As an evangelist I am always on the lookout for useful tools to helpfully explain the gospel. But there are some that just make me cringe! In a recent catalogue there was the "Eternity is Forever Pen”:

'The ultimate carry anywhere evangelism tool! Pull out the spring-loaded hidden sheet printed with the Evangecube images to 'Simply Share Jesus' with anyone, anywhere. This incredible pen, starts with a 'wow' and ends with a gospel presentation.'

I can't even begin to describe my horror that people would think this was a good idea. BUT I can understand WHY they produced it. The designers recognise that telling the gospel should be a joyful priority for Christians, and that most people can't do it in any coherent way. So they have a meeting and someone says, "I know!!! We'll make a pen with a scroll out gospel presentation and then Christians will just be able to explain it."

Let me offer something else. I've had the opportunity to tell people the gospel hundreds of times, and so I developed my own gospel diagram. The idea is that I can explain the gospel in under a minute (see Bill Hybels', Just Walk Across the Room) and I just need a serviette and a pen.

The completed diagram looks like this: (Ed: Apologies for the basic graphics available in this format)


The dialogue happens while I am drawing. This is not something to be learnt by rote, but rather each concept needs to be understood and communicated, with warmth and joy. I've put a frame around each section so that as it appears in print it is clear which bits go together. Obviously I don't frame it when I'm speaking.

Jesus when he lived on earth lived a perfect relationship. A perfect relationship with God, with others, with himself and with the world.

Jesus ________Perfect relationship____________________________________________

The consequence, or reward, of that was to be with God forever. That's what the Bible calls heaven. Its not about angels or clouds or harps, but being with God forever.

Jesus ________Perfect relationship____________________________________________ With God (Heaven)

Us, on the other hand, we have a problem. We don't live a perfect relationship with God, with others, even with ourselves (we don't even treat ourselves the way we should), let alone our world. Our world's in a mess, and its our fault.

Jesus ________Perfect relationship____________________________________________ With God (Heaven)

Us ________Not Perfect ____________________________________________

So we don't live the perfect relationship.

And God says that there have to be consequences of that, that there is punishment for that failure. And the punishment is to be without God forever. This is what the bible calls Hell. It's not about fires and gnashing of teeth, but about being away from God and all the good things God gives us forever.

Now what happens is this: Jesus chose this, he chose to be punished instead of us.

And he did that so we could do this:

So we could have freedom from the punishment we deserve. What Jesus deserved was this (point to with God) but he chose this (point to Without God) for us.

Now that all happened when he died on the cross. The swap happens when Jesus died on the cross for us.

But if Jesus stays dead then he's just one more dead man, and dead men aren't useful. To prove that the swap happens he rose from the dead.

So the key to Christianity is this swap. Everything swings on this exchange.

In the bible you can see this swap explained clearly in 1 Peter 3.18, or Mark 10.45 and many other places.

Mark 10.45, 1 Peter 3.18

So which bits of all this do you understand or agree with?
Do you believe that Jesus lived a perfect relationship and therefore deserves to be with God?
Do you believe that we have a problem and deserve to be away from God?
What do you think about Jesus dying in our place and rising from the dead?
And do you understand the swap?

OK, so you can have this (point to punishment) or this (point to freedom). What do you want to choose? God will allow you to choose either.

(I always give the completed diagram to the person)

The conclusion of this explanation leaves the hearer with a clear and concise understanding of the gospel and a way of asking questions that are very specific.

I've had all sorts of questions:
What are we free from?
How can Jesus take the punishment?
Why did he take the punishment?

So when you are thinking of buying a pen with a scroll out gospel presentation, please consider a much more simple solution: a clear gospel presentation that you can do in under a minute, with the an ordinary pen and a serviette.

Karen Morris
is an evangelist extraordinaire! Her local church is St Stephen's Greythorn, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.