By Pastor Ed Pincusoff
Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
The gospel is an intellectually understandable plan of salvation. The Gospel transcends being a good feeling, or a good idea, or the best choice. By definition, it is clearly articulated good news. Biblical phraseology regarding the Gospel includes ‘proclaiming the gospel’, and ‘preaching the gospel’. Also, ‘testifying to the gospel’, and ‘your confession of the gospel’. In the Bible the gospel is announced, the word of truth, a mystery cleared up, defended, and spread.
Acts 15:7 ‘Peter (addressing the assembled believers in Jerusalem) got up and said: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.”’
The gospel is both elegant in its simplicity and complex in its genius to be able to answer questions about what author Douglas Adams referred to as life, the universe, and everything. The gospel gets us all the way there (wherever ‘there’ is for your particular conundrum), but we will no more be able to extricate actually telling people about the gospel from, well, telling people about the gospel, as we are able to sustain our bodies without chewing food from time to time. The gospel has been given to redeemed humankind because we live with other people and speak their language – it’s a delivery system.
1 John 1:1-2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
You see, Jesus came as the Word, not the Example, and He spoke the message of the gospel. He did ministry by being amazing, but accompanied the amazingness with explaining the gospel, proclaiming the gospel, and giving people the opportunity to do what, He told them, they simply must do – respond to the gospel. These are all verbal endeavors prerequisite to accurate and complete communication. Good news is not vague or implied.
If Jesus had to tell His story verbally, despite His sinless life lived in the midst of sinful (selfishly predispositioned) people, how can anyone realistically expect to communicate the gospel effectively (with effect) by simply living a godly example? Forget it. It can’t be done. Get over it. This fairy tale is sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘lifestyle evangelism’. Real lifestyle evangelism is (honest, or I’ll eat three slugs), living in such a way that your verbal witness has credibility when you share it. Redefining any sort of evangelism by replacing the articulated witness with anything else is dangerous - for the people that need to hear what God did to get them saved.
Author Jeff Iorg suggests a solution for well-intentioned ‘redefined witnessing’. He says, “Reject any redefinition of witnessing that doesn’t include sharing the plan of salvation. Adopt a definition of sharing the Gospel that includes communicating these essentials: God’s love; humanity’s sin; Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; and every person’s opportunity and obligation to respond.”