Believe the Gospel
The New Testament is clear that believers are to proclaim the gospel to a lost world, so that they may repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21). Many evangelists such as Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, have done a great job at making it clear what repentance practically means. An acknowledgement of sin, apologizing for that sin, turning away from that sin and turning towards God who sets you free from sin. They also do well at explaining that repentance literally means a change of one’s mind. However, what does it mean “to believe”? A proper gospel message is necessary before the call to repent and believe, but I hope to shed some useful light on the topic of “belief”, that can help during evangelistic encounters.
“When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
By no means is this an exhaustive declaration of the gospel, but it is important to understand the flow of the gospel call (general call) that an evangelist is to proclaim. First, is the teaching of who God is; He is holy, good and just. Then, the status of man, which is sinful; this will lead you to man’s great dilemma, how can a holy and just God justify a wicked sinner? The answer is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that He laid down His life as The spotless Lamb of God to appease the wrath and justice of God for anyone who believes.
Following the gospel proclamation, is the gospel call, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NASB). I have already addressed what it means to repent, but what about to believe? In my experience of living in the south, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who “believes” in Jesus. This makes it difficult to bring the true and biblical meaning of believing. Remember, James tells us “even the demons believe”. What is it that we are to believe? That Jesus was a real person? No, many secular historians believe that Jesus existed and it would be foolish to deny this historical fact. What about to believe that Jesus is the Son of God? This is a great confession, however many so called “christians” will cognitively admit that Jesus is the Son of God? So what does a belief in the gospel mean?
I would submit—and would also delight to receive comments—that to believe the gospel means to kill the faith you have in your own works and to trust completely that your salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ. There is nothing you have done, can do, or will do that will amount to any merit for salvation. I love the example that both Ray and Todd use about the airplane and putting the parachute on. But I believe, an understanding of the proper way to respond to the gospel would be even more beneficial to the sinner, and by God’s grace soon to be saint. I must say that in no way am I as gifted or useful as Todd Friel or Ray Comfort in evangelism, nor as knowledgeable. But I do hope that this information will be helpful to you, the reader, and that God would bless the proclamation of his word.