by Larry Acuff
Evangelize! Evangelize! The word itself sounds exciting. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). Webster gives several definitions of the word evangelist: “a writer of any of the four Gospels; a person who evangelizes; specifically: a Protestant minister or layman who preaches at special services; an enthusiastic advocate.” This article will focus on the latter, “an enthusiastic advocate.” We are to be an enthusiastic advocate for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why must we evangelize?
The Bible Teaches It
We must evangelize because The Great Commission teaches us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Matthew records it, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). The Apostle Paul puts it another way when he wrote to the young preacher Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). We have a clear mandate to carry the message to a lost world.
John’s record of the Great Commission is in fewer words but just as meaningful. He wrote, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you’” (John 20:21). We have been sent. In the prayer of Jesus, our Lord said, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). He did not send them into the world to build a business, but to preach the gospel, and they did just that. After the establishment of the church, the apostles began to obey the Lord’s command. They were commanded not to preach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John answered, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). On another occasion, they were thrown in prison and charged not to preach in the name of Jesus (Acts 5), but they followed the Lord’s command. “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29). Luke goes on to record, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).
Jesus said, “So send I you,” and they responded by going.
To Save Others and Ourselves
We must evangelize to save ourselves and them that hear. Paul gives some general instructions to the young preacher Timothy in 1 Timothy 4 and he includes this, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you,” (1 Tim. 4:16). Paul had instructed Timothy to pay attention to reading, to the doctrine, and other things, and by so doing his preaching would save others as is noted by the phrase “and them that hear thee.”
Men are saved by the preaching of the gospel. Evangelizing! “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” (1 Cor. 1:21). Paul to the Romans asked the question: “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:13-14).
We must evangelize in order to save ourselves and them that hear. We save ourselves by obeying the commands of the Lord and others are saved when they hear the gospel and are obedient to it.
Evangelizing is done in different ways and by different methods. There is public evangelism, such as publicly preaching in the pulpit, preaching via radio and television, or the written article. There is personal evangelism of one-on-one such as Aquila and Priscilla taking Apollos aside, “and explained to him the way of God more accurately,” (Acts 18:26). Another great example of one-on-one teaching is when Philip taught the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27-39).
When we engage in evangelism were are saving ourselves and those whom we endeavor to teach.
The World is Lost and Separated from God
We must evangelize because the world is lost and separated from God. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). All have sinned (Rom 3:23). As a result, all are lost and separated from God. Jesus came to seek and save those which are lost (Luke 19:10), to shed his blood for our sins (Eph. 1:7), and he gave us the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel so that men would be saved (Matt. 28:19-20).
Men are separated from God because of sin. “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).
Evangelism brings man back to God. When we evangelize, teach men the gospel which saves (1 Cor. 15:1-4), they are no longer separated from God. We have the ministry of reconciliation, for the Scriptures say, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). We have the ministry, the work of evangelism to reconcile men back to God.
Bro. Jerry Jenkins was a great inspiration to me and others. One of my goals was to be like him in personal evangelism. The Roebuck Park church where he preached averaged a baptism a week for thirty years. How do you do that? By evangelizing! Preaching! Teaching! Visiting!
To Show Our Love for God and Man
We must evangelize to show our love for God and man. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus gave us the command to evangelize, and if we love him, we will obey that command. Jesus has taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). We show that love by teaching our neighbor the gospel.
There are four reasons listed above as to why we should evangelize: 1.) The Bible teaches it. 2.) To save others and ourselves. 3.) The world is lost and separated from God. 4.) To show our love for God and man.
Remember these words, “And they went forth” (Mark 16:20). “They” – all of them. “Went” – took action, didn’t wait for folks to come to them. “Forth” – promptly. Let us do likewise.