How to share the gospel
As I have been studying and learning in seminary about the gospel of Jesus it seems that there are two ways in which most people talk to others about the gospel of Jesus.
*Warning, this is really hard to talk about. When talking about the risen Jesus all human words fall short. My advice is to go read the Bible and figure this out for yourself*
It seems that the first way and the most common way is short and easy, typically called the “Romans Road,” or something witty like that. Whatever it is called it follows the same route.
- You are a sinner and that means Jesus will send you to hell.
- Jesus died for you.
- To avoid hell believe in Jesus and say this special prayer with me.
- Now that you believe in Jesus you can have eternal life with him.
- Now that you believe in Jesus tell others and live a good life happily ever after.
This is typically the style that is seen by street preachers and people who mean well. This style does work, it worked for me and it I have seen pastors use it at Christian events where thousands stand up to accept Jesus.
This way of talking about Jesus to others is not un-biblical and necessarily wrong, like I said it worked for me. However, there seems to be a second way, which is often called emergent or neo-evangelical yet it isn’t new it has been around for hundreds of years.
- We were created by God and created to be in relationship with God.
- When there was nothing good in us, Jesus died for us.
- We already know in our guts that our life is a mess and we feel distant from the God who created us, this is why we try to fill that void with everything else.
- Jesus’ death and resurrection is the manner in which we have hope not just for a future resurrection into eternal life but for a life now that is better than the distance and loneliness we experience now because we experience a relationship with the risen Jesus.
- Accepting that Jesus’ work on the cross was for you and that Jesus loves you (no matter what you did or what happened to you) brings you into a relationship with God and you begin the journey to become more like Jesus.
This way seems to be what I am hearing lately. It doesn’t seem wrong, however, it also isn’t nearly as easy. This second way may not work with a group of people we don’t know but it would probably be better with someone who is a friend.
So which one is right? I have no idea, maybe it depends on how well you know the person? Maybe it depends on your goals: is it to keep them out of hell or is your goal to tell them about a relationship with Jesus that is real and helpful for now and for later?
Both ways proclaim that only through Jesus’ work on the cross are we forgiven. One starts with the person as a worthless sinner and relies on the person to reach out to God. The other places all the work on God as the creator, the Savior and the sustainer of the person.