A question that I think a lot of people ask in Christian circles is “If God knows who is going to be into the kingdom already, why do we try to evangelize?” Something that I have realized in the past few months is this question lacks a simple knowledge of the Bible. All over the scope of the story of the Bible, there is a clear call to reach the people who are unreached. The aim is to unpack three reasons why Evangelism is so important. The three reasons are the major and minor prophets pointing to Jesus, the unwavering call to be sent by Christ, and the Epistles clear call to teach and preach the gospel faithfully. The word of God says numerous times that he wants nobody to perish, and Evangelism is the most effective way to do accomplish the will of our eternal Father.
Before we go into the main point of this discussion, something that you must have a knowledge of is the authority of the word of God. To the unbeliever, what we proclaim as true is seen as folly. Does it not sound a bit strange for someone who you do not know well, trying to convince you that a book that was inspired by an invisible God is completely true and perfect? It is, it’s radical. People who disagree with us might even say that it is idiotic and silly. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says it bluntly, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The message of the cross is in the inspired word of God, but it is not just the cross that holds weight. Every single one of the books in the Bible is about God and how He shapes the way that we live. As people who follow Jesus, something we must come to terms with is the faith we profess is polarizing, you should become closer to God by hearing the gospel or be hardened to it. The message of the Bible leads to the faithful proclamation of God’s will. The rest of this discussion will contain the three ideas we discussed earlier and biblical evidence for Evangelism.
The first idea that I would like to unpack for us is the idea that the Major and Minor prophets point to what is to come in the person of Jesus. The idea is twofold, the first fold is that the prophets point to the subtle kingship of Christ’s character. Isaiah 42:1–4 says, “(1) Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (2) He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street; (3) a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (4) He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” The reason why I connect this verse with this idea of subtle kingship is because Christ is not only this conquering king who comes at Revelation. He has so much depth and richness to him that he perfectly walks the line between judgement and compassion, even to the point of sacrificing himself. God says in the first verse of this section that he delights in his son. In the Hebrew, this idea of delight is called ‘ratsah’ which definition is, to be pleased with; specifically, to satisfy a debt. In the rest of the text the prophet Isiah lays out what we see Christ as in the Gospels, a humble and peaceful teacher who will establish justice for us. What conquering king comes to be a humble sacrifice? One who submits to the Father’s will and dies a death that we deserve.
The second fold is while Christ came first as a subtle king, his second coming will be conquering and have eternal weight to it. As stated before, Christ perfectly walks the line between judgement and compassion. This idea of Christ’s second coming points to the authority and judgement rather than the life that Christ led in his first visit to earth. Malachi 4:1–3 says, “(1) For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them either root nor branch. (2) But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out like calves from the stall. (3) And you shall tread down the wicked, for the will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.” Seeing the way that God refers to the people who do not have relationship with him referred to as stubble is a heart-wrenching thing. However, God in his infinite wisdom has chosen to be a God who sends a son that will be the final say for the destination of our eternity. Jesus second coming will be one filled of authority and bold kingship. Christ will separate the ones who know him to the ones who do not. Even in the judgment God still decides to remind us of the hope that is to come with the propitiation that Jesus was for us.
To not tie this into the case for Evangelism is very inappropriate. Discussing the ideas and quoting the scriptures to this point would be all for not if we did not relate this twofold idea into the Evangelistic theme. Without knowledge of what the Old Testament says about the coming of our Savior, the story of the Gospel of Christ seems like a nice story rather than the foundation of a whole religion. When sharing the good news of Christ with people it is important to show that Jesus dying fulfilled many prophecies. Also making him the hope that we must look forward to. This directly feeds into the next point that we will discuss. In saying that Evangelism is supported by the prophets telling about Christ first and second coming, it makes his life critical to the topic of Evangelism. While seeing the call that he has for us to proclaim the message he spoke.
Evangelism by itself could be supported by just the simple fact that Jesus said to be on the move for him, but thanks be to God that the whole Bible is a huge arrow pointing towards this theme. There are multiple times in the gospels where he tells his disciples to literally go while also teaching them what it looks like to go. Firstly, we will discuss the literal sending that Jesus did. Luke 10:1–3 depicts this well, “(1) After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. (2) And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (3) God your way; behold, I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves.’” The call to go out and share the gospel with people does not have to be this complex twenty step plan. Christ simply says to go ahead of him and preach the good news of repentance to people. Here is the astonishing thing, the Trinity has the real power and authority to change the people’s hearts. In a sense, all the seventy-two were just providing information. This can be directly linked to what modern day Evangelism needs to look like. We in ourselves have no ability to change the way that an individual respond to the Gospel. All we can do is present it and be people who simply respond to the call of being sent. The case for Evangelism here is that being sent is something that requires a simple response, and if it is ignored, we miss the way Christ calls us to live. With the simple response we also need to be praying for God to continue to do the work. The passage that we have discussed begins with “After this” and the portion of scripture right before explains how Jesus teaches us how to respond to sending.
Jesus Christ is the best instructor that has ever walked the face of this earth. He gives us the best examples and lays out the perfect motivation for all our actions. The Gospels are filled with teachings that give us beautiful instruction for living out the Gospel. Luke 9:57–62 says, “(57) As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ (58) And Jesus said to him,’ Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ (59) To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ (60) And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ (61) Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ (62) Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” The amazing thing about the inspired word of God is that it is so interconnected to itself. It gives us a conduit of information to sell out our lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Specifically, in this portion of scripture, we see the attitude that we need to have for being sent out to be Evangelistic. In a general sense, we can clearly interpret from this text that to be sent is to be committed. Jesus clearly shows us here that he wants every single fiber in our body fully sold out for the work of his kingdom. Being fully sold out for the kingdom of God does not look like being stagnant in sharing the Gospel. Being sent is being committed to the call to Jesus had for us and being committed to that call is to be Evangelistic.
To put these two sections of scripture right next to each other was completely in God’s infinite wisdom. It perfectly shows that Jesus Christ practically sent out his own disciples, while teaching all believers the attitude to have in being sent. This larger portion of scripture is evidence for Jesus’ teaching and sending to be a clear sign to practice Evangelism in our current culture. Now it is one thing to have the prophets predict Evangelism. Then for Christ to openly send his closest students out on mission. The idea of Evangelism is cemented when we see the epistles charge us to make our lives about it.
Many of the books of the Bible after the four Gospels are stories or letters about Evangelism. It should be a conclusion that as a faith, this idea is something that we should take very seriously. Paul says it well to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1–5, “ (1) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (3) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (4) and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (5) As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” The first aspect to take away from this passage is that true Evangelism needs to be grounded on the truth. If you are not speaking what is true about Jesus and what he did there is no reason at all to be speaking about him. Paul also in this passage decides to charge Timothy in the presence of two members of the Godhead. This brings a level of importance to what Paul is saying. In this whole passage we continue to see God’s plan for Evangelism and how we can partner with him in it. Lastly, we would like to interpret the last bit of the section of scripture. Yes, the word evangelist comes up, but that is not what we want to focus on. “Fulfill your ministry” may be looked at this higher calling that only people who work in the church have.
This idea, however, is debunked in Ephesians where Paul talks about leadership equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. We like to think that all people who profess faith in Jesus Christ want to pursue spreading the Gospel, that sadly is not the case. It is hard work and we will be persecuted for it. In eternity though, will it not be so worth it to look around and see all the lives that were impacted because the faithfulness that we had to the word of God. To integrate this thought into our discussion about Evangelism is not difficult at all. All Christians are called and ushered into this ministry of making disciples, and the Epistles do a good job of outlining this thought.
Because of the nature of this topic, we can be blinded to the idea that because of Evangelism we are even in the position that we are in. People who have been saved have been the product of what God wants this theme to look like. The case for Evangelism is one we should continue to look into. God telling us his redemption plan in the prophets. To Christ setting the example of sending and teaching us right motive. Lastly, the Epistles showing us that Evangelism is the way to make disciples should not ever make us have the conversation of “Why Evangelism?” It should show us that God truly does not want one person to perish in his world he created. The question we should consider is simple. Why are we not being Evangelistic?