I don’t believe that God ever meant the Gospel to be complicated; even the smallest child can understand it with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Yet men have so complicated the message, that many believers feel totally inadequate to explain it to others. It’s a simple message, but there are some essential points that we must not leave out if it is to be the Biblical Gospel. We continue today with explaining the Gospel point-by-point for those who don’t know what they’re supposed to say.
In my previous post on this series, I talked about how we must make it clear to those we talk to that all have sinned, and that this includes them. If they’re honest with themselves, those we talk to will have to admit that they fall under God’s definition of “sinners.” After all, who hasn’t lied, lusted, stolen, etc. at some point or another?
But we can’t leave off there. Our intent is not just to tell people how sinful they are, how far they fall short of God’s holiness, and then leave them there to feel bad about it. They may agree that they are sinners, but they may think, “So what?”
That is why it is necessary to point out that sin has consequences. If we lie, the consequence is that we lose people’s trust. If we steal, the consequence is that we go to jail. But sin bears consequences even greater than these temporary repercussions.
As Stanford points out in the Handbook of Personal Evangelism,
“The result and penalty of sin is death…separation from God.”
For the person who has admitted his sin, we must explain that this sin has a penalty. It is a natural cause and effect. The natural result of sin is that we will die and experience eternal separation from God in a literal Hell. Weaving together the pertinent scriprtures on this subject, Stanford writes:
“‘For the wages of sin is death…’ (Rom. 6:23). The payment for sin is death. Sin is not paid for by good works, penance, church membership, water baptism, etc. Sin is paid for by death. God does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sin. He hates sin because it separates us from Him (Isa. 59:2), and He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him. ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power’ (II Thess. 1:8,9).”
When a crime is committed, a penalty must be paid. We can try to blame the judge who hands down the sentence, but the fault lies with the one who has committed the crime and incurred the penalty. So, people may rail against God because the think He is unjust for requiring the penalty to be paid, but in reality we are to blame for breaking His law.
We must make it very clear to those we talk to about Christ that we are deserving of the same penalty, or else we run the risk of alienating them by coming across as though we’re looking down on them. But if we gloss over this point and overlook the penalty for sin (as some do), it is not the Biblical Gospel. When we get to the point of explaining Jesus’ sacrificial death, it will mean nothing to them unless they know what He was saving us from.