Defining evangelism, reviewing Jesus’ command to share the good news, how it’s is applied in different situations, and how we aim to fulfill the Great Commission.
In this kick-off series of posts, I’ve been covering the core values of Truth Story: those things which make Truth Story unique from other ministries. The final core value of Truth Story is evangelistic.
In this post, I aim to define evangelism, review Jesus’ command to evangelize, explore how it’s applied in different situations, and finally look at how Truth Story aims to fulfill the Great Commission.
The words “evangelism” or “evangelistic” do not occur in the Greek New Testament. However, the root term for those terms does: “euangelion” (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον). Usually translated “gospel”, euangelion relates to the good news proclaimed by Jesus and the Apostles – that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 3:15). Evangelism is the practice of sharing the gospel – or good news – with other people.
Though many scoff at the idea of sharing the saving message of Jesus to lost sinners, it is an essential part of the Christian life. Here are a few defining characteristics of evangelism, from J. Mack Stiles’ post, 10 Things You Should Know About Evangelism.
- Evangelism should be biblical.
- Evangelism aims to persuade.
- Evangelism is undergirded by love and unity.
- Evangelism is often confused with the fruit of the Spirit.
- Evangelism must be modeled.
Evangelism should never be divorced from its biblical roots. Evangelism may lead to social programs, digging wells, building hospitals, and other good works, but evangelism is not any of those things. At it’s biblical core, evangelism is sharing the good news that God is reconciling people to himself through the work of Jesus. Or from the Apostle Paul, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
But it’s not enough to read a Bible verse. Evangelism is something to be done.
Jesus taught his disciples about everything from giving, lusting, fasting, praying, living, and more. But after he taught his followers about everything else, he ended with instruction to share his message to the world. Jesus commanded his church to evangelize just before his ascension to heaven…
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 – emphasis mine)
Christ’s final command to his followers in the Gospel of Matthew is now known as the Great Commission. Jesus expected his disciples to spread his message of reconciliation with God to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). To Jesus, evangelism was not advice to be ignored. It was a command to be kept. Jesus expects his people to spread his gospel to those who have not heard. Evangelism is a command to be obeyed.
In the Bible, evangelism is done by two types of people. Those specifically tasked with evangelism, or evangelists (Greek: εὐαγγελιστής), and everyone else. The term for “professional” evangelists is found only 3 times in the New Testament. It’s used in the context of itinerant preacher (Acts 21:8), as a church planter and pastor (2 Timothy 4:5), and it’s recognized as a specific role God has given to the church (Ephesians 4:11).
There are several things we can learn from these biblical examples. For one, evangelists can operate in different contexts. Sometimes it’s sharing the gospel with someone they just met (Acts 8:26-40) or sharing the gospel in a Lord’s Day sermon (2 Timothy 4:2). Evangelists evangelize in different contexts. Even though there is a Biblical office of “evangelist”, it doesn’t stop everyone else from sharing what God has done to reconcile the world to himself.
Any Christian can share the gospel in his or her situation.
For instance, if you are a painter, you can share the gospel in your paintings. If you are a plumber, you can share the gospel with your customers. If you are an engineer, you can share the gospel with your colleagues. If you are a homeschool mom, you can share the gospel with your children and those you meet at the library. You are not limited by your occupation or your station in life. God has placed you where you are and you can use that as a platform to spread the good news that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 3:15).
Evangelism: What About You?
At the time of writing this post, Truth Story is a pretty small operation. It’s just me, a laptop, and a simple website.
Truth Story is my personal evangelistic platform. I hope and pray it becomes larger than just me and that many will come to a saving faith in Christ. But that’s not the reality now. For now, it is a humble attempt to share the good news with people who believe similarly to me (Christians) and with those who don’t share my worldview (non-Christians). It represents my attempt to follow what the Lord told me to do and how I plan to fulfill the Great Commission.
So what about you?
If you are a Christian, how are you fulfilling the Great Commission? Are you using your time to spread the good news at your work, school, or home? Or are you neglecting Christ’s command. If so, repent and start sharing. Do the work of an evangelist. It’s not always easy, but the Lord promises to be with you in your efforts (Matthew 28:20).
If you are not a Christian, I encourage you to believe the good news. Sounds simple, I know. And it’s sometimes that easy (though sometimes it’s not). Before you get too bogged down in the details, checkout How To Be Saved?