The Church, Part 2: Evangelism

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

 Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

The Church, Part 2 – Communicating New Life in
Christ

Selected Scriptures

Introduction

Last week we started our series on the church by explaining
from the Scriptures the reason that we have stated that the
purpose of Grace Bible Church is to Glorify God by Making
Disciples of Jesus Christ
. We saw in our study of the Great
Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 that Jesus’ command to make
disciples was to be carried out by three activities. Going into
all the world, baptizing those who believed, and teaching them to
observe His commandments. This morning I want to expand on the
first part of that – Going into all the world.

We express this going by using the phrase: Communicating
New Life in Christ.
That does not sound like a hard thing to
do, yet it seems that many Christians are hesitant or down right
scared to do it.

Some years ago I heard a story about a fellow who was starting
a new job. Like any of us might be, he was quite nervous about
it. He was going to be taking on new responsibilities and meeting
new people and he wanted to make a good first impression. He and
his wife prayed about it before he left that morning. When he got
home his wife greeted him at the door and asked how things went.
He said, "Great, I got along real well with the guys, and
they never even found out that I am a Christian." (Now
before you judge this guy, consider that there may have been a
Christian at that job that never let him know that there was
already a believer there).

Now I can relate a little to this story because I tend to be
nervous about meeting new people, and while I love to talk about
Christ (Diane says that once I get going it is hard to shut me up
– is that the qualification for a preacher? He won’t shut up?), I
have a hard time getting the conversation going. When I was in
Australia many years ago with a group of pastors conducting
conferences around that country, we were taking a one hour flight
from Sydney up to Brisbane. I ended up seated on the aisle next
to a man and a woman who obviously knew each other, so I was
already odd man out. Of course everyone knows that Airline travel
theology teaches that God sovereignly assigns your seat so that
you may witness to the person seated next to you. I was wondering
how I was going to accomplish this task and also finish up on
some work that needed to be done before we got to Brisbane when I
noticed that the man was dressed with a white shirt and a black
tie. He was carrying a small brief case that had what looked like
religious tracts in it along with what looked like one of those
Jr. size Bibles that cult members carry. (Everyone knows that
real Christians only carry large study Bibles like mine or Gideon
Pocket testaments when traveling). I thought, "Great, I had
hardly any sleep in 36 hours, I still have work to do, and we
land in Brisbane in less than an hour, and I am seated next to
either a J.W. or a Mormon, and I don’t feel like dealing with
either of them." Things went well for the first half hour
for the man talked quietly to the woman and left me alone. Then
it happened. His conversation hit a lull just as I happened to
glance up from my reading – and it was time to acknowledge his
existence. Turns out the fellow was a member of the Gideons and
he was returning to Brisbane from a national conference in
Sydney. We had a great time of fellowship for the duration of the
flight. I sure wish his little lapel button had been on his right
side where I could have seen it earlier.

Have you ever felt like that? Today we want to try to take
away some of that fear of talking to others about Christ by
taking a brief look at what Scripture has to say about
Evangelism. One of the purposes of the church is to Communicate
New Life in Christ. We are to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ
so that others may hear, believe and be saved from their sins.
This is a foundational part of making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20)
because it is the first step in getting someone to follow Jesus.
They must know the good news about Him. Jesus commanded the
church to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all
creation
(Mk. 16:16). This is a foundational purpose of the
church. This morning we are going to be looking at the Nature of
Evangelism, the Message of Evangelism, and the Challenge of
Evangelism.

The Nature of Evangelism

What is the nature of evangelism? What does evangelism mean?
Who performs evangelism, and where does it take place?

Our word, "evangelism," is a transliteration of the
Greek word group euaggelizw / euaggelion (euaggelidzo/euaggelion).
We also get our word, "gospel," from this same word
group. It is a compound word made up from a word meaning
"good," and another meaning "message." So, to
evangelize is to give someone a "good message" or
"bring glad tidings." The word is translated exactly
that way in a number of texts. In Luke 1:19, the angel announces
to Zecharias that he will have a son named John by saying, "I
have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this
good
news
."A little farther down in Luke, the
angels say to the Shepherds upon Jesus’ birth, "Do not be
afraid; for behold, I bring you
good news of
a great joy which shall be for all the people…"
Romans
10:15 speaks of those who bring "glad tidings
of good things."
Most often the word is used in
Scripture in relation to good news from God concerning His plan
for mankind, the gospel message. In fact, this association is so
close, that the word is often translated as "preach the
gospel
." (Lk 9:6, Acts 14:7; Rom 1:15; etc.).

So the meaning of "evangelism" is simply to
"tell good news / glad tidings" to others. That should
not seem too hard, for it is certainly a lot better than having
to bring "bad tidings," but then again, the good news
that God has for us is not necessarily what men would like to
hear. We will speak more about that later. Who is it that gives
the good news and when and where do they give it?

One reason for looking at this question is that people are
sometimes confused by Ephesians 4:11. "And He gave some
as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as
evangelists,
and some as pastors and teachers."
Some people get to
thinking that since God has gifted some people to be evangelists,
then ordinary Christians do not have to do much in evangelism.
They think the evangelists are given to do the evangelism. But is
that what the Scriptures say?

We have already seen that Angels give out good news (Lk 1:19;
2:10). Romans 10:15 and Hebrews 4:2 indicate that the prophets of
the Old Testament were among those who gave out God’s good news.
Add John the Baptist, who is considered to be the last of the
prophets, to that list. Luke 3:18 says that John "preached
the gospel to the people."
Of course we would expect
Jesus and the Apostles, including Paul, to be among our list, and
they are. But what about Philip? Acts 6:5 indicates that Philip
was one of the Seven, often referred to as the first Deacons.
Later in Acts we find him preaching the gospel to the Ethiopian
Eunuch and all the cities between Azotus and Caesarea that he
passed through (Acts 8:35,40). Philip was so much involved in
evangelism that he is referred to by Luke as "Philip the
evangelist, who was one of the seven"
in Acts 21:8. But
who else is this task of evangelism given to?

Over in Acts 11: 20 we find some referred to as simply being "from
Cyprus and Cyrene"
who are speaking to the Greeks and
preaching the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:1-4 tells us a little more about
these folks. "And Saul was in hearty agreement with
putting him
[Stephen] to death. And on that day a great
persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were
all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except
the apostles. 2 And [some] devout men buried Stephen, and made
loud lamentation over him. 3 But Saul [began] ravaging the
church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and
women, he would put them in prison. 4 Therefore, those who had
been scattered went about preaching the word."
These men
were just part of the many who had been scattered throughout the
Roman Empire because of the persecution that had risen in
Jerusalem following the martyrdom of Stephen. They were not
individuals gifted in particular as evangelists. They were just
people who were part of the church forced to move to new areas,
and they told the new people they met about Jesus.

You see, you do not have to be a specially gifted
"evangelist" to evangelize. While there are those who
are especially good at evangelism, all of us are to be about the
work of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. The
evangelists of Ephesians 4:11 are those especially gifted by God
to train the people of the church in evangelism. They hold an
office in the church just as the pastor/teacher does for the
purpose of "equipping the saints for the work of the
ministry."
The task of evangelism belongs to every true
Christian and not to just those especially gifted.

The place and time that evangelism takes place is not
important. The message of salvation in Jesus Christ has been
declared at all times – morning, noon and night. It has been
proclaimed along rivers, lakes and streams, in jungles, forests,
woods, prairies, deserts, on the streets of cities and towns, and
even in churches.

Now that we know that everyone who professes faith in Jesus
Christ as their Lord and Savior is to proclaim the gospel, we
need to make sure we know what that good news is.

The Message of Evangelism

First, be aware that there are other gospels. There are other
messages that sound like "good news" that are in
competition with the true message of God’s good news. Paul states
this very strongly in Galatians 1:6-9. "I am amazed that
you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of
Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only
there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the
gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven,
should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have
preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so
I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary
to that which you received, let him be accursed."

These are strong words, but necessary because of the
importance of following the true gospel and not some perversion
of it. There are too many cult groups around for us not to take
the warning seriously. These groups range from outright denial of
the Bible as the source of truth, to those that subtly twist the
Scriptures, perverting the truth into lies. The tragedy is that
there are those that think they are following Jesus, but they
will find out too late that they were following an imitation
gospel. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, "Not everyone who
says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but
he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say
to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name;
and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many
miracles?’ and then I will declare to them, "I never knew
you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
That
would fit too many preachers on so called "Christian"
TV and Radio. Make sure that you are following the true gospel,
for it is a matter of your eternal destiny.

What then is the true gospel?

In Luke 3:2 we find John the Baptist in the area of the Jordan
river, "preaching a baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins"
(vs 3). John is the one who is
calling for the way of the Lord to be made ready (vs 4,5,6). John
called sin what it was and removed any basis for
self-righteousness. He called the people to repent (change their
minds and turn away) from sin in a manner that the genuineness of
the repentance could be visibly demonstrated by it proper fruit
(vs 8,9). For the general population this would include sharing
with others what they had (vs. 10,11). For tax gatherers it would
be honesty (vs 12,13). Soldiers were to be content with their
position and not use their power to take from others (vs 14).
John’s message was based on the hope of the coming of the Messiah
who would baptize those who repented with the Holy Spirit and
judge those who did not.

In Matthew 4:17 we find that Jesus preached "repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
That is the same
message as John’s, but Jesus expanded more on the hope of Messiah
and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

We can see Jesus’ gospel message in John 3. Starting at
vs. 13.

1. Jesus was bringing a message directly from heaven, because
He was descended from heaven (Vs. 13). And no one has ascended
into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, [even] the Son of
Man.

2. God is loving toward man and desires to save him.

3. Eternal life would be given to those who believe on Jesus
as the only begotten Son of God. ( pistuew "pisteuo" : Believe = faith = trust). This was
salvation by faith, not works. (V 14-17) And as Moses lifted
up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be
lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to
judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

4. Those who do not believe are under God’s judgement (vs
18). "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does
not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

5. The truth of belief will be demonstrated by the life for
actions reveal the heart (vs 19-21). 19 And this is the
judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved
the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20
For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to
the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who
practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be
manifested as having been wrought in God.

That is the gospel according to Jesus. Some other elements of
the good news found in the gospel of John include:

*John 3:6 – the good news of being born by the Spirit (cf John
14:16f, 14:26; 16:13).

* John 8: 36 – the good news of being freed from sin’s
bondage

* John 11:25,26 – the good news with the hope of resurrection.

*John 14:1-4 – the good news of a hope of a place in heaven.
*John 14:6 – the good news of hope of being with the Father for
eternity.

The tape we give to our guests talks even more about what a
Christian is and believes. All of you are welcome to pick up that
audio tape for free if you desire more detail. For today, the
Apostle Paul’ summary of the key elements of the gospel in 1
Cor 15:1-4 is enough. 1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the
gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which
also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast
the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also
received, that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on
the third day according to the Scriptures,

1. Jesus is the Christ/Messiah (v. 3) (Messiah is Son of
God/God incarnate)

2. We are sinful (v. 3)

3. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin (v.3)

4. Jesus was buried and raised to life third day (vs. 4)

Verse 17-20 states that if Christ has not been raised, your
faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those
also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we
have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to
be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the
first fruits of those who are asleep.

5. Resurrection confirms our hope of being free from bondage
of sin (v. 17)

6. We have hope of resurrection (v. 20)

What is the gospel message? A General Summary includes:

Bad news: Man is sinful and deserves death and Hell (Rom 3:23,
etc.)

Good News: God loves man and sent His son Jesus (God
incarnate) to pay the penalty of man’s sin (John 3:16; 1 Peter
3:18)

Good News: Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death and sin
(I Cor 15)

Good News: Man can get a great package deal in Jesus (and it
comes only as a package)

1. Have Jesus death appropriated to His account (Rm 3:21-26).
This includes Jesus’ righteousness imputed to your account

2. Have the bondage of personal sin broken (Rm 6:17,18)

3. Have the Holy Spirit living right inside you, changing you
from the inside out. Outward righteousness exhibited because of
an inward reality. (Jn 16:7-13)

4. Get a great place in eternity with Jesus (Jn 14:1-4)

Bad News: God is just & will condemn those not obeying
Christ (Jn 3:18)

The Challenge of Evangelism

The purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus
Christ, and that process begins by Communicating New Life in
Christ to others. The challenge of evangelism is simply to be
involved with in it. Note carefully what I said. The challenge of
evangelism is simply to do it.

J.I. Packer defined evangelism well in his book, Evangelism
and the Sovereignty of God
, – "Evangelism is to so
present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, in order
that men
may put their trust in God through
Him, to accept Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King
in the fellowship of His church."

First: This means that we must evangelize according to the
moving of the Holy Spirit and in His power and not in our own
scheming and fleshly strength. By scheming I am referring to
those who try to win their opponent through point/counterpoint in
debate. That is seeking to win an argument. That is not
evangelism. We are seeking to win a person to Christ by speaking
the truth in love. We may contend for the faith, but we are not
contentious. Evangelizing in the power of the Holy Spirit means
that we are praying for the salvation of individuals, we are
walking in the Spirit ourselves, and we take advantage of every
opportunity to turn a conversation to Christ and lovingly talk
about Him. We do not have to wait for perfect conditions, only
take advantage of the opportunities presented.

Second, this means that we must be accurate with what we
share. We must be careful to present the whole gospel before
challenging someone to put their trust in Him. This may take
several conversations over quite a period of time, or maybe
everything comes together at once, but be sure to share the whole
message of the gospel. I am not talking about every nuance of
soteriology, the theology of salvation, but present the basic
facts. I have talked with too many people that had Jesus sold to
them as a great fire insurance policy or a great genie who would
make their lives wonderful without problems. They were told that
Jesus loved them and wanted them to have an abundant, wonderful
life. But they were not told that the abundant life of John 10:10
is life in the Spirit and being in relationship with God with the
result of receiving persecution from an unrighteous world (Jn
16:33). Too many people want and have been sold a false Christ
who seeks to fulfill their temporal and worldly desires. To come
to the true Jesus for salvation you must understand who He is,
what He has done, and that He is your only eternal hope. The
challenge of evangelism is to present the whole gospel which
includes both the positive and the negative consequences.

"Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power
of the Holy Spirit, in order that men
may
put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their
Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His
church."

That is the challenge of evangelism. We must leave the results
in God’s hands. To quote Packer again, "the way to tell
whether in fact you are evangelizing is not to ask whether
conversions are known to have resulted from your witness. It is
to ask whether you are faithfully making known the gospel
message."

So it is that we go about telling others of the hope we have
within us. To those who are down and out, there is a way out
through Jesus Christ. To those caught up in drug and alcohol
abuse, we tell them that they no longer have to avoid the
difficulties of life by spacing out or getting drunk. With the
hope that is found in Jesus Christ you can face life full on. To
those with marital and other relational problems we share with
them how to work through those problems by starting with getting
their relationship right with God. To those suffering physically
and those who are dying we share with them a hope that is beyond
this world where suffering and death will be no more. To those
who are lonely and hurting, we share with them a love that is
unending and a friend that will always be present.

This desire to obey Jesus in making disciples of all nations
is what fuels all true missions work. Missionaries want to take
the gospel message to other lands and other cultures that those
people might too know the savior and glorify Him with their
lives.

I pray you will take up the challenge of evangelism and share
the hope that is within you with others. I have had a couple of
gospel tracts included with the bulletin today to help get you
started.

If you are here today and have not yet given your life to
Christ. Today is the day of salvation. We have an open invitation
at this church. Please talk with myself or one of the church
leaders after the service. Don’t leave this place until you have
received God’s forgiveness for your sins and know the
promise of eternal life belongs to you.

Sermon
Study Sheets

 

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your
children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you
hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents
at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the
following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon
and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the term
"evangelism" or "good news" is used in the
sermon. Talk with your parents about what the gospel means to
you.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

Are you nervous when you meet new people? Do you feel
self-conscious when you talk to someone you don’t know about
Jesus? What does "evangelism" mean? Who is supposed to
tell the good news of Jesus? Who were some of the people in the
Bible that declared the gospel? What does the evangelist of Eph.
4:11 do? How many "gospels" are there? What is the true
gospel according to John the Baptist (Luke 3)? According to Jesus
(John 3)? According to the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15)? J.I Packer
said, "Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the
power of the Holy Spirit, in order that men
may
put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their
Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His
church."
Do you agree or disagree with that statement?
What is your responsibility in evangelism? Are you responsible of
the results? Do you know the gospel well enough to tell it to
someone else?

Sermon Notes – 8/1/1999 a.m.

"The Purpose of the Church:
Evangelism"

Introduction

Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:16

The Nature of Evangelism

Romans 10:15; Luke 9:6; Acts 14:7

Ephesians 4:11

Angels – Luke 1:19

Prophets – Hebrews 4:2

John the Baptizer – Luke 3:18

Philip – Acts 6:5; 21:8

Christians – Acts 8:1-5; 11:20

Timothy – 2 Tim. 4:5

The Message of Evangelism

Other gospels – Galatians 1:6-9

Matt. 7:21-23

The True Gospel

Luke 3

John 3

1 Cor. 15

The Challenge of Evangelism

J.I. Packer in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,
– "Evangelism is to so present Christ Jesus in the power
of the Holy Spirit, in order that men
may
put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their
Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His
church."

 

Recommended Resources: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of
God
, by J.I. Packer. Lifestyle Evangelism, by Joe
Aldrich, How to Give Away Your Faith, by Paul E. Little,