This is the Gospel
Where does evangelism end and discipleship begin? The prevailing consensus has been that evangelism leads a person to Christ and discipleship develops a person in Christ. Based on that description, the dividing line would be the point of salvation.
However, what if the two concepts are not mutually exclusive? What if evangelism and discipleship are interwoven in one continuous exercise in the gospel? To see the merits of that theory, a basic definition of evangelism and discipleship are helpful.
- Evangelism is proclaiming and/or preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Discipleship is gospel-centered training that helps people know Christ and follow Him faithfully.
If This Is the Gospel is to make sense, it is important to see the full reach of the gospel. Many Christians associate the gospel only with evangelism, not discipleship. They see the gospel as what a person needs to believe to become a Christian, not what a person needs to practice to live as a Christian.
As you will discover in this guide, the gospel is not just the good news that saves; it is the good news that sanctifies. Dave Harvey, Pastor of Four Oaks Community Church, said it best: “Everything in Scripture is either preparation for the gospel, presentation of the gospel, or participation in the gospel.”
Christians never outgrow the gospel; we grow into the gospel. It is for that reason that the title of this guide is This Is the Gospel.
A second factor distinctive to this guide is the relational nature of the material. This Is The Gospel is a guide to relationally-centered discipleship. The relational emphasis is not an attempt to approach discipleship from a different angle; it is an attempt to remain true to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is about relationship. Humanity was created for relationship with God. Our sin separated that relationship. The gospel is the good news of what Christ has done on our behalf so that this relationship can be reconciled and enjoyed.
While many discipleship resources focus on the actions of a Christian (i.e., prayer, Bible study, witnessing, giving, serving, etc.), this guide will focus on the relationships of a Christian. As you will see throughout this guide, activity flows from relationship. If knowing God is not the focus of our Christian journey, spiritual activity will fall short of character change.
One final thought to keep in mind is that This Is the Gospel is a compilation of 4 stand-alone resources. Each part fits together to provide the foundation and framework for discipleship. The resources are as follows:
- The Gospel: Life Is About Relationship
- The Relationship: Establishing Your Life in Christ
- The Pursuit: Exploring Your Life in Christ
- The Journey: Embracing Your Life in Christ
The Gospel (Part 1) provides evangelism training, essential theology, and a simple gospel presentation. The Relationship (Part 2) is a follow-up resource that guides a new believer through their first week in Christ. The Pursuit (Part 3) is a month-long devotional guide that emphasizes the four critical components of discipleship: love God, unite with believers, serve the world, and entrust the gospel. The Journey (Part 4) is a mentoring guide that provides a basic framework for Christian living.
It is important to teach/share the material in order. Each part builds on the foundation of the previous resource(s). The material can be taught over the first 15 to 16 months of a Christian’s spiritual journey. If time constraints do not allow that much time, the material can be taught in 2 to 3 months. The key is to make sure the person (or group) understands the material at each level before moving to the next level.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...” Our mission is clear. Christ has commanded us to make disciples. It is our prayer that This Is the Gospel will be a valuable resource in developing many disciples of Christ.
Paul is the senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. He received a B.A. in world religions from the University of Georgia, a M.Div. in biblical languages from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D in Christian counseling from Adonai University. In the past 14 years, he has been a part of planting eight churches (five in pioneer areas). Paul has worked extensively as a counselor. In addition to numerous discipleship resources, he has published three books including Eight Questions and the God Who’s Asking, Christ Is All You Need, and 1 Samuel. Paul has been married to Brea Bell for 21 years, and they have two daughters (Shana and Kaylee).