Thanks to my friend Larry Moyer of EvanTell for putting this together.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    17 replies to "The Good News, Bad News Gospel Presentation"

    • Frank!


    • Ed Kratz

      Oh I get it, the white space represents the good news of the gospel and but the blankness represents the bad news of not accepting it. Is that it?

    • Ed Kratz

      Sorry, we are good now.

    • Karen

      That is one awesome presentation!

    • J.R.

      For some reason I have mixed emotions about these type presentations. Maybe it’s the lack of repentance in the message.

    • Susan

      I’m bothered by the big emphasis on ‘getting to heaven’, like that’s the main thing we need to be seeking. That’s somewhat of a set-up for ‘fire insurance’ (although he didn’t mention #3 the bad news gets even WORSE…the penalty of hell).

      He begins with “how you can know for sure you’re going to heaven”, and ends with a prayer which concludes with the words, “Thanks you for the forgiveness and everlasting life I NOW HAVE”.

      Really? It’s a done deal….just like that? It certainly is leading people to believe that if they pray that prayer they will for sure ‘go to heaven’.
      “easy believeism”? This is the sort of thing which leads to false-conversions. There are far too many tares in the church, i.e. people who can remember the day they prayed *that* prayer, and they hang their assurance on that.

      This assumes that someone will hear this/pray this right then and there…without the Holy Spirit needing to first work on their heart. I think that we need to be careful about instantaneous ‘magic’ prayers which we then follow with, “Now you are saved and on your way to heaven!”

      Rather than making our gospel presentation all about ‘getting to heaven’, perhaps we should focus more on Jesus. Talk about Jesus, his sinless perfection, his death on the cross and why it was necessary,as well as the significance of his resurrection. And talk about his love for us, and that he desires a relationship with us which has SO many implications for our lives even here and now…as well as being the reason for our future hope.

    • Frank!

      That is why I’m wary of Evangelism Explosion. Especially the new XE model that starts with being happy and such. I like using a variety of methods, and I’m glad they do start with sin, but I’m not sure the emphasis should be on heaven. Dr. Wallace has done a post on accepting Christ into your heart. I think he should do a similar study on going to heaven as part of a gospel presentation.

    • phantom

      It’s all good till the end…I have mixed feelings about the prayer part. I am thinking about the sorts of things Jesus told people…repent, sell your things, follow me, etc. I don’t think he ever tells someone to say a prayer in order to receive eternal life…. And anyway I feel like this sort of video is a useful presentation of basic information, rather than something that could in and of itself cause people to decide to follow Jesus, which is sort of the impression it conveys by including that prayer at the end. I don’t think we want people to convert on the basis of a 5 minute video.

    • Ed Kratz

      I think we need to be careful about jumping on the bandwagon that says “going to heaven” is not the Gospel. I have heard this so much in the past few years coming. It is very popular. In fact, I think that many people today would be critical of Jesus for talking about “eternal life.” It is a part for the whole. There are so many aspects to redemption that we cannot possibly convey it all in one setting. These type of presentations are certainly imperfect, but I am not sure if our criticism is always fair.

      I personally believe that it is perfectly acceptable to give a short creed of the Gospel to someone which emphasizes judgment, sin, and the alternative, heaven.

      My problem is not so much with “heaven,” but with the misconceptions that most people surely have about what heaven is. Heaven, in its popular conception, is not our destination, but a redeemed earth.

      The “kingdom” goal that most of the “emerging” theologians point to carries biblical language, but is often so obscure that we fail to communicate what it is that we are saved to.

      These type of things are very helpful as long as you are not trying to make them do too much.

    • Susan

      I didn’t know there was such a bandwagon, and I really wasn’t ‘on it’, but watching this is alone what gave me that thought, because it is the primary target, it seems, throughout the video.

      I’m sure I sound very critical, so I will say that there are some good points in the presentation, of course.

      I agree with all of your subsequent points here, Michael, and I’ve noticed the ’emerging’ bent. So true.

    • Josh Mueller

      I’ll just post my initial reaction on Michael’s fb page here:
      “Sorry, Michael … I know this is exactly the standard evangelical understanding and presentation of the gospel and I’ve come to the conclusion that Christian’s don’t share it a lot anymore NOT because of fear or selfishness but because it …really can’t be heard as “good” news for a number of reasons. I’ll just name 3 of them here:

      1. It’s all about heaven in the sense where we end up after we die. That, my friend, is actually a total misunderstanding of the kingdom message and to a degree a sad perversion of it.

      2. The main problem the cross deals with in this presentation is not relational but our failure to meet God’s standard and thereby avoid our deserved punishment. In other words: the bad news is God’s wrath towards us!

      3. The unspoken alternative is always in the background of this kind of understanding: “If you DON’T trust Christ, God will deservedly punish you with unending conscious torment!”

      Let’s not blame people for refusing to spread something that only perpetuates our own sinful misreading of the Bible and of the character of God!”

    • Hodge

      Any gospel that is not founded first upon the eschatological is not the NT gospel, plain and simple. The problem is that most emergings confuse the kingdom living that the eschatological gospel creates with the gospel itself. The already begins to be redeemed by the not yet. Without the not yet, the already becomes descriptive rather than prescriptive. If your gospel means nothing to a person who is about to die and has no more life left to live in redemption, then your gospel is false. The real gospel is applicable to everyone precisely because all must die and face God in judgment for what they have done in the body.

    • Susan

      Your description sounds more like the current direction of our church than I wish it did, Hodge. The emphasis is on ‘living out of the gospel’ in order to bring about ‘human flourishing’ (with the hope of ‘redeeming culture’ in view). There is almost no talk of the need for the verbal proclamation of the gospel anymore. Instead, deeds of mercy are stressed.

      It bothers me so much that the above catch phrases are constantly spoken of outside of the context of trying to reach people with the true spoken gospel by which people are saved and ultimately transformed. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. But, I will tell you that our pastor is a big fan of the writings of N.T. Wright….

    • Yvonne

      I also do not care for the emphasis on “going to heaven.” It is a very individualistic presentation. I believe the gospel is contained in a very short phrase, “Jesus is King.” He is sovereign over all. What is “good news” for one may not be good news for another (at least in their understanding). Many are not concerned with “going to heaven,” but they may be concerned with many other things, from the environment, to human rights, to the economy. Others may be concerned with feeding their families, or honoring their ancestors, or keeping safe from demonic beings.

      The substitutionary atonement model of guilt/punishment/forgiveness may work well for Westerners who have residual cultural knowledge of the Bible or Judeo/Christian thought and have some fear of God. But we live in a global, pluralistic world where this “one size fits all” gospel message will be ineffective with most.

      As Christians we need to understand “Jesus is King” in a cohesive and comprehensive way so we may speak to the needs of the world. We also need to know and love our neighbor so we can understand how the gospel bears on their lives. Is there a place for a sterile, non-relational Youtube video on the gospel? Maybe. But it is not ideal.

    • Bible Study

      It’s only when we understand the bad news, that good news looks really great. Where would we be without Christ? Well, I guess as it says, the wages of sin is death. We would die and remain in death eternally.

    • Pastor Tim

      The gospel is SIMPLE. “Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.” That’s IT. I’m a fulltime missionary and have used this exact approach many, many times. I’ve had the wonderful privelige of seeing hundreds and hundreds come to faith. Faith is ALWAYS a growth process. For some that growth takes place quickly. For others it often takes numerous times to hear this simple message before it finally “sticks.” Of course the Spirit’s work is not done once the message is accepted. There is much yet to learn. But if you want to become an adult man or woman, at some point you have to be born.

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