What is the gospel? What must happen for a person to go to Heaven when they die? It seems
many denominations disagree on this. Who is right? Where there is contradiction, not everyone can be correct. Someone’s right and someone’s wrong.
I have been through most evangelism trainings. I have been trained in FAITH, Hand to Hand
Evangelism, the ABCs, the Romans Road, CWT, Evangelism Explosion, Three Circles, Share Jesus without Fear, and several others. All have their strengths and weaknesses. Some of these presentations (i.e. ABCs) aren’t the gospel in the slightest! They leave out repentance entirely. Most can be helpful but can easily turn into a sales pitch rather than forsaking one’s life of sin and clinging to Christ alone for salvation.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a unique way he trained his church leaders in sharing the gospel.
He called them the three R’s. He argued these elements must be a part of sharing the gospel. If one is lacking, it is no gospel at all. I have added a fourth element (Repentance) because it is my absolute conviction that repentance is a foundational pillar of salvation.
Ruin — The world has been fully contaminated by sin and ruined by the fall of man. Man’s will has been completely engulfed by sin and he stands hopeless to save Himself. Nothing has been left untouched. Sin entering the world and created a great separation between God and man. (Romans 3)
Redemption — From eternity past, the Father set forth a plan to redeem His children. His Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world to secure redemption for those who would trust in Him alone for salvation. True redemption was secured for believers as Jesus died on the cross as our substitute and places His righteousness upon us at the time of conversion. (John 3:16-18)
Regeneration — The Christian is brought to spiritual life by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is at this time the plan of redemption is applied to each believer personally and that person is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. We are radically changed from death to life. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
Repentance — During regeneration our heart is changed and we surrender our will to God’s will. While sin remains, the Christian has a new attitude and outlook on their sin. They agree with God, not the world, and continue repenting of sin through a lifelong process called sanctification. (Luke 9:23)
Have all four of these happened to you? Can you think back to a time when God changed your heart and your behavior began to shift from your old ways to a life of obedience? Where are you now? Are you living in unrepentant sin, yet claiming that you have been redeemed?
May these elements bring true believers assurance and open the eyes of those who have been told the gospel is a pardon for wicked behavior, without any commitment to Christ whatsoever.
Andy Waits is associate pastor/worship & students at First Baptist Church Springville.