What is the Gospel? - Lesson 10

Communicating the Gospel

In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the Gospel and its importance, learn to effectively communicate the Gospel by understanding your audience and adapting your message, and develop skills to overcome objections and challenges. By contextualizing, storytelling, and using illustrations, you can create a more relatable message. Additionally, you'll learn the importance of active listening and responding with empathy and knowledge to address common objections and build bridges to the Gospel.
Marc Cortez
What is the Gospel?
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Communicating the Gospel

TH106-10: Communicating the Gospel

I. Understanding the Gospel

A. Definition and Importance

B. Core Components of the Gospel

C. Clarifying Misconceptions

II. Effective Communication Strategies

A. Understanding Your Audience

B. Adapting Your Message

1. Contextualization

2. Storytelling

3. Illustrations

C. Developing Active Listening Skills

III. Overcoming Objections and Challenges

A. Common Objections

B. Responding with Empathy and Knowledge

C. Building Bridges to the Gospel

  • Through this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the gospel's significance, its historical context, essential components, and implications for Christian life and relationships.
  • Through this lesson, you'll understand the importance of Creation, the biblical account in Genesis, the Fall's consequences, and the Gospel's role in restoring creation.
  • By studying this lesson, you learn about the biblical perspective on sin, its origins, effects on human nature and society, and the restorative power of the Gospel message.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into God's faithfulness in both the Old and New Testaments, from covenant relationships with Israel to the fulfillment of promises in Jesus Christ, guiding your life and encouraging others.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into Jesus as the Messiah, His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and the profound impact of His life and ministry on humanity's salvation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a thorough understanding of the atonement, its theories, biblical basis, and practical implications for personal salvation and spiritual growth.
  • In this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the Gospel, its power in salvation, and its implications in your life, emphasizing the balance between God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • Through this lesson, you'll learn how the Gospel shapes all aspects of life, from personal relationships to societal issues, and fosters spiritual growth, ultimately guiding your approach to evangelism and social justice.
  • This lesson equips you to recognize and address challenges to the gospel, including pluralism, relativism, and secularism, and offers biblical guidance for defending your faith.
  • Through this lesson, you learn effective strategies for communicating the Gospel, addressing objections, and building bridges between your message and your audience.

This course is designed to help believers reconsider their understanding of the Gospel. What is the Gospel? How is the Gospel related to the eternal plan of God? What does the Gospel mean to each believer today? Dr. Cortez answers these and other critical questions.

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What Is the Gospel?

Dr. Marc Cortez
What is the Gospel?
Communicating the Gospel
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] The following lecture is provided by biblical training. More information is available at WW w dot Biblical training dot org. In our first lesson together, we talked about the fact that there are many reasons that you might have had for taking a class like this and spending some time reflecting on the gospel. And we identified that many people would come to a class like this for two reasons. Either they were convinced that it was something that new Christians needed to understand, and so they were coming to a class like this because they were themselves new Christians. Or you may have been coming to a class like this because you wanted to understand the material. You could teach it to new Christians more effectively. And I honestly hope that that's a purpose that you have accomplished through this so that through these lessons together, you've come to a better understanding of the gospel, and you've either come to appreciate it better because you are yourself a new Christian and you want to understand the nature of the gospel, the nature of God's salvation more clearly. I truly hope that you've accomplished that, or I really hope that you've developed a better understanding of the Gospel so that you are able to teach it to new believers more effectively. A second reason, though, that I think many people would take a class like this is for the purpose of evangelism. I think that we need to understand the gospel so that we can more clearly communicate the gospel. So we're interacting with the people in our lives. We are prepared to articulate the gospel and explain it and help the people around us come to understand it. And I went on from there to say that there are other reasons for a class like this.

[00:01:42] And I argued that mature Christians, every Christian, new Christian, recently converted Christian, been a Christian for five years, been a Christian for 30 years. All of us need to spend time reflecting on the nature of the gospel. But I do want to take a little bit of time here in our last session together and talk about communicating the gospel. Now that we've spent the last nine sessions or so together, how do you communicate the gospel? Now, that's a fairly big question, and it's not one that we'll actually try to answer here in just this session. It's a question that really is worthy of a class in and of itself to help us think through effective ways of understanding and communicating the gospel with other people. But I know that's a question many of you may have. And so I wanted to conclude our time together. Reflecting just a little bit on what does it mean to communicate the gospel. Before we go on, though, and reflect on what does it mean to communicate the gospel to other people? I want to make sure that we pause and understand the importance of communicating the gospel to ourselves so that we reflect on the fact that we need to be communicating and really preaching the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis. And then once we've grasped that idea, then we can go on and make sure that we are effectively communicating the gospel to other people. Why do we need to preach the gospel to ourselves? And what is that idea all about? That I would need to preach the gospel to myself. Well, at the very least, hopefully through the the the time that we've spent together, you've come to a realization that the gospel is not Christianity 1 to 1.

[00:03:21] And the gospel is not kind of the basic set of core truths that you learn pretty quickly early in your Christian life. They're relatively simple. They're relatively easy to grasp, and you can learn them and move on. Absolutely. The core truths of the gospel are there. They can be understood, they can be grasped. We can we can appreciate the core truths of the gospel. But over our last nine sessions together, I think we've come to appreciate that even though the core of the gospel is something that we can communicate and understand in a relatively short amount of time, that it begins to unfold from there. And as we come to understand the way in which the Gospel unfolds and encompasses all of God's plans for creation and all of God's plans for his people, and it it climaxes in the cross, we begin to understand all that the cross means everything that God was doing in Christ on the cross, and victory and redemption and sacrifice and reconciliation. As we begin to understand how the gospel unfolds and unpacks and we begin to see all of the different threads and streams that feed into this story. We realize that this is not Christianity one on one, and this is Christianity one on one and two or one and three or one and on the gospel is going to take us the rest of our lives to understand. In many ways, I would suggest, and I would hope that the Gospel will take us all of eternity to understand as we come to continually grow in our knowledge of the grace of God as we manifest Him to His glory. So we preach the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis because we're never done coming to understand it and growing and understanding it.

[00:05:09] We also need to preach the gospel regularly to ourselves because I think we have a natural tendency. See the slip. We spent a whole last lesson together talking about the fact that there are challenges that we need to understand, challenges that come to us from the culture, challenges that come from the church, challenges that we even present to ourselves. And in all of this, we have a natural tendency to slip. We have a natural tendency to move away from the gospel of God's grace and tell some other gospel a gospel minus or a gospel plus or a gospel of my salvation or a gospel of many salvation. So we have a tendency to drift from the gospel, and we need to preach the gospel to ourselves regularly to protect us against slippage, to protect us from drifting away from the gospel. We preach it to ourselves regularly, to remind ourselves the tremendously good news that God has made available to us, so that we keep that firmly planted in our minds, so that our perspective is a gospel centered perspective and not a perspective that is oriented around some other gospel. And we preach the gospel regularly to ourselves, to remind ourselves to think and to live from the gospel. We preach the gospel to ourselves regularly, to remind ourselves that every aspect of life is connected to the Gospel, so that I don't begin to fall into the trap of thinking that the gospel is just about spiritual things. Well, of course it is about spiritual things, but those spiritual things touch on everything. So I preach the gospel to myself regularly, so that I grow in my understanding of it, so that I protect myself from slipping away from it. And I remind myself to constantly live from it in every aspect of my life.

[00:06:56] And at the very least, I remind myself, I prove myself the gospel every day, because it's an amazing story. Why wouldn't I preach the gospel regularly to myself? Why wouldn't I constantly remind myself of this story? There are some stories that I have read countless numbers of times in my life because I think they're great stories and I love reading them and I love the characters and the plots and I love the world that is created there. And this story is so much more amazing than they are, and that is the story itself. Amazing. But of course, this story is real. So why wouldn't I preach it regularly to myself? Why wouldn't I soak in the gospel on a regular basis? So we need to preach the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis. But how? How do you preach the gospel to yourself? And what exactly does that mean? Well, there are all sorts of different ways that we can make sure that we're preaching the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis. In your study guide and on the website that comes along with this class, I've listened to some resources that you can use, resources that are really designed to help you soak in the gospel. They're really designed to help you continue to reflect on and understand the gospel. And I hope that you will use those and you'll use those as opportunities to preach the gospel to yourself on a regular basis. Another thing that you can do to preach the gospel to yourself is really to read through the New Testament, focusing on the Gospel. What does the New Testament say about the Gospel? Read through the New Testament. Find all those occasions where New Testament authors refer to the Gospel and then notice what it says about it and be amazed by the Gospel of God's grace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of your salvation.

[00:08:48] Again on the website that comes along with this course. And in your study notes, I've provided the New Testament references that talk about the gospel and you can certainly use those if you want to go directly to those passages and preach the gospel to yourself from them. I would encourage you even more, though, to just go ahead and read through the New Testament so that you get the whole story and the occasions of the gospel and of remind yourself, preach the gospel to yourself as you read through those stories. Find someone in your life who understands the gospel. Someone in your family. Someone in church. Someone at work. And preach the gospel to each other, find occasions to remind each other of the gospel. If it's someone at work, use that as an opportunity to remind each other that the God that the work place is a place for ministry. It's a place for gospel living. It's a place for image and God. It's a place for being a ministry of the kingdom. Remind each other of that. If it's someone at home, use that as an opportunity to remind yourself on a daily basis, to remind each other who you are, who you are in Christ as an image bear redeemed and transformed and restored to God that you might glorify Him everywhere. Find someone in your life who can preach the Gospel to you and to whom you can preach the Gospel. Being a gospel centered church. So that when you go to church. You hear the gospel on a regular basis. You hear it in the sermons. You hear it in the worship songs. You hear it in Sunday school classes. You hear it in conversation. You hear it in small groups.

[00:10:36] Being a gospel centered church that will remind you on a regular basis of what the gospel is, that will keep you rooted and centered in the gospel so that you don't drift, that won't send you those confusing and misleading messages about the gospel that might threaten to take you away and center you in some other gospel being a gospel centered church. So there are many ways that we can make sure that we are preaching the gospel to ourselves regularly so we can be transformed by the story and continually re amazed at all that God has done. So we need to preach the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis, and there are many ways in which we can do that. That's all about communicating the gospel to yourself. What about communicating the gospel to others? How do we go about communicating this amazing story to other people? Now, again, I'm not going to try to develop this in full, but I do want to make some comment on some of the questions that people typically ask when it comes to communicating the gospel. So a few responses to some of those common questions. First question. What do they need to know? And the emphasis here typically is on need. And we have just spent the better part of the last 5 hours together talking about the gospel. So what are you going to do if somebody walks up to you and says, hey, I've heard about this gospel thing? What is it? You're going to go. All right. We we're 5 hours. Let's sit down together. Let's get some coffee and let's go. What do they need to know? And do they need all 5 hours? Do they need 4 hours? 3 hours? Right. What are the absolute basics that must get communicated? If someone is going to hear the gospel, what do they need to know? Now, to be honest, I'm a little bit troubled by this question.

[00:12:39] I'm actually a lot troubled by this question. Why do we always focus on the minimum? Why is our attention always on what's the absolute bare minimum that someone needs? What is the least amount about the gospel that I can communicate to someone? What's the least amount that they need to understand to be saved? Why do we focus on the lowest common denominator? Why not get excited about the story? Why not get excited about this amazing story that we have for people so that we're not spending as much time focusing on what's the absolute least I can get away with sharing with someone. And we think instead about how can I find opportunities to tell this amazing story to the people around me. So that I'm not focusing on what are the two or three things that I want to tell them, but how can I find opportunities? How can I find time? How can I develop a relationship within which I can tell them the 20, 30, 40, 50, whatever things that they can hear about the gospel? So I'm a little bit troubled by the question What do they need to know if it's causing us to focus on the lowest common denominator and distracting us from the fact that this is an amazing story? If I came home from work and something amazing happened to me that day at work, I had some great news. Had students, lives were transformed, amazing things were happening. Am I going to walk in thinking to myself? See, It's 530. I know that we need to have the kids in bed by seven. We need to make dinner in there somewhere. So my wife's going to be pretty busy, So I'm going to identify the three things about this story that are really, really important, and I'll make sure that I just communicate those.

[00:14:41] Well, of course not. Here's an amazing story. Students lives are transformed. Families are being reshaped. Amazing things are happening at the school. I'm going to walk in the door, just bursting with news. Now my going to be able to tell her all of it in any one piece? Probably not. I probably won't be able to unpack the whole story all at once. But I'm not going to looking for the lowest common denominator. I'm going to be looking for opportunities to express as much as I possibly can. So the question of what do they need to know is something that we want to be really careful with. Many times I think it's connected to this idea that we need to really focus on the moment of conversion. Remember back to when I was talking about my experience with junior high students, and many times I was trying to communicate to them this lowest common denominator gospel because I felt like I needed to get them to the prayer so that, okay, here are the four things that I need to make sure that I say, make sure they understand those four things so that I can ask them to pray the prayer. And then we're pretty much good to go as long as they've prayed the prayer in response to these four things, then we have a conversion. I've already talked about some of the reasons that I think that's an inadequate way of understanding faith, but it's a really inadequate way of thinking about sharing the gospel. Same conversion stories are rarely that simple. Conversions are often very complex. Conversions often take place over extended periods of time. There were times when I would share the four points of the gospel story with the student and they would respond and pray the prayer of faith.

[00:16:24] Were they saved at that point? I don't know. Unfortunately for all of us, it's not up to me to make that decision. You know, when things went well, I would share that shorter form of the gospel with him and they would respond, and then I would continue to share with them the gospel and they would respond and we would continue to unpacked and unfold the amazing story of the gospel. And they would continue to have faith in that. And all of that is about me sharing the gospel with them and them responding in faith to it. And where is the point of conversion in that? I don't know. I'm not sure how much I need to be concerned about that. My task is to share the gospel. Their task is to respond in faith. Let's do that together. And one amazing story with a junior high girl in our group who walked up to one of our youth leaders at the end of the meeting said, I need to talk to you. And the two of them went over and sat down together on the couch. And there's this little junior high girl. I think she was around 13, looks at Elizabeth, the leader, and she says, All right, I understand that God loves me. I understand that I've sinned and separated myself from God. I understand that Jesus died for my sins. I believe in Jesus with my whole heart. And I want to follow him with everything that I am. Now, what do I need to do to become a Christian? Obviously she was there. Hey, Faith responds to the gospel. There is. I would assume she probably had become a Christian. If we want to think in terms of points or moments of conversion.

[00:18:05] I don't know, maybe months before that. She just needed to think it through a little bit more clearly, come to understand exactly what we mean when we say become a Christian. Conversion stories are more complicated than we often appreciate. So we want to be careful about thinking that really what a conversion is all about is I need to find those four things that they absolutely need to know, and then I need to make sure that they pray the prayer. Life is rarely that simple. Our focus should be less on identifying this point of conversion. Our focus should be much more on declaring the gospel in all of its fullness and helping people live lives of faith in response to the Gospel. That's our task. Share the gospel and their task. Respond to the gospel in faith. And so the question what do they need to know? Concerns me a little bit. Rather than focusing on the bare minimum, our questions should maybe be better understood as a question of Where do I start? Where do I start? Sharing the gospel with someone. And this is where we often get to the idea of a one minute gospel leads us into our second question How can you communicate the gospel quickly? And oftentimes, as I said just a few minutes ago, we don't have time. We don't have 5 hours, 10 hours a week to unfold and unpack the gospel for somebody. We need to do it fairly quickly. Maybe we just have a moment in a conversation where an opportunity arises and we think, Wow, this is a great opportunity for me to share the gospel. And it's a casual encounter with someone that provides an opportunity to share the gospel. I think I need to be able to share the gospel quickly.

[00:19:50] I don't always have 5 hours to do this. And so we hear people talk about the importance of being able to communicate the gospel in one minute, and so that if you had one of these encounters, one of these short opportunities, you're still able to communicate the gospel. You need to be able to tell the gospel to someone quickly. So what do you say if you have one minute to share the gospel, what do you say? Well, I think our focus should be less on what are the four absolutely core elements of the gospel, the bare minimum that they must hear to be saved. Our focus needs to be, what does this person need to hear right now in this occasion to get started on understanding the gospel? I have this opportunity to talk gospel with someone. How can I help them get started? I only have a minute, so I can't do a whole lot here. But I can do something. What can I do? Okay, well, if all else fails, start with Jesus. If I have one minute, particularly if it's one minute with someone that I've never met before. And I think this is an opportunity to talk gospel with them for a while, I'm going to start with Jesus, and I will do the best that I can in one minute to really prime the pump for who Jesus was, how much Jesus loves them, what Jesus has done for them. Limited in what I can do in one minute, but I can get it started. It works best, of course, if you actually know the person somewhat. So have a relationship with somebody. Enough of a relationship to be able to ask myself really, what does this person need to hear right now in this one minute that I have? What's the piece that I can give them now that will either get them started on the gospel or if I've already gotten them started at some other point in time will help keep that ball rolling.

[00:21:40] Does this person need to hear about God's love? Is that the piece that they're missing or the piece that they need to hear? Do they need to hear about God's wrath? Do they hear about His Holiness or is justice? Which piece can I give them to help them continue or get started on the gospel? Didn't you hear about God's plan for creation? And if I may be giving them some other pieces of the gospel, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to talk about the amazing plan that God has that covers all of creation. And maybe I should give them that piece now. Do they need to hear about God's kingdom? The fact that God reigns and rules and that He has blessings for all of his creation and his plan to really pour out all of those blessings and creation in the future Is that the peace that he needs or she needs? Or does this person need to hear about our brokenness and our need for a sacrifice and redemption and restoration and all of the tremendous things that God was accomplishing on the cross? One minute. Can I unfold the Gospel in all of its glory and splendor and God's plan for everything? In a minute. No. To be quite honest, I can't. But I can share part of it. I can help that person get started hearing the story of the gospel. I can help that person continue on their way of understanding the story of the gospel. Now, if it's someone who's well down the road to understanding the gospel and I have one minute, then certainly I can give them a summary of the gospel and call for a response of great faith based on God's grace. And they can respond to that.

[00:23:22] There's a lot that you can do in a minute. There's more that you can do in a minute here, a minute there, or a minute another time. Let's focus more on the opportunities to communicate the gospel, opportunities to help people continue to understand the gospel. But if you just have one minute with someone that you don't know well enough to know what they need to hear. Well, then I suggest you start with Jesus. I recently heard somebody. I shouldn't say I heard them. I read a synopsis of the gospel. A quick summary of the gospel that they attempted to put together in 160 characters or less. And it was an interesting summary of the gospel, to say the least. But the most startling thing about it is that this person gave me 160 characters on the Gospel. Actually, he cheated. It was a little bit more than that and never mentioned Jesus. If you can summarize the gospel without Jesus, you're summarizing some of the gospel. If I have a minute, I'm going to talk with him about Jesus is amazing love for them and everything he did for them on the cross and why he needed to do it on the cross. So I can communicate some important truths in a minute. And it's a start. And that's okay. So how can I communicate the gospel quickly by recognizing that sometimes it's just a start and that's okay. Third question that often comes up in this context is Can I communicate the gospel through my life? Can I communicate the Gospel through the way that I live, by living a gospel life? Can I communicate the gospel that way? Now I want you to follow me closely here because I'm going to give kind of a complicated answer to this question.

[00:25:11] No. Seriously? No. You cannot communicate the gospel simply through your life. I mean, think about everything that we've talked about in the course of our time together. How are you going to communicate the gospel without speaking? Try it. Try thinking of some way in which simply in virtue of your actions and writing doesn't count is simply in virtue of the way that you live your life. How are you going to communicate to someone God's amazing plan to manifest His glory through his people in creation? His amazing faithfulness to that plan throughout His grace and mercy and love that he poured out for us on the cross. The fact that he invites us to enter into the kingdom by grace through faith, and that he will bring all of that to completion in the future so that God's people might live in God's creation as a blessing everywhere to His glory for all eternity. Really. You're going to communicate all of that through the way that you live your life. No. And this often comes from a quote that people attribute to Francis of Assisi. And he says, Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words. And it's a famous quote. And there are at least two problems with it. One, as far as I can tell, there's absolutely no evidence to suggest that Francis of Assisi ever said such a thing, that the the quote goes back a long way, but doesn't quite seem to come from Francis of Assisi himself. But regardless, even if it did, it's a bad understanding of the gospel. To preach the gospel. To do that, you must use words. Now, of course, we don't limit the gospel to words because we've talked about the fact of the gospel. The gospel transforms lives.

[00:27:09] But you cannot communicate the gospel simply through a life well lived. It cannot be done. Your lifestyle does have to do with communicating the gospel. Hopefully your life is a picture of what it means to live from grace as a member of God's Kingdom, people manifesting him in the world and people should be able to notice that. People should be able to look at you, see your life and notice things that are true about you. And all of that should point toward the gospel. Yes, but it is not enough to pass. Talking about Romans 1014. People need to believe in the gospel, but how will they believe that they have not heard? The gospel just isn't one of those things that can simply be seen partly because it's too big, it's too amazing. The story is too incredible simply to communicate through actions. We need to be able to tell the story to each other. People can see our lifestyles and then hear the good news about the grace that shapes our lives. So communicating the gospel to people Now, I realize I haven't given you very much in terms of the details and of the the technical things. How do you develop relationships that will provide opportunities for sharing the gospel? What exactly do you say when it comes time to share the Gospel? How do you handle questions that people have when you share the gospel with them? That's what I meant when I said that this topic really warrants a class in itself. But there are some things that I think we need to understand in all of this, and we do need to communicate the gospel. We need to communicate the gospel to ourselves, and we need to communicate the gospel to other people.

[00:29:02] And when we communicate the gospel to other people, we want to make sure that we are at least finding opportunities to share the whole story with them so that they can be as equally amazed as we are by the story of the gospel. Because the gospel is an amazing story. The gospel is the story of God's amazing plan to display His glory and creation through his people. And the Gospel is the amazing story of God's faithfulness. Despite Creation's fall into sin, and the Gospel is the amazing story of God's love and mercy poured out on the cross. And the Gospel is the amazing story that invites us to participate. And the Gospel is the amazing story that he has done everything necessary to bring this story all the way to its glorious end. We should communicate that story. We should tell that story to ourselves on a regular basis. We should share that story with the people that we we encounter because we think it's an amazing story. If we don't have time to tell the whole story to people, fine. Tell them some part of the story. Help them see some of the amazing truth that is in the story because it is an amazing story and we need to share it with ourselves and the people around us. Whenever we get the chance. So we've spent the last 5 hours or so together reflecting on the gospel. And I hope in the process we've really come to appreciate what Paul meant when he said for I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. And we look at that, and with Paul we say yes. And men, we are not ashamed of that gospel, that amazing gospel, because we believe that it is the power of God for salvation, for me, for you, for everyone who believes.

[00:30:59] Thank you for listening to this lecture. Brought to you by biblical training, dawg. Feel free to make copies of this lecture to give to others, but please do not charge for these copies or alter the content in any way without permission. We invite you to visit our website at w w w dot biblical training, dawg. There you will find the finest in evangelical teaching for use in the home and the church. And it is absolutely free. Our curriculum includes classes for new believers, lay education classes, and seminary level classes taught by some of the finest seminary teachers drawn from a wide range of evangelical traditions.


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