The Christian is responsible for seeking those who are lost. In fact, as a Christian, everything about him/her should be characterized by a deep concern for souls. First, there is a deep concern about his/her own soul (to make sure that he/she is living in a way that is approved of God). Then, there is a deep concern about the souls of others – both of those who have never become Christians and of those who have strayed away from the faith. Therefore, since the gospel is God's power unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16), the Christian is deeply concerned with telling others about that saving message!
What Does It Mean To Evangelize?
There are two words to briefly consider as we begin this study – the words “evangelism” and “preach.” Forms of both words are used in the pages of Scripture and both will help us understand and appreciate the work that is to be done.
The word “evangelism” refers to telling good news (i.e. gospel of Jesus Christ). Therefore, an “evangelist” refers to someone who proclaims that good news to another. The word “preach,” similarly, refers to a message being published or proclaimed. Specifically, a “preacher” is someone who acts as herald, proclaiming/publishing the message of a king (in the Christian’s case, the King is Jesus and the message is the gospel of Christ). Both of these words help us to appreciate the fact that Jesus Christ has a message full of “good news” He wants others to hear – and that He uses those who are His people to publish His message throughout the world.
Every Christian Must Preach
Unfortunately, denominational ideas about a clergy-laity system – in which the paid “clergymen” are the ones who are responsible for bringing the lost into the church – has often been accepted by many Christians today. This unscriptural divide recuses the Christian of many God-given responsibilities (i.e. to preach, to study, to visit, etc.) and is contrary to God’s plan. You see, God’s plan for spreading His saving message was not based on a select few paid individuals; but, upon every one of His followers doing their parts to spread His message. Consider the following passages.
- Matthew 28:18-20. As Jesus gave some final instructions to His disciples before leaving earth, He told them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This responsibility began with them – and has been passed on to the disciples who are living today!
- Acts 8:4. Acts 8 describes a time of great persecution under the influence of the Jewish leaders and Saul. Yet, even during this time of persecution, we find Christians fulfilling their God-given individual responsibilities to preach the gospel to others. This passage contains a wonderful example of how every Christian should take the gospel with them wherever they go! Also compare this passage with Acts 8:5-25 and Acts 11:19-26 to see some of the results from the dedicated work of these Christians!
- Romans 10:13-18. Follow the progression in this passage. Individuals need to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved – but they cannot call on the one they do not believe in, cannot believe in the one they’ve never heard about, cannot hear about Him without someone to tell them, and the one who preaches must be sent. Now, take a moment to consider the influential role that is given to those who know the saving message of the gospel in the salvations of others!
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. God could have chosen any number of ways to make His saving message known to others. However, God chose to save those who believe through the “message preached.” Rather than second-guessing or questioning God’s decision about this, we must simply decide to glorify the Lord through the fulfillment of this role He has given to us.
- 2 Timothy 2:24-26. We’ll notice this passage in greater detail momentarily. For now, pay special attention to the phrase “a servant of the Lord must….” Among the things listed in this passage is the teaching of the gospel’s message! Therefore, if we fail to do what “a servant of the Lord must” do, we commit sin (James 4:17)!
- Ezekiel 3:16-21. This passage identifies the personal responsibility that the Old Testament prophets of God had in proclaiming God’s message to the people. If they failed to accurately proclaim God’s message to the people, the prophet would be held responsible for individuals dying in sin! Christians, today, have the responsibility of taking God’s message to the people. Therefore, we will be held responsible if we fail to fulfill our God-given responsibility. Read Acts 18:6 and Acts 20:26 to see Paul’s recognition of this responsibility and his accountability.
Therefore, as these passages demonstrate, it is the responsibility of every Christian to be a publisher of the glad tidings/good news of the King – wherever they go and to whomever they meet! This will always be the most effective way to spread the gospel!
You Must Prepare Yourself To Evangelize
Clearly, it is God’s plan for all of His people to be proclaiming His saving message to the lost and dying world! Now, it is also important for each Christian to recognize that such a serious undertaking requires some degree of preparation – in his/her own character and knowledge.
Notice the characteristics identified as being involved in preaching the gospel in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: not quarrelsome, gentleness, patience, humility, and compassion. All of these characteristics are essential to properly discharging our God-given responsibility to preach His message!
Next, the Christian must realize that the message he/she has to proclaim is the Lord’s (see 2 Timothy 4:2). He/she must not be guilty of changing God’s message in any way (read Galatians 1:6-9 and Revelation 22:18-19). To accurately teach God’s message, then, will take some preparation (1 Peter 3:15). However, we must understand that we each reach a point at which God expects us to have matured enough to teach others (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Every Christian is expected to take an active part in spreading God’s good news about salvation throughout the world! To fail to do this is sin – and the Christian will be held accountable for this failure. Therefore, let us be diligent to make preparations for our preaching (i.e. by studying and applying God’s word) – and by actually taking God’s message to the people!