If you have spent any time in Southern Baptist churches (and probably those of other denominations from our shared family tree) and especially VBS, you have undoubtedly heard the ABC’s of salvation. With every VBS there is usually a little ditty that tells children how they can become followers of Jesus.
Part of me deeply rejoices in the simplicity of this gospel presentation. It can be very helpful when the Lord is working on the heart of someone, they understand the gospel for the most part, but they are kind of tripping up on the “what must I do to be saved” part.
The ABC’s are a fair and biblical response to the question, “Brothers, what must I do to be saved”. But, in my opinion, it is inadequate as a whole gospel presentation. It attempts to explain through each of the letters why “admitting” is necessary and who we are “believing” in, which is good, but it seems really forced and minimalistic.
When I share the gospel with people I try to front load it with the gospel proclamation (i.e. God-Man-Christ or Creation-Fall-Redemption). In fact the gospel is not our response to the gospel. Admit, believe, and confess is not the gospel. It is the only fitting response to the gospel but is not the gospel itself. When people understand the gospel and are then asking “what do I do to be saved” that is when I would share with them something like the ABC’s.
I think it is assumed in much of this material that the gospel story will be presented in full throughout the week in the teaching segments. And that is true. However, what is emphasized is the response. The ABC’s is what stands out as the gospel presentation in much of the VBS material.
Explaining to people the necessary response to the gospel isn’t the gospel and doesn’t have the promises of gospel power attached to it. So instead of emphasizing the ABC’s as presentation emphasize the gospel story and train the leaders how to use the ABC’s to answer the response question.
The ABC’s need the gospel story.