The Gospel Challenge

Many of us enjoy studying theology, but when it comes to explaining the gospel—which is the bedrock of Christianity—we tend to have a difficult time explaining it. I’m speaking of myself here, because I started to realize that when I attempted to explain the gospel to a non-believer, I ended up either speaking “Christian lingo” that they didn’t understand (why would they?), or I realized that I had so many presuppositions in my mind that needed explaining, that when these presuppositions where brought to my attention, I didn’t have answers for them.

Here is my challenge for you, as a reader/writer: I want you to attempt to explain the gospel as thoroughly and as simply as you can, without over using “Christian words” that we often take for granted. So what does this imply? Well, a couple of things.

First: If you use words like grace or atonement, explain what they mean as simply as you possibly can.

Second: Question the gospel inside and out. What is sin? Why is it so bad? How does the death of Christ save people from hell? Why would God send people to hell to begin with? Raise these questions and attempt to answer them as simply as you can. In other words if you say that Christ died for the sins of man, explain why any of that would be necessary.

I realize this is a challenging task, but I feel that we can reasonably answer these questions. Here are just 5 questions that I would like to challenge you to answer.

Q: Why is sin so serious? (And why does it separate us from God?)

Q: If God is a God of love, why does he send people to hell? (Especially moral people)

Q: How does simply believing that Jesus is God grant you the right to enter heaven?

Q: Why did Jesus have to die? (Couldn’t God forgive us without sacrificing his son?)

Q: How does the death of one man atone for the sins of all?

If you blog, try answering them one at a time (and link them to me in the comments section or email them to me so that I can read them!). I will be answering them as well, and I am certainly open to constructive criticism on my answers.

The beauty of the gospel is that it is simple enough for a child to understand, while deep and complex enough for the most philosophical mind to marvel at. I look forward to hearing your responses, and I hope you find this challenge to be beneficial.

Are you up for the challenge?

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2 thoughts on “The Gospel Challenge

  1. I have a niece who has (what I consider to be) the most beautiful name in the world “Mercy Grace”. So I’ll attempt to take the first question.
    Individual aspects of God’s nature can often only be understood in conjunction with other aspects of who He is. Three words used by God and of God and the meaning of each becomes more clear when compared to the others. Take Justice, Mercy, and Grace for example. Justice is defined as “Getting what you deserve”. Mercy is defined as “not getting what you deserve” and finally Grace is defined as “Getting what we don’t deserve”. Justice and mercy are typically referenced in a court of law while Grace isn’t. Justice is about paying the penalty for the crime. Mercy relates to forgiveness or showing leniency by the individual who was wronged or injured. Let’s face it no matter how good you are no one gets called into the court of law to be rewarded for their good works. Likewise your good works are typically ignored when Justice is being served. For example you may be the best neighbor in the world but if ticketed for flying past a stopped school bus don’t expect the judge to give a wit about your goodness.
    God gives us the right to show mercy to our neighbor. While God gives us the right and the expectation that we would exercise this right God does not give himself the right to show mercy without an atonement for the crime or sin. It’s easy to say “why not, He’s God”. Simply put a judge who lets criminals go free is not a justice but actually an evil judge. For every crime/sin committed has victims whether they be God, individuals or the kingdom of God itself. Secondly a good king and judge understands that if the laws he passes and vows to uphold are good then he should be willing to keep them as his subjects do. We see examples of this with the king in the book of Esther and with the king of Babylon. Both were considered kings of the world at the time and both got trapped by their own Laws and were forced to follow through with them. The king of Esther put his own Queen’s life at risk while the Babylonian king put his favorite prophet Daniel at risk of losing his life to the Lions. Atonement implies that the penalty for sin must be paid either by the sinner or substitutionary by someone else and the ultimate atonement could only be paid by one sinless, eternal and without fault otherwise our sins could not be paid for since a condemned man (and all are condemned) are already condemned to die for their own sins.
    Grace on the other hand is about getting rewarded with Gods goodness while totally undeserving. Grace shows us how much God wants to love us. Grace is about giving us all the advantages of being a Child of God (knowing that we are loved by him to the point that he would deny us nothing not even his only son.) Grace is about God throwing out the accounting system of the law which only keeps count of our debts and opening up the unlimited riches of his eternal presence with no more night, pain, or tears but an unlimited and timeless kingdom where sin and death are no more.

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    • Hey Keith, I enjoyed reading your response this morning! I appreciated how you defined justice, grace, and mercy; I feel like that’s very important in order to have a firm grasp on the gospel. Thanks for responding!

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