How to teach God’s Good News in Easy English
Editorial Comment plp – On January 7, 2012 I received the following totally unexpected email, which brought back memories from some 40+ years ago and tears to my eyes:Dear Pastor Powell,
You will remember how many years ago at Droylsden you showed me the way of salvation, and taught me by your Release Bible Course. Since then, my whole family have come to the Lord and we have all been greatly blessed. I enclose a draft copy of my son's latest book, shortly to be published for free distribution on the Kindle and on his website, www.usefulbible.com. Please enjoy this; and you might like to recommend it, particularly to second-language English speakers. We want to see souls saved.
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" - Daniel 12:3.
God bless you, Shirley Simons (Mrs.)
Now some 24 days later as I am writing this on the last day of January  following lots of emails back and forth we commence a series based on Keith’s proposed book, which interestingly is directly related to something a number of us discussed back in September 2011 at our Brisbane CWM Conference, when Lawrie Cornish of New Zealand suggested that we needed a series in CETF of short Gospel based articles. The Lord’s ways are “past finding out” – Romans 11:33.
Hereunder Scripture is quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Part 1 - Christians Have A Duty To Declare The Gospel
In a very severe manner, James warns church leaders and all who teach in churches. Their words will have a powerful effect on people’s lives. So they must be careful about the things that they say. They must teach God’s Word, the Bible, clearly. They must show other people how to begin and to continue a right relationship with God. When people meet to learn about God, God Himself is also present; and He is the judge of the things that the teacher says.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment - James 3:1.
Many church leaders care much about their words, but for different reasons. Perhaps they desire to show how carefully they have studied their subject. Perhaps they want to tell a story well, or perhaps they are trying to amuse people. Jesus spoke severe words about leaders who cared only to impress other people:
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven- Matthew 6:1.
Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation”- Mark 12:38-40.
It is wrong for a church leader to imagine that he can speak about any subject whatever. God has given that church leader responsibility for the people who listen to him.
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you - Hebrews 13:17.
This means that the leader has a responsibility for their relationship with God. The leader is not responsible for the decisions that people may make. But, like Ezekiel, he is responsible to warn them about the things that God orders them to do:
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand - Ezekiel 33:6 cf. verses 1-11.
Clearly, therefore, church leaders have a responsibility to tell people how they can receive a right relationship with God. But some church leaders are not sure about that. Such a leader may say,
I cannot save anyone. Only God can save people. So I do what I am able to do. I have the skill to bring people into my church. I know how to encourage people so that they continue to come to church. I provide meetings that interest them. I arrange events that they enjoy. I do not often explain that people need a personal relationship with God. My members do not like to hear about such things. I worry that they may leave my church as a result.
Some of this church leader’s ideas are right, but some are wrong. He is right that only God can save a person. But a leader must not imagine that he brings people into that church by his own skill. God is working in the lives of the people who come into that church. He wants to use that church leader to teach that person. So it is a terrible thing if a church leader refuses to speak God’s message.
We can see that this church leader has another wrong attitude. He is afraid of people’s reactions to God’s message. But nobody should be so afraid of people that he cannot carry out his duties to God:
The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe - Proverbs 29:25.
There are many church leaders, however, who understand their responsibility in front of God. They recognise that people really do need a right relationship with God. And those church leaders want very much to show people how they can receive that right relationship. But often those church leaders have a different problem. They do not clearly understand what they should be explaining. Many Christians imagine that every church leader already knows about all such matters. But, of course, that is not true; and that is the reason for this series of articles. They will show you what people need to know in order to receive a right relationship with God. They will explain how you can teach these things clearly, and will give you the confidence to declare these things publicly.
Almost 2000 years ago, Paul wrote that there is only one gospel. And he insisted that the true gospel will never change:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed - Galatians 1:8 and 9 – please read verses 6-12).
Here, the word “gospel” means the message of good news that God uses to save people. It is by this gospel that God can save people from every nation:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith”- Romans 1:16-17.
It is now almost 2000 years since Paul wrote these things. Today, there are many Christian churches and they disagree about many things. But when Christians study their Bible in order to understand the gospel message, something astonishing happens. They agree about almost everything in the gospel message. They agree that all people are, by nature, enemies of God. They agree that only God can save people. They agree that this can only happen because of the death of Christ.
That is powerful evidence that the gospel really is a message from God
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man - Galatians 1:11.
People from different churches, with different traditions, agree that The Gospel is the reason why Jesus came to this earth. They agree that it is essential for people to believe The Gospel. They agree that it is the most important message ever.
So, we should study the gospel message carefully.
Why Do So Many Evil Things Happen In Our World?
The world is a very beautiful place. But everyone realises that there is something very wrong about our world. Cruelty, evil acts and murders are common. Wicked people have great authority, and it seems impossible to escape from their power; and even the best people struggle to control the bad thoughts that sometimes fill their minds.
The Bible has an explanation of these facts. It says that God created a perfect world (Genesis 1:3-31; Proverbs 8:22-31). And He intended that people should be perfect, too (Ecclesiastes 7:29). But people chose not to be loyal to God (Genesis 3:1-19).
The result is that a state of war now exists between all people and God. People have made themselves God’s enemies.
Paul describes this terrible situation in Romans 3:10-18. He does not use his own words there. Instead, he repeats a series of passages from the Books of Psalms, Isaiah and Ecclesiastes. He does not need to explain those passages because they are very clear. Nobody is completely good. Everybody is guilty when God is the judge. All people do things that oppose God.
God created you and He is your judge. It is a terrible thing to be His enemy. We hope to escape from our enemies but nobody can escape from God:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there - Psalm 139:7-8.
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[c] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works - Revelation 20:12-13.
We hope that our enemies will be too weak to punish us. But God’s power is absolute:
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!- Revelation 19:1.
When we think about these things, John 3:16 astonishes us:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This verse tells us that God loves the people in this world. He does not want them to suffer as His enemies. He very much wants to save them; and He has provided the way by which that can happen. God can save people because of the death of Christ. God does it when people invite Christ into their lives and turn from their sins.
We much prefer to speak about God’s love than to speak about people’s evil behaviour. But we must desire to mend the broken relationship between people and God. A doctor must first understand the illness before he can cure it; and we must understand clearly how people have become God’s enemies.
Firstly, it is clear that people are God’s enemies because of their evil behaviour. It is not only their actions that are wrong. Their words (Matthew 5:22) and even their thoughts (Matthew 5:28; Romans 1:21) are also evil:
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire – Matthew 5:22.
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart – Matthew 5:28.
because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, – Romans 1:21.
Their own conscience tells them that these things are wrong:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse - Romans 1:18-20.
The fact is even clearer for people who know God’s law:
For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law- Romans 2:12.
God has declared His standards in the Ten Commandments, that is, the commands in Exodus 20:1-17. Jesus taught that people must obey every one of those commandments completely:
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven - Matthew 5:19.
James taught that people must not neglect even one of God’s commands. A person who does not obey one command has offended against them all:
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law - James 2:10-11.
When we think about these Bible passages, we realise a very important fact. All people are guilty in front of God, and not just the worst people. Nobody can ever prove that they have completely obeyed all of God’s laws. Even if someone’s actions were perfect, that person’s words or thoughts would prove him guilty. God’s standards are too high for anyone to achieve. See Romans 3:9-23.
Clearly, God considers that something is very wrong with people. It is not just their actions that are wrong. Jesus said that evil actions were just the result of something deep inside a person:
And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man - Mark 7:20-23.
In other words, the nature of people is wrong. There is something in our nature that opposes God. That is why our behaviour, attitudes, desires, thoughts and actions are so often evil.
So, secondly, people are God’s enemies because of the evil nature that is in them. Of course God did not originally create people to have an evil nature. He wanted people to love Him and to serve Him gladly. So He allowed the first people to choose whether to be loyal to Him or not.
They decided not to obey Him. The Bible records how this decision changed completely both their nature and the nature of the world around them (Genesis chapter 3). Before it they were God’s friends, afterwards, they were His enemies. Before it, they could not die, afterwards, they were certain to die.
The first people did not just make that decision only for themselves. They made it on behalf of everyone born after them:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned - Romans 5:12.
It affects everyone from birth:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me - Psalm 51:5.
Without Christ, there would be no hope for anyone.
© 2012 Keith Simons
About The Author
Keith Simons is a Bible Teacher whose work reaches across the world by the Internet, through his website www.usefulbible.com, which reaches some 2000 people monthly, in 60 countries. To aid second-language English speakers, he prepares courses and books in EasyEnglish, a system devised by Wycliffe Associates (UK). He has also worked extensively at Wycliffe Associates, and until recently led their EasyEnglish Bible Commentary team. He worships at Stockport Elim Church.