In our previous post, we discussed how the right perspective makes all the difference in how we approach evangelism. But, there’s more to evangelism than simply having a right perspective. It’s also important to be clear. Part of sharing the gospel clearly means having a clear understanding of the gospel message.
Literally, the term gospel means “good news.” Each of the 4 gospel accounts is prefaced by the phrase “the gospel according to…” (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John), and the accounts tell us about the good news of Jesus.
In his epistle to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul takes the good news about Christ and simplifies it to how this good news brings salvation:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (1 Cor. 15:1–8)
Paul makes two important introductory statements (vv. 1–3). First, he emphasizes that what he preached—the gospel—came directly from God. Second, he states that they received the message, stand in it, and were saved by it.
So, what is this saving message?
Paul uses four verbs to define the gospel:
- Christ died for our sins (v. 3)
- He was buried (v. 4a)
- He rose again (v. 4b)
- He was seen (v. 5)
The first verb is “died.” Christ died for our sins in place of you and men. The second verb is “buried.” The proof of death is burial. Christ died, and the proof of His death was His burial. The third verb is “rose again.” Christ rose from the dead the third day. The fourth verb is “seen,” indicating eye witness accounts as proof of His resurrection.
The simple statement of the gospel is Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.
In light of this simple gospel message, what is God asking a non-Christian to do? Stay tuned! We’ll address this topic in our next post.
(This material was adapted from EvanTell’s training curriculum. Take our complete online personal evangelism course.)