the fearful. “Fear not,” the angel announces about Jesus in Luke 2:9-11. He brings good news of great joy for sinful men and women can be saved from their sins. 

Jesus has lived the life we couldn’t live. He’s died the death we deserve to die. And then the good news keeps getting better: He has conquered the enemy we could not conquer: death itself. The gospel is the good news that Jesus triumphed over sin and death in His glorious resurrection. He has done what no other person, including no other religious leader in all of history, has done—He’s risen from the dead, making eternal life possible for everyone and anyone who believes in Him. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

I received a call a couple weeks ago and learned that a good friend of mine who I went to seminary with has cancer that is sapping away her life. She has hours to live. Then I received a text from her husband saying, “She’s about to go be with Jesus.” I called him up a few hours later, and with tears he says, “My wife is with Jesus now.” That’s gospel-glorious good news. 

The gospel continues even further. It’s the good news that Jesus has ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father, and even now He intercedes for His people. It’s described in Acts 1 and Romans 8. Also, the gospel is the good news that Jesus will come again in glory and that His Kingdom will have no end. The gospel proclaims not only that Jesus came, lived, died, rose again and ascended into heaven, but also that one day He’s coming back to fully and finally consummate His Kingdom on earth, when sin and suffering and evil and death will be no more for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15). 

So, does this mean, then, that because of Who Jesus is and what Jesus has done that everybody is immediately saved from sin and death? No. That leads to the next point in our acrostic.

Personal Response

The gospel is not just information—it’s invitation. The gospel is a call to repentance and faith. Look in the Bible and you will see the two primary words used to describe how we can receive the salvation God gives: repent and believe. Repent: turn from your sin yourself. Believe: trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. 

  • Repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15) 
  • Repent therefore, and turn back (Acts 3:19) 
  • He commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) 
  • Repent and turn to God (Acts 26:20) 
  • Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31) 

So these words remind us the gospel is not just good news—it’s also a royal summons for traitors against God to lay down their rebellion and return to Him through faith in Jesus. This is how to be saved.

Which is—don’t miss it—extremely different from every other religious system in the world. And it’s even one of the ways in which Christianity is often distorted by people who claim to be Christians. So, other religious systems in the world—even some versions, so to speak, of Christianity—prescribe a certain list of things one must do in order to be made right before God, to appease God or the gods. We’ll talk about these in detail tonight. “Follow these five pillars.” “Walk this eight-fold path.” “Perform these certain rituals.” “Be this kind of person.” Even some versions of Christianity—particularly Catholicism in many ways—practice these sacraments. 

Regardless, in essence they’re all the same in the sense that if you do certain things, you can be made right before God, the gods. The gospel is utterly unique here, because the gospel is not good news of what you can or should or must do in order to earn the favor of God. The gospel claims, “There’s nothing you can do. You have a sinful heart that has rebelled against God. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to appease God, you’ll still have the stain of sin in your heart and your life.” You are, as we said, hopelessly sinful. 

But this is what makes the gospel good news. It’s what makes the gospel the greatest news in all the world. You and I can be saved from our sin, not based on anything we do, but based on trusting in all that He has done for us. The gospel clearly declares that there is no other way for sinners to be saved, and it categorically denies that sinners can earn their salvation by anything they do themselves. John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

Notice what He’s not saying there. Jesus is not saying, “I point you to the way. I show you the way. If you follow this way, if you do those things, then you can be saved.” That’s what every other religious leader has said. “Follow these pillars. Follow this path. Do this. Do that.” Jesus doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say, “I point you to the way.” He says, “I am the way. I am. Me. It’s personal. How do you come to God? By putting your trust in Me. Not by trusting in yourself, but by putting your trust in Me.” 

By grace you can be saved through faith. It’s not your own doing—it’s the gift of God. Believe in Him—period. Not believe in Him and then do some good things for Him. If you do enough good things, then you can be saved. No, it’s just believe in Him and you will be saved. It’s the revolutionary invitation and challenge of the gospel. The gospel challenges and compels hearers to repent and believe the good news of Jesus, confessing Him as Lord. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Eternity is dependent on how you respond to this news. 

Eternal Urgency

The Bible teaches that heaven is a glorious reality for everyone who believes the gospel. When you turn from your sin and put your trust in Jesus, you are saved from your sin and forgiven of all your sin in such a way that when you die, the ultimate penalty of sin has already been paid for you, and you experience eternal life with God.

However, if you do not turn from your sin and put your trust in Jesus, if you die in your sin then the ultimate penalty of your sin is left to be paid by you—eternal death apart from God. So the Bible teaches that hell is a dreadful reality for everyone who does not believe the gospel—a dreadful, eternal reality. Again, I know it’s not popular today, but it’s prevalent all over the Bible. 

Second Thessalonians 1 talks about how “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus…will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Revelation 14:11 says, “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.” Some people think imagery like that is just symbolic in the Bible. But even if it is, that’s not a symbol for a good place to be. That’s a symbol for a horrible place to be that will last forever. In case you didn’t catch the magnitude of that word, Revelation 14:11 says “forever and ever.” 

Thomas Watson, a Puritan preacher from the past, says, “Thus it is in hell; they would die, but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead; the smoke of the furnace ascends for ever and ever. Oh! Who can endure thus to be ever upon the rack? This word ‘ever’ breaks the heart.” Jonathan Edwards described eternal hell this way: 

When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up all your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions and millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then you will have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains.

The gospel contains eternal urgency—urgency even now in this gathering tonight. If you’ve never turned from your sin and yourself and put all your trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord—not in what you can do, but in what He has done—I urge you to do that tonight. People will object. They’ll say, “That’s too easy. You mean, all you have to do is believe?” And the answer is, “Yes. This is the good news of the gospel.” 

L: Life Transformation

When you believe, it leads to life transformation. When you turn from your sin and yourself—your every effort to earn the favor of God and make things right yourself—and you trust in Jesus as the One Who saves you from your sin and the One Who is Lord over your life, it changes everything about you. 

Think about it. What does the Bible teach? All who believe the gospel are forgiven and stand before God completely justified in His sight, clothed in the very righteousness of Christ. This is how God sees you when you put your faith in Christ. First Corinthians 1:30, “You are in Christ Jesus.” All who believe the gospel are reconciled to God. You’ve returned to God to know Him and to enjoy Him in relationship with Him.

The Bible describes all who believe the gospel as being adopted by God and are alive in Christ. They have been born again by the Holy Spirit. All who believe in the gospel now possess the Holy Spirit as a down payment and foretaste of their inheritance in Christ. His presence dwells in you, the Bible teaches.

All who believe the gospel are part of the body of Christ, the church. We are joined together with a family that spans generations across history and the nations of the world, in which all who believe the gospel are kept by the power of God in salvation until they see Him face to face. We can be confident that one day all who believe the gospel will be free from sin and will live with God forever in infinite joy and glory.

All this is so key. It’s this relationship with God that’s the goal of the gospel. The gospel begins with God and it ends with God. It all revolves around God. Which is so important, because so many versions of the gospel today—instead of communicating that God is the end of the gospel—communicate that God is the means to some other end. So maybe what is most troubling about the so-called “prosperity gospel” is that people here and around the world are told trust in Jesus so they’ll have good health in this world. Or they’re told to trust in Jesus so they’ll have wealth in this world. Or trust in Jesus, then all these good things will happen.

That is directly counter to the message of the gospel in Scripture. The Bible makes it crystal clear that you don’t come to Jesus to get this or that in the world. You come to Jesus to get Jesus. He’s the One we want. More than anything else in the world, He’s the One we need. And look at all we have in Him—all these realities we just listed. We’ve talked about forgiveness, adoption, the Holy Spirit, reconciliation to God. It’s important to remember that these treasures—and not earthly health or prosperity—are the true gifts of the gospel. And gospel presentations must be clear about this in order to be faithful to Scripture. 

Recap: What do Christians believe about the Gospel?

So what is the gospel? 

The gospel is the good news that the only true God, the just and gracious Creator of the universe, has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin through His substitutionary death on the cross and to show His power over sin and death in the resurrection from the grave so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever.

So whether you’re in this room or wherever you might be watching or reading, this is God’s love for you. He loves you so much, and although you’re dead in sin and have rebelled against Him, He’s made a way for you to be reconciled to Him forever. I think it would be a mistake to end this session without pausing and giving you time to say in your mind and your heart to God, “Yes! I embrace this gospel.” 

Praying for Salvation

So would you bow your heads with me? I want to give you a couple moments in silence. It’s not just believing truths about Jesus, but seeing your sin and casting yourself on God: “God, save me from my sin—not based on anything I can do, but based on what You’ve done in Jesus.” If you’ve never done that, can I just invite you, urge you, to do that right now? In your heart, just say yes to Jesus. 

O God, we praise You for Your love for us. We praise You for not leaving us alone in our sin. We praise You, even right now in this holy moment, for speaking to hearts in places all across the United States and around the world and for opening eyes to Your grace and mercy. Whether somebody’s sitting alone in a house or somebody is sitting in this room, Your love can penetrate and change their heart and mind and life. I praise You for the salvation You’ve given us, Lord Jesus. We praise You for the cross. We praise You for taking our payment for sin upon Yourself. We praise You for dying the death we deserved to die, and we praise You for conquering the enemy we could not conquer. 

We praise You that through faith in You we have eternal life. We thank You for saving even now. And God, we pray that in the rest of the moments we have tonight that You would just strengthen our hearts’ hold on this gospel. Help us to see how best to make it known in the world around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Session 2 Discussion Questions

Study Guide pp. 14-32

1. Why is making sure that we understand and articulate the gospel accurately the most important step in engaging followers of other religions? What are the dangers if we have a distorted view of the gospel?

2. Which aspects of the gospel do you feel are most often ignored in our evangelism? Why do you think that is?

3. Which aspects of the gospel do you find the most difficult to share?

4. What’s the danger if we fail to mention God’s holiness and righteousness in our gospel witness?

5. How would you explain grace to someone who is not familiar with this biblical concept? Can you think of a helpful illustration?

6. What does our culture identify as humanity’s biggest problem(s) and how does this differ from what Scripture says?

7. What’s the difference between saving faith (as the Bible describes it) and having respect for Jesus as a good teacher or spiritual guide?

8. How can you tell if your presentation of the gospel is man-centered rather than God-centered?

9. Respond to this statement: Christians don’t need to mention hell or God’s judgment in our evangelism because people might perceive us as unloving or harsh.

10. Explain the gospel simply and clearly in 2-3 minutes. (Suggestion: practice doing this with a friend who is a Christian and ask for feedback.)

Key Terms, Concepts, and Scriptures

The Gospel

The gospel is the good news that the only true God, the just and gracious Creator of the universe, has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and has sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin through His substitutionary death on the cross and to show His power over sin and death in the resurrection from the grave so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 2:1-10).

  • The following GOSPEL acrostic is a helpful reminder of the basic truths of the gospel . . .
    • G: God’s Character (Isaiah 6:1-3; John 3:16; Psalm 5:4-7)
    • O: Offense of Sin (Genesis 3:1-13; Romans 3:23; Revelation 20:11-15)
    • S: Sufficiency of Christ (1 Timothy 2:5; John 1:1-4; Philemon 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    • P: Personal Response (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9)
    • E: Eternal Urgency (Philemon 3:20-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10)
    • L: Life Transformation (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:1-3)
  • Summaries of key points from each component of the GOSPEL acrostic . . .
    • God’s Character: The gospel is good news about God, being rooted in his holiness and his righteous hatred against sin, as well as His love and His undeserved grace and mercy toward sinners.
    • Offense of Sin: The root problem the gospel addresses is humanity’s sinful rebellion against God.
    • Sufficiency of Christ: The gospel centers around Jesus Christ—His full humanity, His full divinity, His sinless life on our behalf, His death in our place, His resurrection, His ascension, and His glorious return.
    • Personal Response: The gospel is a call to turn from sin and self (repentance) and to embrace Jesus by faith as one’s Lord.
    • Eternal Urgency: The glorious reality of an eternal heaven awaits all those who trust in Jesus, while the dreadful reality of an eternal hell is the destiny of all those who do not believe the gospel.
    • Life Transformation: All those who trust in Christ are freely forgiven, declared righteous, made new and indwelt by the Spirit, incorporated into the body of Christ (the church), and kept by God until they receive their eternal reward.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!