If you can make a sandwich, then you can share the gospel. The world is famished for the “bread of life” and the “meat” of God’s Word. We can no longer excuse ourselves from the kitchen, claiming we’re not professional chefs. (Acts 4:13) The great o-mission of the church in the west is that we’ve become a “dine-in-only” establishment, full of diners, when we need to become a “delivery service” full of food runners. The church urgently needs to return to our former business model (Acts 1:8) of making and delivering “Gospel Sandwiches.”
SANDWICH MAKING 101 | There is both an “art” and a “science” to making a “gospel sandwich.”
To appreciate the artistry of evangelism, consider Phillips Brooks’ definition (adapted): “evangelism is the gospel poured through personality.” When it comes to sharing the “good news,” there’s crazy potential for creative expression, and permission granted to “relax and be yourself.” Trust the Holy Spirit to deliver the “good news” of the gospel through your unique, flawed, quirky, redeemed personality for just the right flavor in any given situation.
There is also a “science,” or method, to persuasive gospel witness. A gospel sandwich has two slices of “good news” with a slice of “hard news” in the middle. I call this method, readily observable throughout the New Testament, the…
THREE C’s (slices) OF A GOSPEL SANDWICH:
CONNECTION | Reach Your Audience| The first order of business is to connect with your audience. Consider Peter, in Acts 2:14, as he reaches for his audience’s ear, saying: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.” We connect by listening well, empathizing, showing genuine love and respect, establishing common ground (ie: shared identity, experience, struggle, interests), and by drawing from culturally authoritative sources. What carries weight with the audience? (ie: Jews = Old Testament, Athenians = their own poets). As Christians, we say, “If something is true (ie: God’s Word) then it must work.” Culture is skeptical, and inverts this: “If something works then it must be true.” Hint: For this reason, your own personal story, of God working in your life, carries weight with culture! The Apostle Paul, formerly a state-sponsored terrorist, shared his story three times in the Book of Acts, declaring how the gospel had changed his life! (Acts 9, 22, 26) The aim of CONNECTION is to gain an audience willing and motivated to lean in and listen intently to the “good news” of the gospel!
CONVICTION |Risk Your Audience | Having gained their ear, we must now shift gears to talk about hard realities: According to Scripture, we are rebels. (Romans 5:8) As rebels against God, the Bible says “we all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and that because of our rebellious nature we deserve (eternal) death (Romans 6:23). The risk for losing our audience, at this point, is high! And we risk losing more than just our audience. We could lose relationships, reputation, credibility, social standing, job, and in many circumstances, even our life! (Hebrews 11:36-38) But we take this risk, and we thrust in the sword of “hard news,” as an act of obedience & unabashed confidence in the gospel, which is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) In Acts 2, Peter confronted the masses with the hard news of their sin and guilt over having crucified the Christ, and we read that, “when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
CONVERSION | Redirect your audience | At this point, having “reached” to gain the ear (connection), and “risked” to pierce the heart (conviction), we now “redirect” the faith (conversion). The Jews had formerly rejected Christ, and were trusting in themselves; in their own ability to earn salvation by keeping the law. In Acts 2:15, Peter redirected their faith (away from themselves) to the person of Christ, by instructing them to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” Everyone has faith; be it faith in the polytheistic gods of Hinduism, faith in Allah, faith in dead ancestors, faith in self (secular humanism), faith in naturalism & science, faith in the government, faith in culture, etc. Yet, Jesus alone, in all of history, has credibly demonstrated his power over sin and death, by rising from the dead. Therefore, faithful gospel witness finds its climax in the exaltation of Jesus as Savior & Lord. Christ, and Christ alone, saves to the utmost! In Acts 16:31, Paul delivers the most succinct statement of the gospel in the entire Bible. With just ten words, he redirects the faith of his audience: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Once a person believes in the Lord Jesus for salvation, it’s imperative that we get them in the kitchen so they too can learn how to make and deliver “Gospel Sandwiches.” Robert Coleman said it best: “The world is lost and blind in sin. The only hope for the world is for laborers to go to them with the gospel of salvation, and having won them to the Savior, not to leave them, but to work with them faithfully, patiently, painstakingly, until they become fruitful Christians savoring the world about them with the Redeemer’s Love.”
I was once lost and blind in sin. I’m thankful someone cared enough to share a “gospel sandwich” with me!