You have to have two kinds of Gospel. No, that doesn’t mean that there is more than one Gospel. There’s only one great story of Christ the King and His saving work for sinners. But… Sometimes there are different ways to of telling it. The Good News is rich and has lots of implications. Every situation is different. Every hearer and speaker is different. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time. But that’s ok, there is encouragement for that.
Looking in to the Book of Acts we can see several different apostles Gospelling at different times to different people. The way and setting in which the Good News is communicated differs, even if the mulit-faceted message is always the same.
In Acts 8:26-40, Philip meets up with an Ethiopian official traveling on the road. He’s got some Bible background. He’s actually reading the Bible right then and there. He’s asking questions. Philip is invited to sit with him in his chariot and we can assume they’ve got some time. He can talk with him and unpack the Gospel at leisure.
Maybe you’ve been blessed with opportunities like this. The Good News is so rich and has many parts to explain. It’s wonderful to have long conversations about Jesus – Who He is, what He’s done, and what that means for us and the world. It’s important to know that embracing Christ is not just a simple formula. To come to know Him is to see how He fits in with everything else in the world. You may have to do a little apologetical stuff (that doesn’t mean apologizing for the truth!) You may have to show someone how Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy. You may get to tell how He’s changed your life. You may get to unpack how Christianity is important not just for individuals but for the entire course of history – it has changed civilizations after all.
But all of that takes a lot of time. It is a blessing to be able to have long conversations. I personally love long Philip conversations. It is important t know, though, that sometimes you just don’t have that kind of time. To reflect on that, we can look at another scene from Acts.
In Acts 16:25-31, the Apostle Paul is given a great opportunity to share the Good News. He’s in prison with Silas, their giving good testimony by singing in the midst of their hardship. Then there’s a miraculous earthquake and they’re freed. The jailer is freaking out and asks: what must I do to be saved? There is no way to know how much this guy knew and how much he understood. It’s not like Paul couldn’t expound with the best of them – he’s known to have taken a long time to explain the Gospel. But Paul, not having much time gets right to the point: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved… Granted later he gets more teaching but in that moment, the jailer gets the elevator pitch.
Sometimes, especially as we learn more about Christian faith, we make it harder to enter into it by complicating it. There’s a lot more to know than what the jailer first heard, but the basic call to Repent and Believe is there. It is actually a great test to be able to communicate the Good News is just one or two minutes. It’s ridiculous to say that you can say everything, but the constraints help to focus. If you only have 5 minutes with someone – do you get bogged down in Old Testament prophecy for example?
It is important because there are many opportunities to share Good News and they are not all the same.