The New International Dictionary defines evangelism as "preaching or promulgating the gospel." It defines evangelist as one who is "a bringer of the gospel or system of Christianity;" of evangelize it says "to instruct in the gospel; to preach the gospel; to convert to Christianity." The original Greek is "glad tidings." According to the apostle Paul, in (1 Cor. 15:5) it is the good news of how Christ died for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead on the third day. Luke tells us that Christ told the apostles that "repentance and remissions of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). (Matt. 28:19) Jesus told His disciples to "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
In his book, Personal Evangelism, page 6, J. C. Sharp says, "In the light of all the New Testament teaching, evangelism can well be defined as the use of the Word of God by every Christian, who will, to win to Christ every unconverted soul that can be won. Thus evangelism is soul-winning. The evangelist is a soul-winner and evangelize is to teach and preach the good news with the view of winning souls to Christ, the Saviour of souls.
Who Should Evangelize?
In this age we have "professional evangelists" who go into country communities, villages, towns and cities, hold meetings and then go to their next appointments. The way these meetings are usually conducted causes most of the members of the congregations visited to get the erroneous idea that the evangelist and the regular preacher will take care of all the evangelistic field work necessary for that meeting and for that year. This makes many church members feel that because they have conscientiously assembled each week to break bread, make their contribution to the Lord's work and attended possibly half of the scheduled evangelistic campaign services they have fully discharged their duty of taking the gospel to others that year. Any one who will study the Scriptures, at least a little, will readily see that they have a personal obligation to take the gospel to others.
Certainly we are aware of the fact that the Great Commission of our Saviour as recorded in Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, and Luke 24:33-47, was given to the eleven apostles and undoubtedly to others too; for Luke writes, "They rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them. (Luke 24:33)" This indicates that there were others besides the eleven present. Some commentators think that the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 6, hinted at the "more than five hundred" were present also. One thing we do know is that in 2 Tim. 2:2 Paul writes, "And the things which thou hest heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others." Here Paul lays down the Lord's plan for the propagation of the gospel and forever negates limiting the Great Commission to the first century church only. Every Christian has a part in carrying out the command of our Saviour "Go, preach." Apostolic precedent bears this out In the first century church we find others besides the apostles and evangelists went about preaching Christ to the people in the various lands. We call attention to the following instances: Philip (Acts 8:5-12, 8:26-40), Stephen (Acts 6:9 to 7:60), Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) and those who were scattered abroad by the persecution of the Christians in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 8:4). There is another point of view from which to consider the question of who should evangelize, that is the personal work standpoint.
Every Christian An Evangelist
Because every Christian has obeyed Christ he has certain blessings among which are freedom (Gal. 5: 1; John 8:31, 32 and 36) from superstition, fear, ignorance and the penalty of sin which is death (Romans 6:23) and peace with God (Romans 5:1; Col. 1:20 and Phil. 4:7), and he is at one again with God through Christ (Romans 5:10, 11). This knowledge produces joy (Romans 5:11 and 14:17; Galatians 5:22), and gives a living hope (1 Peter 1:3, 4 and 21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) which is an anchor of the soul and helps one to ride out the storms of life (Hebrews 6:18, 19).
Possessing all these blessings and knowing that they all come through Christ (Ephesians 1:3) can he who is his brother's keeper (Gen. 4:9) and whom Jesus taught to "love thy neighbor as thyself (Matt. 22:39) withhold that truth which will also be a blessing to others? Warm-hearted zealous Christians will not refuse to do their part in taking the gospel of Christ to others. His knowledge of Christ's love for him will keep him on the true course "for the love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Cor. 5:15). It is so easy to forget that we received the blessings of God's grace through the prayerful and loving labor of others. Should not all who have so freely received be glad to give in return that others may share these blessings too?
Again, the Scriptures tell us that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (John 3:18 and 36). How can Christians sit idly by and let lost souls go to eternal punishment without making an effort to warn them that the Devil pays his hirelings in the currency of eternal death? What would you think of a man who sits by the roadside and watches a blind man walk over a high cliff to certain death? What kind of an acceptable reason could that man give for not warning the poor blind man of his impending danger? He would be looked upon as mentally deficient had he tried to excuse himself by saying, "It was not my job to warn him. Am I my brother's keeper?" Thousands of people who call themselves Christians are doing this very thing every day. The prophet Ezekiel wrote, "The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou had delivered thy soul." Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die; because thou hast not given him warning; he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man that the righteous man sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and thou halt delivered thy soul" (Ezekiel 3:16-21). Christian friend, what reason will you give for your failure to warn lost souls? You are your brother's keeper and it is your duty to try to save him from eternal death. It is, be a soul-winner or be lost forever. No one, whether an evangelist, preacher or fellow Christian can discharge your individual duty for you. You cannot serve God by proxy or give some one power of attorney to partake of the Lord's Supper for you. In his letter to the Romans Paul said, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). Jude was not writing to preachers when he penned "Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" individually and collectively. Christians glorify God by bearing much fruit. Jesus said, "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit . . . herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit" (John 15:5, 8).
The plain path which leads to a cup of joy that runneth over is: (1) Abide in Him, (2) bear much fruit, (3) glorify the Father. Why are so many people not finding joy and fulfillment in their practice of Christianity? Why are they withered and dead? The reason is that they have not permitted the life-giving, fruit-bearing sustenance of the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ to flow through them. Further, they do not allow the Word to flow out of them as a river of living water, quenching the souls of the unsaved; nor are they lights unto the world; nor are they the salt of the earth. They are unfruitful. They are unhappy because they are not "rivers of living water" (Jno. 7:38); not "lights of the world" (Matt. 5:14); nor "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13). Life is short and your opportunity to save lost souls is rapidly passing. The apostle Paul wrote, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Col. 4:5). The Lord hath spoken. What are you going to do about it?
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