The Gospel in 5 Minutes

The Gospel in 5 Minutes

by Nick Lotter on June 23, 2014

Have you ever had an opportunity to share the Gospel, but didn’t because you didn’t feel secure in being able to deliver the message well? Do you feel uncomfortable sharing the Gospel or afraid you won’t be able to answer questions? Surprisingly many don’t really understand the Gospel, even though they have been Christians for many years. Most know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected on the third day, but do we know why Jesus had to die, or what His death really accomplished? Will you be able to explain to an unbeliever why they need to repent and believe in Jesus, regardless of what their current faith is? The truth is, every Christian is a missionary and is tasked with sharing the Gospel. If you feel inadequate or unprepared for this task, hopefully this post will prove useful in giving you a basic, 5 minute explanation of the Gospel which you can use in sharing the good news with others.

For many, understanding of the Gospel is limited to a few simple steps:

  1. Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life (awesome, it’s all about me?)
  2. Do you want to go to heaven? (who doesn’t want to go to paradise?)
  3. Do you know you’re a sinner? (the devil knows he’s a sinner. So?)
  4. Would you like to pray this prayer after me and ask Jesus to come into your heart? (where do you find that in Scripture?)

This is pretty much what many have reduced the Gospel down to: 4 steps you run through with someone whereby you get them to say the right answers and then after they have repeated the prayer, you declare them to be saved – if they were sincere enough. Now you have created 2 problems: 1) the person is trusting in the sincerity of their prayer, which often leads to insecurity, and 2) you have coerced the person into making a decision which is very seldom life-changing. Many who go through this process soon end up back where they started, and that is because becoming a Christian is not a decision, but a supernatural changing of the heart by God himself (Ezekiel 36:35-37, John 3:1-10). So the Gospel is not a 4 step questionnaire leading to a decision, but the truth about what was done on the cross so that through the sharing of the Gospel, God will save the lost (Romans 1:16). A faithful 5 minute presentation of the Gospel, therefore, would go something like this:

1. The Gospel begins with God


God is the Creator of the universe. He is all powerful, all knowing and omni-present (He is everywhere at once). He is good, perfect, sovereign, holy, just, righteous, loving, faithful, gracious, merciful, patient and kind. Because God is holy and good, He loves all that is good and true. It is very good news to us that God is good. We need God to be good! After all, we are all in His hands! He sovereignly controls the universe and everything is under His authority. We would all be in a lot of trouble if God was not good!

God is a just Judge

The fact that God is holy and good means that God cannot stand evil. He actually hates evil so much that He cannot even look at it. In Habakkuk 1:13 we read that God is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”. In the same way that anyone who loves children will by nature hate child abuse, so also because God loves good He also hates evil. Now because God is good and just, God will not allow any evil to go unpunished. God will always see to it that justice is carried out against every single evil deed. This is also very good news! We need God to be just! We need and want God to wipe evil off the face of the earth and punish those who are evil. Could you imagine what it would be like if God was not just? If He allowed evil to go unpunished?

God is a JudgeImagine for a moment somebody murders somebody you love. The murderer stands before the judge while you and your family eagerly wait to see justice be done against this criminal. To your horror, the judge looks compassionately down at the murderer and declares that he is a loving and merciful judge, and he lets the man go free, forgiving him of his crime. How would you feel about that? What would you think of the judge? Not a very good judge, is he? You’d probably call for him to be fired and demand a retrial. We all want justice to be done against those who do evil. So we need God to be just. It is very good news that God is just, and will not allow any evil to go unpunished.

Look at God’s own words in Exodus 34:6-7 – “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

So we know that God is good, holy, merciful, gracious, patient, loving and faithful, but God is also just and therefore will not allow the guilty to go unpunished.

2. Man’s condition: guilty as charged


While it is very good news that God is good and just, the bad news for us is that we are not good. I don’t have to tell you that you are not perfect, because you already know that. However, although everybody knows “nobody’s perfect”, not everybody understands why that’s a big problem. Scripture tells the truth about us when it says “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Man’s big problem

The big problem we have, is that we have all sinned against God. We are in fact born in sin (Romans 5:12), and have sinned against God all of our lives. We have all broken His commandments and have all committed evil. Even as you read this, you know that there are many evil things you have done that people don’t even know about. Think of all the evil thoughts you have had in your lifetime. Imagine if somebody connected up a video screen that broadcast publicly all of the thoughts you have ever had about your friends (nevermind your enemies). How much of those thoughts would make you ashamed if your friends could see?

Ultimately, though, all sin is committed against God. God has commanded us to live righteous and good lives, but all of us have disobeyed Him and have done evil in His sight. Now it is not just the murderer standing trial that has a problem, but we too stand before the Judge of all the earth, knowing that we have committed evil and God will not allow any evil to go unpunished. Now the goodness and justice of God is not such good news to us anymore, is it?

We now have a big problem because we know that God is good and just, and “will by no means clear the guilty”, and we know that we are guilty.

Now what? Some try to make up for their guilt and earn salvation by trying to do enough good works to outweigh their bad ones. They think, “well I am a better person than most other people I know”, or they try to do as many good deeds and works as they can. But that doesn’t come close to helping our cause. You see, in Isaiah 64:6 we see that “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” So even all of our best and most righteous deeds are like filthy rags to God. Again, it comes down to justice. God will be just with you. Think back to our courtroom analogy: if the murderer were to plead guilty to the murder charge but ask the judge to forgive him on account of all the good deeds he has done and all the money he has given to charity, the judge (if he was good) would still have to convict him of the murder charge. Good deeds do not cancel out bad deeds. Justice will be done against all of our sins.

Others try to earn salvation by trying to be obedient to God’s law. They think that if they try hard enough, they can earn salvation by being obedient to the written laws God has given us. Generally, these sort of people can be very legalistic. The problem with this strategy is that we all fail hopelessly at this every day! If we had to rely on our own ability or capacity to obey God to earn our salvation, we’d all be doomed without hope. In spite of our best efforts, we will sin every single day. It’s a hopeless task.

What hope do we have then? How can we ask God for mercy? He cannot simply give us mercy without carrying out justice, or He wouldn’t be just. He would be just like the evil judge who let the murderer go! And no amount of good works we do or level of obedience we can carry off can get us off the hook. The bottom line, then, is that God is good and we are evil, and God, being good, must carry out justice against our sins. We are in big trouble!

3. God came to our rescue


The good news for us is that God is merciful, loving and gracious. Out of His love, mercy and grace, God Himself came to earth as a man, Jesus Christ. He took on flesh and lived on earth as both fully man and fully God. Jesus walked the earth in perfect righteousness and obedience to the law of God, fulfilling perfectly the requirements of the law (Matthew 5:17). His life was a perfect fulfillment of dozens of Old Testament prophecies concerning the One whom The cross of ChristGod would send to redeem His people. At the right time, Jesus went to the cross and while hanging there, He bore on His body the guilt of our sin. Jesus had to go to the cross a man, because it was against man’s sin that God had to dish out His justice. Jesus had to be at the same time God, because God alone is the Saviour of the world (Isaiah 43:11) and none but God could bear the full wrath of God and pay such a heavy price. He was the perfect lamb being sacrificed for the sins of many – the perfect once-for-all sacrifice for sin. While Jesus hung on the cross, all of the guilt for our sin was transferred to Him, and in that moment God the Father poured out the full force of His anger and justice against sin on Jesus Christ. He did this so that Jesus would be our scapegoat, so that God could punish our sin and be just, and at the same time be able to forgive us and justify us if we repent and turn to Him. In this way He is just in forgiving us, because Jesus has paid the price for our sin on our behalf.

Consider the following Scriptures:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [a sacrifice that satisfies justice] for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:5, 10)

for all have sinned (1) and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift (4), through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation (2) by his blood, to be received by faith (5). This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (3). Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:23-27)

Notice in particular the last passage there in Romans 3:

  1. We have all sinned against God
  2. God sent Jesus to be the propitiation [sacrifice that satisfies justice – the greek word means an atoning victim] for our sins
  3. Because Jesus became the atoning victim, paying the penalty of death for our sins, justice has been done against sin and therefore God is justified in forgiving us because His justice has been carried out – on His Son!
  4. Justification is given to us as a gift – it is undeserved and not earned
  5. How is this gift of redemption and forgiveness received? By faith! Not by works, so that nobody can have anything to brag about!

nailed to the crossNow consider this:

For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God treated Jesus [on the cross] as if He had lived your life, so that He could treat you as if you had lived Jesus’ life. Because Jesus took your place on the cross and faced all of God’s fury against your sin on Himself, God can now treat you as though you were as righteous as Christ, and He is perfectly justified in doing so! Amazing! By virtue of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we can be adopted as sons and daughters of God!

4. Our response


The way that we receive this free gift of salvation and eternal life is by repenting of our sin and believing in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. In Mark 1:15 we see Jesus coming to Jerusalem and telling them to “repent and believe in the Gospel“.

So now that you have heard the Gospel, what effect has it had on you? Have you come to realize the seriousness of your sinful condition? Are you feeling guilty and convicted of your sins? Are you feeling a change of heart concerning your sin, so that you no longer want to sin? If so, then you need to…

Believe the Gospel…

Jesus said in John 3:16 that whoever believes in Him will “not perish but have eternal life“, and Paul said in Romans 10:9 that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” You have heard that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh; that He came to earth as a man born by a virgin, lived in perfect righteousness, took the perfect wrath of God against sin on His shoulders, died for our sins, rose from the dead and is now seated on the throne as King and Lord of all creation. Believe in Jesus Christ… believe the Gospel and you will be saved! Now, tomorrow, and forevermore!

and repent

True faith in Jesus Christ and really believing the Gospel will cause you to repent. To repent is to confess your sins to God (1 John 1:8-9) and to literally do a 180 degree turn away from sin; but it’s not just a turning away from sin – it is a turning towards God. It’s a real and sincere regret over what we have done wrong, and turning towards God in request for forgiveness. It is a change in attitude – whereas you once loved your sin, real repentance is a change in heart and attitude that means you now hate the sins you once loved to do. This is a change in heart that only the Holy Spirit can bring about (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

SalvationWe see repeatedly in the New Testament that Jesus and the apostles told people to repent of their sins and be saved (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3, Luke 13:5, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 8:22, Acts 17:30, Acts 26:20). A mark of a true believer, therefore, is repentance. A true believer – one who has really put all of his faith in Jesus – will repent and actually grow in repentance and confession of sin. Even though a born-again Christian can never lose his salvation once he has believed and repented, the mark of the Holy Spirit in him will be that he will continue to believe and repent until his dying day. We don’t become perfect after being saved (nobody’s perfect), but we do become more sensitive to sin and therefore desire to be righteous, and when we fail, we confess our sins to God and repent. Thus we see that Jesus commands even Christians to repent – not so that they can be saved again, but so that they may grow in holiness and righteousness as God molds them into the image of Jesus (see Revelation 2:5, Revelation 2:16, Revelation 3:21-22, Revelation 3:3, Revelation 3:19).

With Gospel promise comes Gospel warning!

The promise of God for you is that all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent will be saved and will inherit eternal life! However, know that whoever does not repent and believe remains under the curse of death and is still under the condemnation of God (John 3:18-20). If you do not believe the Gospel and do not repent of your sins, the blood of Jesus will not be counted as payment for your sins and you will be required to pay the penalty for your sins on your own. The penalty for sinning against God is death (Romans 6:23) – but not just a once off annihilation that causes you to cease to exist – oh no… the penalty for sinning against the eternal God is eternal punishment.

Please, don’t take this warning lightly. Don’t delay! Death could be waiting for you at the door. You have heard the Gospel, now repent and believe! Call on the name of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved! (Romans 10:13)

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