One day Jonathan’s mom decided to share the gospel with him. “Do you want to have Jesus live in your heart forever, son?” she asked.
Since he was taught to love Jesus in Sunday school, Johnny enthusiastically answered, “Yes mommy.” So, his mom led the little boy in a prayer to ask Jesus into his heart.
About a month later, little Johnny was busily playing in his grandfather’s pool. With a confused look on his face, Johnny pointed at his grandfather’s chest.
“Grandpa?” he said, while pointing at the scar from his grandfather’s open-heart surgery.
Puzzled by Johnny’s concerned look, his grandfather replied, “Yes, son.”
“Is that how Jesus got into your heart?”
Amazingly, this is a true story. Probably millions of children have experienced similar confusion over the gospel. Likewise, many adults are equally confused about what we must do to be saved.
Does it really make a difference that we say precisely the right thing when sharing the gospel? Many think it is picky, unprofitable, and indeed divisive to make an issue over the precise wording of what we believe and say concerning the gospel. Besides, the important thing is loving the Lord and serving Him wholeheartedly. As long as your heart is in the right place, God will work out all the rest.
While many think this way about the gospel, few share the same belief about the importance of precision on the deity of Christ, for example. Few find it picky to point out that if Jesus is less than fully God, then He cannot be our Savior.
Another issue that most Christians agree on is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most cannot tolerate the idea that He only rose spiritually and that His actual body is still in the grave.
Let’s be honest. The majority of us agree that there are some fundamental issues that are non-negotiable. To err on these issues is to undercut the very foundations of our faith.
Therefore, the question to ask is not whether we should seek precision on some points, but which points are important enough to require precision.
Because I’m convinced that the gospel message is one such fundamental point, I believe we must be as clear as possible when we tell people what they must do to be saved. If we are unclear, we run the great risk of leaving them confused, like Johnny. Worse yet, if we are unclear, chances are that we are confused ourselves.
There are many ways to present the gospel. The method you choose may vary depending on the age and understanding of the person you’re trying to reach. Be creative in how you present the gospel, but don’t cloud the simplicity of its message. Since Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, the issue now is that unbelievers lack eternal life. The good news is that Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 6:47).
Admittedly, there has been a lot of fuss in the last decade or two over the gospel. Indeed, there’s been a lot of debate on the gospel ever since the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. This is something that saddens us all, and we all wish it weren’t so. But the gospel is absolutely essential to the entire Christian life.
We should be loving and gracious, but that doesn’t mean we should compromise on the truth of the gospel. Let’s lovingly and graciously share the good news clearly. If this bothers some, and it will, then we should bear any persecution gladly for our Lord who laid down His life for us.