How to teach God’s good news in Easy English - PART 3 (Final)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
HOW MUCH SHOULD A CHURCH LEADER SAY ABOUT CHRIST’S DEATH?
In the previous part, I showed how to teach about Christ’s death in a clear manner. However, there is too much information there for a church leader to explain on just one occasion.
Of course, he could teach all these things at a series of meetings. If the subject were less important, then that might be the right thing to do. However, nothing is more important than a person’s relationship with God. So the church leader must use every opportunity to teach what God has done by means of Christ’s death.
The Bible declares that people must trust Christ now:
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation - 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” - Hebrews 4:7.
Church leaders must therefore not delay people until some future occasion that may never happen. If God has given an opportunity to declare His good news, then the opportunity should not be wasted. Every opportunity should be used well.
Many church visitors may never return. People must hear God’s good news on their first visit, because they may never get another opportunity.
The leader should arrange everything at the church and in the meeting for the benefit of visitors. He should choose songs for the meeting because of their words, and not just the music. He should train the church members to speak about Christ to visitors. There should be information at the church that the visitors can take away. The leader himself should be available to speak and to pray with people after the meeting.
However, the most important opportunity to teach about Christ is during the Bible teaching in the meeting. Sometimes the speaker may even have to change his subject to help the visitors. So the leader must allow the Holy Spirit to guide him.
If the leader cannot explain everything, what should he say? The answer must be: whatever will teach the people how to receive a right relationship with God.
They may already know much, or they may know nothing. It may seem impossible to teach anything worthwhile to someone who knows nothing about Christ. However, in fact, many people trust Christ on the first occasion when they hear God’s good news (Acts 8:26-39; Acts 16:29-34). Their experience is genuine. God has saved them and He changes their lives.
Sadly, some people attend good churches all their lives but they never trust Christ. That fact shows us that God does not save people just because of their knowledge. God saves people who trust Him. People do not need complete knowledge of the reasons for Christ’s death before God can save them. However, they do need to understand that Christ died for them.
‘Christ died for me’ may seem a very simple statement. It should not be difficult to teach people the meaning of those words. Of course, people need to say those words sincerely and to understand those words properly. When those words express a person’s beliefs, that person has learnt several important lessons:
He knows that he has done wrong things against God. A person would not need Christ to die for him if he had done nothing wrong.He knows that he cannot save himself. He believes that God can save him by means of Christ’s death. So the person realises that neither a church, nor good works, nor any human effort, can save him.He realises the importance of Christ’s death. He understands that, because of that one event, God can change his life.He knows about the love of God:
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. - 1 John 4:9.
Christ chose to die for that person:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. - John 15:13.
The words ‘Christ died for me’ show a personal relationship with God. The person who believes that has chosen to trust Christ for himself. He does not depend on someone else’s relationship with God. Also, that person does not imagine that God saves everyone, with or without trust in Christ.
The church leader will probably not ask people to say the words, ‘Christ died for me’. However, he should certainly teach people to believe those words. He should do that at every opportunity.
The Bible constantly tells people to trust God. They should do that because Christ died for them. The result is that they will have a right relationship with God. Because that is the Bible’s main message, a speaker may choose to speak from almost any part of the Bible. So when he explains these things, he never needs to repeat the same talk.
ADVICE ABOUT HOW TO BEGIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The Gospel, God’s good news, is a message with three parts.
(1) Firstly, there must be a description of the true state of people in God’s estimation. Even the best people are guilty when He is their judge. All people are evil by nature and they carry out evil deeds:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23.
They deserve only punishment, but it is God’s desire to forgive:
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. - John 3:16.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23.
(2) Then, it is necessary to teach what God has done in order to forgive people. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world (John 3:16). Jesus died in order to suffer the punishment that people deserve:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:4-6.
Then, God made Jesus alive again:
… whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. - Acts 2:24.
When people invite Jesus into their lives, God forgives them. God gives them a right relationship with Himself; they become the children of God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:12-13.
(3) The last part is to give clear advice about what people should do. They should confess the true state of their lives in front of God. He is right to consider them guilty because of their evil thoughts, words, and deeds. They should decide that they will allow God to change their lives. That is what it means to ‘repent’. It is a complete change of mind and attitude. They should invite Christ into their lives and they should allow Him to rule their lives. They should believe the Gospel and they should trust Christ.
Jesus told the people to repent and to believe the Gospel:
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” - Mark 1:14-15.
That is a brief way to say the same things that I have written in the paragraph above. ‘Believe’ does not mean merely, ‘Believe that it is true’:
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! - James 2:19.
‘Believe’ really means: ‘Believe and trust’. If people do not trust God, they cannot benefit from His kindness.
The first Christian leaders were also careful to give this kind of advice:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” - Acts 2:38-40.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord - Acts 3:19.
They explained, in a clear and practical manner, how people could begin a right relationship with God. Of course they wanted them to join the church. However, without genuine belief and trust in God, joining the church will not save anyone. So the first Christian leaders emphasised that people must repent. Also, they instructed them to begin a new life where they trusted God completely. Imagine that you were visiting a church for the first time. There, you discovered that God considered you guilty. You would feel desperate and you would not know what to do about your guilt. Then, the preacher explained that Christ died for you; and because of Christ’s death, God could forgive you. You would then want His forgiveness, but you may not know how to ask God for it.
Suppose that the meeting ended then. You would want God to save you even before you left that place; but the church leader gave you no opportunity to invite God into your life. You did not know what to do. So you did nothing. You just continued with your life as before the meeting. Perhaps you will have another opportunity, but perhaps you will not.
It is much better if the church leader explains clearly what to do. He can tell people to repent, but they may not know how to repent. He can tell people to pray, but they may not know what to pray. So it is a good idea to lead people in a simple prayer. If that does not seem right, the leader could ask all the people to say ‘Amen’ at the end of his own prayer.
In that prayer, they should confess their wrong and evil deeds to God. They should admit that they are guilty; only God can save them. They should thank God that Christ died for them. He suffered the punishment for their evil deeds. Then they should invite God into their lives. They should trust Him to save them.If the leader asks people to join in the word ‘Amen’, it may be right to explain its meaning. It means ‘This is the truth’; people use it at the end of a prayer to show that they agree with the prayer. In other words, they are asking God to accept the leader’s prayer as if it were their own prayer. If they are sincere about that, then God will accept their prayer.
The church leader should encourage people to speak to him at the end of the meeting. Then, he can give them personal advice.
We have been discussing above the advice that is needed in order to trust Christ for the first time. That advice should only be about their relationship with Christ. At that time, we do not tell people to join a church. That is not necessary for God to save a person.
After people become Christians, they need more advice. They need to know how to develop in their Christian lives. So they should read the Bible and they should pray. They should find a good church that believes the Bible:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:25.
There, they will find good Christian friends who can help them. They should confess to God the wrong things that they do. God will forgive them:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9.
They should tell other people about Jesus. They should start to do God’s work, and they should show His love in practical ways. They should do this both inside the church, and among people who do not yet know Jesus:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. - James 2:15-17.
As they do these things, God will help them to become mature in their Christian lives. When people have trusted Christ, they can be confident: God is now their God. They have a relationship with Him, and He will always be with them. And so, each day, they can trust Him completely.
© 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 6000 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.
As editor I have struggled with some of these concepts, but have largely complied with the “system”. Wycliffe and author Keith Simons are convinced that “EasyEnglish” is a God-given method to “reach many people across the world whose ability in the English language may be very limited. So, we sacrifice style for their benefit. However, we never knowingly make compromises with accuracy or theological truth.” This series is probably the first time that anyone has published “EasyEnglish” articles in a standard English magazine. It has been an interesting experience for us all. Keith tells me that the number of visitors to his web site has increased this year from around 2,000 to some 6,000 per month. Please pray that the efforts to get the gospel to those, who may not be as literate as some of us, will be greatly owned of the Lord through this method. I extend thanks, on behalf of all our readers, to Keith for writing the articles and allowing us to publish the series.