“Know what you believe and why you believe it” is the slogan used by the White Horse Inn website that I occasionally listen to. This really got me thinking today as I was at a ministry training for teaching children. The topic: Sharing Christ. Our assignment was to prepare a story or demonstration to relate the gospel. Surprisingly, many of the stories told were not related to the gospel.
Before I go on – if you are reading this and think I am writing about you, know that I am not saying your stories were bad (most of them were created very well) but addressing the understanding of the gospel. Although I personally don’t follow these, my church have broken up the gospel into four simple steps which I do feel is effective. The four steps are:
1. God loves you.
2. We are all sinners.
3. Jesus died on the cross and resurrected to cleanse the sins of people.
4. Confess your sins and believe Jesus is God and have eternal life.
Simple enough, yet these potential shepherds of children were summarizing the gospel as letting God lead your life in a positive way or to stop sinning. Living a life of integrity is good but that is nowhere close to being what the gospel is. The gospel is simply, Jesus coming down from heaven to die for the sins of his people and the resurrection is proof that he has defeated sin and death. And those who confess their sins and believe Jesus is their God will inherit eternal life. Eternal life cannot be earned but rather is a gift from God.
My thoughts continued to wander further and think if it is possible for someone to attend church all their life and think the meaning of the gospel is for them to be a good person. Suddenly the fear inside me began to grow as I imagined the little children in our churches growing up learning the wrong gospel. I am sure my fear is real and there are plenty of church goers that do not understand what the gospel truly is.
So how do we address this? I believe it is the church’s job to constantly teach the gospel and make sure their congregation understands. As I listened to other believers, one thing that stands out to be important is to bring up children through the use of catechisms. Lastly I believe the gospel should be preached on the pulpit. Many believe that the gospel is for non-believers, that it is a one and done message to get someone to “believe in Jesus”. The gospel is and should be the center of Christianity as it constantly reminds us that we are imperfect and that only through Jesus who is perfect and righteous can we gain salvation. The church should continuously teach the gospel so that the people can know what they believe and why they believe it.