As ambassadors for Christ, what is the best way to share the gospel to an increasingly biblically illiterate world? And what does the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty have to do with biblical methods? Watch GoodSeed founder John Cross share the strength of the historical narrative in sharing the good news.
We live in an increasingly biblically illiterate world. More and more, people have no understanding of the Bible or biblical terms.
From collective experience, we know that quoting John 3:16 to a biblically illiterate audience is not enough.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Who is God?
Who made God? Is there more than one God?
God is simply an impersonal, natural force. A force cannot love.
Why should anyone want to live forever? When you are dead, you're dead.
Allah is God. He is one.
What you believe is blasphemy. God has no son.
So the question is, how do we communicate the main message of the Bible accurately and clearly so they can understand? Where do we start? Does the Bible provide any guidelines?
It was Sunday, 2000 years ago, the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As two of his disciples travelled the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they were joined by Jesus himself, but they did not recognize him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus drew on Moses and the Prophets i.e., "the Old Testament" to explain who he was, and what he had accomplished on the cross.
Using the same approach Jesus used on the road to Emmaus in communicating the Bible’s message, we begin at the beginning to communicate the Bible's message.
But Moses and the prophets make up a huge portion of the Old Testament. What should we be covering?
Who is Moses? Was he the Man’s son?
Why did Moses pick up a snake?
Was the snake dead or alive? Did he get bitten?
What was Moses doing in a desert?
And what does eternal life mean? Is that the same as reincarnation?
This is all before we even come to John 3:16!
For example, in John 3:14-15, it says:
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
The Gospel of John is used by many to share the gospel, because it is regarded as an inspired and definitive authority on the main message of the Bible.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John 20:30-31 ESV
Because this gospel was written so people might believe, it invariably contains the essence of the Bible’s message.
The people whom John was writing to would have understood the message because they were familiar with the context and background.
But for those who have absolutely no knowledge of the Bible or are unfamiliar with the time and culture of that day, just reading the Gospel of John directly may not give them clear understanding.
For example, in the Gospel of John in the first two chapters alone, there are no less than 55 references to concepts, phrases, customs, things, characters and geographical places which the average person today simply does not know.
Therefore, we use the architecture of John to:
Determine what stories need to be to told and,
Ensure that enough background is provided, giving understanding to the significance of the stories.
John declares Jesus to be a Lamb. It is significant that John the Baptist said,
"Look the Lamb of God that takes way the sin of the world.” John 1:29
The incident is told as it is, but to understand what this means, we need to explain the Old Testament stories about the lamb as a substitute and the lamb being a provision given by God to take care of man’s sin.
Only with understanding this background would the story's significance be understood: that ultimately, Jesus is the Lamb of God who can take care of man’s sin problem.
When it comes to the history of Jesus, we need to understand why he went to the Cross. In plainly telling the story, Jesus died on the cross.
However, we need to explain death...
...that death is a result of sin. And then we need to define sin.
This requires an explanation of the meaning of sin... that sin is the breaking of God’s Law.
And what is the significance of God's Law? It was meant to help us understand what sin is and isn’t. But how did sin come about?
To provide that background, we need to give an explanation of the origin of sin and evil...
...how man was created innocent of all sin in the beginning but then rebelled against God.
And that requires us to explain how sinless spirits rebelled against God, becoming fallen spirits, and how Lucifer tempted mankind to sin.
The content and architecture of GoodSeed tools are mapped out in this way. We address the important stories and provide the background to understanding them. So ultimately, we are teaching the gospel of John, with most of its supporting stories.
In this eight-minute video, see how we use the entire context of Scripture to explain the content of the Bible. (Watch on YouTube)
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