Why can’t non-believers understand the Gospel? OK, I know the reason they can’t believe it. Absent the Holy Spirit making them spiritually alive they are incapable of believing. But you’d think that they could at least properly articulate what it is we believe.
In my experience, no matter how many times you explain what we really believe usually assume we think we are saved by works. It is often fascinating to hear non-believers describe what they think we believe. I shared the Gospel many times with one guy who continually came back and distorted what I’d said. I finally made a little progress after I wrote this to him:
I also want to clarify my views on Heaven / Jesus for you. . . . I just think it is completely reasonable for me to correct your misunderstandings of what I believe. I must not have explained it well on the phone so I thought I’d try it in writing. This doesn’t make my beliefs true – although I am always ready to defend their accuracy and historicity – but if there is a misunderstanding I’d like to correct it.
So here it is: Yes, I have great confidence that I’m going to Heaven, but it is not because I behave in a better than average way. One of my primary verses to point to is this: 1 Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
That isn’t false humility, that is an accurate assessment of who I am and what I know about myself. So yes, I think I’m going to Heaven, but I’ll do so in spite of what I’ve done and because of what Christ did on my behalf. That’s it. It is available to anyone who repents and believes. He is the one true God and everyone will answer to him someday. Making a god in one’s own image will gain a person nothing but an eternity in Hell. You don’t set the terms and conditions, God does, so every person should seek and meet those terms with all their heart and strength.
To this guy’s credit, he called and said he realized he’d been misstating my views. He still doesn’t believe, but I’m all for planting seeds.
So if you think someone doesn’t understand the real Gospel, try asking him to state what he thinks you believe. You’ll get an insight into what he thinks and you can correct him from there. It is also a charitable way to converse.