How much do I need to intellectually understand the gospel in order to be saved?
Do I need to be able to explain how the propitiationary sacrifice of the Christ was acceptable as an atonement for my transgressions?
Or will God just ask, “Do you know my son? Does he know you?”
When Peter preached on the first Pentecost after the resurrection. What did he preach?
You killed Jesus but he was resurrected from the dead and he is in fact the Messiah (the Christ).
That’s pretty much it.
There is no record of them praying any kind of sinner’s prayer. They just realised that Jesus is the Messiah, they repented of their actions and were baptised. And they were saved.
The woman at the well in Sycar believed because Jesus told her her own life story.
The Greeks at the Areopagus believed because Paul explained that God was the one they knew as the “unknown God”.
The gospel touches different people in different ways. Some people are healed. Some see the love of Christians. Some see visions. Some read the Bible for themselves. But all are touched by God, by the Holy Spirit in some way and turn their lives over to following Jesus.
I’m pretty sure most young Christians wouldn’t even know the word propitiation, let alone it’s spiritual significance. (It means a gift which is given in order to turn away the anger of another party. Jesus’ sacrifice was a gift to God to turn away his anger at our sin).
But I don’t think it matters whether they understand it or not. It matters that they have a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. It matters that they are excited to be following Jesus.
In our intellectual 21st century civilisation, it’s very easy to get caught up with theology and thinking that in order to preach the gospel we have to explain everything. We don’t. We just have to introduce them to God’s son. Once they know him, we’re done.