Is brief best?

Make it clearQuestion: In sharing the Gospel with someone, I like the general idea found in your book By This Name. But what if the book is too long? Can I follow the main ideas but tell the Gospel in as short a time as possible?

Answer: We have found that most Christians want to share the Gospel in a nutshell, using five-minute presentations or gospel tracts. This is not wrong, but our material takes a different approach. Because our resources are written for those who have little or no understanding of the Bible, we must take the time to lay foundations first.

We suggest using a four point outline in sharing the Gospel, whether using a full chronological teaching or witnessing in a shorter setting. Many gospel tracts follow this progression, but they may use different terminology.

  1. A Holy God: God exists in all His majesty, being the Creator-Owner of the Universe. He is a loving, caring God but equally He is also a holy lawgiver. His holiness demands that His law be kept perfectly. He can have nothing to do with any lawbreaker. Only perfect people can live with a perfect God.
  2. A Helpless Sinner: I was born into the world as a lawbreaker, alienated from God. I am far from perfect. God’s law says that all sin demands the death penalty. Not only do I die physically, but I face something the Bible calls the second death–an eternity of suffering in the Lake of Fire. Since I am a sinner, there is no way I can avoid death. I am helpless.
  3. A Sufficient Substitute: Jesus, God Himself, came to this earth to live as a man. He was perfect–sinless. Because He had no sin of his own to die for, He could die for someone else’s sin. In His love, He died in my place, taking the consequences of my sin on Himself. As evidenced by Jesus’ resurrection, God accepted that death as an overwhelmingly sufficient payment for my sin—a fulfillment of the requirement of His holy law.
  4. A Personal Faith: I believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He died in my place. I rest in the fact that He alone has saved me from the judgment on my sin. In Him, my resurrected Saviour, I now have a perfection that is not my own, but is counted as mine because I trust Him. I will enjoy life with God both now and forever in Heaven.

The key in any presentation is not so much what we share, but what people understand. We can find ourselves sharing truth in a way that makes a lot of sense to us, but for the listener it might be like trying to drink from a fire hose. Some people are ready to believe after hearing just a few Scripture verses, but for many people, it is better to slow down and lay foundations for understanding. That takes time and patience.

Many church people have a hard time believing that an unbeliever would take the time to go through a 12 to 16 hour Bible study. But our experience has been that people appreciate it when we take the time to let them hear and understand the message, without pressuring them to make a decision.

We caution people from trying to rush the presentation, or from shortening it too much. With the necessary background and context, one will be able to understand who Jesus is and the work He accomplished on the cross. This Creation to Christ approach has helped tie the Bible together in a coherent and clear manner. Many people have found this to be helpful and so we have seen many people come to faith in Christ.



Author: Amos Kwok

Curriculum development manager at the international office.