Nowadays it seems like we’ve reduced the message of the gospel down to “Jesus loves you.” While that’s true, and it is good news, it’s not really the good news that saves people. Knowing that Jesus loves us apart from any other helpful information is not much more than “useful news.”
I’ve often found it very interesting that many of the times the gospel is shared in Scripture, it is shared in a lengthy process. Peter, Stephen and even Jesus Himself shared the Gospel in long form.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27 NIV
Peter, when he shared the gospel the first few times, as recorded in Acts, gave a lengthy testimony. Read it here in Acts 2:14-41.
Stephen also gave quite a history lesson when sharing the good news of Jesus to the religious rulers of his people. To see his account, read Acts 7 here.
Short or Long?
Not every account of sharing the gospel in Scripture came with such a lengthy history lesson, but many did. There are many different ways the gospel is presented, especially in Acts, which should be a comfort to us. We really can’t go wrong if we’re opening our mouths to try and share the gospel with others, so long as our hearts are aimed at magnifying Jesus and we’re constantly learning and praying and thinking about the good news of Jesus’ salvation.
But what we can learn is that for us to share the good news about Jesus (the gospel) with others, we need to be ready to explain whatever we possibly can to enlighten hearts. We ourselves need to understand the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus. We need to give ourselves to studying the New Testament explanations of why it was important for Jesus to die and rise again.
Who knows, maybe “Jesus loves you” will be enough gospel presentation to win someone to Jesus for you, but it certainly wouldn’t have been the only time that person had ever heard of Jesus. To accept Jesus as who He really is, people must understand their fallen and depraved state and the glorious salvation that Jesus offers to us.
Missions people have studied how many “points of contact” it takes to convert people in different cultures. In some it is one or two encounters. In the United States I’ve heard it is over 20. I can believe that. A “point of contact” is each time someone does something like invite a person to church, gives them a Bible, hears a tv gospel presentation or hears “Jesus loves you.”
Whether a simple “Jesus loves you” or a long presentation of the Messianic prophesies or a retelling of Paul’s explanation of our need for Jesus, we should be giving ourselves to study how to share the gospel with others. There is nothing more powerful to change lives–forever.
Make The Most Of Your Time
Take every opportunity you’re given. If all you have time for is “Jesus loves you,” then share that. If you have more time and attention from your listener, share as much as you can. Share as much as God has given you. If you don’t know what the Messianic prophecies or Paul’s explanations are, then just share what you already know, but make a point to learn what those things are that would help you give a more complete story of Jesus’ salvation.
And most of all, remember that it is not the quality of your gospel presentation, but the power of God resting on your words, that make the most difference. Always ask the Holy Spirit what the most perfect words to share at the time are. We cannot convince anyone with words to follow Jesus, but His Spirit in us can work miracles.
And someone choosing to follow Jesus forever is the greatest miracle of all.