I think that evangelism is one of those things that well-meaning churchy people make way more complicated that it needs to be. Evangelism simply means intentionally sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible. We are the ones who add to this great commission all sorts of burdens and requirements that are never described or prescribed in Scripture. I am going to give you some quotations. Maybe you’ve heard them and maybe you have not. As you read each one, I want you to decide whether or not you think it is written anywhere in Scripture in any way.
“It is the Christian’s responsibility to win people to Christ.”
This idea is not found anywhere in Scripture. When Paul mentions winning people in 1 Corinthians 9:19, he is referring to his voluntary forsaking of his own liberty so that he might partake more in the Gospel (v. 23). He writes this only after writing, in chapter 1, that salvation is only by God’s grace and provided only in Christ. Paul’s understanding is that Christ wins His people and that, by sacrificing his own Christian liberty, he can partake more in Christ’s work.
“You have to be able to answer all the questions that people have.”
“You have to get people to come to church with you.”
“Your success is measured by how many people you lead to Jesus.”
“Evangelism means preaching or going door-to-door.”
“Evangelism is about being attractive or making Jesus attractive.”
None of these ideas can be found in Scripture. So, we are going to ask a couple of simple questions concerning evangelism. What is it? Why is it? What is the responsibility of the Christian in evangelism?
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
What we see in this passage is that, first, Christ is restoring His kingdom. Second, even though Christ is restoring His kingdom, it is not for us to know the timing that the Father has already fixed by His own authority. Christ is the one who is building His kingdom and the Father is the one who has already established the time at which this restoration will be finished. At this point, we know that Christ is not referring to the physical nation of Israel, but His spiritual people (His church). So, from the beginning of the book of Acts, which is the continuation of Luke’s Gospel, we see that the building of Christ’s church is Christ’s own responsibility. So, we consider the questions above. It cannot be our responsibility to win people to Christ. It cannot be our responsibility to get people into church. This work isn’t about our success at all. We don’t have to make Jesus attractive by dressing Him or His word up. To place any of these responsibilities upon ourselves or to have these expectations of others is to have expectations or demands that are contrary to Christ’s own word. Jesus takes responsibility for this work and the results depend on what the Father has fixed by His own authority.
Thirdly, we see the responsibility of the disciple, or follower of Christ. When the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciple, the direct effect is that the disciple becomes Christ’s witness. This will happen in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. The book of Acts is about how Jesus’ foretelling, here, is fulfilled. This “Great Commission” has been accomplished, and it is being accomplished through modern-day disciples. We learn, here, that every disciple is an evangelist. This is not some works-based Gospel. In fact, here, it’s not even recorded as an imperative. This is descriptive and not prescriptive. Jesus isn’t giving His disciples a method. He isn’t telling them to memorize the Romans Road. He isn’t doing Evangelism Explosion or telling His people to go forth and plan revivals. What Jesus is describing isn’t the work of people at all. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will come and work out evangelism in the actions and words of His people. The doctrinal truth of this passage is that if we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit causes us to be witnesses. True disciples of Jesus Christ become unable to not practice evangelism. It becomes part of who they are. If root produces fruit, evangelism is the fruit produced by the root of the Holy Spirit. Our desire to practice evangelism and our actually practicing evangelism are evidences of our very salvation. So, evangelism isn’t this thing we do because it places us in better standing before God. Evangelism, sharing the good news, is something we participate in because God has changed His people in Christ by His Holy Spirit such that we desire to tell others. This desire is so strong that we cannot keep silent about Jesus Christ. This is the truth about evangelism as presented in and throughout the book of Acts.
- How and why do we bring people into the church?
- What is the pastor’s role in evangelism? What is the congregant’s role?
- What is each teacher’s role in evangelism and should they follow up? How?
- Comes down to caring for those we teach.
- What methods do we have available for evangelism, or getting the Gospel in front of real people?