Welcome to part one of my evangelism series. In this part, we shall be looking at the background of evangelism and we examine the reasons why every Christian should engage in evangelism. Let’s go!
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM
Evangelism is a very important part of the Christian faith. We would not have known or heard of Jesus Christ and the Good News of salvation culminating from the sacrifice made on the cross of Calvary had it not been for the tireless evangelical mission of the early Disciples fueled by the Holy Spirit.
The original Greek word for evangelism is “euaggelion”, which is translated as “Gospel” or “Good news”, therefore evangelism can be said to be; an act of sharing the good news of forgiveness, grace and salvation offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is important to note that without this forgiveness and grace, we would be hopeless and made to face the consequence of our sins, which is eternal damnation.
Given that we live in a fallen world where there is so much atrocity and rebellion against God, and as happenings around the world continue to point at end times prophecies in the book of Revelations, the need for evangelism becomes more crucial. Right from Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, to the days of Noah and the great flood, down to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, sin was the major strain in the relationship between God and man. God created man with a conscience that tells him what is right and wrong, but man very quickly became good at either suppressing the voice of his conscience or totally ignoring his conscience in order to carry out the evil in his heart. It has been said that the conscience is our ‘heart police’ and is suppose to keep us from doing what is wrong in the sight of God, but the truth is that its power is limited – in that we constantly overrule its judgement.
It wasn’t until later on that God wrote down the moral law on a stone in the form of “the ten commandments” and delivered it to the Jewish people through His servant Moses. He did this to not only hold the people accountable to themselves but also to Him. However, this didn’t stop them from rebelling against God in the long run. They regularly broke God’s law and their only source of reprieve came from offering animals as sacrifice to God for the atonement of their sins, but this act of theirs didn’t hold much weight and the gap between God and man continued to expand.
That was how it was until God in his love for the world He created, took it upon Himself to provide a means of an everlasting connection with humanity by coming down unto the earth in form of man born of a virgin – Jesus of Nazareth, whose mission was to suffer and die for the sins of mankind, offering Himself as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb for the atonement sins for all generation, thereby offering us eternal life in God’s Kingdom (John 3:16) and tearing down the veil which separated us from God.
Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after three days signified our victory over eternal death and suffering, hence we could have our death sentence commuted and instead be offered everlasting life. All we have to do is repent and accept the payment for our salvation offered on the cross some two thousand years ago. In addition to our salvation, we have also been given direct access to God the father through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:18). That is the Good News and i doubt anyone can come up with a better news.
However, for the world to know and benefit from this generous offer, they would need to hear of the resurrection and its implication. That was why Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into the world and spread the Good News to every nation of the world. Initially, the disciples were not bold enough to preach the Good News, but every thing changed when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Many more disciples were made along the way and the “Jesus Movement” spread like wild fire despite every persecution and affliction it encountered. Today, we are able to identify as Christians because of the evangelical work of those before us.
It has been many centuries since the Good News was first preached by Peter in Jerusalem and Christianity has no doubt come a long way since then but unfortunately, many souls are still lost and the Gospel of Christ is still being met with resistance from a sinful world. Many due to their love for sin, continue to reject God and His generous offer of salvation, while others have created in their imaginations, different versions of god that suite their taste. This is evident by the many religions and theistic beliefs scattered all over the world today. This means that now more than ever, we need to up our evangelical mission ante, but before you step out to share the Good News of Christ, there are certain things you need to know, so you do not end up doing more harm than good with your attempts to preach the Gospel. This brings us to the reasons why we evangelize.
REASONS FOR EVANGELISM:
⦁ JESUS COMMANDED IT – As seen in our opening scripture passage (Mark 16:15), After his death and resurrection, Christ commands his disciples to preach the Good News to every part of the world but even while He walked the earth with His disciples earlier on, He regularly tasked His disciples with going out and preaching the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 10:6-8), so it must be really important.
⦁ IT IS AN ACT OF LOVE – There is no Christian doctrine without love, therefore any doctrine that doesn’t promote love cannot be regarded as a Christian doctrine. Jesus commands us to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37). Therefore the key reason for evangelism should be love, and not as an intentional act of winning favor from God or man. We are to preach the Gospel because we love the lost souls enough to tell them about God’s love for them, which resulted in him offering us the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
⦁ TO REACH OUT – Reaching out is at the heart of Christian evangelism. We don’t wait for the lost to come to us, rather we are to seek them out and take the Good News to them (Luke 19:10). One of the mistakes we make is that, most times we wait for people to ask us about our faith before we can share our faith to them. I have come to discover that most people tend to avoid discussions of faith altogether, so it might be up to us to take the discussion to them and If they reject the Gospel, we might have to give them some space. We can not force it down their throats but at least we should be eager to share our faith if indeed we truly believe what we proclaim.
⦁ EVANGELISM HELPS US GROW IN CONFIDENCE TO PROCLAIM OUR FAITH – I remember vividly the first time i went on a street evangelical outreach with members of a Church cell group in a country where open-air preaching is prohibited. It was at a local park on a Friday afternoon after service, our modus operandi was to greet people passing by and try to start up conversations with them, our aim being to point them to Christ in the course of our discussion. We were split into groups of two each in other to cover more ground and possibly keep our discussions as informal as we could (you don’t want someone calling the local police and accusing you of trying to shove your religion down their throat). I had just become born again then, and I remember being so nervous and quite at first – not knowing what to say to people I came across, I remember thinking to myself; I don’t really know any scripture verse, so how am I going to point these people to the word of God to back up whatever I tell them. Thankfully, I had a more experienced Sister-in-Christ with me who was doing almost all the talking, but by the time we approached the third passerby, I began to grow in boldness and occasionally I would chip in a word or two in the discussions. Long story short; before the end of that same day, I ended up sharing the Gospel with two Hindu guys. Surprisingly, they were quite receptive of the Gospel even though they were not Christians. I must confess though, it didn’t start too well for me as I had never really been the most eloquent of speakers, but in the end, it turned out to be a memorable experience that built my own faith and confidence in proclaiming the good news. It also made me delve deeper into scripture study. I have gone out for evangelism a couple other times after that day, Today, i am much more confident to talk to even strangers about Christ. My point is, every time we share the Gospel to others, we grow in our own faith and confidence in the Gospel.
⦁ EVANGELISM IS AN ACT OF FELLOWSHIP – As Christians, we should draw and bring people together in fellowship. When we evangelize, we don’t see the ‘lost’ as distant people whom we are just doing a favor, rather we see them as brothers and sisters who have lost their way. Therefore we should seek to enjoin them into the body of Christ, hence fellowship is achieved. Going in groups also deepens communion with our brethren.
⦁ TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF SIN AND OPEN THE GATEWAY TO REPENTANCE – Sin and Repentance are two phenomenon that the modern Church shy away from addressing, and this is really baffling. In fact, to many modern-day preachers, those words are ‘no go area’ when evangelizing. This is the reason why we have so many ‘weeds’ inside the Church today. How can one walk with Christ without first repenting from their sins? Evangelism fueled by the Holy Spirit should eventually lead to true repentance. If I didn’t hear the Gospel from somewhere, I probably wouldn’t be born again. From the time of the early Apostles till now, Millions have been converted from their sinful past to rebirth in Christ due to the power of Holy Spirit through evangelism. Do not be deceived, true evangelism addresses the issue of sin and only when sin is addressed can there be repentance.
⦁ AN EXTENSION OF GRACE – Because we know that we are saved by God’s grace and not by any particular work of ours (Ephesians 2:8), we should look to extend this grace to the lost. The Bible says that God wishes for no one to perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
⦁ TO HEAL THE BROKEN – Jesus came to seek and save the lost and he demonstrated this throughout His ministry. We as Christians should emulate this character by being a medicine for the broken, encouraging people when they are down, assisting financially when in a position to – As we have seen in many instances, Charity works can be a great tool for evangelism worldwide. As Christians, whenever we are in position to assist people in whatever way we can, we shouldn’t hesitate.
⦁ TO INSTILL THE FEAR OF GOD IN A WORLD WHERE IT IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE ABSENT – For some reason, this is another topic that is no longer being preached today. The Bible says; “By the fear of the Lord, all men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6). Morally, our society as a whole is on a downward spiral. We hear stories of people perpetuating different heinous crimes on a daily basis – be it universally unacceptable sins like murder and rape, or so called “lesser sins” that has been generally accepted around the world today, like adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. (If only they knew that all three of these sins were punishable by death in the old testament). This is the result of a world that has grown cold to the Gospel and rejected God. People need to be reminded that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). At the end of the day, the ultimate aim is to draw more and more people to God.
to be continued…
Thanks for reading through part one of this series, i hope you have been able to take something on-board. In part two, we shall look into various methods of evangelism (for those who are not sure how exactly they should go about it), and some mistakes Christians make when evangelizing. Do watch out for that one.