Today I want to look at the second principle in the Sharing Jesus book. It states:
In order to share Jesus confidently and consistently with others, first share him confidently and consistently with yourself.
So much of the evangelism training we’ve seen developed over the past generation was built on an assumption that believers being trained came to the training with a clear understanding of the gospel and a passion for Jesus. That’s an understandable assumption; I don’t think it’s accurate.
Here’s what I say to my students and what I said to the church where I ministered this past weekend: if you don’t have a deep passion for Jesus and a strong awareness of how amazing the gospel is, there is no technique I can give you that will cause you to witness. But, if you deeply love Jesus and are growing in your knowledge of the gospel, you will want to learn more.
When all we have is a how-to manual, we no longer have a movement. But a movement happens when we have a cause we will stake our life on, and that cause is the gospel.
So, to share Jesus CONFIDENTLY and CONSISTENTLY with OTHERS, we have to start with ourselves. Our confidence doesn’t come in our ability. When we focus on that we will ultimately be depressed because our ability is not the point. The gospel is the point. Jesus is the point. Our confidence is in him. That’s why I called the second chapter “God Is Not Mad at You.” When you start with yourself and your ability and practice, you will inevitably focus on your failures and weaknesses. Focus on Christ. Focus on his work on the cross, focus on the fact that he is resurrected from the dead.
In other words, the more we learn the wonder and the glory of the story of the gospel, the more we will talk about it to others. We naturally talk about the things we care about.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 and Luke 24:44-48. I quote both in the second chapter. In I Corinthians, Paul shows us the gospel at its heart, or what I call the gospel in its essence: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (vv. 3–4).
While our gospel is never less than this, it is more, or what I call the gospel as an epic story. The entire Bible unpacks the larger, glorious story of the gospel. Look at these passages again. In Luke’s passage, Jesus starts by explaining to the disciples everything in Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. What’s he talking about? What we call the Old Testament. This was the Bible of the first century. Jesus demonstrates here how the gospel is central to the entire Bible, not just to the Gospel writers.
And what about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians? Note how twice Paul says “according to the Scriptures.” Most of us also have some knowledge of the whole biblical message and how the work of Christ relates to all Scripture. But most of the people with whom we have gospel conversations—and this is crucial—do not have such knowledge. They need to understand the gospel from the second way, from the perspective of the whole Bible. They need to see the story of Jesus is as big as the Bible itself, the story of Jesus is bigger than our times and our individual lives, or even the spiritual aspect of our lives alone.
And we need to see that as well. Here’s a little video where I give a brief overview of the gospel story in its epic form: