The Tuesday Talk.

I recently read that Americans require repeated exposure to oral information before retaining the information. Contrasted with this is the reality that many in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia only require a single exposure. The statistic stated that, on average, Americans must hear something 7 times in order to retain or remember. As I thought about this, I wondered how many American church members know the gospel of Jesus Christ? Can we vocalize the gospel in a concise, comprehensive, and clear manner? I ask this because American preaching tends to introduce numerous ideas and concepts quickly before moving on to the next concept. This is problematic! One of the greatest blessings in the American church is also one of our greatest hurdles. You see, we are a literate culture with numerous copies, versions, and presentations of the Scripture. This reality leads us to learn and memorize the Bible through principles and facts instead of comprehensively. In turn, we feel compelled to present new ideas, themes, and insights more than dwelling on previously stated information. Let’s take this a step further, exclusive transmission of factual data has an additional risk of leading us to an impersonal view of God. It becomes easy for us to think of Christianity along the lines of categories, philosophical principles, and proofs (justifications for belief) instead of an ever-deepening relationship with God. Hear me clearly, theological insights and principles are good but not ultimate. Our presentation and conceptualization of the Gospel must not be excluded to theological concepts—we need to see the fullness of our relational God and His character as well! On the other hand, presenting the gospel within oral cultures is often done through a story-form approach; meaning, the work of God, our need of God, and the nature of God is expressed within the context of stories and events. Such an approach leads to a view of an active, personal, engaging, and present God. Negatively, story-based instruction can cause us to lose sight of clear theological instruction and parameters that accurately guide us in our faith. This is why the New Testament contains both stories and systematized theological instruction. The four GOSPELS and ACTS are stories about Christ and His church. On the other hand, the EPISTLES are theological instruction often presented outside the framework of a story or event. What does this mean for us in this moment? I want to challenge you to vocalize the gospel in a theologically accurate story. I will demonstrate through the medium of written communication; however, I strongly encourage you to speak the gospel story. This story is brief and, therefore, incomplete; however, do not allow this approach to hinder you. Instead, use this exercise as an opportunity to continually express the truth of the gospel in a conversational story that will encourage all who hear it! Let’s get started! The Gospel is... The story of how God redeemed and reconciled the pinnacle of His creation. God formed man with His hands, breathed His life into humanity, and walked with His creation in the majesty of a garden made for humanity. However, Adam thought God was holding back from him, so he took from God what did not belong to him. In doing this, Adam sinned against an infinitely holy God—this demanded God to punish him. The consequences were steep! Sin brought fear of God, separation from God, relational discord with others, difficulty in survival, and—ultimately—death! As time progressed, humanity only demonstrated their propensity to sin. But God was not content with this depraved human state. Over the course of roughly 3000 years God progressively revealed Himself and His plan of redemption to humanity. God showed Noah His intolerance of sin and His grace toward those that fear Him. God revealed to Abraham His promises and faithfulness to uphold His promises. God taught Jacob His transforming and protective work. God expressed His name, His holiness, and the requirements of worship to Moses. To David, God prophesied and promised a future Messianic King that would rule, shepherd, and guide the people of God into the eternal presence of God. Through the prophets, God faithfully called out and demonstrated His long-suffering and faithful love in the face of a people who constantly rejected Him; additionally, God clearly expressed His intolerance of rebellion and sin! Lastly…Jesus came into the world! Jesus is God with us! The full manifestation and revelation of God. Jesus opened our eyes to the mercy, grace, and sacrificial love of God by walking with us and teaching us. Jesus stepped into our world, in our shoes, and took our penalty for sin upon Himself. When the eternal God died in our place and rose from the dead, He forever paid the penalty of sin for all who believe in Him! This reality gives us assurance of salvation. How? When Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent His Spirit to fill us and permanently abide in us. The presence of the Holy Spirit within us serves as the pledge and promise of Jesus Christ to reclaim us at His return. Now, in Christ, no sin can separate us from God because Jesus set us free from the eternal consequences of sin to set us free to worship Him! When Jesus returns, He will take us to be with Him forever. We will sit at His table and dine with Him. We will, again, walk with Him on heaven’s streets. We will live with Him and we will never be separated from Him. The Gospel is the message that God wants us to be with Him and has worked to make this a reality! The Gospel is the good news that we belong to God and with God! I hope this brief presentation helps to guide you as you vocalize the story of Scripture. This was a thirty-thousand-foot overview of Scripture. However, you can choose a single story from Scripture to express the gospel. Remember, we need both theological principles and a narrative of God’s loving work to move our hearts in worship of God. To possess either one exclusively is to hamper our enjoyment of Christ. Please take this challenge and run with it! In Christ, Pastor Darin