A bit of occasional bored lurking is the most I do on Facebook these days. But my eyes and ears pricked up recently when one of the few organizations I follow (Matthias Media) started teasing the imminent release of the new Two Ways to Live (2WTL) giveaway tract.
People were making various comments on MM’s Facebook post—about how they often add in this or that when they’re using 2WTL, or how they wished the wording was different on this or that point. And I did the almost unthinkable and typed a reply. Here’s (in part) what I said:
2WTL is by no means perfect, but one of the best things about it is that it’s essentially a framework for gospel conversation or presentation, not a prescribed form of words. So if the transition between points 4 and 5 seems naff to you, David, by all means make it better as you use it. Ditto with the place of God's promises to Israel, Justin, if that’s helpful to include for the people you’re talking to.
One of the quirky reasons I’m excited about the release of the new edition of 2WTL is that it gives me an excuse to make this important point all over again. The reason that 2WTL is so invaluable is that it provides something that no other resource currently does: a simple, clear, biblically faithful gospel framework for Christians to use in a multitude of ways. It reaffirms and teaches the one unchanging gospel announcement that we’ve been to proclaim and share; and then equips to talk about that gospel in million different ways. It’s not a form of words to be trotted out on cue. It’s a set of gospel bullet points to learn and take to heart, which we not only know and trust in, but are able to utilize and adapt in a multitude of different conversations and contexts.
The forthcoming new 2WTL tract or ‘booklet edition’ is a good example. It’s just one of those possible uses. It contains the revised bullet-point outline, but its main purpose is to explain the gospel to a non-Christian reader. It’s a giveaway booklet. That’s why the classic 2WTL statements (the bullet points) are not very prominent in this new design. The focus is on the explanatory text that fleshes out the statements and on the graphic elements that illustrate them. (We use the actual 2WTL statements as a little inset summary at the end of each page.)
The new booklet has a number of other design changes that I think really improve its appeal as a give-away resource—a ‘modern classic’ look-and-feel, new versions of the drawings in badge form, a reworking of how text and graphics interact on the page, and a revision of all the explanatory text.
What of the updates to the 2WTL framework itself? Apart from numerous small tweaks to the language here and there, these are the three main changes to the outline itself.
#1. Probably the most significant change is the shifting of the offer of forgiveness of sins from box 4 (the atonement) to box 5 (the resurrection). I think this is a genius move (and I wasn’t the one to think of it!), because it reinforces and strengthens the logic of the gospel.
2WTL really builds towards box 5. That’s where we get to the essence of the gospel proclamation—that the crucified Jesus has risen to be the ruler and judge of the world, and now offers forgiveness of sins and new life to everyone, in advance of his return. That’s as close to a summary of the NT gospel announcement as you can get, and box 5 is where that is proclaimed. If you work backwards from Box 5, you get the logic of boxes 1-4. In other words:
How can the risen Lord Jesus bring forgiveness of sins and new life? By dying on the cross to take the punishment we deserve (atonement, box 4).
Why do we deserve punishment and from whom? We’re in line for God’s punishment because of our rebellion against him (judgement, box 3).
What rebellion? We all reject God as our ruler and rebel against him (sin, box 2).
Why is God our ruler? Because he is the Creator and Ruler of the world, including us (creation, box 1).
It starts at box 1 and creation, because that’s the first piece of background knowledge you need in order to proceed through boxes 2-4 and eventually get to 5, where the nub of the gospel proclamation occurs (with box 6 as the response).
#2. Speaking of box 1, the second significant content change to the outline happens there. We’ve added in the idea that God’s creation of us (and everything) calls for a response of thanks and honour towards him, in the way that Romans 1 and other places in Scripture suggest. This strengthens what then happens in box 2. Instead of responding to our Creator and Ruler as we should (in honour and thanksgiving), we reject him and ignore him and go our own way.
#3. The final shift that many people will notice is a change in the Bible verses used to support boxes 2 and 4. In the past, 2WTL used New Testament verses only, mainly because in the old days people often carried little New Testaments around with them, and so could easily look up those verses and passages with someone they were speaking with.
Given that those days are gone, we thought it was a good opportunity to use one of the great texts of Scripture in a way that not only better communicates the ideas of box 2, but ties together boxes 2 and 4 beautifully. In box 2, we quote the first half of Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way”. And then in box 4, we quote the whole verse:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
I’m pretty excited about the new 2WTL booklet edition because it makes it once again the go-to Swiss Army knife of evangelistic resources. Evangelism usually involves multiple conversations and touch points. This 2WTL booklet can be used at many different points along the way:
to give to a friend to spark off a conversation
to give to a friend to follow up on a conversation
as a giveaway resource for evangelistic talks or events (“take this home and have a read; it fleshes out and summarizes what we’ve been talking about today”)
to use at some point in the multi-week evangelistic course (as a summary that pulls it all together in one simple package)
as a gift for newcomers and visitors at church
as a tool for door-knocking or visiting
and so on.
We’re not allowed to carry Swiss Army knives anymore, but I’m really looking forward to carrying a few copies of this 2WTL resource around in my backpack.
And we’ll all be able to do that as of November 1: the official worldwide release date.
If you want to check out the new 2WTL booklet version before Nov 1, I’ve been able to snag a pdf review copy that you can evaluate. It’s only for Payneful Truth readers, so please don’t share it around at this point. You can find it here.
As I’ve been working on the new 2WTL outline over the past 12 months or so, I’ve written a few other posts on The Payneful Truth about the nature of the gospel, and about why 2WTL is still valuable (and therefore worth refreshing and relaunching). Here are three of them you might find interesting:
This is another free public edition—two in a row! To get every edition every week, you can …
As I was just completing this edition, some advance copies of the new 2WTL booklet arrived in the letter box. Here’s a snap …