Good news and bad news
Two brothers named Bob and Bill decided to get medical examinations. Neither was aware of any health problems; they simply wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong with them.
Bob went to Dr. Smith. When his test results came back the doctor discovered he was suffering from a fatal disease. Fortunately there was a medicine available that would easily cure the disease. But he didn’t want to frighten or upset Bob by telling him he was dying so he decided to adopt a positive approach. He simply gave Bob a prescription for the medicine he needed and told him it would make him perfectly healthy. Bob thought he was already in good health so he didn’t bother to have the prescription filled and he soon died.
Bill went to Dr. Jones. The tests showed that Bill was suffering from the same disease Bob had but Dr. Jones didn’t respond to this information the way Dr. Smith had. He told Bill he had the disease and described exactly how it would affect him. Bill was frightened to hear this and when the doctor gave him a prescription for the cure he had it filled and took the medicine faithfully. As a result he was quickly cured.
No real doctor would behave as Dr. Smith did and prescribe medicine for someone without telling him he was sick. Unfortunately some people follow this approach in the way they share the gospel with others. They begin by simply telling people that Christ died for their sins and they can be forgiven by believing in him. The problem with this approach is that most people don’t think they are sinners and don’t see why they need to be forgiven. They respond just as Bob did; they ignore the cure because they don’t realize they have the disease.
If we want our evangelism to be effective we need to follow the example of Dr. Jones. We must start by telling people about God’s standards of righteousness and showing them that they fall sort of these standards. When people understand how sinful they are and realize that they need to be forgiven they will be prepared to listen to us when we tell them that Christ died for their sins.
A lot of jokes begin with one person saying to another, “I have good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?” Christians do have good news and bad news for the rest of the world. The bad news is that everyone has sinned and deserves God’s punishment; the good new is that Christ died to bear that punishment and they can be forgiven if they put their faith in him. But we don’t have the option of asking them whether they want to hear the good news or the bad news first. We must give them the bad news first so they will understand why the good news is good news.