The new ‘Two ways to live’
A nearly final draft
As promised, we’re closing in on the final revisions to the Two ways to live outline, and below is a nearly final draft. Many thanks to all those who have shown such a keen interest in the process, and who have offered so many thoughtful suggestions.
We think the result is a definite improvement, while still being very recognizably Two ways to live. There are changes in each of the six points of the outline, although the significant revisions are in points 1, 2, 4 and 5.
We’re still open to feedback, especially if you can bring any blindspots or blemishes to our attention. Once again, as you look over it, bear in mind that:
the aim is to produce a concise, clear, memorable outline;
these aren’t the words that we would actually speak in a gospel presentation or conversation; they are the skeleton that we would flesh out in conversation;
in each point, the aim is not to say everything on each topic, but only what is necessary to learn and remember the key ideas, so that we can communicate them clearly.
We wanted to do more in the first point to establish the relational connection between humanity and God, and so lay the groundwork more effectively for our sinful rejection of that relationship in point 2. We noticed that Scripture often describes this relationship in terms of the thanksgiving and honour that we owe God as our creator and Lord—such as in the classic Revelation 4:11 verse, and in Paul’s description of sin in Romans 1:18f.
God is the ruler of the world.
He made the world.
He made us to rule his world, giving thanks and honour to him.
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being. Revelation 4:11
But is that what we see now?
The ideas we wanted to convey in this point were straightforward enough: that we all personally reject God and his rule over us; that we do this by setting ourselves up as the king and ruler of our own lives; but that this is a disastrous move that does damage to our own lives and to the world around us. But finding just the right words to say this in the simplest way possible? Not nearly as easy as it sounds.
What we ended up with has a certain hard-won simplicity, and nicely foreshadows the ‘two ways’ that will come in point 6.
The other change is to the Bible verse. Isaiah 53:6a works really well here as a simple description of our rejection of God; and it sets us up to use the same verse in point 4.
We all reject God as our ruler by running our own lives our own way.
But by rebelling against God’s way, we damage ourselves, each other and the world.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way. Isaiah 53:6a
What will God do about our rebellion?
Having looked hard a number of possible changes, we’ve decided to leave point 3 largely as is.
God won’t let us rebel against him forever.
God’s punishment for rebellion is death and judgement.
… people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Hebrews 9:27
God’s justice sounds hard, but …
Two changes to point 4. The most significant is that we have moved the offer of forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ death from this point to point 5. This focuses point 4 entirely on God sending Jesus to take our punishment; point 5 now describes how the crucified and risen Christ offers forgiveness and new life, on the basis of his death and resurrection.
The other change is to the Bible verse. Using the whole of Isaiah 53:6 allows us to nicely connect points 2 and 4.
Because of his love, God sent his Son into the world: the man Jesus Christ.
Jesus always lived under God’s rule.
But Jesus took our punishment by dying in our place.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
but the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
But that’s not all.
As the risen Christ, Jesus is not only the Lord and judge, but also the one who offers forgiveness and new life. We’ve reworked point 5 to include these benefits and consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection here in the one place.
God raised Jesus to life again as the ruler and judge of the world.
Jesus has conquered death,
now brings forgiveness and new life,
and will return in glory.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3
Well, where does that leave us?
Only minor changes in point 6, mainly to reflect changes elsewhere.
There are only two ways to live.
reject God as ruler
by living our own way
damage ourselves, each other and the world
facing death and judgement
God’s new way
submit to Jesus as our ruler
rely on Jesus’ death and resurrection
forgiven by God
given a new and eternal life.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36
So, which way do you want to live?
Thanks again for the encouragement as we’ve worked on these changes. Please feel free to send in any final feedback!
Now that we’re close to finalizing the text of the outline, my next job is to complete the drafts of the other resources that hang off the outline. All of these are well under way:
a new version of the Two ways to live give-away tract (with the outline fleshed out into a full explanation of the gospel);
a new mobile-friendly website that does much the same;
a new training resource called Learn the Gospel with Two ways to live, which helps participants understand and learn the gospel for themselves, using the framework of the outline; and
a new training resource called Share the Gospel with Two ways to live which focuses on learning how to have everyday conversations about the gospel, using the outline as a framework;
Finishing all those might be a job I save for the New Year!
Have a great Christmas.
I do like the Isaiah verses - not sure if that's because of Colin or not as per Jodie.
With point 5 I wonder if it would be punchier (more memorable? if it was 4 discrete sentences?
God raised Jesus to life again as the Ruler and Judge of the world.
Jesus Has conquered death.
Jesus (or He) now brings forgiveness and new life.
Jesus (or He) will return in glory. (should "to judge" be added hear? or is that too much).
Just some thoughts. Thanks for your commitment and effort Tony.
I'm still not convinced by the text of box 6, but only from the perspective of ease of memorisation and of clarity. So, under the 'our way', if you remove the line breaks and indenting, then the sentence doesn't really flow. Namely: "Our way: reject God as ruler, by living our own way, damage ourselves, each other and the world, facing death and judgement". It's a shorthand, but seems clunky. Could it be better to go:
- we reject God as ruler
- by living our own way
- which damages ourselves, each other, and the world
- so we face death and judgement
Or another alternative that is punchier...
- reject God as ruler
- live our own way
- damage ourselves, each other, and the world
- face death and judgement
...but that loses the causality of each clause...
However, having four verbs is an easier way to remember this... so point six is "Our way... reject... live... damage... face death..." etc.
And the same applies to the 'God's way' bit in the second half of point 6.
I'm not sure I've got the best solution here, but maybe this observation might help make some excellent updates even better...?