My good friend Ben Spector shared this with me the other day. I think it’s a totally helpful meditation for helping us stay fresh in our presentation of the message of Christ. The author meant this originally for cultures outside of the West which operate more in what people refer to as “Honor/Shame” categories than a typical western “Guilt” culture. You may want to do more research on that if it piques your interest, but I think these things are helpful for anyone, and may prove especially helpful if you’re speaking to one of the many people in our area who have recently moved from another part of the world. Enjoy…

The Gospel In Five Words

The problem is Unfaithfulness. People have broken the relationship with God. Our disloyalty dishonors God. (Ez 36:21; Rom 1:21-23; 2:23; 3:23)

The dilemma is Shame. Our dishonor means separation and disunion. We are shameful in God’s eyes, and feel shame. (Gen 3:7-8; Jer 3:8, 25; Rom 1:24)

God’s solution is Restoration.  Jesus’ death honored God and bore our shame. His death reconciled the relationship. (Isa 50:6; 53:3; Heb 12:2; Rom 8:14ff)

The response is Loyalty.  People must honor Jesus with complete allegiance. We must seek God’s face and name. (1 Sam 2:30; John 12:26, 43; Rom 4:20ff)

The result is Honor.  God makes outcasts his children and exalts them to eternal glory.  (Zeph 3:19; Isa 54:4; 62:2ff; John 1:12; 17:22; Rom 10:11-12; 1 Pet 2:6-11)

Some explanations:

  1. Most evangelistic presentations, regardless of the form, follow this basic structure emphasizing legal aspects of salvation: transgression, guilt, restitution, confession, forgiveness. The above structure outlines the biblical message in terms aligned with collectivistic values.
  2. The five words are not an evangelistic presentation, but the framework to structure a creative expression of the gospel, whether it be a story, skit, personal testimony, etc. This is only the skeleton, you need to put flesh on the bones so it resonates and attracts. For that use local terms, images, and genres.
  3. Finally, the “gospel” is foremost about the Creator God and his kingdom rule. The above articulates a biblical response to that good news. I say this to keep the horse in front of the cart. The gospel is about God’s glorious kingdom, and human salvation is a wonderful consequence of that reality.