What Would You Say?
Driving down a lonely back road, you see a car that has recently smashed into a tree. You rush over to the pile of crumpled metal and find a badly injured man pinned in the wreckage. After trying unsuccessfully to free the man, he says to you, "In an hour, I’ll be dead and I’m not ready. I’ll probably go to hell and I don’t know how to avoid it. Do you know what I must do to go to Heaven?"
What would you say? Would you be able to explain the gospel in a simple and concise way so that it could be easily understood? Remember, you cannot tell him to go and talk to your pastor. You do not have time to go home and search your Bible or ask a friend for help. He will be dead shortly, so you must give a clear and precise presentation of the gospel now.’
Having enough knowledge to become a Christian yourself does not mean you have a clear enough understanding to explain it to someone else. Putting your thoughts into words in not always easy. You may know how to get to a certain restaurant, but that does not necessarily mean you can clearly explain to someone else how to get there. Have you ever become lost because someone gave you unclear directions?
How prepared are you to present the gospel to others? Get alone sometime, and pretend that you are faced with this car crash situation where you must verbally explain what is needed to go to Heaven. In the past, Steve Huntoon and I have been in charge of several Bible study groups and we often gave out weekly assignments to the members. One of our assignments was to have them write down what they would say to the dying man in the accident. Their presentation had to be clear, simple and short enough to be read in less than five minutes. Since we were known for our difficult assignments, they were excited because this one sounded like a breeze. The next week, though, they all returned expressing how difficult they had found it. The members of the Bible study realized that although they understood the gospel enough to become Christians themselves, they were unable to explain it quickly and efficiently to others.
The previous chapter demonstrated some simple ways to open up opportunities for sharing the gospel. Now that you have an opportunity, what will you say? If you tried the car crash assignment, you may have found your presentation needs some polishing. Before you can share the gospel message clearly and simply with others, you must develop a thorough understanding of it yourself.
The presentation of the gospel can be likened to the three main body structures: The skeleton, the muscle and the skin. The skeleton is the raw structure, the muscle gives power to the skeleton and the skin provides a pleasant appearance. In comparison, the raw gospel message is the skeleton. Bible verses provide the power for the message and the illustrations provide clarity and make the presentation interesting. In the next chapter we will learn how to utilize this concept in presenting the gospel.
When presenting the gospel, you must show the person he is lost before you can show him how to be saved. Of course, this is easier with some people than with others. In a medical context, the doctor must first show the patient he is sick. Next, the doctor explains how a special drug can cure him. Finally, the doctor tells him where he can obtain this drug. Applying this to Christianity, you first need to show a person he is a sinner and he will be condemned to Hell for these sins. Next, you explain to him how Jesus' dying on the cross can resolve his sin problem. Finally, you show him how he may personally accept Christ as his savior.
The following chapter has a quick two-minute presentation of the gospel. This presentation has been a useful tool in teaching Christians to witness. We encouraged the people in our witnessing class to memorize the presentation verbatim and then practice reciting it to each other. This served two purposes. First, it helped them become familiar with the gospel message. Second, it helped them overcome their "fear" of sharing Christ. Once they become confident, they would practice inserting verses at appropriate times. Next, they would add specially tailored illustrations. Finally, they start improvising as much as the situation warranted. This two-minute presentation is intended only as a tool to help Christians learn to witness. In real-life situations, it is not recommended to quote it verbatim.
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