My last post on Mark Dever’s book The Gospel and Personal Evangelism expressed the requirement for a clear understanding of the gospel in order for us to be able to communicate it effectively. Dever does not leave us in the dark on his opinion. We have his short summary below.
“…Here’s what I understand the good news to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sin and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.” - Mark Dever in The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois, 2007, p.
That’s a message I can communicate to someone in less than five minutes, depending of course on their familiarity with basic Christian concepts and the questions they have. Does this summary express all of the details that one can know about the gospel message? Of course not. I have never quite learning about what Christ has done for me since I became a Christian. I believe that if I applied myself full-time for the rest of my life I would still have only begun to scratch the surface.
The church will always need serious, engaging Bible studies to give believers and non-believers alike the opportunity to explore the details. That’s part of how we grow. It’s a primary part of the process of “…being transformed by the renewing of [our minds]…” (Romans 12:2)
But it does leave us with a message that has enough content to interest the lost. It leaves us with a way to give the basics, and I have found that the basics can be used by God to convert sinners.
I have seen the light sparkle in people’s eyes when they grasp the simple idea of God’s free gift of eternal life earned for us by Christ. I have seen the smile spread across the lips when they turn from their own efforts to try to earn God’s friendship and embrace God’s reconciliation through Christ’s life and sufferings. I have seen the life transformation that only this simple message can bring when it is brought to bear by the Holy Spirit.
I would not trade the looks on those faces for a million dollars. I pray that I would have the chance to have more faces like those embedded in my memory. I am glad we have good news to share that even a little child can understand.