The gospel concerns the good news of God's coming Kingdom - God's people under God's rule. In our studies on the Kingdom of God we are, at present, working through the regulations of the Kingdom. We saw that entry into the Kingdom requires our obedience to one law - faith in Jesus Christ. We are now dealing with the guidelines of discipleship. These can be broken up into three groups: i] our personal walk with Jesus, ii] responsibilities within the Christian fellowship and iii] responsibilities toward God's broken world.
The prime responsibility we have toward the world is that we warn humanity of the "wrath that is to come" and of the way of escape through Jesus Christ. This task we call "evangelism", while at the personal level we call it "witnessing". One of the discipleship tasks of a believer is to organise the communication of the gospel to "the ends of the earth." Jesus saw to it that the gospel was proclaimed throughout Palestine during his three years of ministry. He used a team of 70 going out two-by-two. We have highly efficient means of communication and so it is even easier for us to communicate the gospel.
Most Christians find it difficult to tell other people about their faith. Are we afraid that people might laugh at us or reject us? Is it that we are not very sure what we should say? Whatever, we certainly do seem to be afraid to share our faith.
Witnessing should be a very natural activity. First we need to understand the Christian gospel and then explain it when the opportunity arises. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have", 1Peter 3:15. We don't have to force the message on anyone, just let it come into the conversation naturally. Sharing our faith is going to be one of the most important things we do as believers.
Why does the Lord leaves us on this earth after we become one of His children? "Testing" is one of the reasons ..... Life purifies us, burns away the slag. The other reason is for "training". We have a tremendously responsible job to do - a work of infinite worth. God could do this work far more effectively than we could, but as part of our training for eternity, he gives us the task of gathering in of a people for his glory. As we work to bring people into the Kingdom we hasten the day of Jesus' return, 2 Peter 3:10-13.
Our Heavenly Father has acted in history to seek out the lost and to save them, so that all people might have the opportunity to know Him as their friend. For this reason he sent Jesus to seek and to save the lost - to die on the cross and on the third day to rise again, so that all who believe in him might have eternal life. So God's purpose in this world is to gather to himself a people (a Kingdom) and bless them with his presence for eternity.
Jesus, during his ministry, announced the good news (gospel). He proclaimed the good news and his commission to his disciples on leaving the earth was that they were to continue with this work. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples throughout the world, immersing them in the Name (gospelling) and teaching them ....., and remember, I am with you always." Matt.28:18-20.
The book of Acts shows that the early Christians' activity spread abroad the good news. They were "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes."
Not every church member became a full-time evangelist. This was a specialized work for a gifted few. The congregation at Antioch commissioned Paul the apostle to go out on his first missionary journey. They supported him in prayer and therefore were part of his evangelistic endeavour. When the journey was over he returned to the church and gave a report on his work.
Everyone though, was to indirectly demonstrate the gospel to the world. If they were faithful to Jesus' teachings their new life-style would display the power of God in their lives. Their brotherly love, Jn.17:20-23, the order and power of their meetings, 1Cor.14:24, would declare the reality of the gospel.
Naturally every Christian was expected to be willing to declare their belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour when asked to do so, Matt.10:32-33.
Our work then is to get the gospel out into the world. How do we best undertake this task?
i] We do it indirectly by our life-style, our behaviour. By walking in the footsteps of Jesus we show him to the world. People see the way we behave and recognize that God has been active in our lives, Matt.5:16. So if they are seeking after God they will know where to find him - from us. Ancient Israel was to be a light unto the Gentiles, but instead of that, God's name was polluted by the evil life of the nation. Judgment could be the only end. For us, the love we show one another is the light to the world, John 13:34-35, 17:21.
ii] We witness directly by our involvement in evangelistic activities and personal testimony. Financial support of our church and missionary societies, prayer, involvement in a mass-media type of gospel communication, home-meetings or fellowship-meetings and finally the sharing of our faith with a friend or acquaintance. These are the methods of directly proclaiming the gospel.
i]. Determine your gifts, Rom.12:1-4. If you're not an evangelist then don't try to be one. If you can't speak to a group, if you get flustered with strangers - then don't force yourself.
ii]. Understand what you believe. Know the basics of the Christian faith, answers to tricky questions (Apologetics), a gospel-outline and especially your personal testimony, ie. how you became a Christian ..... learn it if necessary.
iii]. Widen your circle of friends. Become involved in local activities. Extend your little world. Be salt.
iv]. Watch for opportunities. Be sensitive. Get to feel when someone is fishing for a word about your faith. Don't run away.
v]. When you have an opening, work out what the person really wants to know. You can bet it will be an "apologetic" problem. Answer the problem as best you can and then get to the guts of the matter, get to the gospel. Be yourself, be natural. Don't push.
vi]. Leave them with some literature.
i] Institutional Christianity is a very effective platform from which to proclaim the gospel. This is particularly so for the mainline institutional churches. In Western societies many people profess a nominal association with such churches. Occasional services (eg. Baptism), special services, visitation, parish Papers etc. all serve as excellent channels for the gospel.
ii] The mass media is the most effective method of communicating the Christian gospel to the vast majority of Australians who have no contact with the church (some 90%). Both the print media (eg. local newspapers) and the electronic media - radio and television - have massive potential for communication. Sadly they are rarely used, even though we have resources available to us. Part of the reason for this is that we feel that only face-to-face witnessing is a valid form of evangelism (ie. communication must be within personal relationships). Jesus' methodology was most often proclamation. The "two-by-two" method simply reflected the accepted sociological pattern for prophetic proclamation within Jewish society. For most westerners the method is print and increasingly electronic, with the future obviously tied to the internet.
Here is a short 5 by 5 gospel outline to learn. Use five fingers for the 5 main points and the other five fingers for the 5 sub points of point 4 (the promised blessings). Hold each finger as you work through each point. It serves as a physical prompt.
There is a moral, loving, personal, all-powerful Being. He created the whole universe. He loves us and wants us to experience his peace and life, John 3:16
Like all people we have ignored him, either intentionally or unintentionally, so that now he is distant from us, Rom.3:23, 6:23. The final result of this state is total annihilation, 2Thess.1:8-9.
By his death on the cross and by his glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus bridges the gap of separation between God and us, John 14:6. Jesus deals with the mess we have gotten ourselves into.
So right now we can experience the joy of new life in Christ - life in all its fullness:
New friendship with God, John 17:3.
New life-style, 2Corinthians 5:17.
New freedom from guilt, self and fear, John 8:36.
New community to be part of, 1John 1:7.
New world to look forward to, John 14:3.
If we want to come to know God through Jesus and are willing to turn away from self and trust him, then simply ask. Jesus is the way to God - ask him, John 10:9
Feel free to rewrite this presentation in your own speaking style if you wish. Expand the outline where necessary.
"How to give away your faith" by Paul E. Little
"Know and Tell the Gospel" by John Chapman
Determine how best you can use your resources of time, talents and materials to spread God's Good News about Jesus.