Parallel: Gospel Presentation and Sermon Execution

If there’s just one thing that people need to know, they must know God. The lost must know Him that they may embrace Him as Lord and Savior. Believers must know Him so they can better serve Him. As I was fine-tuning my gospel presentation in my mind today, I reazlied that there was a great parallel between presenting the gospel to the lost and giving a sermon to the saved.

A word about gospel presentations:
I don’t believe in giving out formulas. Even as I help coordinate an outreach program in my church, I don’t send the people out with a set presentation that they are to rehearse to every individual with whom they come in contact. I believe the Holy Spirit will guide us into what to say and how to say it, for everyone is different (I Cor 9:20). However, I do believe that in order for the preaching of the gospel to be effective, it ought to be complete. Now, some have their 3 points, 4 points, and 10 points that God Wants You To Know. Personally, I have 5. I feel that if we can get these 5 truths across to the lost then the gospel will do its work in the hearts of its hearers. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Cor 15:1-4). Preaching the gospel requires how that applies to the individual. So, we don’t say, “hello. Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again. See ya later!” We tell them the Good News of what Christ has done, but also the why. I choose to do it with 5 parts:

1. Realize Who God is
2. Realize what man is
3. Realize what cannot save
4. Realize Who can save
5. Realize what this all means

Ok, that seems like a formula, but it’s not for one reason, and that is I don’t care what order this comes in. I don’t care which part is harped on the most. What I care about as I try to equip church members to evangelize is that all the parts are there because all are necessary to understand. Here’s why I believe so:

1. Realize Who God is (we live in a theologically illiterate and ignorant society. People need to know Who God is before we say things like, “God loves you” or “God is going to judge you.” Well, Who in the world is God? They must know He is the Creator, the Lord, the Holy One, the Almighty, etc. Even if the one to whom you’re preaching knows Who God is, he must see God high, holy, and lifted up in order to make the next point effective.)

2. Realize what man is (Once the truth of God is proclaimed, man doesn’t seem all that good. A huge contrast is created. He is seen as a lawbreaker, a sinner, corrupt, and most applicable of all, bound for Hell. He is in trouble. People must see themselves as lost, Hell-deserving sinners otherwise there will be no genuine repentance and hence to change of life.)

3. Realize what cannot save (perhaps it is because I live in a religiously diverse area, but I think it is necessary to dispel some common notions of what gets you to Heaven before they see the Truth so that they realize there’s only one way, and all other ways are wrong and are to be repented of.)

4. Realize Who can save (here the Good News really gels as someone realizes just how great Jesus Christ is and how great what He did for us is. Jesus Christ becomes so much more significant to someone who has seen their state in light of a holy God.)

5. Realize what all this means (this is basically the recap and conclusion. After all, this is preaching, and preaching demands a change. At this point, the person is reminded that God loves them and Jesus died on the cross for their sins and that if they repent and trust Him alone they will be saved forever.)

I’d like for my whole team to get a hold of these truths and memorize at least one Bible verse for each point. I think those are the elements necessary to have a complete gospel presentation. Some say, “you can’t start with love because Romans doesn’t start with love.” “It’s too shallow to say God loves you at the start.” Or, “You can’t start by condemning them, they must be told God loves them.” Personally, it doesn’t matter to me where you start as long as you are complete. There are some hurting people who need to focus more on God’s love (without neglecting His holiness) when they are visited. There are some vain people who need to focus more on God’s holiness (without neglecting His love) when they are visited. The situation dictates the order and the emphasis. The gospel stays the same.

The elements in the gospel presentation parallel those in a sermon.

1. Realize Who God is (Christians always need to learn something about our God in ever message we hear. The more we know about Him, the more we know Him, the better we love Him and the better we can serve Him.)

2. Realize who man is (Christians need to know about themselves and what we can do in our lives to be more godly. We need to be reminded that we’re all sinners saved by grace.)

3. Realize what cannot save (Christians have some crazy ideas sometimes about how to make things right in their lives. In giving a sermon, the preacher should seek to refute some of these ideas so they see that the point of the message is the way to solve the problem.)

4. Realize Who can save (Christians must see Jesus Christ glorifed in every sermon, and that it is through Him alone that we can respond to the challenge in the sermon.)

5. Realize what this all means (A summary of the sermon as well as the application/invitation. Christians must respond to the message that is preached)

It’s interesting to see this parallel. Saved or lost, we’re all human. We all need food, clothing, shelter, and air. We all need God. The message preached to the lost may differ from the message preached to the saved, but they should have the same elements if there’s going to be change. I agree with the current wave in evangelicalism that we need more expository preaching. But I also believe that if we are to see a change, a revival in our churches, we need to parallel our sermons with our gospel presentations. I guess we can call it Gospel Driven Preaching!


1 comment so far

  1. Travis James on

    Great insight!
    I have never thought about those parallels before. As I look at those five things, I can’t help but to think of how often I don’t think about them.
    It’s interesting to see how even though we as believers grow in the Lord and graduate from the “milk of the Word” to the “strong meat”, we continue to need those five realizations saturated in our hearts.

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