Let’s begin with the word “evangelism.”
Consider the following words: Gospel, Evangel & Euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on)
The word “gospel” is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means “God’s spell,” i.e. word of God, or rather, “good spell,” i.e. good news. It is the rendering of the Greek word “euaggelion,” which literally means “good tidings.”
From the Greek word euaggelion we get the English word “evangel.” The good news of Jesus Christ has become known to us in the English language as the “gospel” but it could just as easy have become know as the “evangel.”
The word “evangelism” is an expansion of the word “evangel.” It is therefore clear to see that at the centre of evangelism is the good news of Jesus Christ (the Gospel).
So What is Evangelism?
Evangelism can be defined as communicating (whether in oral, written or picture form) the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Further to what we have seen above, evangelism is the practise, the employment, of the word “evangel” in action. This of course leads us to our main question: What is the Gospel?
The Bible tells us that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation
(Rom. 1:16). But why is it the power of God unto salvation?
The following definition allows us to answer that question.
The Gospel is the good news that, because of Jesus Christ,
sinners can be saved from the wrath and judgment of a holy God.
Why is there wrath and judgment?
There is wrath and judgment because man has sinned against a holy God (Romans 2:5, 3:23).
How is God holy?
God is holy in that He is set apart from the rest of His creation in both power and perfection (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 145:17; 1 Samuel 2:2).
How are people sinners?
People are sinners because they have broken God’s holy law (1 John 3:4).
Why do people need to be saved?
Unless people are saved they will suffer eternal punishment in hell (Romans 6:23). See also Luke 12:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:11
Why is it Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that saves people?
God sent Jesus as His chosen Christ (anointed one) to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Because He is the perfect substitute, Jesus satisfies fully the justice of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In so doing He brings forgiveness to all who cry out for mercy (Romans 10:13).
To truly understand and appreciate what the Gospel is it is necessary
to first build an understanding of the nature of God and the nature of man.
WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
The Bible tells us that God is holy. This does not just mean pure and sinless, it means he is altogether unlike us in every way. But for our purposes here we are focusing on the fact that He is indeed without sin: pure. The Bible tells us; “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). God is set apart in both power and perfection (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 145:17; 1 Samuel 2:2).
Consider the holiness of God: Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favour.” Isaiah 59:2 says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
The Bible also says that God is just: Psalm 11:7, “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.” Isaiah 5:16 says, “But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, and the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.” Lastly, let’s look at Psalm 7:11-12, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.”
WHAT IS MAN LIKE?
Consider man: When God first created man he was good, he had been created in the very image of God meaning that in a moral sense he was good, i.e. sinless. But then came the Fall. No longer was man sinless, now he was very much a sinner, for he had sinned.
The Fall had a severe affect on man. Every disposition of his mind was taken over by sin. Every human faculty (sense, ability, power) is affected by sin. Every faculty man has is affected by the Fall, every faculty man has is predisposed to unholiness: our minds, our will, our emotions, our memory, our conscience, all of these things are affected and impacted and are predisposed towards corruption and evil.
Is their Biblical support for this? Turn to Genesis 6:5: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The word “intention” in the Hebrew signifies not only the imagination, but also the purposes and desires of the heart.
Genesis 8:21: “The LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.”
See: Job 15:15-16; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 18:19; Romans 3:10; Romans 7:18; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3. See also Psalm 143:2 & Proverbs 20:9.
We call this the Doctrine of Total Depravity. The doctrine of total depravity does not mean man is as bad as he could be, nor does it mean that every unregenerate man is equally bad, there are obviously some people who are worse than others; what it does mean is that the Fall of Adam and original sin does impact every part of man’s being, namely his mind, his heart and his will. (Original sin is not the first sin. Original sin does not refer specifically to the sin of Adam and Eve. Original sin refers to the result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Original sin is the punishment God gives for the first sin.)
Every single person is born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). We are born in sin. A man is not a sinner because he sins, a man sins because he’s a sinner. That is who we are.
We are all born with an innate ability to sense right and wrong. We do so by using our conscience. The conscience is a human faculty that informs us of our actions, whether we have acted rightly or wrongly by the standards that we know. If we ignore what our conscience tells us we are left feeling guilty, ashamed and even depressed.
When an aeroplane descends dangerously the radar informs the pilot that he needs to “pull up.” It is the job of the conscience to tell us when we “need to pull up.” However, unless the “radar” informs the conscience we will never know when we are to pull up. The only true and certain radar that informs the conscience rightly is the Word of God. Since sinful man despises God’s Word what we have is a conscience that does not work.
Why does a child need to be disciplined? It is because the conscience must be informed. In order for the conscience to act it must be informed. A child is born evil. He is not born innocent. He may be born without the necessary cognitive ability to function completely but give him time and he will learn. With maturity comes what? Sin. If a child is left to his own devises he does not lose his conscience, rather his conscience becomes defiled in that it does not alert him with feelings of guilt and shame when he does evil.
The Bible says: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18). Even with the conscience that informs us of our actions so that we can be kept from evil man still lives ungodly lives. This is because the carnal mind constantly seeks to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. That is the state that all people are in and because of this the wrath of God abides over all who are dead in their sin. Man is born dead in sin and is a slave to sin.
SO HERE WE SEE THE PLIGHT OF MAN. A holy, righteous God seeks holiness and righteousness from His people but instead wicked and evil hearts surround Him. Good triumphs over evil and so the judgment of God will always triumph over the rebellion of man.
What is the key issue here? What is it that man lacks?
It is true that many people in the world today do good, however, their good deeds are not acceptable to God because they are not done to please Him. They are performed to satisfy self. This is why the Bible says, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Isaiah 64:6)
So the issue facing man is dire. He has no RIGHTEOUSNESS and so JUSTICE must be exacted upon Him.
HOW THEN CAN PEOPLE BE SAVED?
At this point many will say, “But is not God merciful?” Yes He is, but He is also just. Sin must be punished. How then can we be saved?
John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Question: hunger and thirst for what? RIGHTEOUSNESS
See Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
The Bible also says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Mourn over what...? Mourn over sin.
See 2 CORINTHIANS 7:10 & 2 CORINTHIANS 5:21
“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation,
not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Hatred of sin leads to mourning over sin. Mourning over sin leads to godly sorrow. Godly sorrow produces repentance. And repentance leads to salvation.
“He [God] made Him [Christ] who new no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The above verse sums up a big part of what Christ came to do.
Christ did not come to abolish the law. He came to fulfil its requirements
(see Matthew 5:17 & Romans 8:4). He did what we cannot do
(we cannot keep to God’s standard), and as a result His righteousness
is accredited to our account so that we are accepted before God.
See Proverbs 17:15
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous,
both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.”
If it is wrong to justify a wicked person, and all men are wicked, how is it that God is able to justify sinful man?
There is only one way. Man must become righteous.
Man’s only hope is for a righteous, sinless substitute to stand in his place, so that he himself might appear before God fully pardoned and fully righteous.
Jesus Christ is that substitute. By dying on a cross He has “...by one sacrifice made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)
Consider the following, taken from the Heidelberg Catechism of 1619 A.D. (A Catechism is a set of instructions in the principles of Christianity using set questions and answers). I have found this to be quite helpful. To view the entire catechism visit this link: http://www.nicenecouncil.com/media/display.pl?media_file=71
Since, according to God's righteous judgment we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, how can we escape this punishment and be again received into favour?
God demands that His justice be satisfied. Therefore full payment must be made either by ourselves or by another.
 Ex. 20:5; 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11.  Is. 53:11; Rom. 8:3, 4.
Can we ourselves make this payment?
Certainly not. On the contrary, we daily increase our debt.
 Ps. 130:3; Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4, 5.
Can any mere creature pay for us?
No. In the first place, God will not punish another creature for the sin which man has committed. Furthermore, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God's eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.
 Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18.  Ps. 130:3; Nah. 1:6.
What kind of mediator and deliverer must we seek?
One who is a true and righteous man, and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is at the same time true God.
 I Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17.  Is. 53:9; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26.  Is. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1; Rom. 8:3, 4.
Why must He be a true and righteous man?
He must be a true man because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should pay for sin. He must be a righteous man because one who himself is a sinner cannot pay for others.
 Rom: 5:12, 15; I Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16.  Heb. 7:26, 27; I Pet. 3:18.
Why must He at the same time be true God?
He must be true God so that by the power of His divine nature  He might bear in His human nature the burden of God's wrath,  and might obtain for us and restore to us righteousness and life.
 Is. 9:5.  Deut. 4:24; Nah. 1:6; Ps. 130:3.  Is. 53:5, 11; John 3:16; II Cor. 5:21.
But who is that Mediator who at the same time is true God and a true and righteous man?
Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30).
 Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; I Tim. 2:5; 3:16.
REPENTANCE AND FAITH
The Bible says whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-13). What does this “calling upon the name of the Lord” look like?
Paul said to the Ephesian elders that his message was summed up this way:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:18-21 emphasis added)
This was Paul’s message during his ministry: repentance towards God (turning from sin and turning to God) [AND] faith in Jesus Christ (see also Acts 17:29-31). It must be our message too.
To be saved a person must turn to God in repentance and trust in Jesus Christ alone. When a person exercises repentance and faith it shows that their heart is broken over their sin (see Psalm 51:17 & Psalm 34:18). It shows that they are crying out for mercy, which means they are forsaking themselves and are surrendering to the hope offered in Christ.
No one is saved through repentance alone. Scripture is clear that we are justified through faith alone (Rom. 1:17; 3:28), not repentance. However, the man who has faith in Christ is also the man who has repented of his sin. A man will not have faith in Christ if he has not first repented of his sin. Repentance and faith go together.
Luke 9:23 – To follow Jesus there are two things a person must be prepared to do:
Firstly: deny yourself (be prepared to give up the things you want)
Secondly: take up your cross (suffer on account of His name. See 2 Tim. 3:12 & Acts 14:22)
See LUKE 14:26-33. Do note that this passage uses hyperbole - a statement of extremes, contrasting love and hate for emphasis sake (Proverbs 13:24; 29:24).
Whoever wishes to follow Christ must be prepared to do deny themselves and take up their cross. There is a cost. However, God has, “...so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Through the redemptive work of Christ we are made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God draws us (John 6:44), convicts us (John 14:8), regenerates us (Titus 3:5) and keeps us (1 Peter 1:5) through the power of His Holy Spirit, for salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own
doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.