The Gospel

Bob Martin November 18, 2000

I. Welcome:

We want to welcome you to our 6th and final session in our study of “Reasons to Believe.”

Tonight, our friend Sherlock, who is played by Pastor Dutton, represents many who are struggling with spiritual issues.  Sherlock, like many others, is searching for something in life that has some meaning and purpose to it – something more than what he has.  He has seen something different in the life of Dr. Bob Martin, he friend who has reached out to him on many occasions. 

But like many of us, sometimes we have to call upon our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to help us reach out to a friend, co-worker, or neighbor and try to bring them to Christ.  That’s where I came in -- (Dr. D. Signer – remember, I made the point that a design implies a designer – since the universe shows design, it must have had a designer – we believe that is God).

Tonight, we want to show you the basics of presenting the Gospel to someone.  We want to emphasize some of the passages you need to know that will help a person understand what is necessary for salvation

Later in our session, Pastor Dutton will emphasize the major points we’ve been discussing as we’ve attempted to presents some compelling reasons to believe in God and His Son.

Please welcome my friend Sherlock.

II. Sketch [Sherlock enters]

Sherlock:  Hello, Dr. D.! 

Dr. D:  Hi Sherlock!  It’s good to see you again. 

Sherlock:  Hey, I want to apologize for my response last week – I think I was a bit ‘short’ with you before I left.  I know what you and Bob have been trying to do, and both of you have been kind and patient.  I can appreciate your commitment to what you believe is true.  I’ve been very committed to what I believe is true – I’m just finding out that much of what I have believed over the years is WRONG!  That’s hard to take!!

Dr. D.:  I understand Sherlock.  If I remember correctly, last week you were wrestling with some very serious issues.

Sherlock:  You could say that again.

Dr. D.:  In fact, we had gotten to the point of looking at some reasons to believe that Jesus Christ was God.

Sherlock:  I know – and I didn’t like where that conversation was headed.

Dr. D.:  Have you given any more thought to what we talked about?

Sherlock:  I sure have – I haven’t been able to sleep much because of it.

Dr. D.: What can I do to help you?

Sherlock:  Well, let’s say a person did want to become a Christian – not me of course, somebody else – but if they did, what would they need to do?  I mean, I’ve heard all sorts of things from . . .

Dr. D.:  [interrupting] . . . Sherlock, let me save you the trouble – I could mention a lot of the things you and I have HEARD about how a person gets to heaven.  Allow me to point out something based on our conversation last week:  If the NT records that Jesus claimed to be God – and it does.  And the NT records, not to mention history itself, that the claims of Christ were supported by . . .

Sherlock:  [interrupting] . . . the prophecies that were fulfilled . . . His sinless and miraculous life . . . most importantly by His resurrection.

Dr. D.:  Wow!  That was great – you really have been thinking about this!

Sherlock:  I sure have been!

Dr. D.:  Well, there are a couple of conclusions that you have to draw from what you’ve learned over the past few weeks.  They are very simple, yet very important conclusions:

1)  If Jesus is God, then whatever He teaches is true. – (if He is really God, He cannot lie)
2)  Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.
- He affirmed the authority of the OT by quoting it and fulfilling it
- He promised Divine authority for the NT in John 14:26
Point:  Since Jesus taught the bible (OT/NT) is the Word of God, the bible must be God's Word.
Here’s the big conclusion:
3)  The Word of God says that Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life.

John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.
That’s the bottom line – it’s simple, so simply a child can understand it.  But Sherlock, what about you? 

Sherlock:  I understand, but I don’t know how . . . what do I do . . . what do I say?

Dr. D.:  Let me show you from the Bible how a person can trust Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Dr. D.:  Okay Sherlock, Who was Jesus Christ? 

Sherlock:  God

Dr. D.:  Here is an obvious question then,  Why did God have to come down and become a man?  Do you know? 

Sherlock:  Well, I know he did all kinds of miracles now, maybe it was just to show us his power?

Dr. D.:  So do you think Jesus’ purpose was  just to impress us with his miracles and his teaching?

Sherlock:  I really don’t know

Dr. D.:  Is there anything else you know about Jesus?

Sherlock:  He died on the Cross and last week you said he rose from the Grave

Dr. D.:  But do you know why he, God came to earth and died?

Sherlock:  No, now that you mention it, that’s hard to understand

Dr. D.:  Okay Let me explain. . . Turn to Romans 3:23..  Please Read that for me  Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

[Sherlock Reads. . . Dr. D explains terms in the passage. . .All/Sin/Fallen Short/Glory After explaining passage  Dr. D has Sherlock summarize.]

Dr. D.:  Okay, now Sherlock could you turn over to Romans 6:23 [Have him Read. . .Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Explain terms “Wages”—“Death”  (Physical & Spiritual). . . Draw Bridge Diagram. . . Explains how this is Bad news]

Sherlock:  Does all this mean that God is a mean God?  No—He is Holy 
Hab 1:13 Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor.

Dr. D.:  Sherlock, now if you are following me how do you tie  Romans 3:23 & 6:23 together?
In Other Words, what does this mean for all people?

Sherlock:  Death because all sinned

Dr. D.:  How does this relate to you

Sherlock:  I’m a sinner I’m going to die

Dr. D.:  What are you going to do to make up for that sin. . .

Sherlock:  I can concentrate on now doing some good things

Dr. D.:  [Explain how that is what most people think and Even if you committed one sin that would merit death, there is no provision for making it up  Bad News again huh?]

[Finish the second part of Romans 6:23 –But,  the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . 1 Peter 3:18—Turn and read and explain  1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;]

Dr. D:  Did Jesus Christ deserve to die?

Sherlock:   No, I don’t think so

Dr. D.:  Why is that? 

Sherlock:  I’m not sure

Dr. D.:  Well, did Jesus Christ ever commit sin? 

Sherlock:  Probably not

Dr. D.:  That’s right and the Bible even says he was tempted in all things as are we yet with out sin.. . .So did he earn death? 

Sherlock:  I understand, no he did not

Dr. D.:  But, he voluntarily took it upon himself to die  2 Cor 5:21  “ He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

The Infinite God man died for the infinite sins of the World—Took the Penalty for our sin.  Yes God is Holy, and exacts a penalty for Sin, but in his Love he also provided a solution.  Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  We can do nothing to save ourselves only God can and he made the provision through Jesus Christ


What do you understand me to have said about Why Jesus Came and Died?

Sherlock:  [Sherlock Explains in his own words]

Dr. D.:  So, that means everyone is going to heaven right? 

Sherlock:  Well that doesn’t seem right

Dr. D.:  [Doctor D.  now explains John 3:16. . For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  .John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.  and the meaning of faith—Know Believe that that are true/Receive—Trust/Dependence]

Dr. D.:  Sherlock in that mind of yours, now, what would you have to resolve in your mind to be saved?

Sherlock:  [Sherlock explains a simple “sinner’s prayer” in his own words, not “Christianeeze”]

Dr. D.:  Sherlock, I have to ask you a question.  A question that was the NT records Pilate asked the crowd that brought Jesus to him for trial: 

Matthew 27:22 Pilate *said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all *said, "Let Him be crucified!"

Dr. D.:  Sherlock, what will YOU do with this Jesus who is called the Christ?

Sherlock:  Dr. D., you and Bob have almost persuaded me to be a Christian.

Dr. D.:  Sherlock, I can’t ‘persuade’ you to be a Christian – that is the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God as He uses the Word of God to bring you to a place of repentance and faith.  I simply have the privilege of being the messenger – the postman, as our pastor says.

Sherlock:  I want to become a Christian.  Are you sure that God wants me to do this?

Dr. D.:  I sure am.  Listen to this

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Sherlock:  Doc, I think I’m ready, but I would like to do this on my own.  Is that OK?

Dr. D.:  It sure is, Sherlock, I understand the importance of this decision.  If I can help you any more, let me know.

[Dr. D. exists]

Pastor Dutton (referring to Sherlock) closes out the session

To the audience:

Our goal in this series has been two-fold:

1)  To strengthen believers in the defense of our faith! – This is known as ‘apologetics”

Our theme verse has been 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (stressing the importance of living a godly life).

We’d like to invite you to participate in a class that covers this material in much greater detail than we have been able to cover here on Sunday evenings.

2)  To reach out to the non-believers in our community and show them some compelling reasons to believe in God and His Son. 

For some, this is your first time in a church, and you maybe you have been apprehensive. We welcome you as our friends, and we trust this evening has been helpful to you as you consider where you are spiritually. Our goal over these past 6 weeks has been to show you compelling evidences to demonstrate why Christianity is the only true religion and anything that opposes it is false. 
Review
1. We’ve been saying that there are two forms of belief:  Belief THAT something is true and a belief IN something. Apologetics only deals with a belief that God exists, that Jesus is God, and that the Bible is the Word of God.
That’s what apologetics is all about – defending your faith.  And since we believe in progressive sanctification (that a person should be changing and growing), then we also believe that a person should be growing and getting to a better place in his/her ability to defend their faith.

2. However, we want to be careful to point out that bringing someone to the salvation experience of believing IN God, is first and foremost, an act of God
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him”

3. As believers, God allows us the privilege of being involved in the process.  Our lives, and the way we live them, are the greatest platform for evangelism.  We’ll emphasize that tonight.  Jesus said in Matthew 5 that we are to "the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”  Paul called us ‘ambassadors for Christ” in 2 Corinthians 5:20
4. For many of us, we come in contact with people everyday who believe that the Bible is the Word of God.  They believe THAT God exists, but they don’t believe IN God – or His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is very similar to James 2:19 “the demons also believe, and shudder.”  They’ve grown up in or around church, they know the truth, but simply chose to reject it.
5. On the other hand, as one person found out recently, not everybody starts there.  A member of our church spoke with me recently and asked for some help with his co-workers.  This gentleman said that his coworkers didn’t believe that there was any such thing as truth – sound familiar? 
In session #1:  Reasons to believe that truth exists, is knowable, absolute & exclusive.  And that the Law of Non-contradiction states: Opposites cannot both be true at the same time in the same way.

Secondly, these co-workers made that statement to the person that he couldn’t prove God existed! In session #2:  Reasons to believe that the God of the bible exists!  And while, as believers, we understand the bible presupposes the existence of God, the interesting thing is this; the scientific evidence more strongly supports the Christian worldview, more than any other, regarding the existence of God!

This person also went on to say that as he quoted bible verses to them and tried to explain the Scriptures, that they told him, “You can’t trust that bible, and it’s full of errors.” – Sound familiar?  In session #3:  Reasons to believe that the New Testament is a historically reliable document.  Any person who has trouble with what the NT teaches, it’s not because the NT was inaccurately transmitted; but instead, that person actually has a problem with the MESSAGE of the NT!

And in session #4 we saw that the message of the NT clearly states that Jesus claimed to be God.  And, as we saw last week, three things supported those claims:
1)  The prophecies about Jesus that were made and then fulfilled
2)  The sinless and miraculous life of Christ
3)  The greatest event in human history, the resurrection of Jesus!
Anybody here want to talk to those co-workers!  Absolutely!  Those are the very things that we’ve been covering the past 5 weeks!
Not everybody thinks like that person’s co-workers – or like our friend Sherlock (portrayed in our skit); but more people live there than we probably care to admit – and more are getting to that place in their lives at an extremely rapid rate.  Those people are getting there, in part, because the church of Jesus Christ needs to do a better job at evangelizing and equipping the saints to defend our faith.

We say that Christianity is a thinking man’s religion – that’s true.  That’s one of the reasons why we haven’t been afraid to use terms like:

• Apologetics – defending our faith
• Epistemology – your source of truth
• Epistemological neutrality  -- i.e. no one comes to the ‘table’ without a source of truth – even if that source is their own thinking!

While some of what we’ve been teaching may be NEW to some of you, that’s OK.  Because one of the goals in this series has to been to stretch our thinking and be better prepared to ‘give that reason for the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear.” 

6. The point is:  We need to be prepared to help people in that situation.  This whole series has been about knowing the truth of God's Word and making sure our lives support the power of the message we proclaim.  You can quote all the Bible verses you want regarding salvation, but if your life doesn’t reflect the truths you proclaim, and if you are not seeking to cultivate relationship with unbelievers, then your evangelism will be ineffective – and possibly even a hindrance to the cause of Christ.
7. This series has also been about knowing how to think more clearly.  It’s about using the mind that God has given us to think through difficult questions and reach out to people who don’t automatically accept John 3:16 because they think like those co-workers think!
8. The Bible makes it very clear that knowledge alone ‘puffs up’ (or makes a person proud), we need to make sure that we are growing in a few areas:
• Growing in our knowledge of the Word
• Growing in our ability to be discerning and thinking clearly
• Growing in the way we allow the Word of God to impact our lives and families – that’s what is going to help the most in winning people to Christ.

-  I’d like to close our session by looking at Acts 8:25-40 [READ]
-  Let’s ask some questions:
1.  What are some prerequisites for evangelism? [Let me briefly mention 6]
1)  Be a Christian yourself (Philip know the Lord)
- The greatest thing that could happen in a study on evangelism or ‘reasons to believe’ is for a person to say, “I need Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”
2)  Be obedient to the Word of God
– The angel of the Lord (God spoke directly to people at that time – today He uses the Word) said, “Arise and go.”
– The issue wasn’t:  “Lord, that’s a desert road – people don’t live in the deserts – why do you want me to go there?
– The issue isn’t:  The circumstance in which God chooses to place us
– The issue is:  Will I be obedient and fulfill the great commission where ever God puts me?
3)  Be a listener
– We can learn a lot about people just by listening to them
– Find out what a person is interested in and you will find the best way to reach them
– Being a good listener communicate to others that you are sincerely interested in them
4)  Be growing in your knowledge and use of the Scriptures
– Philip could answer the eunuch’s questions because he was a good student of the Word himself
– That’s what we’ve been trying to help you with during this series
5)  Be willing to have your schedule interrupted.
– Serving God is rarely convenient – if you wait to evangelize until it’s convenient, you will wait for a long time!
Point: Philip viewed this ‘chariot of opportunity’ as a Divine appointment and not as an interruption
Q:  How often do you and I view people as interruptions instead of Divine appointments?
– If we are going to be effective in evangelism, we must look at people as divine appointments
6).  Be interested in people – grow in your love for your ‘neighbor’
– Remember, some people are harder to love than others
– But who says you were so loveable when Jesus forgave you of your sins?
2.  Where can your start? (not implying that you are standing still)
A.  Evangelistic praying – praying for the unsaved by name!
>  God help ___________ to be saved and use me in the process!
B.  Personal involvement
1) Invite people to the Living Nativity, Christmas drama, and various series (Sun. p.m. 2001 – World Religions, Developing a Christian Worldview, etc.)
2) Cultivate relationship with the lost and look for ways to sow the seed of the Word
3) Share your faith with someone
C.  Set goals for you/family
>  Be reaching out to others – open your home
>  Take the personal evangelism class, or the apologetics class in 2001

Unbelievers:
– Jesus is a King, not a beggar.  You will have to submit to His Lordship and put your faith in His death, burial, and resurrection if you are to have the hope of eternal life.
– Some have said, I think I understand, but I don’t know HOW – we’ve shown you HOW tonight!
– Do you know the truth, but you are simply rejecting it?
– Have you come to accept THAT God exists, but you have chosen at this point not to put your faith IN God – especially His Son, Jesus Christ?
– Have you been questioning the accuracy of the Bible when in reality, you are struggling with the message of the Bible?
John 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

Q:  Will you trust Christ today?
Closing Hymn:  One by One

Bob Martin

  • M.D. - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • M.A. - Southern Evangelical Seminary
  • Professor of Apologetics - Faith Bible Seminary

Bob is married to Deb with five adult children and practices medicine in southern Indiana. He has been on faculty at Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Southern Illinois, Indiana Universities, and Purdue Pharmacy School.