E V A N G E L I S M
By Rodney W. Francis
EVANGELISM IS “THE CUTTING EDGE” of the Gospel! It is the winning of the lost to Jesus Christ. It is the ministry of enlarging the Kingdom of God. Every genuine Christian should carry a strong heart’s desire to see men and women come to a personal saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in their own individual lives, in order that they have a blessed and fulfilled life here on earth, as well as the peaceful assurance of eternal life in His presence after we leave this earth. Evangelism should be the norm for every Holy Spirit-filled believer, either in a direct (by personally witnessing our faith in Jesus), or an indirect way (i.e. supporting those who are on the “front lines”)!
- “The practice of spreading the Christian Gospel.
- Ardent or missionary zeal for a cause.
- The work, methods, or characteristic outlook of a revivalist, or evangelist preacher” (Collins Dictionary).
What emphasis did Jesus place on the evangelistic ministry?
One of His last commands to His disciples was:
“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned . . .” (see Mark 16:15-20, NKJV).
Believes what? Believes what you and I say! (Who else is saying it? We are God’s mouthpiece to take this Glorious Message to our generation.)
- We have already been instructed by the Lord to take His Good News of full Salvation into all the world . . . to every creature.
In 2 Peter 3:9 we see something more of the heart of God:
“. . . He is longsuffering (patient) with us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
When men first began to follow Jesus, we see they were charged with a desire to bring others to Him.
“The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42, NIV).
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45, NIV).
JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF:
Jesus demonstrated His love for the lost when He ministered life and forgiveness to the woman at the well (John 4). That one meeting with Jesus turned that Samaritan woman at the well into a real evangelist, for she returned to her village and people exclaiming Jesus is the Christ!This example shows us the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for it was a word of knowledge about the woman’s husbands that impacted her life to know that she was dealing with someone who knew things about her situation.
God's purpose for Christendom - and especially Pentecostal Christendom – is that we be endued or clothed upon with power from on high to be witnesses unto Jesus (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). He has empowered us for the express purpose of making us His living witnesses. That is, that through His sacrificial love in redeeming us, He has transformed us from wretched sinners to victorious saints and made us “able ministers of the New Covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:2-6) to speak powerfully of the truth of the Gospel.Through the indwelling Holy Spirit we can speak with authority of the fact that Jesus is the only way of Salvation; that God has raised Him from the dead, and that He lives today to meet us at our point of need.
When Jesus met Paul on the Damascus road, this is what Jesus said to him: “But rise and stand upon your feet: for I have appeared unto you for this purpose, to make you a minister (“huperetes” meaning “an under-rower or common sailor; an assistant; any subordinate acting under the direction of another” - Bullingers) and a witness (“martus” meaning “martyr; one who has information, or knowledge of a thing, and can therefore give information concerning; bring to light or confirm anything” – Bullinger’s) both of these things which you have seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto you. Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision . . . Having therefore obtained help from God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great . . . That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:16-23, KJV).
THE EARLY CHURCH:
- Evangelism is not “a programme” for the Church, but a life-style for the people (of God)!
To me, it seems a real tragedy that the area of our most potential in God - namely evangelism in the power of the Holy Spirit - has somehow become our greatest lack. Generally speaking, in a nation like New Zealand, the Christian community really struggles to openly, boldly and fearlessly witness of Jesus.
- If the burden, desire, passion, and zeal for the lost are not burning in our hearts, then no amount of programming in the Church will make us ongoing, effective witnesses for Jesus.
Yet, in saying this, church should be a place where the presence and reality of Jesus is experienced and therefore our “church programmes” should be immersed in the burden, desire, passion and zeal to win the lost to Jesus Christ – and at the same time be happy to obey the great commission of Jesus to touch our world with His good News.
LET'S GET BACK TO BASICS
Evangelism, witnessing, sharing our testimony and preaching the Gospel is the very basis of Bible Christianity. We must rekindle the flame! Maybe we should even seek to have a new experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11)?
As far as I can see from the Word of God, the steps for a Christian to be an effective witness of Jesus are:
- Know that God has chosen you (or taken you in hand).
- Know His will.
- See the Just or Righteous One (Jesus).
- Hear His voice (Acts 22:14).
Then, in the very next verse, Jesus told Paul that he would be His witness unto all men of what he had seen and heard! (Acts 22:15).
- When we have the basics right, evangelism will again become the norm of a Christian lifestyle!
I am not anti-programmes for evangelism. Anything that will lead to the salvation of the lost is good and God-glorifying. What I am saying is that programmes can never fully take the place of Christians being living witnesses of Jesus at home, work, school and play. I encourage churches to be involved in outreaches into the community, i.e. prison ministry, short and long-term missionary service home and abroad, daycare centres, school involvement, Bible in schools teaching, coffee mornings, etc., the opportunities and ideas are endless.
WHAT MUST BE DONE TO RESTORE THE CUTTING EDGE?
I believe we need to address the reasons why so many Christians are ineffective in their Christian witness. The biggest hindrance would be the fear of man . . . the Proverb says it snares us: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
Fear! We must face it and realize it renders us powerless. Fear robs and binds us; it prevents us from being what Jesus purchased us to be! Let's acknowledge it, renounce it, and actively work on eliminating it from our life. How?
"Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment (“torment”).The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NIV).
- Love is the answer!
“For God so loved the world that He gave . . .!” (John 3:16).
- True Christians LOVE! – They love God! They love other Christians! They love the people in the world! They love themselves!
- Fear has caused us to hide behind excuses!
One of the big excuses for not witnessing is the idea that it is better to be a “silent witness.” Let's face it: if we really are a silent witness there is no need to be worried about being a talking witness! The truth is that far too many of us struggle with speaking out the name of Jesus within earshot of the unsaved!
The Bible asks the question:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (“to be a herald, discharge an herald's office, to make proclamation, announce publicly, publish announcements” – Bullingers).
- A “preacher” is an ordinary Christian who is telling the Good News of what Jesus has done for him! (Romans 10:14).
So, Scripturally speaking, a silent witness is not an effective witness. We are called and commissioned to preach, speak out, tell the glad tidings of good things – not just some of us, but all of us! Let me remind you that we gained our salvation on the basis that we confessed Jesus aloud with our mouth (Romans 10:8-13). We keep our salvation by the same principle of continuing to confess Jesus before men:
“If anyone publicly acknowledges Me as his friend, I will openly acknowledge him as My friend before My Father in heaven. But if anyone publicly denies Me I will openly deny him before My Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 TLB).
- Without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), and faith SPEAKS! (Romans 10:6, 8-13).
- Christians confess Christ before men!
My prayer is that you will be helped and challenged by this word on evangelism. May your heart be open to stir a greater desire to be zealous in your witnessing of Jesus to others wherever you go. The lost/unsaved need to hear what Jesus has done for you. Don't wait for other Christians – share your faith. Jesus has done great things in your life. Tell someone about it. Ask God to release a new infilling of His Holy Spirit into your life, giving you fresh power to witness unto His Name. There's nothing more satisfying than sharing your Christian faith with someone who does not yet know Jesus. Who knows, your testimony may be the means of bringing that someone to eternal life.
JOIN ME IN THIS PRAYER:
"Dear Father, in Jesus' Name I come to You specifically to ask for a renewed zeal, passion and love for those around me who are lost – those who do not know you in a personal way. I understand by Your Word that You have commanded me to be Your witness and to help to preach the Gospel to every creature. Please forgive me for the times I have failed to take the opportunities You have given me to speak about You to others. Lord, I really do want to be a soul-winner. Please use me to witness to them! Please give me a renewed boldness to share my faith. Take every hindrance out of my life and put into me what is necessary for me to fulfil Your Word. Save the lost, Lord Jesus! Give me a greater burden for them, Lord, I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen."
- "Go quickly now, and tell . . ."
This message is Chapter 10 of the Bible Basics Manual (By Rodney W. Francis).
Did you know . . .
80% of new Christians live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Church growth is double population growth.
There are 70 million Indian Christians; 120 million in China.
Where the Church is growing the fastest, new locally trained indigenous leaders are needed most.
There isn’t enough quality training to meet the need.