Over the past several months Heather and I have begun praying for an opportunity to plant a church. But knowing nothing at all about church planting, it seemed like a good idea to begin reading books on the subject. The latest is not so much a church planting book as a church building book. The Deliberate Church, by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, puts forward a model of building the local church completely relying on the sufficiency of Scripture and the primacy of the Gospel.
That’s a good question: “Is the Gospel primary in the life of your local church?” But this is a more personal question: “Is the Gospel primary in your own life?” Of course, it’s hard to make the Gospel primary if one cannot even sufficiently explain the Gospel. I myself was challenged, both in The Deliberate Church and in a recent podcast by 9 Marks entitled, “What is the Gospel?”, to be able to articulate the Gospel clearly and accurately in 60 seconds or less. So rather than reinvent the wheel, I just memorized Mark Dever’s blurb from the book. Here it is from memory:
”The Gospel is this: that God is our holy Creator and righteous Judge. He created us to glorify and enjoy Him forever. But we have all sinned—both in Adam as our representative head, and in our own individual actions. Therefore we deserve death—eternal separation from God in Hell—and are in fact spiritually still-born—helpless in our sins and needing God to impart spiritual life to us. But God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to die the death that we deserved. And He raised Him from death for our justification, proving that He is God’s Son. If we would have Christ’s perfect righteousness credited to us, and the penalty our sins deserve accounted to Him, then we must repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.”
The key elements in any biblical presentation, argue Dever and Alexander, are simple: God, man, Christ, response. You can see all these elements in the blurb above: Who is God? Why did He create man? What has mankind in fact done? Why did God send His Son, Jesus Christ? What is our proper response? It’s really important that we understand that there is no other possible, saving response to the Gospel other than a) repentance and b) belief. Listen to the podcast and/or read the book if you struggle with that. Or email me and I’ll try and explain why I believe this is so critical.
But if you believe the Gospel as it’s outlined here, and you want to be able to share the Gospel whenever anyone asks you or whenever an opportunity arises, why not go ahead and memorize the above paragraph? Who knows what God might do with such a small step? If, after memorizing this Gospel summary, God brings someone across your path and gives you an opportunity to explain the Gospel to someone needing to hear it (or even if you were already able to articulate the Gospel clearly and accurately and God has already given you a chance like that), I would love to hear about it. Just post your story in the comments below. Make sure you include a) how and when you learned to clearly explain the Gospel and, b) the account of how, once prepared, God gave you an opportunity to share the Gospel.