Recently, Radi-Call published a challenging article titled "Reflecting Christ in the Workplace." It didn't take long for this article to spark discussion. One reader comments, "Can you think of some Scripture where the apostles exhort the churches to be active in sharing their faith? Are there texts you can point to that encourage personal evangelistic effort? Did Paul call upon the Corinthians or Galatians or Philippians to do the work of evangelism? Where do we find in any of the epistles an apostolic call for congregational evangelism?"
As a fellow blog writer, I jumped at the opportunity to reply to this reader's comments. This devotional is a modified version of my answer.
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First of all, let us consider the Great Commission Jesus gave to His disciples right before ascending into heaven (Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47).
If we obey the other commands of Jesus, we cannot overlook this clear commission. Just look at how His followers responded to His clear command: “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through accompanying signs. Amen” (Mark 16:20). May we follow suit.
As new creations in Christ, we are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Some might say ambassadors are a select few. However, this passage is clearly talking about anyone who is in Christ (vs. 17).
1. We are a new creation; the old has passed away (vs. 17).
2. We are reconciled to God; therefore we have the ministry of reconciliation (vs. 18).
3. What does that ministry look like? We are ambassadors (advocates) for Christ, pleading–imploring–that people be reconciled to God.
4. Why do we do this ministry? Because we have become the righteousness of God through Christ! (vs. 21) This is WONDERFUL NEWS! And what do we do with amazing news? We tell others about it! This Good News, the Gospel, is not reserved for a select few. It abounds in the life of every true believer.
A shining light
This Good News must shine forth from every Christian, as stated in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5:14).
One might argue that the light is not proclamation, but simply our good works shining forth. However, when paired with Romans 10:14, we know this is not the case. Our works are not enough for the Gospel to shine into people’s lives. Listen: “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. 10:14) Notice that one cannot believe in the Gospel without hearing. Good works without the Good News will only cause people to think we are good people. And that is not going to change their lives.
The life of Jesus only confirms this. No Christian can out-live Jesus in holiness and good works. Yet His works were not "good enough" to transform those around Him. He needed to proclaim the Good News in order to explain the Good Works. And so must we.
The early church
How did the early church carry out evangelism? The book of Acts reveals lay people–not just the ordained–proclaiming the Gospel as a lifestyle. Steven was appointed to serve the widows, not as an evangelist. Yet he was martyred for proclaiming the Gospel! (Acts 6-7)
Saul was vehemently persecuting the church, which resulted in the scattering of the church. And what happened? “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Apollos, an eloquent man, mighty in the Scriptures, was proclaiming the word all across Asia (Acts 18:24-28).
Let us now turn to the early Anabaptists. They were bold proclaimers of the Word and their doctrine spread like cancer all throughout Europe. How did it spread? Through the faithful witness of every believer.
Quoting the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia:
“The Anabaptists were originally intensely evangelistic. Their only hope of expansion was by this method. Since they controlled no political units as the Reformers did, they had to win others. However, the main reason for their strong evangelistic program, as Franklin H. Littell has clearly shown, was their acceptance of the Great Commission of Christ as their action program. Kenneth S. Latourette has pointed out that the Anabaptists were the only group in the Reformation period to carry out the Great Commission, and that the Free Churches have always been in the forefront of missionary and evangelistic action. The Reformers were not evangelistic (in the strict sense), partly because they adopted the principle of the territorial state church, and the principle that the ruler determines the religion of his people. Thus they were immobilized by political boundaries and the state church concept, whereas the Anabaptists had full mobility.”
Read the rest of the GAMEO article here.
Why is it so hard?
Let’s be real. If you’re like me, you sometimes struggle with sharing the Gospel. Why is evangelism so hard, if it’s so exciting?
Evangelism is proclaiming Christ as King, which automatically proclaims Satan as dethroned. And Satan does not like that. He will make every attempt to stop this message from going out. He will implant every doubt he can in your mind so that you will keep this Good News a personal secret. He will offer you every excuse that He can to keep this message from being proclaimed in every corner on the earth.
It isn’t popular these days to talk about sin and a need of a Savior. Who likes to be told they are lost? Who likes to be told they must submit to Jesus as Lord? Yet this must be shared in order to get to the Good News–that they can be forgiven and set free!
However, we must remember that the Great Commission is not a burdensome command. It is an amazing invitation from Jesus to join in His mission of reconciling men to Himself. We are His voices, His ambassadors, pleading the cause for which we live and die (2 Cor. 5:17-21). And that cause is to see our Commander-in-Chief receive what is rightfully His–the souls of men from every ethnicity, which He bought on the cross!
Applying it to your life
Are you wondering how this command should affect your life?
1. First, it starts right where you are. Get to know your neighbors. Build friendships with unsaved people. The Gospel carries most impact when backed by true, loving friendship.
2. Next, it goes way beyond your current location. For those of you who live in North America: did you know that 81% of the US population lives in an urban setting? It is about the same for Canada as well. Maybe God will call you to give up the countryside for a city–because that’s where the people are. It is incredible how God is using immigration and the current refugee crisis to bring the world’s unreached people groups to our doorstep!
3. It goes way beyond North America. Most of the world’s unreached people groups live in the 10/40 window. And those who have never heard the Gospel are usually unreached for a reason…they are hard to reach. Maybe God is calling you to go–across the ocean, far, far away from everything that is familiar to you.
But it starts, right where you are...
-- Written by: I.M.