How do I explain the gospel?
How do I explain the gospel?

It’s not uncommon to be in a conversation about a player who has huge respect in the dressing room for their professionalism and is considered a really decent human being, but the person telling you has no idea that the team mate they are talking about is a follower of Jesus. This is a pity!

We may think it is obvious that team mates work out that we are Christians only by observing our behaviour. But how can they unless we or someone else tells them that we follow Jesus and why we do so?

However, for some of us this is a frightening thought! What do I say? How do I answer any questions that come up if I do say something?

Keep it simple

It’s true that the Good News of Jesus is a subject that could fill libraries. Indeed, the Bible itself has 66 individual books written by around 40 different authors. Yet when we have the opportunity to explain what God has done for us in Jesus Christ it’s normally in a conversation where there is barely time to drink a coffee, let alone deliver a lecture!

Well, the best coaches know how to keep things simple. So what we’ll do is consider a simple outline that explains Christianity so that you can learn it in order to use it to talk about what Christ has done for us.

One of the favourite ways of condensing the Good News of Jesus Christ is captured in a presentation called ‘Two Ways To Live’, which walks us through five big ideas which offer a basic framework of the Christian message before drawing that conclusion that in life we must decide which of the two ways we shall live, and die.

Let me walk you through this summary of the Christian message in the hope that you will find it useful as a framework that helps you over that coffee when the discussion about the meaning of life crops up.

A helpful framework

The first fact, and it’s a pretty obvious aspect of Christianity when you think about it, is that God is real, he exists and he made the whole universe. The climax of his creation is us, human beings and we are made to worship and adore him as our King.

Sadly, this wonderful fact is followed by two tragic facts that explain why we need a Saviour.

We have all turned our backs on God and decided that we will rule the world as we please. We say that it is up to us how to run things. We say that if he’s there at all he must mind his own business and leave the running of our world to us. This second fact leads, as you might expect, to a disaster.

The disaster that follows is what the Bible describes as God’s judgement. This third fact is that of our rebellion against God’s good rule is punished in this life and the life to come. In this life we have now taken control of affairs. The result is a lot of sorrow, pain and despair. This is the consequence of stealing the driving seat from God. And this is a taste and a warning of the future beyond the grave. The Bible explains that when we die we shall stand before God and answer for our terrible rejection of his loving rule in our lives. The Bible explains how there will be a judgement that lasts forever beyond the grave in a place that Jesus himself calls ‘Hell’.

So often people prefer to avoid talking about the second and third facts. But they are facts. The Bible is clear about this and why we must communicate them as clearly as possible. That’s why we call the news about Jesus Christ ‘Good News’.

Actually, it may now become very clear to you. Its ‘Good News’ because it saves us from the terrible news that we are under God’s judgement and will be punished for our rebellion.

The fourth fact is at the heart of our rescue. It’s that God sent his own son, Jesus Christ, to be murdered on a Roman gallows. The cross was physically agonising but it was much worse than even that horror. Jesus was morally perfect. He had never rebelled against God. The amazing, wonderful, remarkable reality is that he died in our place, to take the punishment we deserved. He was the greatest substitute the world has ever know.

Often people say they can’t accept this fourth fact. They can accept Jesus as a great man, a moral man but not as a saviour, not as God become a man to save us by dying on our behalf so that we could escape judgement both now and forever. So to confound such critics, both then and now, he proved his divinity by smashing the grave to bits. He beat death. He was seen alive by hundreds of people, amongst whom were the authors of the New Testament who were so astonished by what happened in front of their eyes that they recorded the whole event in writing. This is the fifth fact, Jesus beat death, proving that he has paid the penalty for all of us. We can beat death, we can escape judgement, we can live forever with him, and those who trust him, beyond the grave and forever.

Two ways to live

So that’s it, that’s the framework of the Good News about Jesus, news which has been announced for two thousand years. So we’re left with our last question, since there are only two ways to live. Will you:

- Continue to turn your back on the God who made you and requires your worship? If you do, you will face eternal judgement in Hell as the punishment you deserve.

- Act on the fact that Jesus took your punishment on the cross and proved that he had by rising from the dead. If you do so, you will receive eternal life in Heaven as a gift from the God who created you.

The greatest message in the world has filled libraries, the Bible itself is the biggest selling book of all time. But if can be condensed into the five ideas and two choices you’ve read here.

I am so glad that when I was a fifteen years old playing for my school cricket team an eighteen year old team mate told me he was a Christian, and when I asked what that meant, he was able to explain Christ to me.

Can you do this for your team mates? Do pass the Good News about Jesus to your team mates. Have a go! And make sure you make it the basis of your own life.

A great deal hinges on which of these two ways you choose to live.

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