Sharing a [full] response to the Gospel – Gospel Series Part 3

This is Part 3 of a series! In this post, I focus on how to share a full response to the Gospel when the person is ready to ask “What must I do to be saved?” Make sure to check out Part 1 as I introduce sharing the Gospel with others and Part 2 (a deep dive into the whole Gospel) first so that it makes sense!

I appreciate your willingness to stay with me this long! Have I completely overwhelmed you in considering how to share the Gospel? I hope not, but I know I was overwhelmed. If I need to understand the whole Bible or at least the meta-narrative of the Bible to share the Gospel, when will I ever be ready to teach someone else?

But I want to encourage you that God is at work in the spreading of the Gospel. He is the one granting the increase. We are responsible for sowing the seeds right? As you study the big picture of the Bible, it will begin to come together. You will begin to connect these ideas from each Book of the Bible once you know what to look for. God will bless you as you draw near to Him by studying His word.

As we turn back to the idea of sharing the Gospel, I want to remind you that we are not responsible for other people’s response to the Gospel. We are responsible for learning and growing in our understanding of the Scriptures and the Gospel message itself. But we can do that alongside someone else! We don’t have to wait until we arrive at some “perfect” place to start sharing. In times where a guide is needed and you might feel unequipped, tap into the Church body to guide you both.

Remember, we have not preached the fullness of the Gospel if we leave someone without the impression that they need to study the Scriptures and apply them to their lives. If you introduce the Gospel to someone by walking through a general study of the Scriptures and helping them to piece it together, then you are teaching them a foundation of going to the Bible to learn all things that they need. The Scriptures give us all things we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)! We don’t need to have all the answers, but we need to learn how to go to the Scriptures to find them. By studying the questions together, then you both will learn more!

So where do I start?

If we need to start in the Scriptures, then where in the Scriptures? When explaining the Gospel in Part 2, did you notice how each time, the guide started with the topic that the person was studying or questioning? The Eunuch from Acts 8 was reading Isaiah and Phillip started right there as he preached Christ. Then Jesus himself explained that the Scriptures foretold of his death and resurrection to the people who believed He couldn’t be the Messiah because he was dead.

That is the beauty of individuals spreading the seed instead of leaving it to the church or preacher. You can respond directly to the needs of the person who is listening. God’s plan included all of us when we were given the commission to spread the Gospel; it is not only the preacher’s job! We have a great opportunity to dive into the specific questions that are holding someone back from obeying the Gospel.

So hopefully by now, I have convinced you that there is no perfect place to start, but here are some ideas that help tell the whole Gospel, in case the person asks you to choose:

  • Begin right where the person is having trouble or doesn’t understand
  • Begin at the Beginning (Genesis 1) and walk through the key prophecies that led to Jesus
  • Begin with God’s eternal purpose (Ephesians 3)
  • Begin with one of the Gospels that is easiest for you (I like Matthew) and follow with Acts.
  • Offer that they simply join you where you are studying
  • Begin with the verses from the context questions I offered or develop your own!
  • My advice: Don’t start with doctrine or sinful practices with unbelievers unless they ask or there is an imminent reason! People need the Gospel – the story of the Jesus throughout the whole Bible to understand why repentance and correct doctrine is important.

We need to be flexible in our efforts to share the Gospel because each person is at a different point, influenced by the world in different ways, and has different assumptions about God. Satan most often tempts us to sin through our weaknesses which are different for everyone. Satan has convinced many of distortions of the Gospel (mentioned in Part 2) that hold them back from a full understanding. There may be many distortions that need to be unpacked depending on the person’s familiarity. Try to meet them where they are at in their understanding of the Scriptures and help guide them to a better and more complete understanding.

Even the Apostles considered their audience and their understanding to determine what they needed to discuss. The Gentiles didn’t have the same background and understanding of Scriptures that the Jews did. Paul explains this specifically in his letter to the church at Corinth.

When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

Whether you have similar religious beliefs or not, studying the Bible helps everyone! You may be surprised how amazingly God can bless you and others as you study of Scriptures together. You will often find that they are not the only ones gaining a more complete understanding :). We all always have much to learn and the word of God is living and active!

I have a dear friend who I pretty much consider my Bible study partner now because she is always eager to simply study Scriptures with me. God has blessed me through that friendship tremendously and I’m so grateful for all that we have learned together. And I even called in a guide to help when I felt unequipped to tackle the book of Corinthians.

Whether those studying have responded to the Gospel or not is not for us to determine. I love this parable from Jesus…

And he [Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-28

We do not know when that seed will sprout. It is not our job to know. But just as we should share the whole Gospel, we also have an important job when it comes to discussing what the Bible explains is the whole response to the Gospel.

What about those verses for salvation?

Sharing the Gospel is about helping people understand the revealed mystery of God recorded in the Bible. But there is a time for those key verses about salvation. Look at these examples of how the Gospel was preached and the response, starting with the Eunuch from Acts 8 right after He heard Phillip explain the Gospel:

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts 8:36-38

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37-38

All we need to do is continue to study the Scriptures, which is already at the core of our Christian faith anyway. If we slow down a bit and start with the over-arching story of the Bible, in many ways the message of salvation already points out the need to be saved!

When we recognize that God planned to save all of humanity before He ever created it, we start to see our need for salvation much more clearly. When we walk through the purpose of the nation of Israel to bring the Messiah and bless ALL nations, we desire that blessing too. And when we hear of the 300+ ways that the Old Testament foretold exact details of Jesus’s life and the ways that all things pointed to Him in the great mystery of the Gospel, we can see the proof that He is God’s son and our Savior. We begin to see that the Master who crafted such an incredible plan probably has a clear response outlined also!

If the hearer of the Gospel desires to respond in obedience, they will likely ask you when they are sufficiently convinced of the Gospel, what do I need to do to be saved?! We have an obligation to provide a full answer to how one obeys the [whole] Gospel to anyone who asks the question.

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8

God’s desire is that we all be saved, so it is important that we don’t distort the gospel or the necessity of obedience to it.

Before you become fearful of getting it wrong, remember this is meant to be a journey of faith. We often do not have a full understanding in the beginning even if we are taught correctly because we are babies in Christ. However, if we notice that a person does not have a full understanding of important topics of salvation, we should seek to clarify them.

If a person asks what needs to be done to be saved and doesn’t feel the need to be baptized, then they do not yet fully understand the whole gospel and how to fully obey it. If they believe that they can go on sinning or do not understand their commitment to a new life of faith in Christ, then they have not yet understood the whole gospel and how to fully obey it. If they believe that they can somehow earn their salvation, then they do not yet have a full understanding of the Gospel. If a person does not believe in the resurrection (as was corrected with the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15), then they do not fully understand the Gospel. If a person doesn’t understand what their responsibility is to access this eternal life saving gift and how to keep it, then they don’t fully understand the Gospel. And if a person doesn’t realize that Christianity is a commitment to learning and living by God’s word in the Bible, then they have not been shown the full response to the Gospel.

When we share the Gospel, we must show them that it begins and continues by digging into the Bible. Not just a few verses, but learning to study the whole thing. This will likely take some time, as the Devil has twisted so much that it is now much more necessary to clarify the whole Gospel. There are many examples of Christians helping others to come to a better understanding of the Gospel in the New Testament in Acts 18:26, Acts 19:3 and others. We need to share the Gospel! And God will equip us as we work to grow in the knowledge of His word.

We are never done learning about the Scriptures but simply transition to more capability to study on our own as our own knowledge increases. Our need for a guide to understand concepts on our own slowly ebbs and our individual ability to study expands. And hopefully, we add to our individual study by becoming part of a local congregation where all are growing in our understanding of the Scriptures together (Hebrews 10:25). This too is an important aspect of obeying the gospel that cannot be overlooked.

Beautiful are the feet of those who share the Good News! Romans 10:15

Now, although it is not the focus of this post, there is another significant way we show the Gospel and that is by walking in the light of God’s ways. This doesn’t necessarily mean emphasizing your testimony of how you became a Christian so much as showing your example of a transformed life. I enjoy a recent line from the show “The Chosen” about Jesus and his disciples…

I hope that I didn’t discourage you from sharing the [whole] Gospel but instead better equipped you for it. There is nothing wrong with asking for a guide to help you walk through Scriptures in the beginning, even if you have been a Christian for many years, as I was. God is overjoyed when we take the first step towards knowing Him and His ways better. And as your seed sprouts, it will one day provide seeds for someone else. And it is all in accordance with God’s eternal purpose in bringing the Gospel to all people so that they too might be saved.

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