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Is your Gospel as CLEAR as it should be? Take this simple test and see.

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

Glass of Clear WaterIf I gave you the choice between drinking a muddy glass of water or a clear one, of course, you’d choose the clear one. Nobody wants their water mixed with dirt and sediment. The clearer the better.

What’s true of a glass of water is true of a presentation of the Gospel. The clearer the better.The Apostle Paul said this in Colossians 4:4 when he told the believers from Colossae to “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should.”

To help you make sure the Living Water you’re sharing with others is crystal CLEAR (not muddied up) I have developed this simple acrostic. It will help you test your Gospel presentation to see if it is clear enough for a lost person to understand and embrace.

A CLEAR Gospel is…


Lays out the whole story

Easy to understand

Always sounds too good to be true.

Relentlessly focuses on faith alone in Christ alone

Let me briefly break these five descriptors of a clear gospel down: 

Cross and Christ-centric 

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 15:3-4

This little passage is part of a pre-Pauline creed that the early believers put to memory so that they could keep Christ, his cross, the resurrection and the ascension as central to the Gospel message. We need that reminder as well.

I’ve heard famous evangelists attempt to give the gospel without mentioning the cross (#EpicFail). But there is no gospel without the cross. That’s like a comedian setting up a joke without delivering the punchline. Not funny in the slightest. 

Training teenagers to share their faith during our Dare 2 Share events I have often said, “If you forget everything else remember the cross!” It’s the cross of Christ and his empty tomb that must be central to our Gospel presentations if we want to be clear.

Lays out the whole story of the GOSPEL

In Acts 20:27 (RSV) Paul said, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” 

Are you sharing “the whole counsel of God” when it comes to your Gospel presentation? Or are you just sharing bits and pieces of it?

For years, Dare 2 Share has used an acrostic to communicate the GOSPEL that started with G, “God says everyone has sinned.” Then about 16 years ago in Washington D.C., I heard a lecture by Michael Metzger. He said that if our Gospel presentations start in Genesis 3 with the issue of sin, instead of in Genesis 1 with the reality of God’s special creation of humanity, then it’s missing the mark. So what did I do? I changed the G to “God created us to be with him.” And now our GOSPEL presentation tells the whole story of the Good News of Jesus from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 in six simple sentences.

In a court of a law when you take an oath you put your left hand on a Bible, raise your right hand as the court clerk, bailiff or judge asks you, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” In a sense the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are calling us to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the Gospel. So let’s tell the whole story as we evangelize others.

Easy to understand

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV

I have my own conspiracy theory based on this verse. I believe that Satan has conspired to destroy the advancement of Christianity by making the message of the Gospel seem more complicated than it actually is. I believe that he has deceived many well meaning preachers, evangelists and Christians into communicating a less-than-clear Gospel more often than not. As a result fewer people come to Jesus because they are being offered a muddy glass of “good news” instead of a clear one.

The Gospel is a simple message but, far too often, Christians can use confusing terms when communicating the message. These terms have been passed on from generation to generation and many of us have not taken the time to think them through Biblically.

Terms like, “Let Jesus into your heart” are common fair, especially in children’s ministry, yet it is nowhere to be found in the Bible! Actually, this term kept me from putting my faith in Jesus as a kid because I had no idea what it meant! 

Another term is “Just say this prayer and you’ll be saved.” Actually I’m convinced that there will be a lot of people in hell who said the sinner’s prayer but never put their faith in Jesus! Saying a prayer of salvation is fine but saying a prayer never saved anyone! It’s their faith in Jesus that saves them!

One other term I’ve heard used in evangelism is “Turn from your sin before you come to Jesus.” Really? If I could turn from my sin before I came to Jesus in faith then why would I need to come to Jesus at all? I could save myself! No, we are saved by faith in Jesus and then he begins the arduous, life-long process of turning us from our sin (and he doesn’t completely succeed until we are with him in heaven!)

Put every term you use through the grace test. If the terms you use makes an unbeliever focus on what they must do (other than simple faith in Christ) than what Jesus has done, then it is not a CLEAR Gospel.

Always sounds too good to be true.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:3-5

Let me sum this passage up: we were sinners worthy of hell and God saved us anyway because of his mercy. It’s not too good to be true. It’s too good and it’s true!

May our Gospel presentations be the same!

You can always tell if you are preaching it clearly if the “you mean to tell me” people start to attack. They’ll say stuff like,

You mean to tell me that someone can trust in Jesus and go out and sin and they’ll still be saved?”

“You mean to tell me that my Aunt Suzie who is a good lady but an atheist will go to hell and a mass murderer can trust in Jesus on death row and go to heaven?”

The “you mean to tell me” people reject true grace and want to make salvation somehow deserved by the recipient. But all of us deserve nothing more than hell and we receive salvation because of the great mercy (Titus 3:3-5) and grace (Ephesians 2:8,9) of God!

If your gospel doesn’t sound too good to be true then it’s not the true Gospel!

Relentlessly focuses on faith alone in Christ alone

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22

The Latin Term that fueled the Reformation is “Sola Fide.” It means “faith alone.” The very idea that we could be saved by simple faith in the risen Christ was revolutionary 500 years ago when Martin Luther shook Europe with this message. And it should be as revolutionary today.

What makes Christianity unique is that we are the only world religion that doesn’t provide a stairway to heaven (or nirvana or whatever.) Instead we provide a bridge, made from the cross of Christ. We don’t climb our way up by our good deeds we walk to him in simple faith, putting the full weight of our sinful selfish souls on the blood stained wood and work of Christ on the cross. 

When sharing the Gospel with someone relentlessly take him/her back to faith alone in Christ alone as the key to salvation. It’s so simple a child could do it (and so challenging that a theologian could choke on it!) 

So let’s keep it as clear as a tall glass of pure water with nothing else added!

Unlikely Fighter

#1 new release in Evangelism on Amazon

The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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