Evangelism is part of the life and purpose of the church and of every Christian. A church that does not evangelize is not a true church. This may seem to be a hard statement, but it is true. The church is to make disciples, and discipleship begins with evangelism (Matt. 28:16–20). Our Savior has commissioned the church to be an instrument for extending His kingdom to all nations. As Paul states: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). Here are five things we can bring remember when we think about evangelism.
1. The Holy Spirit serves as Christ’s emissary in the worldwide expansion of Christ’s kingdom.
In the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He began to tell the disciples that it was necessary for the Son of Man to die and rise again. The disciples were confused and troubled. Jesus encouraged them not to be troubled. He would go away but would come again to receive them. In the meantime, He would send another Helper. In the interim between Christ’s going and returning, amid all circumstances, the Holy Spirit would be their help.
In John 16, Jesus reveals that the Holy Spirit would also equip the church for the Great Commission. The Holy Spirit would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit would serve as Christ’s emissary in the worldwide expansion of Christ’s kingdom. As the disciples went to all nations, the Holy Spirit would bring home the truth of man’s need of salvation.
2. Sin is not something that people can escape on their own.
By the Spirit’s work, sin can be seen for what it truly is: the great malady of mankind. Sin is not just something one does or doesn’t do. Sin is a state—a fallen state of depravity, helplessness, and hopelessness. Man is not a sinner because of what he does or doesn’t do. Man is a sinner by nature. He does what he does because of who he is. Therefore, salvation is not just a change in lifestyle. Salvation is the beginning of a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and it is the Holy Spirit who convicts men and women of this fundamental truth. Because of who man is, there is never the possibility that he can change or rescue himself on his own. Mankind needs a Savior who will save His people from their sin.
The good news of the gospel is that there is just such a Savior. As Paul reminds us in Romans 1, there is a righteous Savior, and from Him there is a righteousness that is received by faith. He is a Savior who can restore His people to fellowship with God; who removes the penalty of sin, the dominion of sin, and the guilt of sin; and who atones for sin so that sinners can be made right with God. The Father has accepted the perfect righteousness of Christ, and by the Spirit that righteousness is offered to helpless, hopeless, depraved mankind.
3. Christ will return again as Judge.
Jesus tells His disciples that one day He will come again not as Savior, but as Judge. History will not go on forever. Men and women will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of all they have thought, said, and done. God’s judgment will be final, consigning to each person his or her eternity. By the Spirit’s convicting work, all will be left without excuse. All whose names are not in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
This awareness of God’s coming judgment propels our evangelism. As we proclaim the gospel, we also remember that the Spirit goes before us to prepare people’s hearts to hear the Word of Life, which alone can make them new.
4. The gospel is a spiritual message and evangelism is a spiritual endeavor.
Because the gospel is a spiritual message, believers and churches that seek to evangelize must always pray for the Holy Spirit’s anointing in evangelism. Without such assistance from the Spirit, all efforts to speak the gospel would be fruitless. Paul reminds the church at Corinth that he did not come to them with a message clothed in the plausible words of man’s wisdom. Rather, he came in the demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Cor. 2:4–5).
The one who evangelizes is seeking a spiritual change in another person that only the Spirit of Christ can effect. To rely on a method, technique, or man-centered ploy rather than depending upon the Holy Spirit is to be disloyal to the Lord who gave us His Spirit. Therefore, witnesses for Christ must rely on the Holy Spirit.
5. When we evangelize, we are engaged in spiritual warfare.
We must remember the opposition we might encounter when we proclaim the good news. Those to whom we witness are lovers of sin and haters of God and His people. As sinners, they always seek to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They want to continue in darkness because their deeds are evil. When we recognize this, we might think that the task is impossible. While that may seem true, what is impossible with man is possible with God.
When we evangelize, we must remember that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Therefore, as Paul reminds the Ephesian church, we must always approach this task with the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10–20). We must not be taken unaware by the designs of the evil one (2 Cor. 2:11). We must be strong, ever abounding in our service to Christ, knowing by whom and for whom we have been sent. We must remember that Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
This article is part of the 5 Things You Should Know collection.