The gospel calls us to forsake all and leave our self-centeredness for God-centeredness. Unfortunately, many gospel invitations and evangelism efforts speak of the gospel as merely a fix or “additive” to the problem of sin and the subsequent sadness and pain which sin produces.
Mark Dever speaks of the importance of speaking accurately of the gospel in evangelism in his helpful book 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.
When I present the gospel to someone, I try to remember four points–God, man, Christ, response. Have I shared with this person the truth about our Holy God and Sovereign Creator? Have I made it clear that we as humans are a strange mixture, creatures made in the image of God and yet fallen, sinful and separated from Him? Does the person I’m talking with understand who Christ is–the Godman, the only mediator between God and man, our substitute and resurrected Lord? And ﬁnally, even if I’ve shared all this with him, does he understand that he must respond to the gospel, that he must believe this message and so turn from his life of self-centeredness and sin?
To present the gospel as an additive to give nonChristians something they naturally want (joy, peace, happiness, fulﬁllment, self-esteem, love) is partially true, but only partially true. As J. I. Packer says, “a half truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.” Fundamentally, everyone needs forgiveness. We need spiritual life. To present the gospel less radically than this is to ask for false conversions and increasingly meaningless church membership, both of which make the evangelization of the world around us all the more difﬁcult.
I highly recommend having and reading 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.