My recent blogs on our confusion about declaring and defending the gospel prompted one supporter to write me back. While he applauded my overall point, he opined some Christians – even pastors - seem to be confused about the simplicity of the gospel. He referenced a recent memorial service, led by an evangelical pastor, in which the pastor promised to honor the request of the deceased to share “the simple gospel” at his funeral.
The pastor in question declared the simple gospel included following God, the power of the Bible in our lives, and the need to ask God for spiritual guidance. While all those are good encouragements, they aren’t the gospel. My friend lamented the lost opportunity (and the pastor’s failure to honor the wishes of the deceased) by sharing the simple gospel. He listened carefully for such basic issues as Jesus’ death on the cross and the need for a personal response from every person. Sadly, those points were never mentioned in the sermon.
When we share the gospel, it includes these simple statements. God loves you. Your sin separates you from God. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin and make your salvation possible. In response, you must repent of your sin and place faith in Jesus as your only Savior and Lord. While the gospel is much more than this, it is not less than this. The simple gospel is summarized in these declarative statements. Sharing the gospel means talking about God’s love, humanity’s sin, Jesus’ death, and our need to respond with repentance and faith.
In the original blogs on declaring and defending the gospel, my point was we are spending too much energy declaring the gospel to each other and defending it in places it was never intended to be prominent. Perhaps in my optimism, I have overlooked a deadening spiritual reality. We are devoting too much energy talking about the gospel, and not enough energy speaking the gospel itself.
We can change this – but only by personal, determined effort. Do a self-check and make the corrections needed to be a gospel-speaker among people who have never heard it, not a person who only speculates, analyzes, or debates the gospel with other believers.