The purpose of this lesson is to present a few fundamental principles regarding evangelism, and then to call God’s people to action by providing examples of apologetic encounters and, most importantly, a sample presentation of the Gospel. Much more could be said, however, and for that reason I have supplied numerous resources at the end of this outline for your consideration and study.
I. Evangelism: The Gospel & Apologetics In the World’s Marketplace
We live in the context of various -isms of the world (Evolutionism; Materialism; Postmodernism; Roman Catholicism; Islamicism; Mormonism; etc.). We must respond to these -isms with the truth of God’s word.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
1 Peter 3:13-18
The mission of the Church is the making of disciples of all nations, and this is achieved through the proclamation of the Gospel and the defending of the Gospel by exposing the folly of all other worldviews.
II. Apologetic Encounters
Two Principles for a Sound Apologetic: Know the Bible (fundamental doctrines and key Scriptures); challenge the consistency of the unbeliever
Theological Consistency: A true/biblical view of God leads to a true/biblical view of man, which in turn leads to a true/biblical view of Christ and the Gospel.
Framework for Thinking About Jesus: Jesus is:
God –> man (through the incarnation) –> Messiah/Christ (Prophet, Priest, King) –> Mediator
Giving an Answer (examples):
1. “Jesus can’t be God, because in John 20:17 Jesus referred to God as his God and our God. How can God have a God above Himself?” (see Jn. 1:1-18; Heb. 2:10-18)
All of John’s Gospel account must be read and interpreted in the light of the prologue (1:1-18). John clearly teaches the Deity of Jesus in the prologue, so it is erroneous to think he contradicts himself later in the account. Further, the Son of God took on flesh – He became a man like us – in order to properly represent His people (those He came to save). Lastly, this verse does not contradict a proper understanding of the Trinity, but it does pose a problem for other (unbiblical) views, like Modalism.
2. “The only place in Scripture where ‘faith alone’ is mentioned is in James 2:24, and there it says that we are justified by works and not by faith alone.” (see Jms. 2:14-26; 1:22-25)
Context, context, context. In 2:14-16 James is addressing the issue of true saving faith in contrast to a mere profession of faith. He’s not addressing how one is declared righteous before God, but how that reality is evidenced in the Christian life. It is not enough to merely say you believe in God (even the demons believe and shudder); rather, one must evidence their faith by good works. Paul presents the same concept in Ephesians 2:8-10 (good works are a natural result of true, saving faith, which is the work of God in the sinner).
3. “If there was a God, and if He was good and all-powerful, then there wouldn’t be all of this evil in the world.”
Most often it’s atheists who sound this objection. Challenge their objections with the consistency of their atheistic worldview. Good and evil don’t categorically exist in such a worldview. Therefore, if such a worldview is true, why even bother worrying about “good” and “evil”. That’s just the way things are (naturally so). They know God exists, but suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18ff), and that’s ultimately why they raise the question (further suppression of the truth). Point them to the evil of their own hearts (e.g. Mk. 7:21-23). Point them to the greatest evil ever committed – the crucifixion of the sinless Son of God – and how God brought the greatest good out of it – eternal life for undeserving sinners (e.g. Rom. 3:21-26; 5:6, 8; Gal. 3:13). Then call them to repent of their hostility towards God and to believe in the Gospel of Christ, for it is only in Him that refuge from the coming wrath of God toward sin is to be found.
IV. A Gospel Presentation
Simply put, the Gospel is the good news about what God has done in and through Jesus Christ to reconcile sinful man to Himself.
God There is only one true God and He has revealed Himself to us in His word (the Bible). He is the holy and just Creator of all things, sovereignly ruling over His creation. All praise, honor, and glory are due Him.
Man God created man (men and women) in His image and likeness, meaning we share certain characteristics with God and manage the earth under God’s kingship/rule. However, we have sinned against God by breaking His holy commandments, seeking instead to live life in our own rebellious and idolatrous way. Man is therefore separated from Him, spiritually dead (turned off to the things of God), and will one day physically die, because the result of sin (breaking God’s law) is death. Since God is holy and just, there will come a day when He will judge mankind for their sins.
Christ In light of the previous two truths regarding God and man, what we need is a holy and righteous mediator (one who reconciles two parties). Jesus, the eternal Son of God who became a man in order to properly represent us, is this holy and righteous mediator between God and man. He did what we could not do. He lived in perfect obedience to God’s law, suffered and died on the cross in the place of sinners (bearing their sin, guilt, and judgment), rose in victory from the grave (defeating sin and death), and now sits at the right hand of God the Father where He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is salvation in no one else, for God has provided no other means by which we may be saved from the coming judgment. Peace with God is only found in Him.
Command/Response The question remains, “How does this become good news for me?” Do you recognize that you have lived a life of sin against God, thus deserving His just wrath and judgment? Are you broken over these things? Do you desire to be forgiven of your sins and reconciled to God? Then repent and believe the gospel. To repent is in essence to have a radical change of mind regarding sin and God. It’s a change from loving sin and hating God to hating sin and loving God. To believe means to trust in the promises of God as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s to believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is and that He has done what the Bible says He has done. Believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and you will be saved!
Resources for Further Study Articles:
“Preparations for Evangelism: Seven Disciplines for a Faithful and Effective Witness”
“The Gospel (Good News) of Grace”
“Exclusivism vs. Inclusivism: A Brief Case for the Exclusive Nature of the Gospel & Salvation”
“Justification: Infused or Imputed Righteousness?: A Biblical Case for the Reformed View in Contrast to the Roman Catholic View”
“’Is Jesus Really God?’: Defending the Eternal Glory of Jesus Against the Objections of Islam”
“’Who Invented the Trinity?’: Defending the Triune Nature of God as Revealed in His Word”
“The Trinitarian Nature of Christianity: A Doctrinal Overview & Scriptural Compilation”
Books: See the above article, “Preparations for Evangelism” for a list of recommended books.
Jeff Durbin Answering ‘The Problem of Evil’
Jeff Durbin Engaging Cults and False Religions with the Gospel
Jeff Durbin Engaging Mormons on the Street
Alpha & Omega Ministries YouTube Channel