Part 2 of a two-part post. Read Part 1 here.
In recent weeks we have studied the deep, rich, multifaceted Gospel. We looked at the Gospel, not as a one-dimensional square, but as a six-dimensional cube. We saw the abundance of God’s love revealed in Justification, Regeneration, Reconciliation, Adoption, Redemption, and Sanctification. See a summary chart of these expressions of the Gospel here:
Each of these theological concepts are immensely personal and practical. They each highlight different aspects of who God is, how our sin affects us, and what Christ accomplished for us. They are different angles, different views of the one true Gospel. These six views of the Gospel give us direction in what it means to live out our faith. They also serve as entry points for nonbelievers and guide us in evangelism.
Consider the following ten tips for utilizing the six expressions of the Gospel as you reflect on your own heart and engage family and friends.
- Everyone needs every dimension of the Gospel. The point of this is not to pick and choose which parts of the Gospel apply to you or to a friend. God is all of these identities to all of us. Sin manifests in each of these ways in all of us to one degree or another. To truly understand the fullness of what Christ has done for us, we need to see all six sides of the Gospel. We’ll spend all of eternity doing this.
- These are both growth points for believers and entry points for nonbelievers. You will be much more effective at sharing the multi-dimensional Gospel with others if you have personally experienced the full work of Christ in your life. You may have never felt the shame of adultery, but if you are aware of the shame your own sin has caused you can speak with passion about sanctification.
- Each of these dynamics has personal implications and larger social implications. While the Gospel comes to the individual, God’s heart is to bring his Kingdom into every corner of his world. Each of these identities of God can bring personal transformation and social transformation. They can be used to not only talk about God’s desire for the individual, but his desire to bring mercy and justice to every part of our world. The Gospel is relevant to urban violence, political division, drug addiction, racial inequality, refuge care, family dynamics, and the coronavirus pandemic.
- These are not the only six ways to express the Gospel. These seem to be the most prominent aspects of the work of Christ in Scripture, but don’t let this paradigm limit your conversations and application of Scripture. Study the Word, confront your own heart, listen to the people around you, and let the Spirit guide you to articulate biblical themes in relevant ways.
- Don’t assume that everyone connects with Christ in the way you do. We all have a particular expression of the Gospel that speaks loudest to us. (This may change through the seasons of life and personal growth.) Just because being forgiven of your guilt is what you first connected with first, doesn’t mean you need to start every conversation off with the concept of justification. Don’t make the mistake of seeing the Gospel as two-dimensional – see the Gospel in 3-D.
- Look for an entry point into the person’s heart. Every nonbeliever needs to hear every aspect of what Christ has done for us, but they can’t hear it all at once. When you look for an open door to share the Gospel with a nonbeliever, look for an expression of the Gospel that will connect with their greatest felt need. Pray for a place to begin the conversation.
- To discern how the Gospel is relevant to a person, get to know them. As you seek to share Christ with friends, take time to build a relationship. Be interested in them as a person. Invest in them. Ask questions, listen, pray. Sometimes the Spirit will just give us direct insight into a person’s heart, but often this process takes time.
- The horizontal often indicates the vertical. Much of the time, how we view and relate with other people is a good indication of the primary spiritual dynamic between us and God. This is true for how you assess your own heart and how you engage with others. For instance, a person living in bitterness and broken relationships may need to hear about how their hostility toward God can be repaired (reconciliation).
- The presenting issue is not always the heart issue. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes what a person displays on the outside is not a clear picture of the state of their heart. People wear masks and put up walls. Pray and ask for discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
- Don’t over-simplify the complicated nature of a person’s heart. Don’t put someone into a box. Don’t identify a person’s felt need or Gospel entry point and then just automatically interpret everything they do and say through that filter. Yes someone caught in addiction needs to hear about redemption, but that’s not all. It is easy to put people into categories, but in real life lines are usually blurry and people are always nuanced. Respect the person. Focus on relationship.