Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, once remarked that in his church’s baptismal interview he requires that prospective candidates articulate the gospel within sixty seconds.
Dever’s contention is that if you cannot explain the gospel in this period of time, then you probably don’t understand it, and so then the likelihood that a saving transformation has actually taken place is drastically diminished.
As I sat in the congregation and considered Dever’s comments I was so struck by the need for such a barometer of spiritual life.
I cannot even begin to count how many times I have engaged folks with the gospel only to hear them tell me that they were Christians, born-again, professors of Christ…however, the more I prod and preach, the more uncomfortable the dialogue becomes.
For many, it seems that the gospel is just about making the right pitch while not saying any evangelical cuss words like “works” or "law," while being sure to drop what has become the salvation clincher in pop-evangelicalism -- namely, the “personal-relationship with Jesus" card.
Many become uncomfortable, even angry and insulted when the evangelist continues to talk of such things as faith and repentance, the substitution of Christ and justification by faith…giving you the “why are you wasting your time?!” look.
Yes, the gospel is offensive to unbelievers. But it is the power of God to the believer! So, why the poor reception?
I long for the day when an evangelical approaches me on the street or in a mall to discuss the gospel; after all, I don’t walk around with an “E” for elect stamped on my forehead.
So let’s keep sharing and keep evangelizing, even if it's just educating contemporary “churchianity”….somebody might actually get saved!
So here’s my attempt at a 60 second gospel:
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There. I think I got it in 60. (Bostonians talk a little faster than mid-westerners.)