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Sharing the Gospel—the Good News about Jesus
and the Kingdom of God
Dave Detwiler – July 2010
The very last line of the book of Acts reveals what the apostle Paul was up to toward the end of his life. Here’s
what it says: “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness
and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:31).
Wouldn’t it be great if the same thing could be said of each one of us?
This past Sunday, July 10, I shared a message that had that very goal in mind—helping each one of us to be
better equipped to share the good news about Jesus and the kingdom of God with others. The approach I shared
was adapted from the work of James Choung (who encouraged others to adapt it) in his book, True Story: A
Christianity Worth Believing In (InterVarsity Press, 2008). Here’s what I shared in that message . . .
Let’s consider a possible scenario: A friend of yours who is not a Christian has an increased interest in your
religious commitment. He likes the kind of person that you have become, and realizes that it has something to
do with your faith in Christ.
What if he or she says something like this to you one day, over lunch, “You know, I’ve met a lot of Christians
over the years who are pretty obnoxious, but I can’t say that about you. I really respect you, and was just
wondering, What is it about Christianity that you find so appealing? I’m starting to think that I need to give
more attention in my life to spiritual things, so I thought I’d see what your faith is all about.”
Okay! How would you respond? What if all you had to help you in the conversation was your napkin on the
table, a pen in your pocket, and your spiritually hungry friend across the table? Where would you start?
• Start by drawing a circle with a couple of people in it in the upper
right corner, representing the world in which we live.
• Then ask, “What do you make of our world? Do you think it is
the way it should be, or is something wrong with it? What do you
• While everyone can think of some things in our world that are
wonderful, the list of things that are messed up is far longer, isn’t
it? (You could highlight some examples, such as diseases,
poverty, terrorism, racism, sexism, crime, drug abuse,
environmental damage, family failures, unemployment, etc.)
• Our world is truly messed up (add squiggly line to circle).
• Most people seem to hunger for a better world—do you? Why is
• Why is it that we all look at our world and, in our hearts, know
that it shouldn’t be the way that it is, that it should be better?
What does this tell us?
• Well, it’s possible that it’s telling us that either the world we long
for once existed, or that it will one day exist, and, interestingly,
the Christian story affirms both!
• (Draw a new circle, to the left of the first one, with a couple of
people in it.)
• The very first sentence in the Bible says, “In the beginning God
created the heavens and the earth,” and when God was done,
having put the first humans in the new world, he pronounced it all
• We were in perfect relationship with the world, perfect
relationship with one another, and, most importantly . . .
• . . . perfect relationship with our Creator God (add a smaller circle
around the people).
• In other words, we were “Created for relationship” (write this
under the first circle).
• So what happened to this world? How did we get to where we are
• Well, the Christian story reveals that the first humans chose not to
trust their Creator, but rebelled against him and went their own
way and did their own thing.
• (Add arrows pointed in toward people in the second circle.)
• This is essentially what the Scriptures mean when they speak of
“sin” and “evil.”
• We put ourselves in the place of God, making our selfish desires
and plans of utmost importance, and this messes up everything.
• The world is not longer the wonderful place God meant for it to
• (Add vertical squiggly line between people.) Our relationships
with each other are damaged, so that now we lie, cheat, steal,
manipulate, act pridefully, withhold love, refuse to forgive, and
are just plain selfish toward one another.
• But this is not our biggest problem (add squiggly circle around
people): The greatest tragedy is that our relationship with our
Creator is damaged.
• We essentially reject God’s authority over our lives, and so he
removes the blessing of his direct presence from our world, and
everything begins to fall apart.
• And so we have a world that is “Damaged by evil” (write this
below the second circle) . . .
• . . . and it’s our fault as much as anybody’s. The Christian story
affirms that we all have sinned against a perfectly pure and loving
God, and therefore we all stand under his just judgment.
• I find this a rather difficult claim to deny—no matter how good
we think we are.
• Our world is damaged because we are damaged. We want God, or
someone, to deal with the evil in our world, but we must realize
that each one of us contributes to it through our self-centered and
• In other words, we are the problem.
• The question is, has God done anything to fix the mess we’ve
made of everything?
• Yes he has. Christians have historically called this “the gospel,”
which means “the good news.”
• God himself, because of his great love for us, has entered our
broken world to begin the process of restoration (draw a new
circle, with a squiggly line around it, and an arrow entering from
• This is the part of the story we celebrate at Christmas. On the
night that Jesus was born, this is what the angel said to the
shepherds (and this is what Linus quotes in the classic Charlie
Brown Christmas special!): “I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior
has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
• “A Savior”—one who can save us from our sins, save us from
God’s just judgment, and save our world from the mess that it is
in (draw a cross below the arrow).
• Jesus came to make all things right again, to restore us, and the
world, back to what God intended in the beginning.
• Jesus himself calls this “the gospel of the kingdom,” and it is
great news indeed!
• And at the heart of this mission of rescue and restoration is Jesus’
sacrificial death on the cross for our sins.
• One ancient Scripture puts it this way: “Christ suffered once for
sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1
• Another says, “Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and
was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
• Yet another says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one
and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but
have eterenal life” (John 3:16).
• Do you see what these Scriptures are saying? Jesus’ death on the
cross, and our response of putting our complete trust in him as
our risen Savior, restores our relationship with God (draw a circle
around the cross).
• To put it another way, we are brought back into God’s kingdom
(see Colossians 1:13-14), as we now gladly live under his
gracious authority in the midst of our damaged world.
• This is most profoundly seen in our love for one another (draw a
couple of people in the circle around the cross). That is, through
Jesus, our relationships with each other are restored, as we learn
from him how to love one another deeply, from the heart.
• So, we are “Restored by Jesus” (write this below the circle), the
one who died to save us from our sins and was raised from the
dead to give us new life and a place in God’s kingdom.
• And while perhaps you’ve heard this all before, it’s huge!
• But then again, sometimes this is where the story stops, as if
that’s all there is to it. After all, Christianity is all about going to
heaven when you die, right? And the church is just a safe place in
which to hang around until that time, correct?
• NOT EVEN CLOSE! The story is much bigger than that!
• (Draw a new circle, as shown.) As followers of Jesus, we are
called to continue his mission to the world—to give our lives in
love so that others might be restored to a right relationship with
• The Bible puts it this way: “God was reconciling the world to
himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he
has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are
therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).
• This is what the church is supposed to be all about!
• (Draw some people around the cross, with arrows pointing out.)
We are to share the good news about Jesus and engage in good
deeds that reflect his concerns.
• As the Bible puts it, we are “to act justly and to love mercy and to
walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8), in the hope that others
will experience Christ in us and join us in following him.
• And we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, received when we came
to Christ, so we have the power now to actually live a life of love.
• Let’s put it this way: We are “Sent together to love” (write that
under the circle).
• This, too, is a vital part of the Christian story—we are to be
agents of hope; we are to do all that we can to make this world
more like the good one God created in the beginning.
• But this raises a fair question: “Can’t people do this without a
commitment to Christ, or a faith commitment of any kind? That
is, can’t anyone, if they put their mind to it and are willing to
sacrifice for it, help to bring healing to our world?”
• (Draw an arrow from the second circle pointed to the fourth one.)
• Well, no one doubts that much good has been done in this world
by people who are not connected to Jesus. No one can seriously
argue against that.
• But if what the Christian story affirms about human nature is true,
that no one is free from the disease of sin, that we are all plagued
by selfishness and pride, then how can we hope to take on evil
and not be corrupted by it?
• Isn’t this exactly what we see played out in our lives again and
o We resolve to be good citizens, but then we cheat on our
taxes when we know we can get away with it.
o We resolve to be good spouses, but then we are not
faithful and loving all the time.
o We resolve to be good leaders, and/or parents, but then
we abuse our power and influence.
o We resolve to be good religious people, but then we
become legalistic and self-righteous towards others.
o We resolve to be good with our use of money, helping the
poor and needy, but then we max out our credit cards on
all kinds of stuff we really don’t need.
• Are you getting the picture? How can we hope to truly succeed in
promoting good in this world when we can’t even be good
ourselves much of the time?
• Maybe there really is something seriously wrong with us that only
God can fix. Maybe we really do need Jesus, and the redemption
and forgiveness and spiritual power that he offers.
• And, remember, the issue is not just, “How can we be good?” but
moreso, “How can we be in a right relationship with our
Creator—the only One who is truly good?
• I am convinced that, no matter how hard we try (and we’ve been
trying for centuries), there is no hope of genuine, lasting
transformation of our world, or our personal lives, apart from
Jesus Christ (draw a couple of lines blocking the arrow).
• And so . . .
• . . . we must come to Jesus (draw an arrow from circle two to
circle three), admitting our need, confessing our sin, and
receiving his transforming grace and spiritual power.
• And then we can really begin to love others and do good in our
world (draw an arrow from circle three to circle four).
• And this makes perfect sense, if you think about it: If the
Christian story is perhaps true, that God created our world, and
our rebellion toward him messed it all up, then how can we hope
to make lasting changes for the better if we go on ignoring the
very One whose world it is—the very One we were created to
serve in love?
• Or let’s put it this way: If Jesus is who God sent to rescue and
restore us, how can we hope to make progress in our lives, and
in this world, if we blow off this Jesus and seek to center our
• Does that make sense?
• And let me add one more world of encouragement as you take
all of this in: The Christian story ends with a glorious vision of
the very world that we hunger for.
• What keeps faithful Christians going in fulfilling the mission of
sharing the good news and engaging in good deeds in the midst
of this damaged world is knowing that our work is not in vain.
• The very thing that we are laboring to see realized, at least to
some degree—the world as God intended it to be—will be fully
established once again by God himself, when Jesus returns to
• This is our hope; this is what keeps us going (see 1 Cor 15:58).
• We read about this vision of a new world at the very end of the
Bible, where it says, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among
the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will
wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has
passed away. He who was seated on the throne [that is, Jesus]
said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:3-5).
• There it is! The perfect world that we long for—a world “Re-
created for relationship” (draw an arrow from circle four to
circle one, and add the prefix “Re-“ to the word “Created”).
• And Jesus is at the very center of this new world (add a cross to
the center of circle one), as he is the King of God’s kingdom!
How do you react to this vision of the future? Does it make you skeptical, as if it sounds too good to be true, or
does it perhaps stir up hope in your heart? God’s plan from the beginning has been “to reconcile to himself all
things” (Colossians 1:20)—beginning with each one of us right here and right now, as we personally respond to
the good news about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
So, what is keeping you from surrendering the leadership of your life over to Jesus? That is, what is keeping you
from turning from your sin and putting your complete trust in Jesus to save you and give you new life, where
you can really make a difference in this world and look forward to the coming of the very best world? What
questions or doubts stand in your way? How can I help with them?
* * *
This, of course, is just one way to present the good news about Jesus and the kingdom of God. And the point is
not to give a “canned” presentation to a captive audience, as nobody likes that! Rather, this approach helps
people who are genuinely interested (as in my scenario above) to see the larger story of what God is up to in the
world—and not only their need for personal salvation—and to share it in a way that appeals to them as visual
learners, as well as those who hunger for a better world (don’t we all?).
And just as James Choung encouraged people like me to adapt his first crack at this approach, I would
encourage the same of you. That is, don’t feel you need to woodenly stick to how I presented the story above.
Use your own words, and feel free to make it shorter or longer. And if you can think of a better way to draw the
story out on a napkin, go for it!
The idea is to be better prepared to share the good news of Jesus and the kingdom of God when people ask us
about the hope that we have in Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15). And, keep in mind, the only reason people will be
asking this of us is because they can see that our faith is clearly making a difference in our lives. And so I’ll end
with Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians:
“Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then . . . I will
know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel”