The Gospel of Christ must be taught for man to understand his responsibility to God. Biblical accounts of conversion to Christianity are often described as the result of early evangelists "preaching Jesus or preaching Christ" (Acts 8:35; 9:20,31). What does this teaching or preaching include? Obviously, it involves teaching the plan of salvation. To be saved and added to the church (Acts 2:38-47), believers were willing to obey the apostles' instruction for them to repent and be baptized for remission of sins. What was taught to encourage these believers to become obedient unto salvation? In general terms, three things seem to be included in this initial teaching.
First, early evangelists stressed the fact that Jesus is the long-awaited Savior spoken of by the prophets throughout the ages. The fulfillment of the scores of prophecies regarding the coming of a Savior can be easily understood when the Bible is thoroughly studied. Details regarding time, place, circumstances, and events are totally accurate. No prophecies are found to be in error. Peter's sermon in Acts 2 includes numerous references to prophecy concerning Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom. Fulfilled prophecy is powerful evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.
Second, John states that those taught concerning the "signs" revealed by Jesus will be encouraged to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, in believing, they can have life in His name (John 20:30,31). The "signs" John refers to include accounts of the supernatural power demonstrated by Jesus, and later by the apostles. Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, controlled the elements of nature, and raised the dead. His power was displayed throughout His ministry. The apostles were give special "powers" on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) at the instruction of Jesus (John 14:16). This power is evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.
Finally, the account of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was persuasive teaching that often motivated hearers to obey. The death of an innocent man of such love and compassion is a moving story. Even more motivating is the account of His victorious resurrection. Victory over death and the confines of earthly existence was demonstrated and promised to all. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-9 that preaching of Christ and His crucifixion is the power of God.
Much must be taught for one to become a Christian, but the starting place in teaching is to reveal these three truths. This approach is effective today, just as it was in the first century.
Man needs salvation. Jesus can and will save us.
By Wayne Barrier
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