“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NIV
In this passage, Paul is reminding the church at Corinth about the gospel. Even though Paul had shared the gospel with them personally, and he knew they had received it, he recognized the importance of making sure they remembered exactly what the gospel said. There are some people who have heard the Plan of Salvation but they didn’t receive salvation. On the other hand, there are many people who have never, truly heard the Plan of Salvation as found in the Bible. They may have heard something confusing, misleading, or just plain wrong, such as, “you can buy your way into heaven through gifts” to a priest or pastor or a church. In Paul’s day, and in our day, there are many false doctrines about salvation.
Paul summarizes the gospel message in four main points: Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the third day, and all of this was according to the Scriptures. When Paul says this was “according to the Scriptures” he is referring to prophecies from the Old Testament that spoke about the Messiah. For extra emphasis, Paul states, “according to the Scriptures” two times. I believe Paul did this to remind the people in Corinth, this was God’s plan from the beginning and the Scriptures bear witness to this. Also, Paul wanted the added emphasis of repeating the phrase to remind them Jesus is the only one who could fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah.
In this day and age, many people find it hard to believe someone may not know about Jesus or about God’s Plan of Salvation. The truth is, there are many people who don’t really know what the Bible says about salvation. For example, you might be surprised to learn some your neighbors have a misconception about what it means to be “saved.” Our society provides a lot of erroneous information about God. If you don’t believe me just turn on the TV and find any show you like (sitcom or drama) that involves a church, a pastor or preacher, or a churchgoing family, and watch a few shows.
Secular media does a terrible job of portraying genuine Christianity. They usually display Christianity, emphasizing the extremes-either ultra-conservative, to the point of extreme fanaticism (delusional, superstitious, maybe even psychotic), or very liberal, where there doesn’t seem to be a difference between the Christian or the non-Christian. Either way, their portrayal is not very flattering and certainly does not honor God. If this is the only knowledge a person has about Christianity their understanding is perverted and flawed. This is not, necessarily, their fault. Once they know what the Bible really says about living a Christian life, then, they will be held accountable because of their knowledge. Their knowledge ( actually, how they respond to their knowledge ) will either save them or convict them.
The Bible can be confusing when you first start to read and study it. The same is true for the many different types of Christian churches-there are many different doctrines and beliefs ( interpretations ) of what the Bible teaches. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many new Christians don’t really read the Bible but get all of their information from other people like pastors and Sunday school teachers. I have nothing against pastors and Sunday school teachers; I have been both. But I believe strongly that each person should read and study the Bible for themselves. People make mistakes and often interpret the Bible according to their own background and experiences.
Let me share an example, Tom is a new Christian who is not reading the Bible for himself. Tom has three friends who have been Christians longer than him and they are interpreting basic Christian beliefs differently. This causes a lot of confusion and might even lead to questions about his salvation or the importance of being part of a Christian Fellowship. So, Tom begins to miss church and within a couple of months stops going altogether. To his credit, Tom did try to read in his Bible but he didn’t understand much of what he was reading and when he asked his friends he got different answers that added to his confusion.
I have met many people who were not raised in a Christian home and have no first hand knowledge or experience with what the Bible really teaches about salvation. It’s amazing to me how many people think they know what church is all about but have never really been in a church. The sad truth is many people have learned everything they know about Christianity from TV, radio, coworkers, neighbors, and family who don’t search for a an accurate picture of Christianity.
My point is, don’t take for granted your friend really knows what the Bible says about salvation. If you just ask them, “do you know about Jesus?” or “do you know about salvation?” They may say “yes,” but they may be wrong. They may have second- or third-hand information that is not consistent with the Bible. It’s much better to ask them a question that requires an answer more than yes or no. For example, “tell me what the Bible says about salvation.” It may feel awkward and uncomfortable but it’s better to be uncomfortable for a few minutes then to know, for eternity, that you chose not to talk with your friend about being saved, which may or may not have made the difference in whether this person is saved or not. The truth is, you may never know if you could have made the difference in their lives. I have heard this concept compared to a person whose friend was dying of cancer and they stumbled upon the cure for cancer but chose not to share it with their friend because they thought it might be a little uncomfortable.
It’s a very simple thing to make sure they know what salvation really means. There are many ways to tell someone about the gospel of Jesus. It really doesn’t matter which method you choose as long as it is consistent with the Bible.
I encourage you to do some research and make sure you are familiar with God’s Plan of Salvation so you can be ready to share it with friends and family. Pray about this and God will help you learn what you need to know. Also, God will help you share this information with others who need to hear it.
God is honored when you make sure your friend knows God’s Plan of Salvation.
Article by Tim Gray
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