Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Evangelism - Why - No 2

Evangelism – Why (No 2)

We started this series by outlining the most basic reason for reaching the unsaved with the gospel – love for and obedience to the Lord Jesus. In this article I would like to look at some of the other reasons for reaching out with the gospel including why such urgency is required, what the core message is and who the main communicators of the message are.

Individuals are in danger of the judgment of God.

Do we really believe that God is righteous and that people have broken his laws and therefore are guilty? As believers we know that physical death is the outcome of principle of sin in every living being, Ezek. 18. 20, Rom. 6. 23, but sometimes we live as if the second death is not the ultimate judgment of God against unrepentant sinners, Rev. 20. 14. The second death is the point of no return for the unsaved soul. Eternity will be spent separated from God and all that His grace supplies to those who believe. If I could envisage Hell and the Lake of Fire for what it is and see the cost price of redemption that was borne by our Lord and Saviour is would make me so much more passionate about reaching needy souls with the gospel. It would be a good practice to spend some time on a regular basis contemplating the work of redeeming grace and the prospect of being eternally lost. It is said that William Booth wished all his Salvation Army officers could hang over hell for 24 hours prior to their commissioning. He felt this would stir them to a deeper commitment to evangelism. Doing this would certainly change my attitude to the value of my salvation and keep me conscious of the danger that unsaved souls are in.

Life is short and unpredictable

Life is fragile and individuals leave this life for eternity every minute. While I have been writing for the last five minutes approximately 540 souls have died and passed into eternity. That equates to 155,520 souls a day, 56.8 million souls a year leaving this life never to have another opportunity to get saved. Scripture teaches that the “Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins,” Matt. 9. 6. It is clear that salvation is only available on earth and that the day we live in is the day of salvation, 2 Cor. 6. 2. We therefore need to awake to the great danger that mankind is in and the ‘great salvation’ that is readily is available through faith in Christ.

Time is running out for the Lord is coming.

The Apostle Paul wrote “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” Rom.13.11, 12. The vast majority of believers seem to have ignored scriptures like this and are spiritually sleepy, dozy and seemingly unaware of the danger that our fellow travellers to eternity are in. Our salvation comes to its full and final fulfillment at return of Christ for the church, 1 Thess. 4. 16, 17. This will open the door to God’s judgment on the world. Believers will be saved from the wrath of God, 1 Thess. 5. 9, but the ungodly will be left for tribulation on earth, 2 Thess. 2. 8-12, and judgment at the second coming of Christ to earth, 2 Thess. 1. 8. If we really believe all of this truth we must then react to the words of Romans 13 and “cast off the works of darkness” – i.e. finish with everything that is characteristic of this sinful world system. It is essential that we are protected with the “armour of light”. A Christ-like lifestyle is essential if we are going to be good witnesses of the Lord and bear the light of the gospel in a dark world, Phil. 2. 15.

In summary, a genuine awareness of the coming of Christ and the impending judgment of God on the world will result in Christians seeking to be more like the Lord Jesus and more effective in their witness for the Savior.
The Core Message

The message of the gospel is both simple and profound. We must keep in the forefront of our minds that the message is described as “the gospel”, which is “the good news”. We could easily fall into the trap of emphasizing sin and depravity so much that we fail to emphasis the attractiveness of the person of Christ and of the offer of salvation. Sin must be identified as well as the effect of sin in the life so that an individual will appreciate the need for God’s mercy and salvation. But “the good news” is the core of the message and must be preached clearly!

Key texts include the following:

  • “Preach the word,” 2 Tim. 4. 2 – the word of God must be the core basis of all witnessing.
  • “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing the word of God," Rom. 10. 17.
  • “We preach Christ crucified,” 1 Cor. 1. 17, – the Saviour and the work of the cross is the core of the message.
  • “If Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain” - Resurrection must be preached, as without it there is no gospel, 1 Cor. 15. 14.

I find the words of the Apostle Paul recorded in Acts 26 very helpful. He explains the message of the gospel having the following effect:

·      Opening people’s eyes (v18)
·      Turning them from darkness to light (v18)
·      Turning them from the power of Satan unto God (v18)
·      Providing forgiveness of sins (v18)
·      Securing an inheritance among the saints (sharing in all the  
       eternal wealth of Christ v18)
·      Bringing about repentance and turning people to God (a change 
       of mind in respect of God and sin v20)
·      New believers perform deeds in keeping with their repentance 

Note that all of this happens as a result of faith in Christ Acts 26.18.

The Communicators – individuals and local churches

The last issue I want to address in this article is who communicates the message of the gospel. We did learn in the first article that the promotion of the good news of salvation was not restricted to apostles and evangelists. In general terms there are two main channels for communicating this great message, individuals and local churches.

Local Churches

The communities of believers that God has called together out of the world exist for the glory of God. They are the places where God choses to dwell among men, Eph. 2. 22. The following passages all describe the church as the body of Christ - Romans 12, 1st Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. The local church is always seen as almost miniature representation of the whole church i.e. the body of Christ.

One of the things that God has called the church to do is to speak for Him on earth. The church of the Thessalonians was very effective in this respect. It is said of them “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God- ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” 1 Thess. 1. 8, 9. They spoke for God, their reputation had gone as far as Macedonia and Achaia and they were living testimony of the effectiveness of gospel in changing lives.

The saints in Philippi also keenly fulfilled this role. Paul thanks them in chapter one verse five for their “fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”. He then encouraged them to “with one mind strive together for the faith of the gospel,” Phil. 1. 27. When following the references to the assembly in the epistle it is noticeable that gospel work is an essential part of assembly life. But please notice that the behavior of the Christians impacted on the effectiveness of the gospel, Phil. 1. 27, and that suffering was almost guaranteed to result, Phil. 1. 29. The assembly had a clear public witness both in lifestyle and in witness, Phil. 2. 15, 16, and both women and men were involved in this great enterprise for the Lord, Phil. 4. 3.

It is good to note a revival in keenness to spread the gospel as part of the work of the local church in our day.


We will not spend much time emphasizing this point as it is self-explanatory. The book of Acts is full of examples of individuals preaching and spreading the gospel. We must of course remember that the instruction of the Lord Jesus was to “make disciples,” Matt. 28. 19, and to “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. In the Acts of the Apostles we see that the practice of early church was to see souls saved and added to the church, Acts 2. 41, 9. 19, 28. In other words individuals were not preaching only to see souls saved but to see them in fellowship in the local church and walking with God. It is important to note that new converts are often the most effective in reaching out with the gospel. Having been freshly saved they have lots of unsaved friends and are a living testimony to the effectiveness of the gospel


In the next article we will consider some of the opportunities that exist to preach the word and spread the gospel. In the meantime please bear in mind the over-riding principle that we have been saved to serve God and to represent His interests in this world. May we have a passion and a vision for glorifying the Lord and reaching lost souls with the gospel.


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