Imagine that you have only five minutes to tell someone how to be saved before that person dies. What would you tell them? Would the message be clear enough for them to make a decision on the spot?
We should make the gospel clear because we want the message of God’s love to be understood by as many people as possible. Here are a few often-used terms which can be misleading:
- “Take Jesus in your heart.” Many well-meaning believers have used this phrase in their invitations, and many lost people have been saved through this approach — yet it is still not the clearest way to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts by faith once we trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross (2 Corinthians 1:22), but He does not live in our literal hearts. He lives in our souls.
- “Turn from all known sins.” Turning from sins is part of the progressive sanctification process that starts after a person becomes a Christian. No one has the power to turn from sin without Christ, because he is essentially dead and powerless. (Romans 5:6, 8; Ephesians 2:1, 5)
- “Commit your life to the Lord.” Commitment is a promise to fulfill something; but salvation is by grace, apart from any works that we do (Ephesians 2:8–9). A commitment never to sin again or always to walk closely to God is a promise we cannot perfectly keep. This is a decision made only after a person puts his trust in Christ, and the strength to follow through comes from the Holy Spirit.
So what is the clear gospel? It is the most direct way of communicating how a person may be saved. It is the message that Jesus died to pay for our sins and rose again. It is good news which can save a sinner — so we had better keep it clear and simple.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder