In Brief...

In essence, Two Ways to Live is a memorable summary of the Christian gospel. In six simple points, it conveys the key information that the average non-Christian person needs to understand in order to become a Christian. And it does so in a way that does not assume any prior knowledge or understanding of Christian concepts. The Two Ways to Live outline is the basis for three different kinds of resources:

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At the most basic level, Two Ways to Live is simply a memorable summary of the Christian gospel. Or to put it more accurately, it is the Christian gospel including some of its necessary presuppositions and background.

In the New Testament, the word ‘gospel’ usually refers to the proclamation of Jesus Christ crucified. It is the announcement that God's kingdom has arrived in the person of his Son, the powerful Messiah, who inaugurates his worldwide reign by dying and rising again so that repentance and forgiveness can be preached to all nations. This Jesus Christ now rules at God's right hand, from where he will come again to judge.

In other words, Jesus himself is the focus of the Christian message or ‘gospel’. However, Jesus does not arrive in a vacuum. He arrives as the culmination of God's plans, and their outworking in history. He comes and dies and rises, “according to the Scriptures”. He arrives in the context of all that God has already revealed about himself and humanity.

All this is part of the background or ‘worldview’ that the biblical authors took for granted, but which many modern (or postmodern) people do not share. If we are to know and tell the gospel in a world where these basic assumptions about God and human guilt are no longer shared, or even common, then we need to fill in some of the rest of the story. We need to provide some of the background.

This is what Two Ways to Live seeks to do. It fills in some of the wider story of the Bible, some of the biblical theology, so that the message about Jesus makes sense.

If you are completely new to Two Ways to Live, you may like to pause at this point and read through the basic text of the outline, as found in the online presentation of Two ways to live. You will see that the six points not only provide a brief summary of the whole story of the Bible, but fit logically together as a coherent set of propositions.

  1. God the creator; humanity ruling under his authority.
  2. Humanity rebels, wishing to run things its own way.
  3. God judges (and will judge) humanity for this rebellion.
  4. In his love, God sends Jesus to die as an atoning sacrifice.
  5. In his power, God raises Jesus to life as ruler and judge.
  6. This presents us with a challenge to repent and believe.

Notice that there is a clear and easy-to-follow movement through the six points, not only logically but historically. At one level it is a set of six ideas or propositions, one leading naturally and logically to the next. However, these propositions are not abstract or removed from history. They represent in miniature the whole history of the world.

In other words, for those in these postmodern times who share very little with us in terms of Christian assumptions, Two Ways to Live provides a simple way to tell the whole story, to communicate (in brief) the whole Christian worldview.

The drawings that accompany Two Ways to Live are designed to make this communication process easier. They serve at one level to help Christians learn and remember the Two Ways to Live gospel outline. At another level, they can also be useful in making the message clear and memorable as we share it with someone. The drawings may not be used in every circumstance, but they are an important part of the overall package.

Another advantage of the presentation is that it leads naturally to challenging someone to become a Christian, then and there. As the great American chess master Bobby Fischer always maintained: the first thing to learn about chess is how to get checkmate.

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Professor DA Carson:

At the risk of oversimplification, most evangelistic tools in the Western world are subsets of systematic theology. By this I mean that they tend to ask atemporal questions, and give atemporal answers ... There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this pattern, as long as the people to whom it is presented have already bought into the Judeo-Christian heritage ...

But if you present these atemporal outlines of the gospel to those who know nothing about the Bible's plotline, and who have bought into one form or another of New Age theosophy, how will they hear you? ...

In short, the good news of Jesus Christ is virtually incoherent unless it is securely set into a biblical worldview ... In the last few years, several evangelistic tools have been created that are far more sensitive to the Bible's ‘story line’.

The first of these to be prepared is still one of the most effective: Two Ways to Live presents Christ in six steps, the six steps offering, in contemporary English, something of the Bible's plot-line as the necessary framework in which to understand the gospel.

The Gagging of God, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1996, pp 501-504. Used with permission.

 

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