Today I want to share an illustration with you that has been tremendously helpful to me in sharing the Gospel with others. It has also helped my to break down the way I think about the Gospel into logical parts that can be shared. When I was a new believer at the age of 23 I struggled with how I should apply 1 Peter 3:15. What was my answer if someone asked what it is I believe? How could I share the wonderful truths that I had learned with another person?
By God’s grace He led me to Purdue University some years later and I had the opportunity to serve in Bridges International, the international branch of CRU. While I was spending time with the international friends, I met at Bridges I was taught by the staff how I could share God’s truth with someone else using the 4 Spiritual Laws. While I saw some fruit in using these and they certainly covered some of the main parts of the invitation of the Gospel I found myself wanting something more comprehensive. Something that pointed to scripture a little more, that was more interactive with the other person and gave space for answering questions that might come up.
When I met Anne, my future wife, I also was introduced to the Bridge to Life illustration and my mentor at the time Mike helped me really memorize it and learn to use it in helping others.
It starts out like this.
A long time ago God and people had a strong relationship. They lived together and walked together and enjoyed fellowship with each other and God blessed the people. This is represented by drawing the word Man (or People) and God then drawing a line between the two.
Then we can say “but something happened that ended that close relationship, do you know the story of what happened?” At this point let them describe what they remember about Adam and Eve and sin.
Next draw and X between God and Man like this.
You can then say that the people disobeyed God, they decided He wasn’t trustworthy and as a result God said they couldn’t have close fellowship anymore. This is known as spiritual death living seperated from God. I like to write out a basic summary of how they described the situation in their own words before I write the X, so they can reference and remember.
Then below I will draw the words God and Man again, but between them on top of two rectangular shapes with a large gap between them like this.
Now there was a large relational gap between God and people. We now can talk about the first part of the Gospel 1. Man’s Problem (to save space I’ll draw out this section after we go through it.)
There are a couple of verses associated with 1. Man’s Problem. I will usually ask the person who is interested to look them up and have a few questions designed for each one.
- Romans 3:23
Question: Who does it say has sinned here?
Answer: All, everyone which includes you and me. We all have done things that are wrong, we all have disobeyed God’s law at some point, and we do it again and again. (at this point you could get specific or go through some of the 10 commandments or the two great commandments Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:38-40)
Write “All have sinned” next to this verse.
- Romans 6:23
Questions: What is a wage? What does it say sin’s wage is?
Answer: A wage is something you earn. The verse says we have earned death through our sins.
Write “The wage of sin is death” next to this verse.
- Hebrews 9:27
Question: What does this verse say comes after death.
Answer: God’s judgement.
Write something like “After death comes judgement”
So, we are sinners. Sin earns death for us and we will need to face God and be judged for every sin we have committed after we die.
After you finish section 1 be sure to ask if they have any questions and if they can explain what Man’s Problem is according to what we just went over. You’re drawing should look something like this.
Part 2 is called 2. God’s Solution.
- Romans 5:8
Questions: How does God show He loves us? How did God solve out problem from section 1?
Answer: By dying for us while we were still sinners. He took our wage of death on Himself so we didn’t have to pay it.
Write something like “Christ died for us”
At this point draw a cross from the Man side to the God side acting as a bridge from us to God.
Section two should look something like this:
Final section is 3. Our Response
Here you can summarize what we have gone over so far. We have a problem we no longer have fellowship with God, we have sinned again and again, and we have earned death from God and God’s judgement is awaiting us after death. However, God has provided a solution, while we were still sinners Jesus came to Earth and died in place for our sins and took on our payment for sin. But we have to receive this solution or its no help at all for us.
- John 5:24
Question: What two things does this verse say we should do?
Answer: 1. Hear Jesus word 2. Believe God
Write the answers next to the verse.
Question: What three things does this verse say the result will be if we do these things?
- Not come into Judgement 2. Have eternal life 3. Pass from (spiritual) death to life.
Write these answers near where God is and say something like that spiritual life is life with God.
- Romans 10:9
Questions: What two things does this verse say we should do to be saved?
Answer: 1. Confess Jesus as Lord 2. Believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead.
Write these answers near the verse.
To summarize our response to what Jesus has done is to trust God, to believe Him and in what He has done for us and confess Jesus as the Lord over our life and be willing to listen to what He has to say to us about how we should live our life.
To finish up I will usually ask the person if they are willing to tell me where they are on this map. If it were a road from Man to God, where are they now? If they say on the Man side we can ask if they want to be with God, if they say yes we can ask if they know how to get there and if they desire to we can lead them through a basic sinner’s prayer using the outline of the two verses in the response section. Like “God forgive me for my sins that have offended Your heart and justice and caused me to be separate from You. I want You as the Lord over my life and I believe you have sent Your Son to die for me. Please receive me as Your child and bring me into a saving relationship with You. Amen”
If they are with God and have received Jesus as Lord then tell them this is a great tool they can use with others!
Sometimes people will draw themselves on the bridge, if they do point out that according to what we’ve gone over there is not an in-between. Either we have responded to receive what Jesus has done or we are stuck away from God and in danger of the results of our sin. It helps to talk over the outline again with people like this and to ask again where they believe they are.
There are also times where someone isn’t willing to say where they are, or they are sure they are at the Man side and want a relationship with God but want to examine more. This is a great opportunity to go through a Gospel book together over the next few months or to appoint another time to talk about any questions that they feel are keeping them from committing to the Lord. Sometimes its intellectual and we can talk about arguments, sometimes it is past hurts from the church etc. You can at the very least be a listening ear and express Christ’s love to them in that way even if they choose to remain separate from Him for the time being. Perhaps your kindness may lead them to reconsider one day.