A WORD ABOUT EVANGELISM
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If as already explained in the main text, it is not
absolutely necessary to come to know Jesus Christ
as one’s saviour and Lord in order to be saved then,
what is the point of evangelism?
Indeed, what is the purpose of evangelism? The quickest way to answer that is to ask the question: why did God want Cornelius, the Roman centurion, to know about His Son, since Cornelius already was accepted by Him (he was acceptable to God)?
As we saw, before Peter talked about Jesus to Cornelius and his companions he said,
. . . In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him [already].
God however wants everyone to be a partaker of all He offers. He wants all folk to know the whole truth; not just to be saved. This is why Paul says ‘and to come to the knowledge of the truth’. He then lists the basic truth God desires all men to know.
. . . [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all . . .
1 Timothy 2:4-6
Basically, God wants all those in such a position to
become a full part of His body, The Church. The
benefits of this are numerous. Not least will be a more
fruitful understanding and knowledge of God in Person
and His ways. Coupled with that, there is the Person
and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
All this and more enables a new life now capable of direct intervention against the powers of darkness.
The direct guidance and leading of God is accessible to the life of a Christian by the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ in a body of believers, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 for example.
The removal of any fear of death and the ‘beyond’ is realistic. All in all it clearly makes the person a full part of the kingdom of God.
But probably the greatest benefit is assurance of salvation out of a living relationship with the living God. Certainly it is the best one to show the need to evangelise them.
The wicked as shown in chapter 9 have a fearful destiny. God has no pleasure in them going into such a future. Now if we are His children our heart should be renewed with His love for Man, and that includes the wicked. For when you are related to someone and love them deeply, you identify naturally with their feelings. God paid the highest price to enable all who would to be free.
Free from sin and its power, as well as free from the power of Satan and His lies, thus free to get off the road to such a destiny. So God’s feelings are apparent. The need for sharing the gospel with the wicked is clear. It is God’s desire and ours if we are His. It is good news for those who recognise their need, and our task involves helping them to recognise this need.
On top of all this feeling and desire to share such news, such information about spiritual things, the Lord actually commands us to witness to it. If we are his disciples then there is little option to do otherwise, that is to say, irrespective of our feelings as mentioned. If we already desire to do this, however, it is not a duty but a delight. If we are becoming more like Jesus then our feelings of care and concern will naturally grow more like his.
What is this command? In the last paragraph in Matthew’s gospel Jesus says to his disciples:
. . . All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age . . .
The beauty about God is that He not only tells us
what to do, but He also enables us to do it, teaching
us, empowering us and putting His rubber stamp on
our work. Just like a good employer who will not just
give a task to his employee but also give him time to
do it, the facilities, the know-how, in the measure of
his limitations, etc. Once the task is complete, he will
pass it on to another department putting his stamp of
approval on the completed work.
We can see this in the above passage because the command to witness, or should I say to make disciples, is sandwiched in between the authority Jesus has and the knowledge and experience that Jesus had taught them. Making disciples is not a case of just telling people that God loves them and what He has done for them, it is a demonstration of His love in the life of the disciple sharing the news as well as the power and authority of God.
Such that this particular gospel cannot be said to have truly been fully heard by someone if all they have heard is a few words.
Have they seen sincerity in the life of the witness? Have they seen the power of God at work? Have they known the conviction from the Holy Spirit while they were listening?
This is part and parcel of the teaching and experiences Jesus gave to his disciples. They were taught to heal the sick, cast out demons, instruct on the kingdom, live a loving life etc. This is the context Jesus gave in which the gospel should be shared.
Even then, he did not say just tell them what I have done for them, e.g. Jesus died for you and rose again . . . He said to teach about the kingdom of God and all it entails, the whole counsel of God.
We need to teach people about things of God starting from where they are at; starting from their perspective, their standpoint of understanding. Jesus did this all the time: Whether it was a foreign woman at a well, an officer of the occupying army on a road, a blind man outside a building or other. He met them where they were at in their faith, in their understanding, in their misgivings, in their point of need . . .
God has put a measure of common sense and logic in all of us. There is a measure of right and wrong in all of us. Let us use these as our platforms from God in their lives, for which to launch our contacts, launch our evangelism in God’s way, God’s methods, by God’s power.
Not forgetting, of course, the most important preparation Jesus gave his disciples, the spiritual angle on all this. He taught them to pray, to look at the Word afresh and to combat the enemy. This is the preparation of the ground prior to sowing.
There is another gospel: the good news God has put before all mankind as a witness to himself. It is His creation. By this witness alone we are told that Man has no excuse for not turning to God.
. . . because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . .
Paul goes on to say about this gospel, this good witness to God:
. . . Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
This is a direct quote of Paul out of Psalm 19:4. The preceding verses read,
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
In other words, God has not left himself without
a witness. Creation is a testimony to His existence
and reality. This alone is always a good foundation to
build on in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Coupled to this, the understanding of God’s fairness and just outlook as explained in the majority of this book and throughout scripture, there is a powerful argument to build on. The witness of Creation as well as that of the light of Jesus by his Spirit (as discussed), are revelation to every man alive. God wants his Church to add to this, their life and verbal testimony as a final witness to himself. This is the context of our sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God’s reason for such an array, such a type of witness is to continue the genuine freedom of choice to everyone.
God has not made any automatons. Having said that, His angels never had any choice not to believe: They could see God at first hand: Any of them therefore who rebel are instantly without excuse (absolutely). This makes their kind of choice absolute.
Man was made with freedom to decide. God desires us to choose for Him. If He made it so obvious to all men that He is, it would no longer be a decision on our part out of a desire for the things of God, but this would instead be imposed on us to believe. This is not what God wants, indeed it is in His power to reveal himself to everyone in an instant, but it is not in His nature to do so. He is gentle and loving and wants us to desire these things for ourselves. His purpose is that His relationship with us is genuine, not automatic, but alive: A living choice, not like robots.
He therefore does not want us to impose Him on others but instead draw people to Him, to build upon the witness He has started. Let us take on this nature of God. Let us see His purposes. Let us work with Him and not against Him in all of this. Let us work together to teach, to reveal Him as He is, His way.
We cannot deny this? The above explanations in this book show the hope as a reality for many who have not heard of Jesus. Should we deny these also the knowledge of the One who paid for all this?
I believe as Christians when we begin to see that the Lord has a bigger heart and accepts many more people than we first believed we will be transformed into an accepting and more loving Church. We will become more approachable and a better light to all these who need to hear about the One they are trying to follow. Many more will be drawn to Jesus because of the new love realised by this truth.
We need to share that the One, they ‘are believing in’: His character, came down and died by shedding His blood on a cross for them. His love has made a way for a full relationship with Him as His adopted sons. His is the full and final substitute: His death instead of ours so we can have His Life now.
How does one become a Christian?
Having explained an understanding of who believes in the name of the Son of God as a believer in righteousness John 3:16 as a text makes even more sense.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
We saw how in New Testament Greek the verb ‘to believe’ here is in a tense known as the Present Active (I mentioned it as ‘present continuous’). So, whoever ‘is believing’ in Him refers in context to those who are born again: Those who believe in the name of the Son of God: Believers in righteousness as testified by their practise of righteousness.
. . . everyone who practises righteousness is born of Him.
1 John 2:29
Jesus, God’s only begotten Son was given by God out of his love. His death on a cross in our place enables us to have everlasting life. So now that you know about this sacrifice made for you here is a prayer which can help those who desire righteousness to enter fully. To begin a new phase to their journey: a conscious walk with the God who paid for their salvation:
Just as you have started praying, go on to talk with God.
Share with Him what you feel, and tell Him your cares, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:9-15; Matthew 11:28-30). Ask Him to help you find fellow believers with whom you can share fellowship. Be encouraged to go on reading about Him in His book: the Bible. There you will also read about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit which will enable you to be an effective witness and have more of God in your life.
(I have written a separate article about this entitled What is Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Go on being filled with His Spirit for that is the Life that enables our transformation into full and mature sons of God (Ephesians 5:18-19; Romans 12:1-2).
As you do all this, your Journey into Light will get brighter and brighter and you will walk as a child of light (2 Corinthians 3:18 & Ephesians 5:8).
Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from
the New King James Version.
© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.
© copyright Jacques More 2008. All Rights Reserved.