Monday, July 26, 2010

11 The Story to Tell

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To stress first to a person that he should not wait until tomorrow to receive Christ is not necessarily giving him the gospel. What we are doing in that case is emphasizing the urgency of his decision with reference to the message of life. It is very important in personal witnessing that we clearly present the facts of the gospel itself, because, as we learned before, it is concerning these facts that Satan has blinded the minds of men and women. The Bible says, "In whom the gos of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them."


This truth is verified in Acts 26:18 where we are told that a person outside of Christ is blinded, is in darkness, and is under the power of Satan. We learn from Ephesians 2:1 that a person outside of Christ is dead in trespasses and sins - spiritually dead.

What is the remedy for this condition? How can a person be brought from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, from spiritual death unto life, from spiritual blindness to spiritual sight?


We have a remedy, and one only - the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The key passage on this is Romans 1:16. Here the Apostle Paul declares, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."


It is clear then that in our individual witnessing or in any kind of evangelism, we must preach the gospel. Not our opinions about the Bible, not even our own experience, though it can be used as illustrative material, is the power of God. Only the gospel of Christ is that. And only as we give out the message in simplicity and in the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, will souls be saved.


The scriptural definition of the gospel is given in I Corinthians 15:3,4, "For I declared unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." These constitute the essential facts of the gospel. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

The approach to the Scriptures will vary in different instances, but for the sake of illustration and clarification, let us analyze the gospel message under the following four points.

1. The Fact of Sin

The fact of sin is brought out by such a Scripture passage as Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Having read or quoted this verse to the person to whom we are witnessing, we might then ask, "Does this mean that everyone has sinned but you and me?" The answer is obvious. The statement includes all - all have sinned and some short of the glory of God. True, there are some people who in the eyes of men are more moral than others, but the fact remains that all have come short. We will not argue the point as to whether or not some have come closer. The point is that all have come short.

Suppose, for instance, that we stood on the edge of a chasm, some 500 feet deep. The distance is such as to require a 35 foot jump to clear it. Now, the world's record for the broad jump is something like 28 feet or thereabouts, but that does not deter some persons from trying to cross. A man comes to the edge of the chasm, peers over, sees the 500 foot drop to the rocks below, looks across to the other side which is 35 feet away and decides to try to jump across. He staggers back a few steps and springs out about five feet, and down he falls. We would say he came short. A little while later an upstanding, moral young man, a keen athlete, looks over the chasm and sees the 500 foot drop, looks at the 35 feet across, and decides that he will try to jump it to reach the other side. So, after getting back and getting a good run for it, we will say that he breaks the world's record by leaping 31 feet, he too comes short. Admittedly he came closer, but still he came short.

Since all of us have sinned and come short of the glory f God, then all of us are sinners.

2. The Penalty of Sin is Death

"For the wages of sin is death" Paul declares in Romans 6:23. God hates sin because it is sin that has robbed us of so much. Every heartache, every sorrow, every difficulty that besets us in this world today, are all ultimately traceable to sin. God wants us to be filled with joy and peace and happiness; therefore, He hates sin and has decreed the penalty of sin to be death. He does not say that the penalty of sin is to live a good life, for certainly we should try and do that. He does not say that the penalty of sin is to go to church regularly, for that too we should do. No, the penalty of sin is death. Either you must pay the penalty for your sin, and I must pay the penalty of my sin, or someone else must pay it for us; but the penalty must be paid!

3. Christ Paid the Penalty

The good news of the Bible is that Christ paid the penalty for the sins of us all. One of the many passages on this subject is Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Christ paid the penalty of death. He was our substitute. He took our place.

Point out to the person, to whom you are witnessing, that only Christ could pay the penalty. It could be stated in this fashion: "I could not pay for your sins nor could you pay for mine, because I have my sins to think of, and you have yours. If someone is to pay the penalty for us, it will have to be someone who had no sin of his own. The only sinless person who ever walked this earth was the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter says of Him: 'Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.' So, only the Lord Jesus could pay for our sins since He had none of His own.

"Have you ever wondered how it is that one person could pay the penalty for the sins of all the people who ever lived, are now living, or will live? That person would have to be worth more than the total of all humanity. Do you know anyone like that? Well, God is worth more than all the people who ever lived, are now living, or will live.

"Who is Jesus Christ? God manifested in human flesh. That is why Peter could say, as recorded in Acts 4:12: 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.' In another place we read of Him: 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree' (I Peter 2:24). Jesus paid the penalty for us."

4. We Must Accept

We must receive this fact. It benefits us only as we appropriate it. Many persons with whom we speak concerning this matter will agree that they are sinners and that the penalty of sin is death. Furthermore, they will say at least, that they realize the Lord Jesus paid the penalty for them. They have never benefited from that fact, however; it has not yet given them peace and assurance. The reason is that more than acknowledging the fact is necessary. They must appropriate it.

Perhaps this illustration will clarify this important point. Suppose that we have been invited to a good dinner. Perhaps fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and some savory green vegetable are on the plates before us. We look at the delicious meal and each one of us says, "My, I'm hungry. I don't believe I've ever been so hungry before." Yet we sit there and talk about the vitamins and calories in the various foods, while the food gets cold and we starve. Then someone comes along and says, "Why don't you eat? You do not benefit from food by just looking at it and discussing it!" Of course, we do not. We must eat. So it is with the Lord Jesus. We must take Him for ourselves. We must appropriate Him.

"Well," someone asks, "how do I do that?" The answer is found in John 1:12: "But as many as have received him, to them gave he power (or the right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." We are to receive Him as our own personal Saviour, putting our trust in Him.

Remember also that receiving Him involves repentance. One cannot be saved without repenting. To repent means to change one's mind about God and about sin, and to turn from sin in faith to God.

In John 1:13 we read: "Which were born, not of blood [that is, not by inheritance], nor by the will of the flesh [not by self effort], nor of the will of man [not by trusting some person], but of God." So, we turn from these things and by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts.

I think one verse that clarifies this better for me than any other is Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." He promises that if I receive Him into my heart He will come in and live with me.

These, then, are the four facts of the gospel: (1) the fact of sin; (2) the penalty of sin which is death; (3) Christ paid the penalty; and (4) we must receive Him into our hearts.


1. Memorize some of the references given in this chapter.

2. What are some of the things that characterize the condition of a person outside of Christ?

3. Write out in your own words how you would lead a person to Christ.

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