Grasp the Gospel

August 3, 2023

Hello there and welcome to August! I really enjoyed our previous blog series, One Another, because I love learning from the amazing elders and staff God has assembled at Riverwood. But with a new month, it seems appropriate to start a new series here on the blog.

A few weeks ago, I read a little book called Before You Share Your Faith. In his book, author Matt Smethurst shares five things he thinks Christians should know and do before they engage in personal evangelism. I found the five ideas simple yet important, so for the five Thursdays of August, we will be looking at one concept each week from Smethurst's book.

As we get going, let me make a couple of notes:

#1: For many Christians, evangelism seems scary. Hopefully, the five concepts we'll be considering will help alleviate some of your fears. Yet, it's important to realize Jesus commands His followers in Matthew 28:19 to "Go... make disciples." So I will be writing each week under the assumption that "evangelism" is something Jesus followers are supposed to do.

#2: If you are not a follower of Jesus yet, feel free to read the posts in this series. Just know that I am writing primarily to people who have already committed themselves to following Jesus (of which I hope you will also become!).

Grasping at Our First Concept

In this series, we are going to be looking at the pre-evangelism concepts of...

  • Check Your Context
  • Love the Lost
  • Face Your Fear
  • and Start to Speak

But before you can do any of those four things, you must know and do Concept #1 – Grasp the Gospel.

Think about it... you can't "share" with someone that which you barely understand yourself. For example, I've seen a couple of YouTube videos about quantum mechanics, but I am completely incapable of adequately explaining the subject to someone else. To share about the amazingness of quantum mechanics, I need more than just my current cursory knowledge of the subject.

Handling the Gospel

One of my suitcases at home has a broken handle. (And sadly, it is the largest one in the set!) This reality is quite annoying when I have to lift the case into my car or at the airport. So I appreciate the handles on the other two luggage pieces in the set.

If I just tell you to "grasp the gospel," it might feel like I am giving you a theological suitcase with no handle. There is some good stuff inside, but you might feel like you don't have a good hold on the subject matter. So let me give you some "gospel handles."

Before I give you these "handles," let me remind you: the gospel is "news." Your personal story is important, but sharing your faith isn't trying to get someone to have the same experience you may have had. If you've been with us during our Acts series on Sundays, you may have noticed how the early church talked about the news of Jesus' death and resurrection. So the gospel isn't first about you. It's about Jesus.

Grasp The Gospel • Riverwood Church

But the gospel is so much more than just this one story told every year at Easter. The gospel story actually is told through the entire Scripture. That is why I want to give you a couple sets of "handles" that will help you grasp this core biblical doctrine a bit better.

Handle #1: The Gospel from the Air

The first set of handles is known as "the gospel from the air":

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption
  • Restoration

Too often, evangelists start a presentation of the gospel with Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." However, this is like starting the Bible with Genesis 3, the story of the "fall" of mankind into sin. Genesis 1 and 2 are critical to the gospel narrative because they show us the immense value of humans, for men and women are created in the image of God.

That truth about the Imago Dei (image of God) helps us understand then just how devastating the "fall" was and how beautiful the redemption of mankind is through Jesus' sacrifice. And the even-better news is that a Christian's salvation isn't the end of God's work, but through the gospel, God continues to use His Spirit to restore us back into the image of Jesus.

Handle #2: The Four R's (or the Gospel on the Ground)

Our second set of "handles" come from Smethurst's book:

  • Ruler
  • Revolt
  • Rescue
  • Response

This approach starts with a perfect God (the Ruler) who created humans in His image. But those humans willfully revolted against Him. Adam and Eve's plunge into sin has been passed from generation to generation, meaning every human is born as a sinful revolter.

But out of His immense love for His image bearers, Jesus, God the Son, came to rescue us by paying the penalty (death) we each should have paid for our personal revolt. Now the response lies with us - will we respond by accepting Jesus' work on our behalf, or respond by continuing to revolt and live for self?


Hopefully, this longer-than-normal post will help you gain a better grasp of the gospel, which will allow you to not only share the gospel to encourage your fellow Jesus-followers, but adequately explain it to anyone asking questions about your faith.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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