The Main Features of the Message We Proclaim to the Lost
Prepared by Ajith Fernando, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka
|THE GOSPEL FEATURE||MEETING NEEDS|
|1||The gospel is the good news of God’s action for the restoration of his whole creation, especially humanity||Hopelessness, cynicism|
|2||There is a Supreme God who created the world and everything in it and there is evidence for existence of such a supreme God.||Meaninglessness. Atheistic naturalism.|
|3.||God’s nature is best described as holy-love.||Need for a God whom we can respect and with whom we can be intimate.|
|4||The power of the supreme God who created everything supersedes that of the competing forces at work in this world, which are under the control of Satan.||Fear of evil forces, misfortune, bad luck and sickness|
|5||God has spoken to us in nature, in history, through Scripture and supremely in Jesus Christ. This revelation shows the way to salvation and to living.||Need for firm foundation and direction for life|
|6||God created all humans into one race and in his image as the summit of his creation.||Racism, inequality and prejudice.
Human need for dignity
|7||He gave them the task of looking after this world.||How to relate to the world around us|
|8||The world is in a mess because humans rebelled against God.
· Sin resulted in humans being alienated from God and from the blessings he wishes to give. Thus humans are in need of salvation.
· The consequences of the fall include suffering, pain, frustration and judgement.
|Human depravity. The problems of pain, meaninglessness and suffering|
|9||God did not give up on humanity. He worked in this world, especially through Abraham and his offspring, to show humanity his ways. He did so by redeeming the nation of Israel and intervening in its history and by revealing his word through specially chosen vessels such as the prophets. This revelation constitutes the Old Testament. In the OT we see that God instituted sacrificial system which showed that atonement for sin takes place through substitution.||The meaning of cosmic history.
The need to know the ways of our Creator. How is sin dealt with.
|10||Jesus, God’s son, is God’s answer to the human predicament. And it is revealed in
· His matchless life,
· His teaching which is both excitingly relevant and deeply profound,
· His ministry which attests to his Lordship and reveals his nature,
· His character and
· His person as both God and man.
These make him the ideal mediator between God and humans and the ideal Lord to follow.
|The need for a leader who can be trusted, who is good and capable, who inspires total commitment; who can identify with us.
The need for a sure word from God in a pluralistic age (possible because Jesus is God).
The need for a mediator between God and humans
|11||The Work of Jesus provided a way for the salvation of the world.
· His eternal sacrifice began with his incarnation and life.
· On the cross, God took upon himself in the person of his Son, the punishment that our sin deserves.
· His death was also a revelation of God’s nature as holy-love and triumphant defeat of the forces of evil.
· His resurrection sealed his victory, unleashed his power and became the firstfruits of our own resurrection.
· His ascension to the right hand of the Father made him King and Intercessor.
· By sending his Spirit to the world, he continues his work in our daily lives and is with us always.
· His victorious rule and the growth of the kingdom is the process through which evil will be defeated and the total righteous rule of God will be established.
· He will come again to wrap up history and to judge the world.
· He will establish the New Heaven and the New Earth—the eternal abode of the blessed.
|Guilt and punishment. Bondage to sin. Disappointment over people who did not pay the price of love.
Fear of defeat by evil forces.
The need to experience the divine.
The power of evil and injustice.
Hopelessness and uncertainty about the destiny of the world. Upright lives seem to be not worth living.
Fear of death
|12||Salvation is a gift of God which was won for us through the work of Christ and which cannot be earned by our efforts.||The hopelessness of human efforts at salvation.
Arrogance over personal success in spiritual life
|13||We receive salvation by responding to the call of God and to the gospel by
· believing Jesus and his gospel,
· turning from sin,
· receiving forgiveness
· yielding to Christ’s lordship
|Need for freedom from guilt.
Need to follow an ideal leader
|14||Repentance and yielding to Christ’s lordship implies a radical change to a life of holiness, which is enabled by the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers us to live according to God’s ethic in a way that fulfils our essential humanity.||Need for a change of life and to overcome the restlessness of violating ethical norms basic to humanity|
|15||Those who were alienated from God are reconciled to him and become his children through salvation.
· This opens the door to an intimate relationship with God where we experience his love and find fulfilment and joy.
· Deepening this relationship is one of life’s most fulfilling preoccupations.
|Need for identity.
Need for love, joy, satisfaction.
The thirst for God in humanity.
Need for a worthy ambition to committing oneself to.
|16||Upon receiving salvation, we become a part of the body of Christ.
· This is a new humanity where earthly distinctions are broken.
· Baptism is a sign of our incorporation to this body
· Here we find the fulfilment of the human need for community and commitment.
|Ethnic, class and caste prejudice.
Need to belong to and be committed to a body of people and to a worthwhile cause
|17||We join in God’s agenda for the universe by representing him on earth.
· Our involvement in society brings God close to those who are far from him.
· Our lives witness to the values of the kingdom.
· Our evangelism takes the gospel to others.
· Our service meets the needs of humans.
· Our action seeks to restore justice on earth.
· Our responsibility protects the environment.
· God gives gifts and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, which makes it possible for each of us to have a unique role in fulfilling God’s agenda.
· This life of mission fulfils the deep human yearning for significance—we follow the greatest leader and are involved in the greatest cause.
|Need to be committed to a worthwhile cause and to be useful in life—the need for significance. Social, economic, psychological needs in society.
- It is a marvel to see how every aspect of human need is met in the answer to the human dilemma—the gospel—given by the Creator of human nature.
- Different features of the gospel attract different people at different times in their lives.
- Therefore conversion is triggered by different features of the gospel in different people.
- At its heart, salvation is a gift of God’s grace mediated through faith in Jesus Christ and in what he has done for us. That is the basic step through which one is born again, receiving eternal life (John 3:3-17; 5:24) and becoming a child of God (John 1:12; 5:24).
- Some features will be understood only after the person has responded to Christ in faith.
- Some features are more basic than others are, and we must try to ensure that we communicate these before calling people to respond to Christ in faith. This is especially true of the person and work of Christ. Paul said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
- There is an urgent need to complete, early in the life of the convert, the teaching of all the features of the good news—what Paul called “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
- The “Chronological Approach” (beginning with Genesis) is a good way to ensure that the major features of the gospel have been communicated in a sequence that makes it understandable.
- The many features of Christian responsibility in point 11 can result in evangelism—working with people until they are persuaded to receive God’s salvation—being relegated to a relatively unimportant position in the agenda of the church. However, the awful reality of the eternal lostness of people without Christ makes evangelism an urgent priority. Like Paul, we live with “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in [our hearts]” (Rom 9:2) over lost people.
- As some features of this gospel are so alien to the worldviews of many people, we need to work hard to understand those worldviews and see how we can communicate the message effectively.
- We must ensure that we communicate this gospel in a way that is—
- Comprehensive and
- Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.