Evangelism is the work of the whole church. Unfortunately there are those today who believe that the Great Commission was limited only to the apostles. While the immediate context of the Great Commission is Jesus speaking to the apostles, the early church knew that the Great Commission belonged to them as well. As we read of the church in Jerusalem (the model church) and their efforts to be pleasing to God, one cannot but notice their zeal to evangelize the world. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). While some might contend that the apostles were the ones who did the evangelizing, the Bible indicates something different. Acts 8:1 states that those who were scattered were everyone “except the apostles.” Then, verse 4 tells us that those who were scattered went everywhere spreading the good news. Thus it was the entire church, not just the apostles who fulfilled the Great Commission. Evangelism is called the work of the church because it the work of the whole church, not just one man or a certain group of men.
But why has God given the church the work of evangelization? Paul wrote, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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. 10:13-14)? If Christians do not tell others about the gospel, then who is going to do it? The message of Jesus dying for man’s sins can save humanity only if they hear it and believe it. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Rom. 1:16). But a person cannot believe in something of which they have never heard: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). God does not desire even one person to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). That means He wants all men to hear the good news. How important is it? It is impossible for even one man to be saved without evangelism!
While there is only one gospel, there are many different methods that can be used to spread the good news. Evangelism can be done in a one on one Bible study, but it can also be done in other ways too. Sometimes it may be a simple invitation for one to attend church services or a Bible study. It was through Philip’s invitation that Nathanael came to accept Jesus as the Son of God and thus hear of God’s salvation (Jn. 1:45-46). Consider the Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered at Jacob’s well (Jn. 4:5-7). It was because of her invitation that the men of the city came unto Jesus (Jn. 4:28-30). At the very least each one of us can invite someone else to a place where they can hear the good news. But there are many other forms of evangelism that one can practice too. A person can write an e-mail, a letter, or an article and inform others about the good news. If your fear is that you cannot communicate well enough, do not panic! God never said that men had to hear the good news in your own words. Tracts can be handed out or books can be given which will help others to hear the good news. One can tweet, Facebook, blog , text, etc. to help spread the word of God. Whether it is in our own personal words or the words of others we are doing the work that God has given us to do. We are evangelizing the world or spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is an important work that God has given the church to do. May each of us work to spread God’s word “…until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate” (Isa. 6:11).
Clint preaches for the Gospel Hill church of Christ in Pottersville, MO
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