My Mom loved to go to a restaurant where we could throw the nutshells on the floor. As you walk in, there was a big barrel of peanuts and you could fill up your pail and take it to the table with you. One of her last birthdays we celebrated together before her death, we went to one of these restaurants. Every time I go to a restaurant today where you can do this (which isn’t very often), I am reminded of different passages of Scripture referred to as the “Gospel in a nutshell”. Usually what is meant by that, is the Gospel is presented in a clear, concise package.
One such text is I Corinthians 15:1-8:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
To summarize the Gospel from this passage:
* Jesus died, according to Scripture
* Jesus was buried
* Jesus rose from the grave, according to Scriptures
* All this was confirmed by eyewitness testimony
That puts the Gospel in a very clear, concise manner. If you will, the “Gospel in a nutshell”. If we believe that a person must start with hearing the Gospel—this would be at least a good place to start.
I remember hearing Ed Bousman speak of an experience he had one time at a meeting in Cincinnati of some big denominational preacher. As he described the sermon, he said it was one of the best sermons on the blood of Christ that he had heard. He continued on, though and said that the only problem with it was (and this is a BIG problem), the preacher didn’t tell us how to apply that blood. So I Corinthians 15 may lay out the groundwork for sharing the Gospel, but how do I apply it to my life?
One other passage I like to think is the “Gospel in a nutshell” is Acts 8:35:
Then Phillip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture (Isaiah 53) he preached Jesus to him.
Now you ask, where is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in that passage! You would have to open up your Old Testaments to Isaiah 53 to find out about the death of Jesus—that is what the Ethiopian was reading. But Luke, the author of the book of Acts, summarizes the Gospel in the translated phrase “he preached Jesus to him”. “Preaching Jesus” is pretty concise and to the point. But what did it mean?
* To “preach Jesus”, is to share Jesus!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share His death!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share His burial!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share His resurrection!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share His love!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share His grace!
* To “preach Jesus” is to share how to apply this whole event to our lives.
All one has to do is to look at the very next verse in Acts 8 and you will find one of the things that “preaching Jesus” included:
As they traveled along the road they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
How did the Ethiopian Eunuch know he needed to be immersed UNLESS the preaching of Jesus included it? Now I challenge you to go back through the other conversion accounts in the book of Acts and see what sharing Jesus meant! Read through sermons! You will find the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But you will also find the need for the non-Christian to believe this Gospel and to apply it to his or her life by repenting of sin, confessing Christ, being immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then continued faithful living!
Lets all learn the “Gospel in a nutshell”. And then lets all “preach Jesus” – share our faith in Christ!