The 60 Second Gospel

5 04 2006

Recently Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capital Hills Baptist Church, remarked that in his church’s baptismal interview he requires that perspective canidates are requested to articulate the gospel within sixty seconds. stopwatch_sfw.jpg

Dever’s contention is that if you cannot explain the gospel in this period of time then you probably don’t understand it, and so then the likelihood that a saving transformation has actually taken place is drastically diminished.

As I sat in the congregation and considered Dever’s comments I was so struck by the need for such a barometer of spiritual life.

I cannot even begin to count how many times I have engaged folks with the gospel only to hear them tell me that they were Christians, born-again, professors of Christ…however, the more I prod and preach, the more uncomfortable the dialogue becomes.

For many it seems that the gospel is just about getting the right guy while not saying such evangelical cuss words as “works”, while being sure to drop what has become the salvation clincher in pop-evangelicalism, namely, the “personal-relationship with Jesus card”.

Many become uncomfortable, even angry and insulted when the evangelist continues to talk of such things as faith and repentance, the substitution of Christ and justification by faith…giving you the “why are you wasting your time?!” look.

The gospel is offensive to unbelievers, it is the power of God to the believer!  So, why the poor reception?

I long for the day when an evangelical approaches me on the street or in a mall to discuss the gospel; after all I don’t walk around with an “E” for elect stamped on my forehead =^P….

So let’s keep sharing, keep evangelizing, even if it just educating contemporary “churchianity”….somebody might actually get saved!!

So here’s my attempt at a 60 second gospel:

God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.

The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.

God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.

But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.

This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.

God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.

God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.

Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.

I think I got it in 60…Bostonians talk a little faster than mid-westerners ;->

Being Ready

4 04 2006

In one sense Christians should be able to preach the gospel in their sleep, in another sense we should never be able to!

What I mean by this is that as believers we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5.20), who are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense” (2 Peter 3.15). So therefore, we should be so familiar with the gospel that we are always burst forth its contents forth on our hearers. always-be-ready.jpg

It should be more awkward to restrain the truth from coming out rather than to speak the truth; for this is the fruit of being controlled by the Holy Spirit, as he always draws attention to the truth incarnate (John 16.14).

On the other hand, as followers of Christ we should never just settle into a level of comfort with either Jesus or his message that would serve to undermine the healthy fear that our Master and his job description for us requires:

2 Corinthians 5:11a 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men,

We should never “get over” the gospel. The reality of standing between heaven and our hearers proclaiming the exclusive means of forgiveness offered to humanity should soberly lead us to a posture of reverence, dependence and humility.

I remember attending a “seeker event” with a local church plant we were helping out with a few years back. While watching the scores of people coming to the event to partake of the free food, games, music and other amusements, I found myself enraged by the spiritual negligence that was occurring. These people were welcomed with open arms and then paraded on out with their stomachs and amusements filled, while their souls were neglected.

gimmie-da-mic.jpgAfter a short period of indignation, I went up to the leader and expressed my concern. To which the leader, with cautious hesitantly, permitted me to grab the microphone. I marched up to the mic and commanded attention and acted as if I had something to say. But, regrettably, I froze. I was angry (probably for the right reasons), but I wasn’t humble. I wasn’t reverent and dependent; I was ready to show them how it was done…all the while modeling evangelism in the flesh.

This lesson has proved valuable throughout the last few years as I have been reminded of the need to pray prior to, during, and after evangelism. For true conversion it is not of me; it is divinely wrought, it is all of God. I pray that God forbids it that I should smudge the glorious gospel with my self-righteous fingerprints!

We must be always ready. And part of being always ready is always being impressed with the glory of Christ and his message, while submitting to his supremacy not only over those who need to hear but me the evangelist!

We even see the Apostle Paul requesting prayer prior to his evangelistic opportunities:

Colossians 4:3-4 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

Continue to be impressed with Jesus Christ, that his gospel might be clearly spoken and his glory clearly seen!