“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
What an unusual opportunity. What would you say? While standing outside the booth at a local county fair this opportunity presented itself, so I told the young couple the gospel:
“God created this world and He is the standard of morality. If you have ever lied, stolen something, used God’s name in vain, Jesus said that whoever looks with lust commits adultery, and if you hate somebody then you have committed murder in the heart. God will judge us and find us guilty; however, God is rich in mercy and has provided a way for us to be saved. Jesus Christ, who is God in His fullness, became a man to suffer and take the punishment you deserve. What we must do is submit to God who has command us to repent and trust in Christ, and He will give us eternal life.”
After explaining the most wonderful news they would ever hear, their response was less than ecstatic. In fact, it seemed like they were not at all that concerned.
I asked them, “So, where do you think you will go when you die?”
They responded that they would probably go to heaven.
So I asked, “Why?”
They responded, “Because I’m a pretty good person.”
It was at this point that I realised how my presentation of the gospel was different from the way Jesus presented the gospel in Mark 10 and John 4. Instead of just explaining the gospel, He waited for them to respond. When the rich young ruler asked “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus used the law to bring the knowledge of sin (“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not… do not… do not…”), but he also waited for the man to respond (“All these have I observed from my youth.”).
In John 4 Jesus used the the essence of the law (“Go, call thy husband, and come hither.”) to make the woman give a response (“I have no husband.”).
While presenting the gospel as a proclamation is a valid method, I would recommend being conversational when possible because it forces the listener to pay attention. Since the young couple at the fair claimed to be good people it was obvious that the law I had just presented was not taken to heart. At this point I started over, but waited for a response:
“If you consider yourself to be a good person do you mind if I ask a few questions to see if that is true?” (Wait for a response.)
How many lies do you think you have told in your life? (Wait for a response.)
What do you call someone who tells lies? (Wait for a response.)
Have you ever stolen something, or downloaded something you didn’t own the copyright to? (Wait for a response.)
What do you call someone who has committed theft? (Wait for a response.)
Jesus said that if you look with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. Would you be guilty of that? (Wait for a response.)
Have you ever used God’s name in vain? (Wait for a response.)
If God judged you according to those commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? (Wait for a response.)
Would you go to heaven or hell? (Wait for a response.)
After giving them the opportunity to respond to each question they now understood that they were not good according to the Bible, and they correctly responded that they would be destined for hell. Now that the law had shown they were about to perish, the gospel could show that they have a rescuer.
God is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. As we relay the knowledge that God has given us, let us be like Christ and remember to engage others in such a way that encourages understanding.