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What Is Evangelism?

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 4:00 am

What Is Evangelism?

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 5, 2023 4:00 am

The call to evangelize is for every Christian—yet the task still strikes fear in some and excitement in others. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, you’ll be encouraged when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
Chosen Generation
Pastor Greg Young

Hello, this is Alistair Begg and you're listening to Truth for Life. Today we're beginning a series on evangelism called Crossing the Barriers. I'm introducing this personally because the work of evangelism is so vitally important. Jesus instructs us to go into all the world and proclaim the good news, to share the truth of the gospel with those around us.

And with so many of our friends and neighbors increasingly confused about truth, our responsibility to fulfill this instruction is as important as ever. And so for the next four weeks I invite you to listen as we work our way through a course on how to evangelize. We'll cover why we need to overcome our reluctance to tell others about Jesus and by God's grace we'll learn how to be effective in our gospel conversations. You'll immediately be able to tell that these messages go way back some 30 years, my accent I think a little stronger. But we're bringing it to you this month because our evangelism efforts are as necessary, perhaps even more necessary today than ever they've been, living in the world in which we now find ourselves.

So listen up and I'll return with some closing thoughts at the end. What is evangelism? You can't have any more basic beginning than that, and in seeking to address it I want us to begin by looking at a number of biblical words. And the first word is the word to evangelize, which is euangelizumai, and its essential meaning is simply to proclaim good news or to announce good news. Verse 1 of Luke 8, after this Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. And the word proclaiming there is the word which emerges from this root verb to evangelize.

If you go then, following Luke's path, into the Acts and to chapter 8 in the Acts of the Apostles, and in verse 12, the story of Philip's proclamation, and it reads, But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women. And the word that is translated there, preached, is once again our word. The second word that we want to notice is the noun which emerges from this, euangelion, which simply means the gospel or the good news. I want us to notice five things about this gospel. First of all, it is the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Turn to Matthew chapter 4 verse 23 and then 9 35, and let's just look at how we find this stated. Matthew 4 23, Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom. Whose kingdom? God's kingdom.

Who reigns in it? Christ reigns as King in the kingdom. And the announcement of the kingdom rule of Christ is there in the midst of the phenomenal display of his rule, as you read on in verse 24 and 25.

When you turn to Matthew chapter 9, you'll find the same thing. Matthew 9 and verse 35, Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and once again, healing every kind of disease and sickness. So Jesus went around to say, my kingly rule is here.

It is reigning now as people's lives are touched. And when we think about evangelizing and proclaiming the euangelion, the euangelion, the gospel we are proclaiming is the gospel, first of all, of the kingdom. Secondly, it is the gospel of God.

Now, that might seem very straightforward, but it is important for us just to underscore it. Mark chapter 1, you'll find the verse, I think, if you look. And then verse 14, after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.

So obviously, these phrases are used interchangeably. It is God's gospel. Now, this is important just in a moment as an aside, because one of the things that will happen to us as we go out to evangelize is that we will run up against people who say this, that's just your idea.

That's just something that you dreamt up. And we may find ourselves unsettled by that until we remind ourselves that the good news that we're proclaiming, we didn't dream up. It is the good news of the kingdom, and it is the good news of God.

This is true in two senses. First of all, it is the good news about God—that God is Creator, that God has revealed himself in our world, that the only way we can know God is because he has chosen to reveal himself, that it is not man's mad scramble to try and encounter divinity and infinity. But rather, the good news is about a God who has come to us in the person of Jesus, and therefore it follows that it is the good news not only about God, but it is the good news from God—that its origin lies there.

Consequently, it is a serious matter to distort or to fiddle with the good news in any way at all. If it's God's gospel, then we better tell it God's way. That's why Paul in Galatians 1 9 is so concerned to make sure that nobody tampers with the gospel. Look at it. As we have already said, says Paul, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than that which you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.

Okay? So it is the gospel of the kingdom, it is the gospel of God, and then thirdly, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once again, you'll find that by turning to Mark, and I'm not going to turn there again.

We've looked. This time let's look at 2 Corinthians 4 and verse 4. We do not use deception nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it's veiled to those who are perishing. The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Now, that is a matter for another study, but just don't miss it going through. What Paul says is this, that if we go out to proclaim the good news, to evangelize, to present the euangelion, we need to do so realizing that it is the gospel of the kingdom, it is the gospel of God, it is the gospel of Christ, and it is a gospel which men and women do not by nature see or understand, because their eyes are blinded to spiritual truth. So what in the world are we going to do? How can we possibly be the going, then, from our discoveries of what it means to evangelize to evangelize? For we are humble enough, presumably, to recognize this, that if men and women are spiritually blind, we do not in and of ourselves possess the ability to pull back the clouds of their darkness.

Who does? God, who is the originator of this gospel. And how has he pledged himself to open blind eyes as a result of the believing prayers of his people? 2 Corinthians 9 and verse 13 underpins this once again. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of—notice the phrase—"the gospel of Christ." Now, when we said it was the gospel of God, we noted that it was true in two senses—the gospel about God, the gospel from God. It's also true in two senses concerning the gospel as from Jesus Christ. Not only did Jesus bring the gospel by his coming, but he also embodied it, okay?

Which is the great, fantastic thing, you know, that we don't have some gigantic computer printout that we have to go charging around offices with. No, what we present to them is the gospel of Jesus Christ brought by Christ and embodied by him. And you will find that revealed in John chapter 14 and verse 9. Do you remember how Jesus proclaims to his followers the essence of who he was and what he was doing in these tremendous statements? And Philip, who was a little bit bamboozled by it all after Jesus had said, I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me, Philip, always a little slower than the rest, but the kind of guy you like to have around in your classroom when the teacher has told you something that you don't know the answer to, but you're too proud to mention the fact that you don't know the answer to it, so you're hoping that there's a Philip around who will say, Excuse me, I'm sorry I didn't get that. You look across at him like, you didn't get that?

And in your heart you're going, Man, I'm glad he asked, because I'm got a clue what's going on here! So you can imagine that when Philip engages in this interchange, old Peter will be going, Hey, come on, you know, I know these things. Philip blurts out. He says, Okay, I think I'm following you, Jesus, but let me give you this. Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us. Jesus answered, Don't you know me, Philip? After I have been among you such a long time, anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. So you'll want to know gods, we say to our friends. You'll want to know God.

We say, Well, let me run this one by you. The good news from God is this. Brought by Jesus and embodied by Jesus, so, dear one, you don't know nothing about God in any ultimate sense until you've discovered that his message, his good news, is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. So if you're following along in your notes, you will be with me, and you will have noted that it is the gospel of the kingdom, it's the gospel of God, it's the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is, fourthly, a gospel for all nations. Mark chapter 13 and verse 10, and the gospel must first be preached to all nations. This is Jesus speaking about the end times and the time of his return, and he says, My gospel is going to be proclaimed to all the nations.

Do you realize tonight there are probably two and a half billion people in the world that don't know anything about Jesus, that remain still to be evangelized? The gospel is a gospel for all the nations. Mark chapter 16 and verse 15, he said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. This truth helps us to realize that it is our responsibility to cross the barriers of class, to cross the barriers of culture, irrespective of the cost involved. Somebody of old said, A man or a woman must give their life to that which gave them life. So if we're going to become involved in the task of evangelism, it is about giving our lives to the message which has given us life.

And it is a message for all the nations. And then, finally, it is a gospel—not only that is for all nations, but it is a gospel that must be personally received. Those of you who have had the benefits of going through Campus Crusade for Christ and have used the four spiritual laws will know that the clincher comes in number four. Number one, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Number two, man is sinful and separated from God, therefore he cannot know this wonderful plan for his life. Number three, I can't remember, Jesus Christ is God's provision for man's sin, something like this, so that you may know and discover God's plan for your life.

Number four, you must individually receive Jesus Christ. Then you will discover the benefits of the gospel. The message is, Jesus died upon the cross, making possible your salvation. Now as you come to him in repentance and in faith, he will make it actual in your experience. So it is a gospel which is far-reaching as it is proclaimed, and as it is proclaimed in that way, it is to be personally received.

1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter on the resurrection, and verses 1 and 2. Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, otherwise you have believed in vain. So what does it mean to come to a knowledge of the reception of the gospel? It means the hearing of it, the receiving of it, the living of it, in holding firmly to it—not simply a superficial, casual, hand-holding response to the truth about Jesus, but a life-transforming evidence which comes to us.

Now, we are just going through these words, and we've noted, too, the notion—and finally, the notion that since Jesus died upon the cross, all men are automatically forgiven. Cannot be squared with a biblical insistence upon a wholehearted personal response to the gospel. Now, the next two words I'm not going to spend time on in the same way, but the verb to proclaim, which is the verb kerusain, which is commonly used, again, and translated to evangelize, and what it has is also translated to preach.

But it doesn't mean simply a man who gets a group of people in a room and drones on for a long time. But rather, the underlying picture is that of a herald or of a town crier, who often would take a trumpet with him or would bang a drum or make some amazing noise before he said what he said—not because he thought he was a very important person, but because he knew he had a very important message. And that's one of the things about our responsibility in evangelism, that sometimes we intrude upon our message, and we make people back off from us because we seem to be presenting ourselves rather than presenting the Lord Jesus. A herald was not in that position, but he was there to deliver a message with the humility of heart, which accompanies the authority of his Word.

And so it is that we consider that word. The other, once again, is the noun, the message, or the proclamation, which is the kerugme. And those of you who read theological books from time to time will have found the word kerugme coming, and it is a word which is used interchangeably with the phrase the gospel, or the good news.

You can find it, for example, if you were looking for it, in Romans chapter 16 and in verse 25. Now to him who is able to establish you by my kerugme and the proclamation of Jesus Christ. When Paul addressed the Corinthians, he distinguished himself from the flowery rhetoric that marked out many of the teachers of his day. As he says in 1 Corinthians in chapter 2 and in verse 4, he said, My message, which is his kerugme and his preaching, were not with wise and persuasive words, but were with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.

Let me just say this to you. Until this truth grips us, many of us will be paralyzed in endeavoring to be about the business of personal evangelism. Until the truth grips us that the power is in the kerugme and not in our ability to communicate the kerugme, we'll never get going. When we realize that the great steps forward will be made, when we just allow somebody to read the Bible for themselves, perhaps as we read along with them, that the greatest step forward will be by letting, as it were, the wonderful power of the gospel reach into people's lives, rather than thinking that the key to effective evangelism lies in our ability to articulate these great truths. As we consider these things, we become aware of the fact that in fulfilling the commission given by Jesus, the apostles were not simply declaring Bible words or some kind of gospel formula, but were proclaiming Jesus Christ himself. To evangelize is essentially that. So having looked at the words, let's set down a working definition of what it means to evangelize.

And here it is. To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that through the power of the Holy Spirit they may come to put their trust in God through him. I want, finally, just to notice with you a number of key statements concerning evangelism. First of all, evangelism is the normal life of the healthy church and can never be regarded as an optional extra. Consider the absence of appeals made by the apostles to the churches in the matter of evangelism. Have you ever thought about that? It's almost non-existent.

Why is that? It seems that evangelism was assumed, and it operated without special techniques or programs. Secondly, evangelism is the privilege and responsibility of every member of Christ's body. While the gift of evangelism is unique to some, there are some people who are gifted as evangelists. You read that in Ephesians 4, that God gave gifts to the church of evangelists. Some people think that that was only in the first century and that he no longer gifts the church with evangelists. I would find that hard to substantiate, wouldn't you, when you just read the history of the church and realize how God has raised up people who are uniquely gifted as evangelists. So without negating the special gift of evangelism, we recognize at the same time that the responsibility of witnessing falls to all without exception. Just in case any of us are saying, Well, that's not my gift, you see. I'm not an evangelist.

No, I recognize that. I'm not sure that I'm an evangelist either. I'm responding to what Paul said to Timothy when he urged him as a pastor to do the work of an evangelist. Part of the gospel proclamation must be that. But I'm being called to be an evangelist, and many of us probably haven't, but we have all been called to the task of witnessing. Fourth and penultimate thing is that evangelism is supremely God's work in people in which he enlists human cooperation. And then finally, evangelism is essentially a process rather than a program. I'm not going to make application of it, because that would take me another half an hour, and then you'd be really ticked off.

I don't want you to feel that you've been shortchanged. Many of the questions that will be in your mind we're going to come back to as we go through. For your homework, I'd like you to do two things. One, reread all the scripture references.

Two, memorize a couple of them. And three, get together with one other person and talk about the potential implications for this first study on the question of evangelism. I hope you found this introduction to evangelism helpful. In addition to the homework for next time, I invite you to not only listen thoughtfully, but to consider how you might apply what you're learning. Let me encourage you to identify a friend or a neighbor or work colleague with whom you can initiate a conversation about Jesus in the month to come. We have a number of resources to help you with that, and Bob is here to tell you about them. Thank you, Alistair.

I know our whole team is excited. I'm excited that our listeners are going to get a chance to hear this study, and I hope they will be thinking about people they can share the gospel with as we go through this material. Our series is titled Crossing the Barriers, and in order to track along with Alistair's teaching, we have a companion study guide that our team has prepared that goes along with this series. The study guide gives you a place to take notes as you listen to each of the 12 messages.

There are questions for you to consider in each lesson. You can download the study guide for free or purchase the booklet for $3 at slash crossing barriers. We also want to recommend to you a book called Before You Share Your Faith. It's a brief handbook that provides helpful tips on how to talk to others about Jesus. Ask for your copy of the book Before You Share Your Faith when you give a donation at slash donate. I'm Bob Lapine. God doesn't actually need our help to save people, and yet he has chosen to involve us. Why? We'll find out tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the learning is for a living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 05:19:42 / 2023-06-05 05:28:15 / 9

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