The Bridge IllustrationGod's Love
The following six pictures show how your illustration will look at various stages of development as you show these concepts. You will actually draw only one picture, using the stages given, and will draw in the various items as you talk about them.
"Bridge of Life" Illustration graphically represents sin separating man from God. As we develop the illustration, we can show the unsaved how they may become reconciled to God. One of the reasons that fellowship was broken by sin. The Bridge may be introduced by saying, "Here is an illustration that I think you might be very interested in. It summarizes what the Bible tells us about God and man."
The Bible teaches us that God is love and that He loves us. He desires that we experience an abundant life. This would include such things as love, peace, purpose, and fulfillment. Jesus, speaking about His purpose for coming to earth, said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b)NIV. In the beginning, when God put man on earth, God and man had a relationship which produced an abundant life.
But God did not create man like a robot who would automatically love and have fellowship with Him in return. He gave man a will and the freedom of choice.
Man could keep God's commandments or he could live his life apart from God. Man chose to go his own way. This resulted in a separation between God and man. God is completely holy and perfect, while man is sinful and imperfect. The Bible says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6) NIV. People continue to go their own way today. And this applies to all men. Each one of us is guilty. All of us have made decisions and done actions and had thoughts that were contrary to what God desires. We have been like wandering sheep.
The result of turning away from God and doing things that are displeasing to God is spiritual death—eternal death. The Bible also says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23) NIV. For now we will just look at the first half of this verse.
Paul states here that the consequences or payment we receive in return for our sins is eternal death. So you can see that on man's side we have eternal death, and on God's side there is eternal life. The last part of this verse talks about the free gift of God being eternal life, and that will become clearer as we develop this diagram. For now, we seem to be stuck on the death side.
(Next read Hebrews 9:27.) You can see as we look at this verse that each of us will die physically, and after we die physically we will face judgment. The Bible teaches that there will be a day of judgment when God will judge the actions and thoughts of every man and woman. In Revelation 20:15 the Bible says that "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." NIV
So you can see that on man's side we have sinned, and the penalty of those sins is eternal death. Also we see that the consequences of our sins is for us to face the judgment of God. This gives a pretty dismal picture of our situation on this side of the chasm that separates us from God.
Human beings think they can devise their own way to obtain God's favour and blessing. They usually devise codes of conduct and requirements that need to be performed in order to please God. These include giving to charity, helping others, praying, attending church, or being baptized. However, God's Word states that all these efforts are useless in the sight of a holy God to obtain God's salvation. (Next read Ephesians 2:8-9.) From this verse we understand that good works will never suffice to meet God's requirements but that God's salvation is a gift that is obtained by grace alone through faith alone.
In spite of the fact that we have turned our backs on God and have disobeyed Him, God still loves us and desires that we know Him personally so that He can bless us.
Only one adequate bridge can cross the gulf that exists between man and God, and that bridge is through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.
The Bible also says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). NIV
The Bible teaches that when He died on the cross, He died in our place. He paid the penalty and took the judgment for our sins so we could be forgiven for all our wrongdoings. The slate could be wiped clean.
Christ has made it possible for us to cross over to God's side and experience the full life He wants us to have. But we are not automatically on God's side. We need to take action; we need to ask God's forgiveness and ask Jesus Christ into our lives.
"The time has come," Jesus said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)NIV. Repentance means to reverse direction. We must give up our efforts to reach God by man's remedies and accept God's remedy for our sins.
The Bible also says, "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12) NIV. We "reach out" to God through prayer and receive the gift of eternal life.
Now let's add another verse here (Revelation 3:20) that goes right along with John 1 : 12. This is Jesus Christ talking. (After the verse is read, you would continue.) So the door on which Jesus is knocking is the very center of our lives—the heart, the core, the innermost part of our lives. He is knocking and would like to come into our lives. So He wants us to open the door and invite Him in.
Let's take a look at John 5:24. This statement of Jesus summarizes all we have talked about. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word [the things we have been discussing here] and believes Him who sent Me [believe means to receive, that is, to invite Christ into our lives] has eternal life [a present possession] and will not be condemned [judgment] ; he has crossed over from death to life." NIV
How to Use "The Bridge" to Communicate the GospelThe Bridge Illustration is one of many effective methods of presenting the Gospel. It has been used successfully to communicate the Gospel over many years and in many contexts, in groups and person-to-person. You will find it to be a useful and effective tool to add to your "arsenal" of ways to share the Gospel.
Many variations of The Bridge Illustration are in use. The presentation described here is one of the most commonly used variations. Your instructor may ask you to make adjustments in the format presented here in your workbook.
Learn the method he presents, and become skilled in that method. After you have used his method to present the Gospel to several non-Christians, you may also want to make a few adjustments in the format to make it more your own. This illustration will become a sharpened tool in your hands if these adjustments are based on actual experience in communicating the Gospel.
FlexibilityThe Bridge Illustration can take as few as 15 minutes to present, or it can be stretched out to an hour or more. A normal presentation will last 20 to 30 minutes. The flexibility of this presentation is one of its greatest assets. It can be tailored specifically to a person or situation.
SensitivityThe way in which the Holy Spirit leads you to witness will vary in different situations. It is important to be observant and sensitive as you are relating to the person with whom you are sharing "The Bridge." In any type of ministry situation it is important to pray silently and ask God for guidance and wisdom, and to be able to communicate the Gospel clearly.
The Lead-inExperience has shown that it is helpful to have a few statements and questions in mind to help open the door for presenting the Gospel. Often an ideal time to share the Gospel is after a person has heard your personal testimony. You first want to get his response to your testimony by saying something like:
"Well, that's my story. What do you think?" Or, "Well, that's my story. What is your reaction to what happened to me?"
A more direct lead-in is: "How about you, Jim? Have you ever thought much about becoming a Christian?"
If there is time to talk further and the person still shows interest and capacity to hear more, you might say something like, "You know, Jim, there's a little diagram that really clarifies this thing of being a real Christian and knowing for certain that you have eternal life. If you have a few more minutes, may I sketch it out for you? When he says Yes, you may proceed.
If you feel the person has heard as much as he can absorb for now, you might say something like: "You know, Jim, there is a little diagram that really clarifies this thing of being a real Christian and knowing for certain that you have eternal life. When you have 15 or 20 minutes sometime, why don't we sit down and I will sketch it out for you? OK?" Then at a later date you can get his consent to go through the illustration with him.
In many situations you will find it natural to ask permission to show the illustration without having given your testimony. Some other door openers are:
"What if someone walked up to you and said, 'I want to be sure that I have eternal life with God. I want to be sure that I am a real Christian. What should I do?' What would you say to him?"
"Mary, what is your impression of Christianity?"
"Mary, if someone were to ask you how to become a Christian, what would you tell him?"
BRIDGE OF LIFE for Children
The “Bridge of Life” Illustration graphically represents sin separating man from God. As we develop the illustration, we can show the unsaved how they may become reconciled to God. One of the reasons that fellowship was broken by sin. The Bridge may be introduced by saying, “Here is an illustration that I think you might be very interested in. It summarizes what the Bible tells us about God and man.”
Write "MAN" on the left side, and "GOD" on the right side. Say, "Man was created to love God, but man chose instead to sin against Him."
Say, "As sinners, man cannot do anything to get back to God." Draw little incomplete bridges showing man's futile attempts to reach God, and write the words "Good works" next to these bridges. Say, "This is because of sin that still stands as a barrier between man and God." (pointing to the word "sin")
Say, "In order to be saved by Jesus Christ, you need to turn away from your sins and turn to Him alone." Draw a horizontal line from the little figure to the cross. When you turn to Jesus, you must believe in Him and receive Him into your life. Quote John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Question: "According to this verse, what do you need to do to have everlasting life instead of death?")
Draw a curved arrow that continues from the line you just drew going over the cross to the other side. Then write the word "Believe" above the line. Say "To believe in Jesus does not mean giving mental agreement to what the Bible says about Him. It means that you make the commitment to receive Him forever as your Saviour and Lord." Quote John 1:12 - "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:" (Question: "According to this verse what should you do to become a child of God?") Write the word "Receive" next to the word "Believe"
Ask the question: "Does all of this make sense to you?" And if the answer is affirmative, then ask, "Will you come to Jesus for salvation right now?"
Understand Christianity Today the word is ambiguous. It conjures up in our minds a variety of thoughts and memories, different for each person. However, many people do not have any knowledge about Christianity from reading the Bible. Since this is considered by almost everyone to be important to Christianity, gaining an understanding of what it says is helpful in forming a more complete view of Christianity.
The Basic Message of the Bible"Many people visualize a God who sits comfortably on a distant throne, remote, aloof, uninterested, and indifferent to the needs of mortals, until, it may be they can badger him into taking action on their behalf."
This is certainly not the God that the Bible portrays. This section will discuss the basic message of the Bible, and obviously God is a part of this basic message. Man is the other essential element that the Bible continually mentions. (Note that man here is the mankind, including both men and women). However, the Bible is not simply about man and God, but it is about the relationship between man and God. Presented very simply is the Bible's story about this relationship.
In the Beginning ...In the beginning, the Bible speaks of a perfect God creating everything. He created man, and man was created in God's own image (Gen. 1:27). Man was like God in that he was created free from defect. Thus, man and God enjoyed perfect relationship.
All Have Turned AwayBecause man was in the image of God, he had a will, and thus the freedom to choose. Man, in his free will, has chosen to go his own way, as opposed to God's way. The Bible says that every person has done this. "We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way," (Isaiah 53:6). This is similar to a child running away from home, an analogy made in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Imagine a three-year-old child telling his parents that he's decided to leave home and find his own way in life. Although powerless to survive without his parents, he still chooses to leave. Similarly, the Bible says that man cannot really do anything without God, yet he has chosen to go his own way instead of God's.
SinThe term the Bible uses for choosing one's own way over God's is sin. This is what separates man from God; "your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). Romans 6:23 says that "the wages of sin s death." Man is spiritually separated form God and receives death as a result of his sin.
Like a branch separated from the vine (John 15:5), man may appear alive for a while, but in the real, meaningful sense, he is dead because he has separated himself from the life source.
What Can Man Do to Get Back to God?Because man has broken the perfect relationship with his perfect God, he is spiritually dead and separated from God. How can man save himself from this grave situation? Many people who feel separated from God try to restore this relationship by doing things, such as participating in religious activities, living a good life, giving to charity or living by certain moral standards. However, the Bible says that it is impossible for man to save himself (Matthew 19:25-26). There are no good things that man can do that can restore his relationship with God (Ephesians 2:8,9, Titus 3:5). Left up to himself, man is eternally separated from God.
What Does God Do?God however, wants to restore man's perfect relationship to Him. According to 1 Timothy 2:4, God wants all men to be saved and Ezekiel 33:11 says that God has no pleasure in the death of those who turn form Him. So what does God do?
In order to enjoy a perfect relationship with God, man must first be made perfect, because God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). But man has already been soiled by imperfection because of his decision to separate himself from God. God needs to rid man of his sin before the relationship can be restored.
The Bible says that God became man (John 1:14) and lived a life without sin, although he was tempted in every way like man is (Hebrews 4:15). His name was Jesus. Although Jesus was the only man to never sin and separate himself from God, he nonetheless voluntarily gave up his life:
"The reason Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18).
He allowed himself to be crucified and even took on the sins of all the world so that the relationship between God and man could be restored:
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18)
So God made a way for men to be perfect before Him. Jesus paid sin's penalty of death and separation for men so that men would not have to.
Receiving God's GiftSo does the Bible say that all men have been restored to God because of what Jesus has done? No. Romans 6:23 says that "the gift of God id eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." It is as if a man on a street corner was offering ten dollar bills. In order to become ten dollars richer, a person must take the money. There is an act of receiving the gift involved. In the same way, the Bible speaks of receiving God's gift of eternal life (i.e., eternity with God). The following verses explain how this is done:
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:12-13)
"... if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)
Obviously, believing in Jesus is essential to receive God's gift. But believing here means more than just intellectually forming a belief system. When the Bible says "believe in your heart", it suggests a deeper kind of belief, the kind that would affect the way someone lives. It is an act of trusting Jesus to do what he said he would do. Jesus says,
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
Thus, all man has to do is ask, and Christ will come into his life.
To quickly summarize, the Bible gives the following message:
Step 1 Jesus said, ...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)
God created man in His image and had a perfect relationship with him.
"... we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Step 2 ... your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Man chose to go his own way instead of God's. As a result of man's turning away from God (sin), he has separated himself from God and is spiritually dead.
Good works won't do it ... or religion ... or money ... or morality ... or philosophy ...
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12)
Step 3 Jesus Christ is the only answer to this problem. He died on the cross and rose from the grave, paying the penalty for our sin and bridging the gap between God and people. Thus, restoring the man to God in a perfect relationship.
God's Remedy: The Cross
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God ... (I Peter 3:18)
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. (I Timothy 2:5)
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Step 4 Man must accept this gift in order to have eternal life with God. This simply involves asking God for His gift and believing that He will do it based on what the Bible says:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
How to receive Christ:Admit your need (I am a sinner).
Be willing to turn from your sins (repent).
Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit (Receive Him as Lord and Savior of your life).
What to pray:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as the Lord and Savior of my life.
In Your name. Amen.
God's assurance of eternal life
If you've prayed this prayer and trusting Christ, then the Bible says that you can be sure you have eternal life."...for, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Receiving Christ, we are born into God's family through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer ... this is called regeneration or the "new birth."
The Bridge Illustration presented here is a classic Navigator Illustration of the Gospel.