Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Is Our Message?

What is the gospel, the good news that we are to convey to the world? What is necessary to constitute an adequate presentation, and what is helpful? A good place to start is 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 where Paul puts it in a nutshell. Let's take a closer look at it.

First of all, Christ dying for our sins implies we have sins (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). This also implies that sin has consequences (Romans 6:23; Matthew 7:13,14; Revelation 20:12-15). But Christ in His death paid the penalty we owed because of our sin (Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:13,14; 1 Peter 2:24,25). He then validated that by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 4:24,25; 2 Corinthians 4:14). We are to respond by believing (having faith) in these things to be saved (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; John 3:16-18). Especially in modern times, when people are unfamiliar with these things, it is helpful to point out some of the background ideas, such as that there is a God who created us and to whom we are responsible (Genesis 1:1; Psalms 8:3-8; 139:13-16) and that Jesus is God come in the flesh to redeem us (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:6-12). Many of these things will be unfamiliar to the average person on the street and must be explained carefully. Or worse, people may misunderstand as a result of false doctrine and may need to be confronted with the genuine Biblical meaning.

The problem is that it is easy not to explain, assuming the other person understands. Or to use catch phrases that are meaningful to us, but mean nothing to them. "Born again" and "receive Christ" are Scriptural terms, but they are unclear to many if we do not explain them. Other terms such as "accept Christ," though not Biblical may be legitimate, but again are unclear if not explained. Others may be more questionable. One thing we need to realize is that if the terms God uses are subject to misunderstanding and need to be explained, can we expect our terms to be better?

If the message is left unclear, people will tend to misinterpret what we say one of two ways. They will see it as meaning they must turn over a new leaf and do good works, or they will see it as a vague mystical experience. The average unbeliever has a hard time understanding and accepting the gospel. We make it harder if we are unclear. There may have been a time when the average individual in the United States understood Christian beliefs. If there ever was such a time, it is no longer true.

No comments:

Post a Comment