One of the striking realities about John’s Gospel is that he wrote using simple Greek, the everyday words and grammar used in the markets, yet his Gospel is far from simple. He talked about the Word existing before creation and then that same Word taking on flesh in the creation He formed. John used simple words to explain a deep teaching. When we are in conversation with an adult about salvation, we need to follow John’s example of using simple terms to explain a profound truth.
Let’s think about the critical items we need to explain using some simple terms to do so.
Idea 1. We are not right with God.
Everyone has disobeyed God in some way. The Holy Spirit makes a person aware of his or her sin and spiritual need (John 16:8-11). Each person must reach a point where they realize something has got to change, a turning away from sin and trusting ourselves, hating what God hates and the things that separates us from Him. (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 9:1-6; 2 Cor. 7:10).
The change in direction (what the Bible calls repentance) is driven by a conviction of personal sin that separates the person from God and causes that person to be held accountable, to face God’s judgment (John 16:8; Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Heb. 9:27; 1 John 1:9).
This realization can be summed up in the word Admit. We admit to God that we are a sinner and repent, turning away from our sin.
Idea 2. God loves me and will forgive me if I repent and believe.
God has taken the initiative to demonstrate His love for each person by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 5:8; 1 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 1:7a). Jesus died, taking what we were due as our substitute. We can respond to that love with repentance through faith in Jesus. (John 3:16; 10:10; Eph. 2:8-9)
The emphasis here is believe. By faith, we receive Jesus Christ as God’s Son and accept Jesus’s gift of forgiveness from sin.
Idea 3. Jesus makes me right with God.
This forgiveness is not automatic. Each person must express an act of faith in Jesus Christ—an action of the will and the mind to the facts of the work of Christ—to believe, to trust (1 John 1:9; Acts 20:21; Rom. 1:17). Confession of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord is an outward expression of an inward experience (Matt. 16:24; Rom. 10:9-10).
The moment a person expresses his or her faith, Jesus becomes that person’s Savior and that person is made right before God (justified) (Rom. 4:1-3). God forgives all a person’s sins and removes them “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). Nothing else is needed. The person is now a believer, a disciple of Jesus Christ, baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
New believers are like newborn babies who need to grow up (1 Pet. 2:2-3). New believers are to be transformed into the image of Christ. When Christ is Lord, as God transforms them, believers submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
This third idea is best understood in terms of confess. We confess our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
These three ideas of admit, believe, and confess, are included in the information found on the inside front cover of the Explore the Bible Adult resources. We may use a few different words for variety, but the core ideas are there. This information is included on the inside front cover so you can easily share with a person who has questions. Every time we give a person a copy of the Personal Study Guide or Daily Discipleship Guide, we are giving them in part a gospel tract that uses simple terms to explain profound truth.