The Great Commission
A former tax-collector, a political activist, and a few fisherman — eleven common Hebrew men. Having no organization and no resources but their faith in the promises of Jesus Christ, these first-century citizens of Palestine were charged by our Lord to do the impossible — go evangelize the world. What an awesome task — what an awesome responsibility!
But each one of the eleven, with the later addition of two more, served their Master nobly, fulfilling his command and dedicating their lives, and the lives of their families, to bringing the gospel of Christ to the nations.
And the charge now comes down through the centuries to us. We must evangelize the world. We must not allow our friends and loved ones, nor strangers afar, to pass from this world without hearing the good news — that Jesus will save them from their sins.
So, are you an evangelist?
Every Member an Evangelist
Moses didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t imagine himself being God’s spokesman before Pharoah. But God “convinced” him to take the job. He would provide whatever was needed for the task at hand. Moses just needed to understand that Jehovah wasn’t requesting that he go back to save the children of Israel. He was commanding him to go.
Similarly, we need to understand that the Lord didn’t just ask that we help him in saving others, he commands it. If you’ve been saved from your sins, it is expected that you will help the Savior find others to save. It is expected that you will be an evangelist.
The term “evangelist” is an anglicized form of the Greek euanglistes, from eu (“well”) and aggelos (“messenger”). It refers to one who proclaims the good message, a gospel herald. Often, the term is used in the New Testament in a restricted sense — equivalent to a gospel preacher, a minister (cf. Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5). In this sense, a woman cannot serve as an evangelist (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12).
But in a general use of the term, any person, male or female, who brings the gospel to others through various means, is an evangelist. And every Christian should be involved, in some way, in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism.
The Reward of Evangelism
Within twenty-four hours, he knew he would be dead. What would you do during your last day? Jesus took the time — valuable, precious minutes — to wash the dirty feet of his disciples. Why did he do that? To impress upon them the fact that “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Chistianity is a religion immersed with service and sacrifice — from our King, down to the most humble member. We serve, because he serves us. We are commanded to serve our brethren in Christ, and even our enemies. When we render our sacrifices of service, we help others find their God and their way home.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about the type of service demanded by the religion of Christ is that by serving others, we find our own greatest fulfillment. You will never be more contented than when you help someone else improve his station in life or, more importantly, improve his relationship with the Creator.
That is why the best thing you can ever do is to serve others by being evangelistic. By being a messenger for Christ, you will receive the ultimate reward — the satisfaction of knowing that you were able to help Jesus find a lost soul.
Christ promises great rewards for those who serve in this way. His recognition and praise should motivate us to want to become his evangelists.
How To Be an Evangelist
You may not be able to fulfill the role of a preacher, or teacher, or elder, or deacon. But in the general sense, you can be an evangelist. Here’s how.
Go About Doing Good
With great attention Cornelius listened as Peter told him about Jesus, the man from Nazareth who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). With Christ as our example, one of the best ways you can begin to be an evangelist is to go about your day-to-day activities looking for good things to do.
Paul summed it up this way:
“And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:9-10).
For years, the Boy Scouts were known for their habit of performing a daily “Good Deed.” The young scout was encouraged to “begin straight away with a daily Good Deed; nothing spectacular, but just something which otherwise he would probably not do” (Reynolds).
What a wonderful, practical implementation of this principle for the Christian evangelist, not just daily, but, as the Paul noted, at every opportunity. There can be no better compliment than to have it said of you, “He is always going about doing good.”
Good deeds are your first tool of evangelism. They open the door. They let someone know that you care. Master the example of Christ (Acts 10:38), and you’ll be well on your way to being a first-rate evangelist.
Talking to Friends
Do you have friends or family members who are in need of salvation? Many times, it’s difficult to talk to someone about their spiritual condition. Here’s a formula you may find helpful.
Instead of trying to “win an argument,” try just letting them know that you’ve been praying for them. Or that you’ve been thinking about them — that you’re worried. With a genuine sense of care, they cannot help but want to reassure you that they’re all right.
Perhaps, at that point, you can set up a Bible study “just to make sure.” Wouldn’t it make you feel better if they allowed you the time just to present the gospel to them? Or, if they would promise you they would read something and consider it.
Perhaps it would be helpful to focus on expressing concern, asking for a fair hearing, and providing them the opportunity to hear the gospel. Whether through the preacher, a tract, an article, or a tape, you have fulfilled your loving responsibility to bring them the message of Christ.
Helping Evangelistic Works
The Philippian Christians were so eager to help Paul fulfill the Savior’s plea. Paul responded,
“I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy, for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:3-6).
Generally speaking, most of us have somewhat limited spheres of influence. We have our families, those with whom we worship, our friends at work, neighbors we live near, and acquaintances we run into from time-to-time. But there are a lot more people out there — about 5 billion.
We cannot go individually to every person in the world. We are limited by the demands of living, the responsibility of family, and our geographic location. We can, however, cooperate and help others expand the borders of the kingdom. Collectively, we can reach far more people than we can individually.
Many congregations support missionaries to spread the gospel to far away places. These dedicated people do not receive the praise and gratitude they deserve in this life (the Lord knows, though). They often sacrifice comfort and convenience in order to carry the gospel to those distant lands. And, too often, their safety is in jeopardy as well. The missionary is a noble servant, indeed.
You can do no better service than to help someone else teach the gospel. Through the combined efforts of Christians, thousands upon thousands of souls have been saved in this manner — souls that were doomed and would not have been rescued had good Christians not supported a mission work.
Take for example this work, the Christian Courier web site. In the past three months, there were over 108,000 visitors who viewed more than 250,000 documents designed to enhance their faith. Contacts were made in 73 different countries.
While each article may bear an author’s name, what is not seen are the dozens of helpers we have who regularly supported this work — the churches, both small and large; the kind, elderly lady who sends $10 each month to help — though she’s never used a computer, nor seen a web site; the dozens of others who sacrifice so that the Master’s message is carried around the globe.
Without these supporters, this web site would not exist. They are the unknown workers at the Christian Courier, but the Lord knows “the fruit that increaseth to their account.”
You may not have the ability to make the sacrifice to go, but you can surely do as the Philippians did. Be an evangelist — support a faithful mission work.
Encouraging Your Church Leaders
Your local ministers, elders, and deacons need your encouragement. It may not look like it, but it’s true.
Consider your local minister — so much is expected from him. He must lead the congregation in the study of God’s word. Whether the message encourages, rebukes, or instructs us, it is a demanding job that requires skill and dedication.
The preacher is expected to visit the sick, the elderly, and the weak. He waits at the bed beside those who soon will meet their Maker. He often labors under criticism — sometimes valid, sometimes not. Frequently he sacrifices his personal “family-time” for the interests of the church.
Your church leaders labor similarly — because they love the church of Christ. You can be an evangelist by being an encourager of those who have dedicated their lives to the work of evangelism in your local congregation. Your partnership — through support, kind words, and thoughtful gratitude — mean so much.
“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19-20).
The Lord is depending on you. You can do it. Be an evangelist.