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EVANGELISM: The Church’s most Urgent and Unchanging Priority

Updated: Apr 1

Evangelism is every believer’s responsibility. You may not have the gift of evangelist but you have the duty to obey Jesus’ command to evangelize, to share the Gospel.


 



The apostle Paul in Colossians 1:29 wrote that he was prepared to suffer and become a servant of Christ’s body, the church and even to labour and struggle in Gospel work. That work involved several steps: v28 Paul gives 4 verbs which describe the process of evangelism and discipleship.

 

Proclaim Him: The Greek word for proclaim means “to announce with authority like a herald”. The content of their proclamation was “Him” that is Jesus Christ whom Paul had just a few verses earlier declared as “the image of the invisible God…by Him all things were created. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the church, firstborn from the dead so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through Him to reconcile to himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (1:15-20). Evangelism is about announcing that Jesus was the Creator who became the Crucified for our sakes, to reconcile us to God through his blood shed for us, and giving our listeners a chance to respond.

 

Admonishing: To admonish is to warn sternly, to put everyone on alert against for example, “hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition” 2:8, “living according to a written code with its regulations” 2:14, and “worship of angels” 2:18. In ch 3 Paul warned against the dangers of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, greed etc, all of which attracted God’s wrath.  Paul did not shrink from rebuking error and evil because he knew the church existed in a fallen world. Scripture is for teaching as well as rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2Tim 3:16), so we should not hesitate to use Scripture for admonition as well instruction.

 

3   Teaching: Not only should young believers be taught, older Christians sometimes need to be re-taught, or reminded because they are forgetful. Some may backslide and need to be refreshed in the basics of the faith, some may never even had any basics taught to them at the start of their spiritual journeys. The word “disciple” in the Mandarin Bible is translated “student” just like ordinary students in school. We are life long learners of the faith; we never stop learning this side of eternity no matter how old we are.

 

4   Presenting: To present is to prepare, to place at the disposal of another, to dedicate or consecrate to God. The word “batman” referred to a personal assistant who prepared an army officer’s clothes, polished his boots, ironed his uniforms, packed his personal belongings. He was practically a servant who would prepare everything and lay it out neatly at the disposal of the officer he was serving.  What a beautiful picture: we proclaim, admonish, teach and present everyone under our care to Christ, placing them at His disposal to use as He desires for His glory!

 

Evangelizing – leading people to Christ is only part of the divine command. We have to follow through by Discipling - warning them not to return to the old ways, or become enslaved by new threats. We must also keep teaching them so they will mature and do the same for other young ones. We equip them so they grow from being Lambs to Labourers then Leaders. A lack of leaders may mean there is no discipling going on. When we do this faithfully, we present them to Christ to be used at His disposal for His purposes.

 

There was a lady who was hospitalized for cancer treatment. Beside her was another patient who was a Christian, and providentially, this lady in the next bed shared the Gospel and led the first lady to Christ who was then baptized in hospital a few days later.  That’s such an appropriate scenario. Evangelism is one sick patient telling another sick patient where true healing is found. Evangelism is about being reconciled to God through Christ, which is far more crucial than physical healing because reconciliation brings eternal blessings as well.

 

Evangelism is sharing the Gospel trusting in the Holy Spirit to work, and leaving the results to God.  Conversion is not our work – it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our work is to simply share, tell, proclaim the supremacy of Christ as clearly as we know how, and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

 

Recently there was a collision between a Japan Airlines jumbo jet and a much smaller Coastguard plane which entered the runway at Haneda airport. Although 5 passengers in the smaller plane died, miraculously all 367 passengers on the jet survived, thanks to 2 factors: the training which the crew received and rehearsed every year, and the willingness to use that training when it was needed.  Here lies an important lesson: we need to receive training in evangelism including regular practice, and we need God’s help to use it boldly when needed. This is the urgent and unchanging priority for the church today.

 

Ps Graham

 

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