John Piper (theologian)

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1. Define the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4; Romans 3:22-25;

John Piper says there are five things that are essential to define the gospel.[1] First, the gospel is a plan (i.e. that the death of Christ was planned for before it happened according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Second, the gospel is an event in history Christ died on the cross. Thirdly, the gospel is an achievement in and through that event between the Son and the Father, namely, sin was paid for and righteousness was completed. This was an obedience into death and therefore a perfect obedience was achieved and a perfect guilt offering was paid (i.e. sin was paid for, God’s wrath against sin was satisfied, and God’s justice was satisfied). Fourthly, the gospel is that which is extended to the world that is free. If the offer was not free there would be no gospel (Rom 3:24) if it was by works and not by faith there would be no gospel. Fifthly, the application of that achievement for me, now by faith I am forgiven, now I am by faith justified.

2. What are the essentials of the Gospel[2]

We can sum the essentials of the gospel in four words: God, man, Christ, and response.

I.            God is our holy Creator and righteous Judge. He created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever (Gen 2:7, 16-17; 18:25; Matt 25:31-33).

II.            But mankind has rebelled against God by sinning against His holy character and law (Gen 3:1-7). We’ve all participated in this sinful rebellion, both in Adam as our representative head and in our own individual actions (1 Kings 8:46; Rom 3:23; 5:12, 19; Eph 2:1-3). As a result, we have alienated ourselves from God and have exposed ourselves to His righteous wrath, which will banish us eternally to hell if we are not forgiven (Eph 2:12; John 3:36; Rom 1:18; Matt 13:50).

III.            But God sent Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, to die the death that we deserved for our sins—the righteous for the unrighteous—so that God might both punish our sin in Christ and forgive it to us (John 1:14; Rom 3:21-26; 5:6-8; Eph 2:4-6).

IV.            The only saving response to this Good News is repentance and belief (Matt 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 3:7-9; John 20:31). We must repent of our sins (turn from them and to God) and believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God.

3. The Gospel is the only means the Holy Spirit use to regenerate sinners (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23).

4. The Cost of following Christ (Luke 9, 14). Every person wants to follow Christ he has to evaluate the cost of following him.

5. The Response to the gospel

Every time we present the gospel we need to invite people to repent and believe in the Gospel, if our presentation of the Good News is to be complete.[3]

We need in our evangelism not to be self-centered but God-centered. Sometimes, we share with people the Gospel and promise them that they’ll experience more satisfaction, less stress, a better sense of community, and an increased sense of meaning in life—and you’ll be prepared for eternity to rejoice! Yet what does this kind of “benefit evangelism” do to the biblical Gospel? It makes the Gospel appear to be all about me and improving my lifestyle and making me happier. Yet the Gospel is not ultimately about me. It is about God making His holiness and sovereign mercy known. It is about God’s glory, and gathering worshipers for Himself who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. It is about God vindicating His holiness by punishing Christ for the sins of all those who repent and believe.

6. Practical Tips to do evangelism[4]

a. Hospitality: invite people to your home. Cook a meal for them. Develop relationships with them.

b. Invite them to church for special event or even in regular services (the invitation should be over and over).

c. Give them books to read. Buy the Bible for them.

d. When you are doing your daily life: in the restaurant speak to the waiter/waitress, to the hair stylist, mechanic, etc.

e. Speak to strangers on the street, or in the DMV.

f. Develop friendship and relationships at work. Invite them for Lunch.

[1]John Piper, “What is the gospel,” Interview, (Gospel Coalition site):—John-Piper, 8-28-2011. I wrote down the interview and added some notes and Scripture references to clarify his points.

[2]These four simple words were taken from The Deliberate Church written by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander (Crossway books: Wheaton, IL2005), 51-52. J. I. Packer in his classic Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, he states that the gospel is about God, sin, Christ, and faith/repentance.

[3]Be careful not to confuse invitation with alter call, or sinners prayer, or any other methods to persuade people to accept the gospel.

[4]Bill Hybels has written 2 great books on this subject called Contagious Christian and Just Walk Across the Room. Highly recommended. While we may not endorse Hybels’ soteriology and ecclesiology, he has some good things to say about making and maintaining contact with lost people.