A message. Every commercial has one. So does every television show, movie, book, and website. All sermons have them, and so does every conversation. Some messages are obviously better and more clear than others, but every form of communication is given to convey a message.
This is true of gospel conversations as well. When we are communicating the truths of God’s salvation, what’s our message? Is our message clear in our minds? Just what are we trying to say about Christ and the gospel? It seems to me that often we are tongue-tangled when wanting to communicate the gospel simply because we don’t know it well. The gospel is fuzzy in our minds so the gospel becomes foggy to our hearers.
There are numerous declarations in Acts that demonstrate the importance of clear gospel messages, and Paul’s declaration to Agrippa in Acts 26 is one more. Notice the basic and clear components of Paul’s message (vv. 18, 23):
- That they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God (repentance)
- That they may receive forgiveness of sins
- [That they may receive] an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in [Christ] (confident hope of life in God’s presence and with Him)
- That the Christ was to suffer (the death of Christ to satisfy the wrath of God against sin)
- His resurrection from the dead (His victory and supremacy over death and sin)
- He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles (the universal need to trust in Him alone)
When you are sharing the gospel, is your message clear? Can you, like Paul, articulate it in one sentence or a few words?
Here are the six key words of the gospel as I understand it:
- Grace (is the means by which we receive salvation, Eph. 2:8-9),
- Man (is a sinner that deserves Hell and God’s wrath, Rom. 3:10, 23),
- God (He must punish sin even though He loves us, Ex. 34:7; Jn. 3:16),
- Christ (is the infinite God-man who has paid the debt of our sin, 2 Cor. 5:21),
- Faith (is the means by which salvation is received, Acts 16:31),
- And hope (is the goal of our salvation — that we will see and be with God, Jn. 14:3; 1 Jn. 3:2).
And in one word, the gospel message is substitution (2 Cor. 5:21) — Christ received our sin so that God views Him as if He had done everything sinful we had done, and absorbed the wrath of God for that sin in our place (instead of us) and when we believe in Him, He imputes (accounts) His perfect righteousness to us so that God views us as if we had done everything Christ did.
And to state it in one sentence: The gospel is the truth that our sin is imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us so that we can enjoy God forever. That’s our message.
Whether you have one minute to define the gospel or one hour or ten days, these gospel explanations can be tailored to meet the needs of any individual to whom you are communicating the gospel.